Tammuz 20, 5771, 22 July 2011
About 20 women went up to the Temple Mount on Wednesday, accompanied by rabbis and their wives who ensured that purity laws were strictly kept. The group of women went up to the mountain under the guidance of Rabbi Itai Elitzur of Psagot.
Einat Ziv, one of the initiators of the event along with Rabbanit Rivka Shimon, told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service on Thursday that religious women have had a sort of awakening about the Temple Mount.
"I run classes in the community of Ofra on the Temple and the women asked to see firsthand what we were studying about," said Ziv. "At first I was afraid because I knew that women going up to the Temple Mount is a very complicated subject. When women asked again and again I decided to go for it."
The first group of women who went up to the Temple Mount did so on Rosh Chodesh Adar. "We wanted to go the way of Queen Esther and set a date by consulting with rabbis," said Ziv. "The first time we went up, we asked Temple Mount Heritage Foundation Chairman Yehuda Glick to give us some words of strength beforehand and he was very excited to do so."
She added that the women's group plans to go up to the Temple Mount every month.
"We must not let this issue disappear from the public eye," she said. "We ascend the Temple Mount and see that everything there is abandoned. The "shechinah" (divine presence) is all alone up there. Every time we go up we learn more. We are in contact with rabbis and we take care to ensure that each woman undergoes spiritual preparation and religious instruction before ascending the mountain."
Ziv's connection to the Temple Mount began as a child, and she recalled feeling something special inside her whenever she saw pictures of the Holy Temple or heard about it. She also studied at the Temple Institute, although at first she was told that the Institute cannot open the course to her because not many women apply. She insisted and was finally allowed to participate in the course.
She noted that the number of women going up to the Temple Mount is constantly on the rise and added that those who were already there have been asking to go again.
"After every trip we hold a meal of thanksgiving for those women who went up for the first time," said Ziv. "During the meal the women tell of the spiritual and emotional experience they had undergone. They experience a real emotional jolt but they express optimism and feel that only this way will the Temple Mount be redeemed and be opened to the Jews forever."
The women's group is behind other initiatives involving the Temple Mount and is being assisted by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely. The women want to create a situation in which more Jewish trips to the Temple Mount will be allowed on dates and times that are convenient for participants.
They are also seeking to allow the participants to hold prayer books and Psalms during the trip, and have also discussed the option of mapping the Temple Mount and marking the places which are permitted and prohibited by Jewish law, so that people who go up privately and not as part of organized trips will not make halakhic mistakes.
It should be noted that there are many rabbis who do not allow ascending the Temple Mount, among them the late Chief Rabbi and head of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, Rabbi Avraham Elkana Shapira, as they say that conflicting theories of where the holy of holies stood makes it impossible to know which areas are permitted. Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed of Beit El Yeshiva is also of this opinion, as are almost all hareidi-religious rabbis.
Last month, a group of eighteen women ascended to the Temple Mount. This group, too, was led by Rav Itai Elitzur, who spoke to them about the sanctity of the Mount and of the Women's Section that was part of the Temple.
The women also learned about women's role in the Temple and heard the Jewish sages' teaching that the nation of Israel was redeemed from Egypt because of righteous women, and that righteous women will bring about Israel's future Redemption as well.