Isru Chag, (23 Tishrei, 5773/October 9, 2012), on the Temple Mount
ON OCTOBER 9TH, 2012, Rabbi Chaim Richman had the distinct pleasure of hosting sixty Jewish worshipers on the Temple Mount. The day was Isru Chag, a special designation given to the day following the holiday of Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the final festive day of the Tishrei holiday season. This was the largest contingent of Torah observant Jews that Rabbi Richman has ever had the privilege to lead around the Temple Mount. These were all members of the Ohel Ari Synagogue, located in the Israeli coastal town of Ra'anana. They were led by their congregational Rabbi, Ronen Neuwirth. For many of the participants this was the first time they had ever ascended to the Temple Mount. The aliya was organized by Rabbi Richman and Michael Freund, head of the organization, Jerusalem Post op-ed contributor, and member of the congregation.
IT WAS A VERY MOVING EXPERIENCE for the entire group. Rabbi Neuwirth expressed his intention to return to the Mount in the near future with additional members of his congregation.
THE DAY OF THE ASCENT WAS MOST PROPITIOUS, as it immediately followed the biblical pilgrimage festival of Shmini Atzeret, which, in turn, immediately follows the Sukkot pilgrimage festival. A midrashic explanation of the unique quality of Shmini Atzeret distinguishes it from Sukkot in the following way: Sukkot, which is celebrated in the Holy Temple by the preparation of seventy offerings on the great stone altar on behalf of the seventy nations of the world, is likened to a great banquet hosted by the king, on behalf of all the subjects of his domain. Yet, as the week-long feast draws to a close and all the guests are leaving, the king calls his one son aside and asks him to stay for just one more day, and enjoy an intimate meal together, just the two of them, the king and his son. This is the significance of Shmini Atzeret - one more day of joyful celebration. By choosing the day immediately following Shmini Atzeret to come home and visit their Father, the Ohel Ari congregation was extending the spiritual intimacy of the Shmini Atzeret experience for just one more day.
IN ADDITION TO THE THE SIXTY STRONG GROUP from Ra'anana, Rabbi Yosef Elboim and his family were also on the Temple Mount, (see especially pictures 1, 4 and 13). Rabbi Elboim chose the day to celebrate and give thanks to the fact that his two-year-long ban from ascending the Temple Mount was recently rescinded by the police. (Click to learn more.)
All photographs are courtesy of Amiel Avidan.