What could be more natural for a column dealing with Jerusalem than to pay special interest to the Temple Mount, the site of the Beit HaMikdash and the very center of the world? Especially given the distinct impression that throughout Israel, interest in this holiest spot has been swelling notably?
Two examples: Just a few weeks ago, for the first time in memory, a government coalition Member of Knesset called publicly for the rebuilding of the holy Temple; and last week, also for the first time, a group of nationally-influential journalists paid an educational visit to the sacred site.
MK and retired IDF Col. Moti Yogev, ex-deputy head of the Binyamin Regional Council, issued a call in the Makor Rishon newspaper to render the “rebuilding of the Mikdash a national mission and aspiration.”
Yogev noted that he himself is not among those who actually visit the site (it is a matter of dispute among leading rabbis as to whether and under what circumstances such visits are halachically permitted), but still, “the very fact that I am writing this article, and the fact that I am a public representative in the Knesset of Israel, caused me to sense the obligation to intensify Mikdash awareness in Israel.”
Specifically, the Jewish Home Party legislator feels that educational programs should be developed “to arouse our love and longing for the holy site.” He also believes the Chief Rabbinate’s ban on ascending to the spot should be re-thought, and even proposes the possible building of a synagogue on the southern edge of the Temple Mount – an idea that has been raised in the past from time to time.
What was the reaction to Yogev’s fundamental if controversial proposal? It was totally ignored. A staffer in Yogev’s office confirmed that she and her colleagues had heard no official response, neither positive nor negative, to the call to prioritize study of the Holy Temple and aspire to rebuild it.
Two weeks ago, a group of journalists from the religious-Zionist camp ascended to the holy site. Though their names are not well known to the American public, their influence in Israel is very real, especially on religious issues. The fact of their arrival was itself welcome news for those who seek the honor of the Temple Mount. Some of the visiting writers even came with their sons.
The visitors took the halachically-prescribed precautions of immersing in a mikveh, wearing non-leather shoes, and making sure to walk only in areas known to be sufficiently distant from the actual Sanctuary. The organizer, Shimon Ricklin of the Binyamin community of Michmash, provided background information during the tour, and others shared their knowledge of the site as well. Accompanied by Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Ricklin said he plans to organize additional similar educational tours to the Temple Mount.
Forming the backdrop for these developments, of course, is the Arab opposition to any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, as well as denial of Jewish claims to our holiest site. PA elements squander no opportunity to undermine any Jewish connection to the Mount, and raise an international outcry every time Israel attempts even a small step towards actualizing its sovereignty there.
Even worse, PA policemen, with Israel’s inexplicable consent, forbid visiting Jews from moving their lips if it appears they are praying.
Consider this: The Arab “rulers” of the Temple Mount, who regularly oversee children’s soccer games on the Mount, and often bring their dead on a “tour” of the site before burial, forbid Jews from praying there. Maimonides writes that ideally one should not enter the Temple site for any purpose other than prayer or Temple service, and Jewish law forbids any kind of frivolity or even sitting in the Beit HaMikdash. But Muslim policemen allow Arab soccer and forbid Jewish prayer.
The Golden Gate Cover-up
The following story of ongoing Arab cover-up of Jewish history in Yerushalayim is important to remember and disseminate widely:
One morning after a rainy night in 1969, Jerusalem archaeologist James Fleming was investigating the Old City’s eastern wall, just outside the Temple Mount. He was standing outside the stopped-up Shaar HaRachamim (the Golden Gate) when suddenly the ground beneath his feet gave way and he dropped into a hole about eight feet deep. He looked up and was amazed to see above him five large wedge-shaped stones set into a massive arch – the remains of an ancient Second Temple-period gate!
Despite this amazing find, or more accurately because of it, Muslims soon afterward covered the chamber, cemented over the top, and surrounded the area with a protective iron fence. Israeli archaeologists are thus not likely to be able to excavate the gate under the Golden Gate in the near future.
This is most unfortunate, because Josephus writes that the eastern Temple enclosure wall was the only one not rebuilt by King Herod – meaning that that ancient gate beneath the Golden Gate likely dates from the times of King Solomon or possibly those of Nehemiah. Yet the story remains currently buried from world awareness, in accordance with Arab interests.
Ways you can help keep Jerusalem Jewish and Israeli: Visit, organize parlor meetings and rallies, bring speakers to your synagogue, write letters to the editor or for a synagogue bulletin board – and take part in KeepJerusalem’s bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem. For information on these options, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.
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