1 It is a postive commandment to show reverence for the Holy Temple, as it is written: "My Holy Temple you shall revere" (Leviticus 19:30). You are not to show reverence to the Holy Temple, persay, but to He who commanded it to be revered.

After stating the source of the commandment, the Rambam makes a crucial distinction: the object of our reverence is not the building, (The Holy Temple), or even the location, (the Temple Mount), but He who chose this location as the place in which His presence would dwell.

2 How does one express reverence? A man does not enter the Temple Mount holding a staff, or wearing shoes, or wearing a money-belt, or with dust on his feet, or with money tied in his robe. Needless to say, it is forbidden to spit anywhere on the Temple Mount, but if one is faced without a choice, he must spit only in his handkerchief. One must not enter the Temple Mount through one gate, and exit the next gate, as a means of taking a "short cut." Rather, he must make his route around the perimeter of the Temple Mount. One must enter the Temple Mount only in order to perform a commandment.

The Rambam begins to delineate what type of behavior constitutes proper "reverence." He makes it clear that entering the Temple Mount can be done only for the sake of performing a mitzva, (a positive commandment). Today, with the Holy Temple no longer standing, and even prayer a nearly impossible task, due to limitations imposed by the Israeli police, that mitzva is none other than "revering the Holy Temple." This will become clear in section 7 below. The rules of proper conduct mentioned here by the Rambam are scrupulously followed by the devout Jews who ascend the Mount in purity today.

3 All who enter the Temple Mount must enter from the right, and encircle the Mount rightwards, exiting the Mount on the left. The following are exceptions to this rule, and these encircle the Mount leftwards. This is in order to give others the opportunity to ask, "why are you traversing the Mount in a leftward direction?" He answers, "Because I am in mourning." They respond: "May He who dwells in this house comfort you"; or, "I have been excommunicated." They respond, "May He who dwells in this house cause you to hearken to the words of you friends, they that may reconcile with you."

The Rambam is referring to customs that date back to the time of the second Holy Temple. The same is practiced today by those who ascend the mount in purity.

4 One who have completed his worship does not depart with his back towards the Sanctuary, but walks backwards, very slowly, until he has left the courtyard. Likewise, all the men of the various watches as well as the Men of the Assembly and the Levites descending from their platform leave the Holy Temple in this backwards fashion, as one does when completing his prayers. This is done out of reverence for the Holy Temple.

The Rambam is clearly describing the commandment of "revering My Holy Temple" as it applied during the time of the second Holy Temple.

So too, today, those who ascend the holy Temple Mount in purity are careful to depart backwards, without turning their backs on the holy place.

5 One should be careful not to act frivolously (lit., light-headed) while facing the direction of the Eastern Gate of the Courtyard, the Nikanor Gate, because this is the direction of the Sanctuary, which is in the direction of the Holy of Holies. And all who enter into the courtyard proceed gingerly to the area one is permitted to enter. He must see himself as standing before G-d, as it is written: "And my eye and heart are there every day" (Kings I 9:50). And he walks in awe and reverance, and trembling, as it is written: "To the house of G-d we go with feeling" (Psalms 55:15).

When visiting the Temple Mount, a person's behavior must reflect their thoughts and emotional state, which must be filled with awe.

6 It is forbidden for anyone to sit anywhere in the courtyard, as only the kings of the house of David can sit there, as it is written: "And king David came and sat down before G-d" (Samuel II 7:18). The members of the Sanhedrin that sat in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, sat only in the area that was outside of the sanctified court.

It is clear that the commandment of "revering My Holy Temple." is actually is comprised of a number of positive and negative commandments governing one's conduct when upon the Temple Mount.

7 In spite of the fact that the Holy Temple is now in a state of destruction as a result of our transgressions, one is nonetheless obligated to conduct himself with reverence, just as he would have done, when the Holy Temple was standing. One must enter only into the permissible areas. One must not sit in the area of the courtyard, and one must not be frivolous in the direction where the eastern gate stood, as it is written: "My sabbaths you shall keep, and my Holy Temple you shall revere" (Leviticus). Just as the observance of Shabbat is an eternal commandment, so too the commandment to revere the Holy Temple is applicable today and forever. Although the Holy Temple is currently in a state of destruction, its sanctity remains.

Here the Rambam makes it crystal clear that the commandment of "revering My Holy Temple." applies today, just as it applied in his day, even though the Holy Temple has been destroyed. This was already suggested in part 1 when the Rambam stated that our reverence is to be directed toward G-d, and not toward the physical edifice that was the Holy Temple. As we have pointed out in our Bird's Eye Guide, the danger of inadvertantly treading on sacred and forbidden ground does not apply when one studies the subject and conducts himself responsibly, as the body of historical records and traditions, as well as archeological evidence that exists enable us to travel along the perimeter of the Temple Mount, remaining a safe distance from the forbidden courtyards and sanctuary area.

The Rambam continues to delineate the commandment of "revering My Holy Temple." in the sections that follow.