The Temple Institute: The Spirit of Nisan Today



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The Spirit of Nisan Today

April 10, 2005 / 1 Nisan 1 5765
2005 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

Today is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of the month of Nisan. Our sages refer to this month as the "Month of Redemption," the month in which our forefathers were redeemed from Egyptian bondage. But the month is called so not only because of the upcoming Festival of Passover and our ancestors' passage from slavery to freedom. Tradition teaches that in the future, as well, the great and final redemption will take place in Nisan.

On this day which marks the dedication of the Tabernacle, the day that also marks the beginning of the cycle of Israel's potential redemption from its current state of slavery and servitude, an attempt was made to mobilize thousands of faithful Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. This act - indeed, the act itself never got off the ground - the very willingness and desire itself to perform this act of righteousness, an act recalling the spirit of that first Passover - was met by a declaration of war by the Israeli police. Clad in the regalia of full riot gear, a force of 3,000 policemen kept the Jews far from the Mount, while Moslems were allowed to gather at the holy site and broadcast incitement.

The Israeli government's message is clear: all Jews who are interested in the Temple Mount are considered to be dangerous, and must be stopped at all costs.

This message was communicated to us today, in a personal way, which leaves no room for doubt or misunderstanding.

On this morning of Rosh Chodesh Nisan, on the very day when Jewish rights to the Temple Mount were put to the test - and failed, the Temple Institute's Rabbi Chaim Richman was summoned to a meeting with an investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman of Israel's Department of Internal Security, Public Complaints Department. I accompanied Rabbi Richman to this meeting and am able to provide the following details.

This meeting was requested by Mr. Sharon Michael, the individual who had handled Rabbi Richman's original inquiry regarding the treatment of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, dated December 28th 2004. (Click here to read the correspondence.)

Rabbi Richman was pleased to be given a chance to express his concerns in person. He sought to use this opportunity to emphasize how difficult the experience of ascending the holy Temple Mount is for outwardly observant Jews, who are subject to intense harassment and derogatory treatment at the hands of the police, while at the same time, all others who are not readily identifiable as Jews are allowed unimpeded access.

Rabbi Richman opened the meeting by stating that a religious Jew who goes up to the Temple Mount, does so out of a desire to fulfill a religious obligation and to be close to the spot of the Holy Temple. To assume that every such visitor has a political agenda, or a desire to commit an act of terrorism or create some sort of "incident" that might lead to violent confrontation, is prejudicial, results in discriminatory practices, negates the Jewish people's civil and religious rights, and goes against the basics of democracy.

We were shocked by Mr. Michael's response to these allegations. He stated that these security measures - admittedly in use only against Orthodox Jews - are necessary to insure security. He explained that the police receive many warnings from the various security branches that Jews may be planning an attack on the Temple Mount. These warnings are constant, and therefore justify this treatment. Every kippa-wearing Jew is a potential terrorist, simply by virtue of the fact that he desires to visit the Temple Mount, the holiest spot on Earth. Any and every breach of a religious Jew's civil rights and human dignity is justified in the light of the pursuit of Israel's "security needs."

When recalling to Mr. Michael his written response to Rabbi Richman's original inquiry (dated Feb. 28, 2004), in which he wrote that every person who wishes to visit the Temple Mount is treated equally by the police, he stated that he could not recall what he had written, but that it was categorically untrue: discriminatory practices in security are applied intentionally, because the Israel Police security procedure concerning the Temple Mount is based on the assumption that every religious Jew is a potential terrorist, and must be treated as such.

Mr. Michael's cynical attitude toward basic rights and the rule of law can be summed up in the following exchange: Upon standing up to leave, having heard the security argument ad nauseam, we stated the following: We are confident that the State of Israel will continue to measure up to its security challenges, and that it will survive even the most serious breaches in its security, G-d forbid. But - we are greatly fearful that the State of Israel cannot long survive the trampling of the basic tenets of democracy that it suffers at the hands of its own governments' policies and attitudes. Mr. Michael's response was to raise his hands, and drawing a pair of quotation marks in the air, repeat with exaggerated contempt the word, "De-mo-cra-cy! We're not interested in democracy - just security!"

Thus ended our visit at the Office of the Ombudsman of Israel's Ministry of Internal Security. We still are expecting, (and have been promised), a written response to Rabbi Richman's second letter of March 3rd, 20005. We feel that the above recorded exchange speaks for itself, but would still like to emphasize the following conclusions:

  • The State of Israel regards religious Jews as enemies of the state in potential, and as such, as presenting an existential threat to the State of Israel.
  • The violation of one's legal rights on the "altar" of security is standard practice, even when no rational basis for suspicion exists, other than the head covering worn by the individual.

In conclusion, "Security is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings."

Passover, the Festival of Freedom, is fast approaching. Realizing that we are still enslaved to false gods is the first step toward freeing ourselves from their servitude. Today's golden calf - security - has been exposed as a cynical means to keep Jews from worshipping their G-d. The great path toward true freedom - subservience to the Master of the Universe alone, that began some 3,500 years ago with Moses' plea to Pharaoh: "Let My people go, that they may worship Me," has taken its latest, and G-d willing, its final turn, before our ultimate redemption: the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, and the streaming of all Jews to Jerusalem to perform the Pascal sacrifice, as one united people.

Yitzchak Reuven

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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