Photos by Gershon Ellinson / Women in Green
By Women in Green
On Saturday night, the evening of the fast of Tisha b’Av, thousands of participants carrying Israeli flags walked around the walls of Jerusalem calling for application and enforcement of sovereignty as a rectification for the historical sin of the spies, the sin that caused the destruction of the Temple and a series of disasters over the generations.
Thousands of people, from all areas throughout the land, took part tonight, the evening of the fast of Tisha b‘Av, in the walk around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, organized by Women in Green, for the 21st consecutive year.
The event began with a reading of the Scroll of Lamentations in Gan Ha’Atzma’ut (Independence Park), which is in the center of the capital, and the walk around the walls of the Old City began immediately afterward, with the many participants holding Israeli flags. The historian Aryeh Klein accompanied the walk with words of historical explanation about the events from the Crusader era until the Six Day War that were by passed during the walk.
At the Lion’s Gate the participants gathered for concluding words and speeches by Deputy Minister of Defense Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, MK Bezalel Smotrich, Prof. Aryeh Eldad and Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich. Before the speeches by these public figures, the heads of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, spoke, calling for making a rectification of the sin of the spies by application and enforcement of sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel: “The principal sin that we must rectify is the sin of the spies – contempt for the goodly Land. We must not only lie on the floor and and lament tearfully, but rectify the root of the reason for the destruction in a practical way, to settle the good Land, to cling to it, to apply our sovereignty, to enforce our sovereignty and to have faith in the Almighty who gave us the power to conquer the Land.”
“Realization of sovereignty by the government of Israel with a continuous push for consciousness has its results. The prime minister acted correctly in the Iranian matter. He should act with the same determination and persistence in the matters of building, development, flourishing in all areas of the Land of Israel. To present a vision. Neither Obama nor the High Court, which is pushing these days for the destruction of dozens of homes in Beit El, will dictate the borders to the People of Israel and therefore we strongly protest and encourage all of our friends who are organizing for the determined and uncompromising battle in the sector.
“It is the Bible that will dictate to the People of Israel, the promise that the Almighty gave to our fathers, and we must fast for this and connect with all of the generations. Remembering the past and building the future. ‘Let us go up and take possession of the Land, for we are well able to overcome it’.”
After these words, Deputy Minister of Defense, MK Rav Eli Ben Dahan spoke, mentioning the sin of the spies, about which we read in the weekly Torah portion as the sin that caused the weeping and grief of generations, of the destruction of the two Temples, a grieving whose root is contempt for the good Land.
“The spies thought that it was better to remain in an ideal world, a world of inaction, where manna waited at the tent opening and water from Miriam’s well came to you. Without any effort. But in order to enter the Land of Israel it would be necessary to labor and to be connected to every clod of land. We do not live by miracles, but by deeds and activity. The more we build in all areas of the Land of Israel, the more we will connect and commune with the Land”, said Rabbi Ben Dahan.
Later, he mentioned that while he was Deputy Minister of Religions, regulations were prepared for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. “Particularly on this day we demand that these regulations be approved. We expect the prime minister and the government to approve organized Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. I cannot be that every people can pray at this place and only the Jews are not permitted to pray there.”
Ben Dahan further noted that recently he was informed that from an investigation of the findings from the waste out of the antiquities that the Muslims throw into the Zurim Valley after they were taken from the Temple Mount, it arose that among the antiquities there are also bones of pure beasts that had been sacrificed on the Mount, but also bones of foxes and this testifies that the legend of Rabbi Akiva and the sages who went and saw a fox coming out of the Holy Temple is not a random legend, but actual reality. Now, the deputy minister of defense expresses the hope that just as we see the visions of Rabbi Akiva, “we will also be privileged to see the Holy Temple being rebuilt, and next year we will no longer grieve and these days will become days of much happiness and joy.”
After Rabbi Ben Dahan’s words, former MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad spoke, noting that it seems that apparently, we have not made much progress during the past year, “we did not expel the rioting Arabs from the Mount, we did not establish the communities that we destroyed ten years ago.”
“The State of Israel surrenders its sovereignty on the Temple Mount and abandons it to a foreign state”, said Eldad and mentioned that the State of Israel also did not complete the access bridge to the Temple Mount, since it had granted to Jordan the privilege to decide what will be built on the Mount and what will not be built there. According to him, while the Temple Mount Faithful are searching for a red heifer in Texas ranches for the rites of purification, we must remember that it is more important to purify hearts, and when the Mount does not represent the source of life to the People and when the leaders of Israel deny and suppress the importance of the Temple Mount to the People’s consciousness, the ashes from a red heifer will be to no avail.
During his speech, Prof. Eldad noted the historical findings in which national figureheads who had persecuted Israel have stated as absolute fact that there was no longer a People of Israel, but today, while nothing remains of them but historical remnants, the People of Israel lives on. Eldad stated that just as these predictions were disproved, other, early predictions will also be disproved – the People of Israel will establish settlements that it himself destroyed a decade ago, and this is also how the Third Temple will be built, and sooner than we think. “We demand that the government of Israel allow Jews to pray and to lay the cornerstone of the Third Temple”, concluded Prof. Eldad.
The third person to speak at the gathering was MK Bezalel Smotrich, who raised the apparent difficulty to experience the pain of the destruction in the generation of revival, when it is possible “to walk around the walls of Jerusalem en masse with Israeli flags, accompanied by our police, in our state, in our Land, and on the other hand, to look upon the walls and inside to the Temple Mount and remember what is happening there.”
“It would be easier to experience the sorrow of this day in the diaspora”, said Smotrich, and clarified that if the day of Tisha b’Av was commemorated as it is in the diaspora, without thinking of the return of Israel to its Land, it would be an enormous lack of gratitude toward the Almighty, who brings us, slowly but surely to our Land. We must be ready to include this complexity of thanks to the Almighty for the great kindness with which he deals with us, and despite this, we feel the great lack of that which we do not have.”
According to him, “from a certain point of view, perhaps it is easier for us today to feel the pain of this day, because we are closer and therefore feel the lack. A Jew in the diaspora could not have imagined what we have now. It is difficult to imagine something that one does is not familiar with. When one is close, one feels the lack.”
Smotrich also mentioned the sin of the spies and noted that in the words of Moses’ summary, the words of the spies are described as praising the goodness of the Land. Rashi explains that Moses is quoting Joshua and Caleb and not the ten other spies. According to Smotrich, there is a significant lesson here, which is the question of “who is written in the pages of history”: “that which is written in the pages of history and are spoken about in the future are Joshua and Caleb, the People of Truth, heroism, security and their faith in the Almighty. The weakness of the spies leads to ramifications and the basis for every Tisha b’Av is those spies, but that which remains in existence forever is the minority. The masses sometimes go astray after weak leadership”, says Smotrich, and adds that sometimes the leaders of the minority of believers do not win applause from the media and from the masses, but in the result in history is that they are the winners who are etched into eternity.
“I call on the prime minister: you can decide whether to be among those leaders who perhaps now are a majority but in the end, nothing will be remembered of them, or you can be among the leaders of the minority, who raise the banner to the top of the flag post, and who are among those who are remembered. Prayer in the Temple Mount is the minimum. We have a commandment to build the Temple. The Almighty has done his part and has liberated for us the place with tremendous miracles. Now it is in our hands. And as everyone aspires to fulfill the 613 commandments, we must also fulfill this commandment”, concluded Smotrich.
The gathering was concluded with the words of Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, a former prisoner of Zion and one of the lead activists for the liberation of Jonathan Pollard. As in every year, Rabbi Mendelevich read the special prayer written by Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, obm, for the liberation of Pollard and stated that if indeed Pollard will be freed in the coming days and weeks, then Israeli society must beg his pardon for not doing enough to free him. “We did not do what we had to do. We went astray in the battle for Jonathan because all of the efforts were in beseeching the government of Israel to speak with the government of the United States. The battle should have been waged in the United States. As the People of Israel we must fight and understand from experience of the past that only demonstrations that are bothersome, and not comfortable, for the government, have an effect”.
Rabbi Mendelevich concluded his words with a call to the Jews of the United States: “We will get by, but the call is to you. Go out into the streets in your thousands, in tens of thousands, to defend our People, our Land and yourselves. This is your duty”.
At the end of the speeches the marchers continued to the Dung Gate and the Kotel where the Walk ended.
The tail end of the marchers were attacked by stone throwing Arabs.