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Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount

Some four months ago, a rabbinic petition was issued urging Israeli Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, but to adhere to the halachic rules they cited from the book “The Courtyards of the House of God” by Rabbi Zalman Koren, one of the greatest scholars regarding the boundaries of the Temple Mount. Now, according to Kipa, the same Rabbi Koren was most unhappy with the unauthorized inclusion of his work in the flyer, especially since, he says, he is most adamantly against Jews setting foot on the Temple Mount. He plans to sue the flyer’s distributors for libel unless they apologize and issue a detraction.

Last July, dozens of religious Zionist rabbis issued a communiqué calling on Jews to go up to the Temple Mount, while warning that halachic restrictions must be observed – as recommended in the book “Courts of the House of God.”

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Rabbis Chaim Druckman, Nachum Rabinovitch, Dov Lior, Eliezer Waldman, Elyakim Levanon, Eliyahu Rachamim Zaini, and Avi Gisser, to name the most renowned ones, attempted to create a halachic standard for visitors to the Temple Mount, both in terms of who may or may not go, when to go, how to behave, and where to set foot.

The Temple Mount flyer

That last part has to do with the fact that all the Jewish people carry the impurity of the dead (Tumah) and would violate the sanctity of the Temple were they to step in this condition on hollowed ground where elements of the two destroyed temples used to stand. To that end, the rabbis’ flyer asked Jewish pilgrims “to follow the usual and customary path and to keep the distance from the steps leading up to the mountain level to the south, north and west. In the east, one must not deviate from the path adjacent to the mountain wall – as explained in the book ‘The Courtyards of the House of God.'”

Rabbi Koren, considered one of the greatest surveyors and scholars on the boundaries of the Temple Mount, contacted his attorney and told him that while it is true that in his book he dealt with the question of identifying the boundaries of the different sections of the holy Temple, “in the introduction, I wrote explicitly that my opinion is the same as the opinion of all the sages of Israel who forbade entering the Temple Mount.”

“From the wording of their proclamation it appears as if in my book […] I permit the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount at this time, and even give directions to the routes the pilgrims must follow.”

According to Rabbi Koren, the only practical application of his book is to assist Israeli security personnel who must suppress riots on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Koren also wrote his attorney, “I consider this publication defamatory, and therefore I ask you to examine the possibility of taking appropriate legal measures (first in a rabbinical court and, as necessary, even through state courts), in order to immediately stop the publication of the false proclamation, as well as cause its signatories and its advertisers to publish a public apology.”

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