Hilkhot Kotel

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The story of Barack Obama’s stolen Western Wall note — and its subsequent publication in Ma’ariv — is interesting for many reasons.

Not least of which is the implication that Jewish laws were in some way violated when Obama’s prayer was published in the newspaper.

Last week, the kotel’s resident rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, criticized Ma’ariv noting that: “The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them.”

Though I didn’t realize there were halakhot (Jewish laws) about Western Wall notes, I do get the sense that Rabbi Rabinowitz is speaking about religious statutes, as elsewhere he referred to the removal of the note as “sacrilegious.”

If so, I’d be curious to know where Rabbi Rabinowitz derives these laws from. Because it seems like Ma’ariv knows one of their loopholes.

Some are now calling for a boycott of Ma’ariv, and in response, the newspaper offered a very odd defense:

“Barack Obama’s note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the Kotel, a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. In any case, since Obama is not a Jew, publishing the note does not constitute an infringement on his right to privacy.”

Excuse me? Since “Obama is not a Jew”? Is this one of the “note halakhot“? What could Ma’ariv possibly mean by this statement?

And how could they have been stupid enough to say it out loud?

Posted on July 29, 2008

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2 thoughts on “Hilkhot Kotel

  1. Daniel Septimus Post author

    All I meant was: It was a ridiculous statement.

    The newspaper has a major PR predicament on their hands, and splitting hairs in a pseudo-halakhic manner is probably not the way they should be responding.

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