Thursday, 29 March 2012
by Samuel Sokol Mideast Correspondent
Right-wing activists, including Shmuel Sackett of the Likud Party, are planning an attempt to bring a Paschal lamb as a sacrifice on the Temple Mount prior to the Passover holiday, the Five Towns Jewish Times has learned.
The Temple Mount (Har HaBayit), known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, is currently the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the location of the Jewish Second Temple that was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD.
While Israel's High Court of Justice has affirmed the right of Jews to worship on the Mount, it has also granted the Israeli police discretion to permit or forbid various forms of religious expression based on the imperative to maintain public order. Jewish pilgrims to the Mount are always accompanied by guards employed by the Wakf, the Islamic endowment that controls the site's day-to-day administration, who ensure that Muslim sensibilities are not offended.
During a visit by this correspondent to the Temple Mount, police guards searched through pilgrims' wallets, confiscating any printed materials containing Judaic content.
Sackett, longtime assistant to Moshe Feiglin, the leader of the Likud's ultra-nationalist Manhigut Yehudit faction, said that he and nine others have joined in purchasing a lamb for the sacrifice, which the Bible describes as a yearly obligation on the part of all Jews.
Citing the High Court's declarations regarding the legal right of Jews to worship on the Mount, Sackett stated that he did not intend to coordinate his visit with the police or any governing body. And he did not, he then stated, wish to turn his attempt at sacrifice into a publicity stunt.
Given the holy site's importance as a symbol in the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is unlikely that the police will allow Sackett entry to the site when he shows up holding a slaughtering knife and leading a sheep. The Palestinian Authority frequently incites rioting and violence by accusing Israeli authorities of planning to raze the mount's two mosques and rebuild the Temple in their place. While Israeli leaders frequently deny this, Sackett and his faction take issue with the official position of the Israeli government and have actively campaigned for the rebuilding of the Temple.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that security forces at the entrance to the Temple Mount will, should anyone attempt to bring a sacrifice, work to "prevent any provocative incidents by any members of the public from taking place that could cause a public disturbance in any way and cause tensions in any of the different communities."
In February, dozens of Arab rioters stoned tourists on the Temple Mount following a sermon by the former mufti of Jerusalem, a senior cleric, who the day before alleged that Jewish extremists "might implement their threats to break into the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Asked why he intended to bring a sacrifice that he knows the police will prevent, Sackett stated that his answer to that is simple: "What would be the reaction of the Torah world if the mitzvah of b'ris milah became illegal? Would we simply say, ‘Why bother, since the police won't let us' . . . or would the Torah world take to the streets and demand a change?"
In a written statement, Sackett explained, "Many of the people reading these words will not understand how serious I take the mitzvah of Korban Pesach. Therefore, I urge each and every one of them to check the sources: In simple terms—even though it may come as a complete shock to you—one does not need the Beit HaMikdash, just the makom (the place) of the Mikdash, in order to offer a Korban Pesach today. And we know exactly where that is."
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute, a religious-Zionist organization dedicated to the rebuilding of the Temple, said that in the eyes of the national-religious community, the problem of prayer on the Mount is political in nature, and that the anger of many members of his community toward the police is misplaced.
The decision to allow or disallow prayer, Richman stated, is made by the prime minister's bureau, and the police over the last few years have been increasingly accommodating to Jewish worshipers, although formal prayer services are still banned.
Richman also blasted the chareidi community's rabbinical leadership for instructing their followers to avoid ascending the Temple Mount. Chareidi leaders, he stated, have asserted that such ascension is currently forbidden by Jewish law, a ruling he vigorously disputes.