The Temple Institute: The Temple Mount is...?

 

 


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The Temple Mount is...?

reprinted from Arutz Sheva
Nov 30, '05 / 28 Cheshvan 5766

by Ze'ev Orenstein

On June 7th, 1967 / the 28th of Iyar, 5727, Motta Gur, commander of the battle for Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, uttered three words that shook the very foundations of the world, and served as the culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish hopes, dreams and prayers: "Har Habayit beyadeinu!" ("The Temple Mount is in our hands!") Sadly, just under 40 years later, that is no longer the case.

Recently, I had the distinct privilege of ascending Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), and visiting the holiest site of the Jewish People. (Before any Jew visits Har HaBayit he should consult with a Halachic authority well versed in the laws concerning such a visit.) Har HaBayit is the site where the first two Batei HaMikdash (Holy Temples) stood and upon which the third will be built, speedily, in our time. It is on this place where the presence of G-d rests and many central events in Jewish history occurred on this very spot (such as Akeidat Yitzchak - the binding of Isaac).

While I am thankful for the opportunity to visit the holiest of sites of the Jewish People (an act that, throughout our long Exile, so few Jews have merited; and I dare not proclaim to be of greater spiritual stature, and as such, more deserving), there is also a sense of shame that accompanies me on these visits. When a Jew visits Har HaBayit today - specifically, a religious Jew - he does so as a visitor, as a guest and not as sovereign.

After the Six-Day War, when Jerusalem was liberated from Jordanian occupation, the Jewish people had once again returned to Har HaBayit, the focal point of all of our prayers. Sadly, Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense, ordered the Israeli flag lowered from the Mount and gave the Muslim Waqf day-to-day control over Har HaBayit. This remains the status quo until this very day.

As such, today, when a Jew visits Har HaBayit, he must play according to rules set by the Muslim Waqf. He is only allowed to visit during limited hours. Religious Jews are given "special" treatment: they are instructed that if they are seen performing any act of religious significance while visiting Har HaBayit, then they will be forcibly removed and charges will be brought against them (this speech is given by a Jewish Israeli police officer). These restrictions include praying, bowing, tearing clothing, singing, dancing... The powers that be ensure compliance on this matter by having all religious Jews who visit Har HaBayit escorted by Israeli police and Muslim Waqf officials. This treatment is only given for religious Jews; tourists are able to move freely on Har Habayit without escort.

To make matters worse, Har HaBayit today is not given the respect and reverence that is befitting a place of such holiness. Arab children can be seen riding bikes and playing ball. Garbage is strewn all over the Mount. Illegal excavations continue around the clock, with the sole aim being to erase any physical evidence of a Jewish connection to the site. When the Arabs come to pray at the mosques found on the Temple Mount, they hear sermons filled with hatred and vitriol against the Jewish people and state, comparing Jews to monkeys and pigs, alongside calls for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. (To see pictures of Har HaBayit today, click here.

The Jewish Israeli poet, Uri Tzvi Greenberg, z.l., understood the centrality of the Temple Mount to the conflict that the Jewish people are faced with today in the Land of Israel: "He who rules the Mount rules the Land."

Today, it is clear from the actions (or inaction) of successive Jewish governments since 1967 that the Jewish People do not rule the Mount. As such, our hold on Eretz Yisrael today is tenuous.

Consider this: If the State of Israel is unwilling to stand up and enforce the right of the Jewish people to Har HaBayit, our holiest site, then for what are we willing to stand and fight? For Gush Katif? For Hebron? For eastern Jerusalem?

The Arabs are not a stupid people. They see that we are unwilling to stand up for what is ours - in this case, our holiest site - and they understand that if that is the case, then we will not truly stand up to them anywhere else in the Land of Israel either.

The time has come for the Jewish people to reconnect with our holiest site; to raise an outcry over the injustices taking place on Har HaBayit; to demand, at the very least, that Jews should have equal rights with the Muslims, and be able to pray on Har HaBayit in accordance with Halacha. How can it be that in the Jewish State of Israel

Here's a better question: How can it be that the desecration of G-d's name and sanctuary bothers so few Jews, both in Israel and in the rest of the world?

 

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