Temple Mount activist MK Rabbi Yehuda Glick (Likud) told Hakol Hayehudi on Wednesday that he believes Jews should be encouraged to ascend to the Temple Mount even if they did not dip in a mikvah first.
Glick prefaced that statement by saying, “As the rabbis wrote, ascending to the Temple Mount requires ritual purification, this is what Halakha (Jewish law) obligates us to do and we are committed to halakha and see a great obligation to encourage the public to ascend properly.”
Naturally, Glick stresses that “it is preferable that whoever leads the ascent be rabbinic scholars who would guide the public, that is our goal,” but adds that “when I look at the phenomenon and the process I say unequivocally – it’s better to have as many Jews as possible [go up to the Temple Mount], rather than having only a few go up due to their fears.”
“Our obligation, first and foremost is to ensure that the people of Israel go up to the Temple Mount, therefore, if you ask me, it is important they go up in holiness and purity, but it is preferable that people go up not in a state of purity rather than there be no Jewish presence on the mountain.”
“It’s better to have as many Jews as possible [go up to the Temple Mount], rather than having only a few go up due to their fears.”
MK Glick spoke in response to a statement by several National Religious rabbis, led by Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron, and Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Dean of the Ma’aleh Adumim yeshiva, which encouraged Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount, but attempted to regulate the ascent, asserting, among other points, that Jews must dip in a mikvah before entering the holy site, an act they claim is commanded directly by the Torah.
It should be noted that dipping once in the mikvah does not remove the tumah of a dead person, which is the source of the prohibition by the majority of today’s rabbis against entering the Temple Mount. The removal of “tumat met” requires a week-long process that involves being sprinkled with the ashes of a red heifer, which is not available to us. So that it appears that the dipping in the mikvah prior to entering the holy compound is, essentially, an important expression of reverence, and—as stressed by Rabbis Lior and Rabinowitz et al—visiting Jews should still stick only to the periphery (machane levaya).
The requirement for dipping prior to ascending presented one unintended consequence: the rabbis traditionally forbid unmarried women over the age of 12 from dipping in the mikvah (at the end of their cycle), in order to discourage premarital relations. Lest the ascent to the Temple Mount become an unwanted opening to improper behavior, the signatory rabbis forbade these unmarried women over 12 from going to the Temple Mount altogether.
However, the Orthodox group Women for the Temple say they have received a ruling from a well known National Religious rabbi that permits unmarried women’s ascent. According to Spokesperson Rivka Shimon, who spoke to the Jewish Press Online, “Our movement has established a halacha committee and we investigated the entire halachic issue.” According to the ruling the group received, according to Shimon, unmarried women may dip in the mikvah if their purpose is to prepare for entering the Temple Mount and not other concerns. Shimon also suggested that women may dip in the sea wearing a loosely fitting bathrobe, if a mikvah is not available. The group provides information on mikvahs in Israel that permit entry to unmarried women.
MK Glick, for his part, welcomes the increase in the number of rabbis who support ascending to the Temple Mount, joining Rabbis Lior and Rabinowitz’s proclamation supporting the ascent.
“We should welcome the fact that hundreds of rabbis – according to our estimate, close to 700 rabbis across the country – support the ascent to the Temple Mount, and this is definitely a real revolution, the result of decades of activity,” Glick said.
According to Glick, “the fact that rabbis support ascending to the Temple Mount is a phenomenon that has grown following the mass ascension. After the Jews ascended, the rabbis had to deal with the halachic question. There is no doubt that the ascending of the Jews changed the viewpoint of the rabbis. Likewise regarding the ascending of women, which is a new phenomenon of the past five years, and some of the rabbis still do not see this favorably. But here, too, I have no doubt that we will see a revolution and everyone who meets the women of the Temple knows that these women are holy.”
Asked whether by defying the decree of the major rabbis against unmarried women’s ascent to the Temple Mount his group is not actually realizing the worst fears of the rabbis who object to Jews’ going up there altogether, Glick said, “I think that everyone is supposed to report to God. The world of Torah, as I understand it, is not comprised only of rabbis who dictate what to do. The Torah was given at Mount Sinai to all the people of Israel, and that’s my understanding of events.”
Possibly going down a slippery slope, MK Glick noted, “It is not for naught that the Sages said that wherever there is a desecration of God, one does not honor the rabbi.” The reference in several places in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 82a to name but one) suggests that in times of a dire emergency—as in the case of Pinchas who carried out a double execution without asking Moses’ permission, in order to stop a plague—one may act on their own, without consulting a rabbi.
Glick views the decrees against Jewish presence on the Temple Mount as tantamount to the spiritual and physical corruption spread by the illicit acts of the Biblical Zimri (Numbers 25:7).
“What is happening today on the Temple Mount – proven further by what we’ve witnessed over the past two weeks – is a great desecration of God,” Glick argued. “Those who control the Temple Mount are people who try to promote a world view that in the name of Allah you can commit murder and produce terror and hatred.”
Indeed, MK Glick stressed, “The fact that Jews are not on the Temple Mount today is the greatest desecration of God. [After all] that is the place where God chose to dwell.”