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Monday, July 27, 2015

The bizarre rules of the Temple Mount

Miriam Elman has a detailed summary of the bizarre rules that govern Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, especially if you're not familiar with the situation. But I found especially intriguing Miriam's summary of an essay by Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik.
In an important essay for the online journal Mosaic this past November, Meir Soloveichik, the Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University in N.Y., writes that Israel’s 1967 “status quo” arrangement is one of the “most misguided in Israel’s history”.
Instead of setting aside a designated section on the Temple Mount for Jewish prayer—one that wouldn’t have interfered with Muslim worship and would’ve also been appropriate according to halakhah (Jewish religious law), which forbids Jews from visiting certain portions of the Har HaBayit—the government’s decision “set in place a policy that resulted in the worst of all possible worlds”:
First, many Jews who continued to visit the Mount did so without any rabbinic guidance, entering areas where according to halakhah they should not have set foot. Second, Israel’s self-imposed ban on Jewish prayer persuaded both the Waqf and the Palestinians and Arab world in general that Israel’s leaders lacked any attachment to or reverence for the site”.
According to Soloveichik the indifference has merely reinforced the “foul false narrative” that the Jews never worshipped God on the Mount, that the Temples never existed, and that the Jewish nation has no historical legitimacy.
It’s a sentiment echoed recently by the indefatigable Vic Rosenthal. Writing in Abu Yehuda, a “blog about the struggle to keep the Jewish state”, Rosenthal claims that Israel now either has to “exercise sovereignty” on the Temple Mount “or lose it”:
When Israel conquered the Old City in 1967, the Arabs expected that they would be kicked out. After all, that is what they did to the Jews in eastern Jerusalem in 1948. That is what a victorious people in a national conflict over possession of land have always done, if they didn’t kill or enslave the population. But that is not what Israel did. When Israeli law was extended to eastern Jerusalem in 1967, Arab residents were offered Israeli citizenship. Most refused and became permanent residents, with the right to vote in municipal elections, health and social security benefits, etc…When the IDF took control of the Temple Mount, IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren wanted to build a synagogue there…But Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had other ideas: he prohibited Jews from praying on the Mount, and placed its administration in the hands of the Jordanian waqf…Thus were the seeds planted for the current situation, which includes absurdities like Israeli police officers arresting Jews who are seen to move their lips when visiting the Mount, and shrieking Arab women confronting Jews who want to just stand there”.
We have only ourselves to blame. But then, it's not surprising. Anyone who has read Michael Oren's account of the Six Day War is aware that the government did not want to liberate Jerusalem and the Temple Mount - only the late Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren was interested in doing so. Unfortunately, the government of Israel has never reconciled itself to being in control of the Mount.

Read the whole thing

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