I applaud Rabbi Elyse Frishman’s courage (gevura) in donning a tallit at the Kotel plaza (“Furor over Frishman’s fringes,” December 28).
There was a time when Reform congregations forbade Jewish men (let alone women) from wearing tallitot in their temples. So now the shoe is on the other foot. Reform women wish to observe the mitzvah of tallit, and the Orthodox are telling them no thanks, please don’t join us. In essence, if you are a women, this is a mitzvah that is forbidden to you. My understanding of halachah, imperfect as it is, tells me that time-bound mitzvot such as tallit/tzitzit are not forbidden, but that is a subject for another letter.
On the other hand, I was confused by certain aspects of the story. The cover picture shows three women praying with a coffee vending machine in the background. Was this the place where they chose to pray Shacharit with others? Or was the picture taken somewhere else? The picture with the article showed five women wearing their tallitot outside the police station. Why would someone wear a tallit at that time and in that place?
In fact, I object to the politicization of tallit; wearing one outside a police station does not fulfill the time-bound commandment to put on tallit for morning prayers. I would no sooner put on a tallit in the middle of a rock concert than at a police station.
It is time for all sides of this argument to step back and remember when and why we are commanded. It is to remember the covenant and to be holy. Ladies, please wear your tallitot for tefilla (prayers). Reform brethren, we should all welcome your participation in this mitzvah. And come to think of it, how about tefillin?