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Leading rabbis rule Temple Mount is off-limits to Jews

January 18, 2005
from Haaretz
by Nadav Shragai

Chief rabbis Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Moshe Amar, and a number of important rabbinical figures associated with the national religious world, have issued a halakhic ruling reiterating that it is forbidden for Jews to enter any part of the Temple Mount in our times. A similar halakhic ruling was issued a few months after the Six-Day War in 1967.

The current ruling was signed also by former chief rabbis Ovadia Yosef, Avraham Shapira, Eliahu Bakshi-Doron, the rabbi of the Western Wall, and heads of well-known national religious-oriented yeshivas.

It is seen as a blow to the members of the Temple Mount movements who have been trying for years to get a wider circle of rabbis to endorse the present-day entry of Jews to the holy site.

The ruling points out that Jews must avoid the entire site of the Temple Mount.

"Over the years," the rabbis state, "we have lost the exact location of the Temple, and anyone entering the Mount could unwittingly enter the area of the Temple and the Holy of Holies. With this in mind, we reiterate our warning ... that no man nor woman should set foot in the entire area of the Temple Mount, irrespective of which gate is used for this purpose."

The original halakhic ruling was issued by the two chief rabbis at the time, Isser Yehuda Unterman and Yitzhak Nissim, and they were joined by hundreds of other leading rabbinical figures. The current ruling was the initiative of the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva, Shlomo Aviner.

There are three basic prohibitions noted in the ruling: the lack of information about the location of the Holy of Holies; the fact that all the Jews of our times have been in the presence of the dead, or of others who have; and that so many leading rabbis have ruled that persons who are not pure must not touch holy ground.

During biblical times, the ashes of a flawless red heifer were required for ritual purification of any Jewish worshiper wishing to pray at the Temple. All attempts so far by Temple Mount enthusiasts to find the rare creature have failed.

The halakhic ruling comes at a time when the Temple Mount movements are gaining unprecedented momentum. Thousands of Jews, most of them religious, visit the site monthly. They regard the ruling as an attempt to relieve the rabbis' consciences and follow the teachings of their own rabbis, ignoring the sign at the entrance to the Mughrabi Gate that warns of possible death for those who disobey the ruling.

The turning point for these enthusiasts came when dozens of Yesha rabbis gave permission to go to the site a few years ago. Since then, many yeshiva students have gone, joined by their religious leaders. Their rabbis claim they have defined the area where it is possible to stand without touching holy soil. These include additions to the Temple built by Herod, such as Solomon's Stables, and the strip behind the Western Wall.

Chief rabbis prohibit Jews from entering Temple Mount

January 19, 2005
from The Jerusalem Post
by Associated Press

Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, as well as 21 other leading rabbis, have issued a religious ruling forbidding Jews from entering the Temple Mount compound, Western Wall rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said Tuesday.

Israeli security officials have expressed fears in recent months that Jewish extremists could attack the site in an attempt to derail the government's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria this summer.

The Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, includes the Aksa Mosque compound, built atop the ruins of the Jewish Temples. Also the third-holiest site in Islam, the compound is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rabinovitch said the prohibition on entering the compound is meant to prevent desecration of the site by a growing number of Jewish visitors. He called the decision a religious matter, not a security issue, but added that he hopes the announcement will prevent possible violence.

"This comes in response to greater numbers of Jews going up to visit the mount," Rabinovitch said. "There is a prohibition against attacking the area and it is a great prohibition. If this (ruling) will influence this, it is a very, very good thing."

Rabinovitch said the rabbinical ruling reiterated an earlier decision issued after the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel took over east Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The rabbis believe that Jews may not step on the area of the Temples, so as to prevent their possible desecration. Only once the messiah has come and Jews are purified will they be able to enter the area, he said.

Since it is not clear exactly where the Temples were located, Jews are not allowed anywhere on the mount, Rabinovitch said. A sign forbidding Jews from entering the mosque compound has been posted at the entrance through which Israelis are permitted to enter, he added.(AP)

Rabbis bar Jews from holy site

January 18, 2005
from The Times of India
by Associated Press

JERUSALEM: Israel's top rabbis have issued a religious ruling forbidding Jews from entering Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound, a rabbi said on Tuesday, a decision that could ease tensions at the disputed holy site.

The mount, known to Muslims as Haram a Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site, is built atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish Temples, Judaism's holiest site. Israeli security officials have expressed fears in recent months that Jewish extremists might try to attack the compound.

Shmuel Rabinovitz, chief rabbi of the Western Wall, said the prohibition on entering the compound was meant to prevent desecration of the site by a growing number of Jewish visitors. He called the decision a religious matter, but added that he hopes the announcement will prevent possible violence.

Temple Mount Still Declared Off-Limits

January 18, 2005
from The Washington Post
by Associated Press

A group of prominent rabbinic leaders, including Israel's chief Sephardic and Ashkenazi rabbis, announced Monday that Jews may not set foot on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.

The formal rabbinic decree reinstates a ban that had been in effect for centuries but in recent years has been reinterpreted by some rabbinic authorities.

Rabbis traditionally have deemed the mount, where the first and second biblical temples once stood, off-limits out of fear that Jews might inadvertently tread on the Holy of Holies, considered too sacred for ordinary people.

The Wakf, the Islamic trust that maintains the mount, has long tried to prevent non-Muslims from visiting the mount, which Muslims call Haram al Sharif. It fears that non-Muslim extremists will try to destroy the Al Aksa mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine, located atop the mount.

In recent years, many Jews called for the rabbis to permit Jewish visits, fearing that the dearth of Jewish visitors would strengthen Muslim claims to the site. Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem - where the mount is located - to be the capital of their future state, have sometimes denied that the first and second temples existed.

In response to this effort to delegitimize Jewish claims to the mount, several rabbis decided to allow Jewish pilgrimages, drawing tens of thousands of Jews from around the world to the site.

The new ruling calls for an end to these pilgrimages. It states that "over the years we have lost the exact location of the Temple, and anyone entering the Mount could unwittingly enter the area of the Temple and the Holy of Holies. With this in mind, we reiterate our warning... that no man nor woman should set foot in the entire area of the Temple Mount, irrespective of which gate is used."

 

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