Cheshvan 2, 5770, 20 October 09
by Hillel Fendel
A large-scale gathering will take place in central Jerusalem next week featuring rabbis and public figures calling on the Jewish public to visit the Temple Mount "in purity."
The event will be held on Sunday, the 7th of Cheshvan, a day after the anniversary of Maimonides’ visit to the Temple Mount in 1166. Maimonides, the renowned Torah giant known as the Rambam, later wrote of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, "We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions. I entered into 'the great and holy house' [the Temple Mount] and prayed there on the sixth day of the month of Cheshvan."
The Rambam further wrote that he visited the Machpelah Cave on the 9th of Cheshvan, and that he vowed to make both those dates "a special holiday [to mark the occasions] on which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink."
The event is being held on the backdrop of the closure of the holy site to all Jews throughout the weeklong Sukkot holiday, when many had planned on visiting. The police explained that they had no choice but to close it because of the Arab riots in the area. Hundreds of Jews visited the site after the holiday.
The rabbis and public figures will also protest the "invasive and humiliating" police checks that leading rabbis have recently been forced to undergo when they wish to ascend to the Mount – checks to which non-religious Jews and other visitors are not subject.
So far, the list of participating rabbis includes Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, head of the Birkat Moshe hesder yeshiva in Maaleh Adumim, Rabbis Dov Lior, Re’em HaCohen, Yuval Cherlow, YIsrael Ariel, and others. MKs Uri Ariel, Aryeh Eldad, Uri Orbach, Michael Ben-Ari and Otniel Shneller will also be on hand.
Some opinions say that Maimonides did not actually ascend to the Temple Mount, but rather prayed in a synagogue adjoining the Mount. In fact, Jews have long held that entry to the Mount is forbidden by severe Biblical injunction, due to our Jewish-legal impure state.
In recent years, however, a growing number of rabbis feel that this ban can be limited only to the holiest areas of the Temple Mount. This is due to recent research showing conclusively that much of the Mount was not part of the original Temple and can therefore, under certain circumstances, be visited. Ritual immersion in a mikveh is one of the prerequisites.
Rambam Visited a Shtiebl?!
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem is adamantly in favor of taking the proper precautions and visiting the Mount. "It is very frustrating that there are people that go to the extent of even doubting that the Rambam visited the Mount," Rabbi Richman told Arutz-7. "He writes that he entered the 'great and holy house,' a term used in all our prayers to refer to the Temple, and he is exceedingly emotional in his writing on the experience, something that is very rare for the rationalist rabbi, whose works are known for their exacting language. Do they expect us to believe that he risked his life to visit a shtiebl [makeshift synagogue] nearby? Some people are so stuck in the thinking of 'we don't go there' that they can't accept that he went there. But anyone who reads the text can clearly see what his stance was."
Organizer Yehuda Glick said, "We will declare with a loud and clear voice that closing the Temple Mount to Jews because of Arab violence is clearly not acceptable in a Jewish and democratic state."