After having met God at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Israelite nation is presented with an array of laws that will guide them in creating a just and decent society, in response to which they say “Na’aseh v’nishmah…we will uphold them and we will contemplate them.” The Israelites affirm that, with regard to the Torah, they will not only “talk the talk,” but they will “walk the walk.” They seem to recognize that one’s support of an idea must not be theoretical, but must be reflected in action. The best way to demonstrate commitment to an ideal or a cause is through one’s deeds.
This week officials of the State of Israel also declared, in a manner of speaking, “na’aseh v’nishma.” A compromise solution has been reached that will bestow formal status at the Kotel for non-Orthodox Jews. This milestone means more than tolerating non-Orthodox Jews praying together at the Kotel, something that can be done at the Kotel Masorti near Robinson’s Arch. The agreement announced this week represents official recognition by the State of Israel that there is more than one way to be Jewish. State law will now mandate that principles of religious pluralism will govern conduct at Judaism’s holiest site. A major renovation project will soon get underway to transform the entrance to the Kotel. One common entrance to Judaism’s holiest site will be created, with separate pathways established for Orthodox men, Orthodox women and non-Orthodox Jews. (For a map of the proposed new area, click here.)
What’s needed now is for the new prayer space to be used regularly. Nothing will be more damaging to the cause of Masorti Judaism in Israel than for the non-Orthodox section of the Kotel to be empty on a routine basis. If you’re visiting Israel, make it a point to daven there, whether or not you’re attending a special simcha. And I urge you to become an active supporter of the Masorti Movement. Learn what the Masorti Movement in Israel is doing to connect Israeli Jews to Judaism. To discover what the Masorti Movement is all about, visit www.masorti.org.
Na’aseh v’Nishma…support for important ideals must be expressed in word and in deed. This week, the Israeli government put their muscle behind that statement. So must we.
Note: Would you like to explore the richness of the weekly Torah portion? Would you like to discover how there is something to learn about how we live our lives from each of its passages? For several years I’ve been teaching a weekly class on the Torah portion. Beginning in March, that class will be offered twice on Mondays—once in the morning (9:00 AM) and one at night (8:00 PM). I hope you’ll be there to share in the discussion and to contribute your ideas!