Re: Class Distinction in Judaism

Shimon Yisroel Siegel (ravsys@tiac.net)
Wed, 13 Nov 1996 05:43:45 -0500 (EST)

Lori Palatnik wrote:
>Regarding the man whose daughter felt that not being called to an aliyah at
>Yom Kippur services somehow made her a "second class citizen".
>
>As someone pointed out in response, the center of the Jewish community is
>not the synagogue, but rather the home. However, it is important to note
>why we have this miconception and general confusion as to the role of our
>shuls.

In reponse to this letter I would just like to point out, that although the
shul is not the center of Jewish life, it is a (possibly one of a few)center
of Jewish communal living. Altough one doesn't have to go to shul to be a
good Jew, the Gemorah Brachos in the beginning of the first perek (page6 0r
7) states that if there is a shul in town and one doesn't go there to davan
he is called a "bad neighbore". Interesting that he is not called a bad
person (or a rasha)but rather a bad neighbore. However this would only
apply to men in that it is only appropriate for the men to be the "good
neighbore" in the outside, and public forum. We learn that the people of
Moav were punished that they could never convert to become Jews. Why?
because they should lack of the attribute of chesed, by not comming out to
bring us water, while we were wanderng in the desert for those 40 years.
Why are the women aloud to convert? The Medrash in Ruth asks this question
and teaches that because of the inherent modesty of a woman, they were
correct in not leaving there home to host the Bnai Yisroel in the desert.
So at I say, that at least for men the shul is a communal center, and for
women I would agree that the home is the communal center. There are many
gemorahs teaching how women were more meritourios because of there ability
to give Tzadaka from the home.