An evolving midrash on Fabrangen‘s Omer Blog is exploring the idea of eating the fruit — honoring the essential Torah of an individual or community — while discarding the rind: In the case of the talmudic era Elisha ben Abuyah, the “rind” is understood as outright apostasy, but his student/friend Meir continues to defend and enjoy the fruit.
Even beyond the “fruit/rind” strategy, Rabbi Meir insists on redeeming his friend/teacher by spreading his cloak over Acher as Boaz did to redeem Ruth, welcoming the other.
Can this same strategy be employed between Jewish communities with apparently intractable differences of practice and belief? A truly welcoming cloak would have to leave room for the other to be other: is there a cloak that big?
An inter-denominational group demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, on July 22 in support of religious freedom in Israel, in opposition to the arrest of Anat Hoffman for carrying a Torah at the Kotel and in protest of growing violence against women throughout Israel.
Hoffman is the Executive Director of Israel Religious Action Center and chair of Women of the Wall. She was arrested on Rosh Chodesh Av (July 12) as WOW held their usual monthly service. A woman who was with WOW on July 12 described the event (see second of three demonstration videos). She reported that the arresting officer became visibly upset as a female cantor sang Hallel (psalms of praise recited on festivals, Rosh Chodesh [beginning of a new month] and Chanukah.)
Where will we stand — and how loud will we be — on Rosh Chodesh Elul and in the new year?