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Temple Mount doesn’t loom large in the Jewish national psyche – here’s why

CM 27/07/2021


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Last week, Foreign Minister and Alternative Prime Minister Yair Lapid set off a storm of protest when he declared the Western Wall to be the holiest site in Judaism.
The foreign minister was responding to events on the Fast of the Ninth of Av, the day before, when several MKs ascended the Temple Mount, and remarks, later withdrawn by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, that Jews had full freedom of worship there.
Lapid’s party colleague, MK Merav Ben-Ari, then made similar comments when asked in a TV interview, although she later corrected herself, while comments by opposition leader and then prime minister MK Benjamin Netanyahu from 2013 were dug up where he said the Western Wall was the holiest site for Jews.
The problem? The Western Wall is not, in fact, the holiest site in Judaism, but rather the Temple Mount which the Western Wall buttresses, is the true holiest site.
The Temple Mount is where the First and Second temples of ancient times were located, where according to the Bible, Abraham bound Isaac, where Jacob had his dream of a ladder reaching to Heaven and according to the Talmud, is where the entire world was created.

Why is it that despite the clear connection in Jewish history and tradition to the Temple Mount, it is the Western Wall which has claimed a place in the national Jewish consciousness as the holiest site in Judaism?
Asaf Fried, spokesman for the Temple Committee, an activist group promoting Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, notes that in early Medieval times Jews were able, and did indeed, go up to the Temple Mount to pray, long before the Western Wall became a site of pilgrimage.
But he noted that when the Crusaders reached the Holy Land and conquered Jerusalem, they forbade Jews from ascending the Temple Mount and Jews prayed instead at the Western Wall.
This was the site closest to where the Holy of Holies of the ancient temples was located, while a Midrash (biblical commentary) stated that the divine presence would never leave the Western Wall, despite the destruction of the temple.
This situation prevailed for hundreds of years after the Crusaders were long gone.
When Jewish settlement in the Holy Land began to grow again in the 17 and 18th centuries, the Ottoman rulers continued to forbid Jews from going up to the Temple Mount, but allowed them to pray at the closest accessible spot to the site, the Western Wall.
And since the Chief Rabbinate was founded, before the establishment of the state, it has worried that Jews would enter areas of the Temple Mount prohibited by Jewish law due to ritual purity concerns, and therefore banned all visitation to any part of the holy site.
After the Jordanians conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, even to the Western Wall was beyond reach.
But from 1967 when Israel captured east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount back from the Jordanians, there was little movement to reassert Jewish rights on the Temple Mount.
The Mughrabi Quarter in the Old City was demolished to create a prayer plaza at the Western Wall, and the old status quo in which Muslims would pray at al-Aqsa mosque located at the southern end of the site, and Jews would pray at the Western Wall below, persisted.
“We are a conservative society, and we react slowly to events,” says Fried.
“A lot of people think the Western Wall is a holy site, but it is a wall of something else, not something in and of itself.”
Yehudah Glick, a long-time Temple Mount activist and former Likud MK, concurs with Fried.
“When you can’t get somewhere you want to go, then you go to the closest place you can. And you get used to what you have,” said Glick.
“We live in an environment in which the peak of what we strive for is what we couldn’t get 50 years ago,” he continues, in reference to the desire of Israelis between the War of Independence and the Six Day War to pray at the Western Wall.
“It’s hard to change reality. After the Israelites left slavery in Egypt, they began complaining that they wanted to return for all the free watermelon and cucumbers which they used to eat there,” said Glick in reference to the events of the Exodus as recorded in the Bible.
Glick insists, however, that despite the apparent lack of public knowledge of the centrality of the Temple Mount to Judaism, it is critical for the Jewish people to be connected to that site.
“God chose the Jewish people and he chose the Temple Mount as His one resting place in the world, and as a result, we have a common destiny which is to declare God’s kingdom from the Temple, which will be a house of prayer for all people, and where all nations will announce that God is one and His name is one.
“We can only do that from the Temple on the Temple Mount, which is where God chose to place, his palace. We cannot choose anywhere else.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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