Photo: Zoom 77
The day the Old City was conquered was the happiest day in the sovereign State of Israel’s history. It was a rare day where imagination and reality, prayers and actuality came together. Even David Ben Gurion characterized it as a more joyous day than the day our independence was declared.
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Regrettably, it was also a day of historical failure: Instead of celebrating on Temple Mount, the paratroopers ran to the Western Wall.
They simply got confused. That generation was still closely attached to the memory of the Diaspora, where the Kotel served as a symbolic substitute for Temple Mount. This period kept on extending and with the passage of time we saw emotional confusion between the substitute and the original.
Mordechai Gur indeed announced that “Temple Mount is in our hands,” yet the focal point of the national and paratroop festivities was shifted to the Western Wall plaza. People forgot that while the Kotel is the closest thing to the real thing, it is not the thing itself. Our ancient forefathers clung to the Western Wall in the past for lack of any other choice.
However, we now have a choice. The Romans are gone, the Turks left, the Brits were expelled and the Jordanians were defeated. There is no longer any genuine obstacle preventing us from connecting to the site of our Temple.
All we have is a rabbinical obstacle. The Chief Rabbinate feared that the holy mount will turn into a mass vacation spot and immediately after the war banned entry to Temple Mount. The logic behind the ban was the same logic that in the past prompted haredi rabbis in the Diaspora to object to Zionism – grave concern that secular pioneers would desecrate the sanctity of the land.
With all due respect, this is a baseless ruling. There is no genuine Jewish Law reason to prevent Jews from entering most areas of Temple Mount. The fact is that important rabbis visit the Mount themselves. The problem is that Israeli governments chose the extremist rabbis’ ruling in this case.
Usually, our leaders disregard the rabbis, yet in the case of Temple Mount they suddenly became strict followers.
For 44 years now, police officers have been deployed at the entrance to Temple Mount; their mission is not only to prevent the construction of the Temple, but even mere Jewish prayer. Only Muslims are allowed to express their religious feelings there.
If you are a kippah-wearing Jew, the police officers will put you through a lengthy act of humiliation at the entrance to the Mount. Later they will keep a close eye on you to ensure you don’t mutter some Psalms. On the occasion of Jerusalem Day let’s all pray, outside the Mount for the time being, that this discrimination will end by the next Jerusalem Day.
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