Muslims rioted against Jews visiting the Temple Mount and a halachic ruling issued by the senior-most haredi rabbi forbade Jews to visit the holy site. However, Orthodox organizations are not throwing in the towel. On Sunday night, a rare showing of unity will take place in Jerusalem between rabbis and public figures who are planning on declaring their connection to the Temple's site.
Members of the "Temple Mount coalition" include: MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) alongside MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), and Yesha Rabbinical Council Chairman Rabbi Dov Lior alongside Rabbi Yuval Sherlo.
An announcement published ahead of the event by the Organization for Human Rights on the Temple Mount and the joint headquarters for the Temple Mount organizations outlined the meeting's objective.
"We will call the nation of Israel to go up to the Temple Mount in holiness and purity; We will demand that Israel Police also respect the right of the Jews to the Temple Mount; We will protest harm done to the honor of the rabbis in security checks performed before entering the Temple Mount; We will call upon the Muslim leadership to condemn the use of houses of worship for incitement and violence."
Senior rabbis from all the denominations in recent generations have forbidden going to the Temple Mount even for those who purified themselves first in a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), mainly claiming that it is impossible to know for certain the precise location of the area of the Temple that was forbidden to enter even after a mikveh.
In recent years, researchers have sketched out the exact location of the forbidden area, and many rabbis have ruled that it is permissible to enter other sections of the Temple Mount. However, the senior-most rabbis and halachic adjudicators – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, and Rabbi Avraham Shapira – have stuck to their ruling that it is forbidden, which is also the position of Israel's Chief Rabbinate.
'How can one oppose it?'
Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, who will be participating in Sunday's conference, listed a number of well-known halachic adjudicators who allow, and even obligate, entry into the Temple Mount. "This is a weighty halachic issue," said Rabbi Sherlo to Ynet, "and I don't understand how you be opposed to it."
According to him, today, 42 years after the reunification of Jerusalem, one can see "the spiritual price of this prohibition" which he defines as "an ingrained awareness that we are interested in the Western Wall and the Arabs in the Temple Mount. The rabbis are increasingly those responsible for this, who, paradoxically, have distanced the people of Israel from being conscience of the Temple." He claimed that this absurdity could be seen already when Jerusalem was unified when "the paratroopers ran through the Temple Mount to the Western Wall complex."
Rabbi Sherlo demands "equality at the least" between Jews and Arabs visiting the Temple Mount and claims that visiting the site today is "a humiliating act" mainly because of the prohibition of Jewish prayer on the Mount that is enforced by the Waqf. Rabbi Sherlo expressed his deep disappointment with the rights groups who have kept quiet on this issue of freedom of religion and worship.
"The same people who claimed that it is forbidden to stop the gay pride parade from taking place so as not to give in to violence are not fighting here for the rights of Jews to pray," claimed Rabbi Sherlo. "In moral principles, one must be consistent and systematic. There is nothing more damaging to them that hypocrisy and manipulations that are used only when it is convenient."
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner is opposed to allowing Jews onto the Temple Mount. "There are definitely honorable and good things about those enthusiastic about the Temple Mount. However, the very essence of this phenomenon is, in my opinion, an utterly damaging mistake."
In an article published Sunday morning, Rabbi Aviner called for followers to make do with learning about the subject and to avoid real actions in the Temple complex. He wrote, "The issue of the Temple is beyond human intellect like many other topics. Therefore, one must stand before it in awe without thinking that it can be dealt with using our human capacities."
"There are a many great genius scholars and rabbis who have emphatically expressed their opinion that the Temple Mount must not be touched at all," wrote Rabbi Aviner, claiming that those who claimed as such were no less moral, no less brave, and no less idealistic for doing so.
"He who says not to touch it is not necessarily weak, and the enthusiast is not necessarily the hero," said Rabbi Aviner.