So in addition to the Waqf’s policy – facilitated by the Israel Police against the position of the Israeli Supreme Court – of preventing all non-Muslims from praying or expressing any religious sentiment at the site, the Waqf “caretakers” also exercise a free and heavy hand in the deliberate destruction of antiquities. While archeologists are prevented from investigating the site, work also is carried out without permit and any archeological supervision. It is one thing to prevent exploration; bulldozing ancient structures and using heavy machinery without any supervision is another thing.
The sages of Israel teach that the prayers of all mankind assemble together in the Foundation Stone before ascending to Heaven. This succinct teaching sums up the essence of what the vision of the “house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 2) is really all about.
The Temple Mount is har habayit, “the Mountain of the House.” It is the house – the home. It is not just another issue. It is our center; its future represents the hope of all humanity. And it is a reflection of the honor of the God of Israel in this world. But a house built on a weak foundation will not stand.
We mourn over the site’s past; we yearn for its glorious future. But it is high time we honor the vision of the Holy Temple by safeguarding the beleaguered Mount and by stemming the tide of its present destruction.
Rabbi Chaim Richman is international director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem.