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26 Cheshvan 5763

Gentile Worship on the Temple Mount


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

Question:
As it is now non- Jews i.e. Muslims have exclusive right of worship on the Temple Mount.
Given that the Jewish state has military control over the Temple Mount ,doesnt this represent some kind of desecration or violation of Halacha?

Answer:
The State of Israel annexed all of Jerusalem liberated in the Six Day War, including the Temple Mount so that legally the Temple Mount is not just under Israeli military control; it is as much a part of Israel as Tel-Aviv or Haifa. That we do not exercise our full sovereignty over the Temple Mount is self-evident. Though I am not an authority on the subject, I understand that curtailing Moslem access to the Mount not based on a clear and present danger to security, is an impossibility in the present global situation and is recommended by no one. Whether halachically there are parts of the Temple Mount where Jews can or should be permitted access is an issue disputed by leading halachic authorities, both today and in past generations. Allowing Jews on only the less-sanctified part of the Temple Mount while non-Jews continue to pray on the site of the Holy of Holies would do little to lessen the Hilul Hashem.
The most basic Hilul Hashem is the exile of the Jewish People, the destruction of the Temple, and the loss of Jewish power and independence that began two millennia ago. G-d promises to bring an end to our exile, not because of our good deeds, but rather because the exile itself is a desecration of G-ds name (Ezekiel 36, 20-21). Although Jewish independence has been restored, that original Hilul Hashem, like the exile itself, has not yet been fully erased. Our inability to ban from the Temple Mount all those who halachically may not be there, reflects both our military/diplomatic limitations and also a general ignorance of the purpose of the Temple and the meaning of sanctity.
That said, when police- faced by Arabs throwing rocks from the Temple Mount on Jews praying at the Wall- choose to evacuate the Jews rather than forcefully restore order on the Temple Mount, their policy undermines even that measure of Jewish sovereignty recognized by most Israelis. That sovereignty should be strengthened by strictly enforcing law and order without resort to Palestinian Arab proxies.


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