A Visit to the Temple Mount

This past week within a 24-hour period I visited two of the most distinctly opposite places in Jerusalem that one can imagine: The Temple Mount and Yad Vashem. While within one is located, according to Judaism, the holiest spot in the world, the literal meeting place between heaven and earth, the other is a museum dedicated to the six million victims of the Nazi beast. Moreover, while from the former we hope that one day God’s light and wisdom will go forth to heal a fractured and troubled humanity, from the latter we merely hope to prevent future holocausts. Finally, while millions of Jews and non-Jews – from Israeli high school students to visiting presidents and prime ministers – flock to Yad Vashem, hardly anyone, especially amongst Jews, ever pays a visit to the Temple Mount.

Although it’s true that any Jew who wishes to visit the Temple Mount needs to be aware of a few halachic issues and restrictions, the fact is there are many rabbis today willing to give proper guidance in order to facilitate such a visit. Moreover, the rabbinical position that forbids all Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount is a strict opinion that is not shared by all rabbis. Ironically, this current “forbidden mindset” didn’t prevent Maimonides, one of the greatest codifiers ever of Jewish law, from visiting and praying on the Temple Mount.

The truth is that the whole Temple Mount issue, given the confusion regarding the so-called halachic ban together with the reality of nearly complete Islamic control of the site, is something that most Jews simply prefer to ignore. Moreover, who wants to put themselves in the humiliating position of being removed from the Temple Mount simply for committing the unthinkable crime of saying a prayer or reciting a few verses from the Book of Psalms? Or who wants to experience the demeaning feeling of being closely followed and watched by members of the Jordanian waqf, the non-Israeli entity that essentially controls the Temple Mount in the heart of Jerusalem? Although it’s true that Israeli policemen are also on the Temple Mount, from firsthand experience they appear to be much more sympathetic to their friends in the waqf than to the Jewish visitors that they’re helping to escort.

Of course for a Jew to have the pleasure of being subject to any of these uncomfortable situations he must first receive police permission to enter the Temple Mount, something that should not be taken for granted. For instance, if a Jew is wearing a t-shirt or baseball hat with a picture of the Israeli flag, there’s a good chance that such a “provocation” will cause the police to deny him access to the Temple Mount.

This is the current situation, no matter how preposterous it might sound. This being the case, how can we remain silent in the face of such injustice? Likewise and in spite of all of the above, how long can we expect to survive as a sovereign nation in our own land if we simply turn our backs on the place that represents the true center and heart of the Jewish people? Although the Western Wall is nice, and we should be happy that we can freely visit and pray there, we need to understand that it is not the Temple Mount.

Finally, by avoiding this touchy issue we are essentially stifling an integral part of our national identity. If so, then what does this say about us as a people, or as a country, and what are the ramifications of this for our future?

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3 Responses to A Visit to the Temple Mount

  1. This post has been included in this week’s Jewish-Israeli Blog Round-Up (AKA: Haveil Havalim), Parashath Behuqothai Edition!

  2. As far as I understand, there is one single organization in Israel, which has a standing permission to visit at any time the Temple Mount? It is the self-proclaimed “Jewish” organization “Rabies for Human Rites”, the to the core bigot RHR.
    Since about 25 years they are supporting the Palestinian cause, opposing the Israeli government, acting against the IDF and against all civilian rules. While the Israeli people dislikes them, they have, apparently, plenty of financial back up, including from Arab-Islamic and anti-Semitic sources. Slandering, demonizing, defaming and delegitimizing Israel is well paid!
    In view of their intimate relations with certain evangelical and anti-Semitic US-churches, I wonder if they are a messianic, Jewish-like sect?
    It seems, their Dhimmitude has been awarded accordingly by their arab-islamic authorities.

  3. defiantjewess says:

    It is a matter of self- dignity. If we cannot stand up for who we are, then who are we? I recently had to straighten out someone who called me a dirty Jew in a salon, a worker from Lebanon who thought he was in Lebanon. I reported him to the owner and demanded he be fired, or apologize. They have 24 hours before I take action, and that means writing a negative report on Yelp, a refer all online that people rely on. I explained to the man that what he did was against the law in the US. One cannot discriminate based on religion or race. I will not let this go, I am determined to make sure this man never does this again. BTW this was the second occurrence, he did it to someone else in the community.

    I have come face to face teachers, professors, students from the MSU and ex friends who have made anti-Semitic remarks, reminded them that I have rights and will not tolerate being picked on or abused, or shamed in public because I am a Jew. Being a Jew is something I am proud of and I refuse to let one slight go by without the proper response.

    As Jews, we should be demanding our right to pray on our holy place. We must assert our sovereignty before it is taken away from us. I do not see this happening and I blame the government of Israel. Israel could easily throw the Waqf out for discrimination against Jews. They were given the right to administer is and keep its grounds up, but the intention was not to block Jews from prayer or assembly.

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