January 27, 2005

The Mechitzah

Barefoot Jewess wrote a post about how the mechitza can add a little sexiness to davening. Ok, I am taking her thoughts and running with them, not necessarily in the direction that she intended, so I'll thank her for the inspiration and push on.

For those of you who are not in the know the mechitza is a separation between the men and womens sections in the synagogue. It is not found in every synagogue and typically is not located in any that are not what would be termed Orthodox.

Davening is something that is very hard for me. It is a strange paradox to me, a real contradiction. I have no doubt that there is a G-d and no doubt that G-d hears my prayers, but he/she/it certainly feels no obligation to answer them. And that is ok with me, it really is, the work is good.

But for whatever reason I have always found it challenging to daven. If I am going to do it, I prefer to be part of a community and almost always prefer to do it on a mountaintop or some other outdoorsy natural scene. Nature just helps me feel that connection.

It is no secret that I find women intriguing. I always have, there are so many different things about women that catch my eye. Add in my natural interest in people watching and you have a man who is easily distracted. So in some ways davening with a mechitzah is very useful, it helps me to stay a little more grounded, sometimes.

Sometimes it is worse knowing that it is there. It is like there is forbidden fruit (sorry ladies, I am not trying to be disrespectful) and I cannot help but try and look. Actually I find that long skirts often have the same effect on me. I try to be subtle as I stare to try and get a sense of what her legs look like. Interesting, just so interesting to me.

About 13 years or so ago I had a dream. I was back in Jerusalem. It was Friday night and I was at the Kotel and the place was packed. I was pressed up against the stone fervently praying, speaking to G-d in the most intimate way I could. If I close my eyes I can still see it. There are men in black all around me, bodies moving, a hum in the air from the singing, an energy that was electric. And then I am dancing, were moving in a circle with reckless abandon we have all given ourselves over, the dance is a prayer and an offering, it is almost overwhelming.

And then suddenly the plaza is almost empty and I realize that standing on my right there is a woman, she is holding my hand and I am filled with an incredible sense of peace and love. I turn to look at her, the love bursting from within and I wake up, the mechitza between sleep and wakefulness has prevented me from seeing her face.

1 comment:

Z said...

I, personally, find the whole concept of the mechitza intriguing. I notice in our little Reformodox shul (we're WAY blended out here in the sticks) that the women like to sit together...to chat and gossip maybe? The men...well, they sit with their women or sometimes alone. Then there's minyan which I was pretty much told is unwelcoming TO women and I can't figure THAT out...why?

Sometimes when my friend Cori sits next to me I wish we had one to put between US! Maybe the monks with their monk carrels had it right all along?