A Mishneh in Succa (51a) states the following: 'One who never saw the celebration of the Joy of (Water) Drawing has never seen a celebration in his lifetime. On the night after the first holiday they descended (the steps) into the women's section (of the Temple) and made a great adjustment ''

The Talmud (Succa 51b) describes the 'great adjustment' as the installation of a balcony from which the women can stand and view the celebration.

The Talmud then cites a teaching that women initially stood in their section and the men stood elsewhere in the Temple. Despite the separation, they came to socialize in a manner led to frivolity. Thereupon, the men and women were asked to switch places but they still came to frivolity. This was resolved by having everybody in one place and providing the women with a balcony.

The Talmud questions the justification for this renovation, as it was not called for in the Temple?s architectural plans, which dated back to the time of King David.

The Talmud answers that they based the decision to add the balcony on verses from Zecharia (Zachariah) 12:12-14.

This prophecy is about a eulogy that will occur in the Messianic era. It emphasizes several times that the men and women were sitting separately during the funeral...

Noting that the evil inclination will lose its power in the Messianic era, the Talmud says that if people will need to be separated to maintain decorum during a funeral and in a time when there will be no stimulation, how much more is a separation needed during a celebration and in the Pre-Messianic era.

Now, the Torah charges us to stand in awe while we are in the Temple area (Leviticus 19:30 and 26:2). It is for this reason that only the sages were permitted to participate in the Joy of Drawing and everyone else was there as observers and to become inspired.

The verse in Zechariah is dated to the period of the Second Temple. This means that there was no women's balcony throughout the entire four-hundred-ten year period of the First Temple.

As stated above, the Talmud questioned the justification for modifying the Temple and answers that they found a verse upon which to base it. Rashi provides the following commentary: 'They found a verse' that it is required to provide a separation between the men and women (in the Temple) thereby making a safeguard so that they will not fail.

It appears from Rashi's words that this requirement dates back to the beginning of the Second Temple.

From the context it appears that the need for a physical separation did not exist throughout the first thousand years of Jewish history.

In Jewish law, synagogues are treated as a 'Temple in miniature' (Yechezkel 11:16). In part, this is why you will see a women?s section in compliant synagogues.

One can only wonder which generation came into the prophet's view. It had to be either our generation or one in the future.

Given today's culture of permissiveness and the frequent suggestions of promiscuity through media and fashion, especially in a society that has traded standards for freedom, the need to institutionalize structure within religious congregations is greater than ever.

We note that the sages of the Second Temple erected the separation prior to the holiday celebration. They didn?t provide opportunity for the people to first have a 'good time.'

Meaningful structure and restriction brings to 'good times' in the highest sense.

We get a laugh out of seeing an ape that wears pants. However, we only feel complete when we wear them ourselves, despite the restrictions that they impose.

This provides one of the many reasons for celebration during the holiday of Simchas Torah, for we celebrate the structure that the Torah provides and the resulting greatness that we experience by complying with it.

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Courtesy of JewishAmerica http://www.JewishAmerica.com

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