Western Wall. Not kosher?
Photo: Shlomi Cohen
Supporters of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leader of Israel's Lithuanian haredi Jews, issued a dramatic statement last week saying that Jews must not visit the Western Wall on Shabbat due to security cameras placed at the holy site, desecrating the Jewish day of rest.
Ynet has discovered, however, that hundreds of ultra-Orthodox worshippers flocked to the Western Wall over the weekend, despite the rabbi's ruling.
One of the worshippers told Ynet on Saturday evening, "I am not affiliated with the Lithuanian faction and therefore do not feel obligated by this halahchic ruling."
Some explained that they had flocked to the Western Wall plaza on Saturday as they had viewed the new ruling as a sort of power struggle between Rabbi Elyashiv's courtyard and the police.
Special 'Shabbat lamp'It appears that the sweeping order was issued after sources close to Rabbi Eyahiv demanded that the Jerusalem Police reinforce surveillance in the Old City of Jerusalem, using the security cameras.
According to Jewish Law, the rabbi's supporters said, worshippers are not allowed to walk in the Old City due to automatic shots of passersby taken by the security cameras.
The matter has been re-discussed every few months. About half a year ago, Rabbi Elyashiv's associates, police representatives and Old City Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl agreed to install a "Shabbat lamp", which would ensure that the software making the camera's activity kosher is working, preventing a desecration of Shabbat.
However, according to a source involved in the discussions, Rabbi Elyashiv's people then demanded a more tight supervision of the software's "kashrut", and the police would not hear of it.
"There are people in Rabbi Elyashiv's courtyard who are interested in making a name for themselves through tougher halachic rules at the expense of others," the source said. "Now they want another inspection, although this has already been approved in the past and the 'lamp' enables them to view its activity."
A Jerusalem Police official said in response, "Following talks with the rabbi's representatives and other representatives, a solution has been found and the problem has been solved."
Rabbi Elyashiv's supporters, however, have not issued an order cancelling the previous one so far.