Friday, May 5, 2017

The Temple Mount and Us Jews

Nadene Goldfoot                                          
The Muslim's Dome of the Rock sits right in the middle of the Temple Mount.  It was built by Caliph Abd al-Malik in about 738 to replace the temporary structure put up 100 years earlier by Caliph Omar.  Omar had built his over the Roman's Temple they had built on this site after burning down Solomon's 2nd Temple in 70 CE.   Mohammad had died in 632 and that's when his followers really started proselytizing their new Islamic faith.  

There has been much thought and consternation centering around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and it's rules for Jews going there to pray.  We've had the problem of not being allowed by the Arab authority of not being allowed to pray there or even be close to where the 2nd Temple had stood.  Orthodox Jewry tell us we shouldn't for certain reasons and so do the Jordanian authority and surrounding Palestinians.

The problem lies in the Muslim act of building a Mosque over the Temple site, the Mosque of Omar, and for us, the interrupting of the sanctity of the area. "After Israel captured the site 1967, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel announced that entering the Temple Mount was forbidden to Jews, in accordance with a halakhic prohibition against temei ha'met (Impurity by contacting the dead, cemeteries etc.). The ancient ban on Jews, other than a high priest, entering the zone of the Holy of Holies was confirmed, with the consideration also that, since the exact location of the Second Temple was unknown, any Jew walking through the site would be at grave risk of inadvertently treading on the ground of the Holy of Holies in error."   The Holy of Holies measured 32.5 x 32.5 and was oriented E-W.  I take this to be in feet.  It was surrounded outside by an abutting 3 story structure divided into cells and rooms used to store vessels and treasure.  The Holy of Holies had contained the Ark.  There is much that is recorded about it in its description.  Perhaps it's location can be re-created.  
They also have another Mosque there, the al Aqsa Mosque.  ""the Farthest Mosque"), also known as Al-Aqsa and Bayt al-Muqaddas, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam.  Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to al-Aqsa during the Night JourneyIslamic tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when God directed him to turn towards the Kaaba."  The original has been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt several times.  So Jews really have to watch where they are trying to pray.   This "silver-domed mosque sits, along with the Dome of the Rockseventeen gates, and four minarets,  on the Temple Mount and that leaves one place where Jews have been allowed to pray, the Western Wall; Kotel in Hebrew.  It used to be called the Wailing Wall.  The UN has been doing their best to keep Jews away from this as well by wanting to shut down all of East Jerusalem to Jews.  Luckily, they have no real power to do so.    All the tourists that come to Israel usually head for Jerusalem first thing and go to the kotel.  Even my Hebrew class  did when we were able to take a trip by bus.  You don't go that far and not want to walk on the ground near such a special site, and to be caught moving your lips and to be in trouble is just too harsh.  

 If you don't believe me about all the reasons and considerations that go into reading this ruling, read this article about all the conditions that are discussed about it by the rabbis.     "Entering the Temple Mount - in Halacha and Jewish History""

  When decisions had to be made about something, the Sanhedrin met and discussed all the ramifications.  It was like a preparation for debating.  The Sanhedrin was the meeting together of 71 ordained rabbis of the level of Harvard or Yale scholarship which functioned both as Supreme Court and as the legislature.  At the head stood the Nasi, usually a descendant of Hillel, and an Av Bet Din (father of the court).  The Vice-president of the Supreme Court was called the Bet Din ha-Gadol) and was in Jerusalem during the 2nd Temple period.  He probably handled the court procedure.  Today we have had 2 rabbis;  one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi.  No matter what they say as to whether we should be praying in this area or not, the Arabs are not allowing us even minutes of time to do so anyway.  They get violent when they see a Jew moving his lips as if in prayer and we get mad for not being able to say a prayer while standing in such a spot.                                                    
Jews not being allowed to pray on Temple Mount; 2015 
In the spirit of keeping the peace, it was Moshe Dayan who made the decision of allowing the Jordanians ruling over the Temple Mount.  They turned out to have been most narrow minded about doing their gracious bit by allowing Jews to say a quiet prayer near their mosque.  No, Jews are not allowed to say any prayers there.  It's a ridiculous reason to start a fight or war over.
The Temple Mount, which is situated on top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, was selected to be the site of the 1st Temple by King Solomon.  It was the shrine for the Ark, the sacred vessels and offerings, with a court for worshipers.  It was designed and had a hall, shrine and inner sanctum or the holy of holies sections.  According to our records, the Temple was chosen to be built here because it was the very site where Abraham prepared to offer Isaac.  It was also the site of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite that was bought by David on which to build an altar.  Jebusites were Canaanite people who had been living in the hilly part of the land around Jerusalem before Israelites had entered with Moses.  Jerusalem was occupied by them only in the reign of David.  The last Jebusite king was evidently this Araunah.  When David took it over, the Jebusites remained in the city and became a paying tributary group to Solomon which kept the peace.   After a period of time, they simply were assimilated.

 "From the days of Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabban Gamiliel, Rabbi Eliezer, and Rabbi Akiva, who lived through the destruction of the Holy Temple by the Romans, and whose joint ascent to the Temple Mount, after its destruction, is recorded in Talmud, (Massechet Makot), Jews have been ascending the Temple Mount, (when the foreign powers that ruled the Mount throughout the ages allowed it)."  So it has been done by the most orthodox of Jews after Jerusalem fell.  Is it not a recent decision that it is not to be visited by Jews because of the Holy of Holies issue ?  
Police must use shields to protect themselves from Palestinian rock throwers
There has been a lot of fights, even stabbings, centering around Jews wanting to pray beside the ruins of our 1st and 2nd Temples that lie here, now in space invaded by Muslim invaders.  This plays a big part in Jerusalem being coveted by the Muslims and Jews with their ancient history right here being denied the simple act of praying here.

It started with the above rabbis of the 1st century of going to the Temple Mount.  Gamaliel the Elder was from the early 1st century and was president of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem; grandson of Hillel.  He communicated with Jewish communities in Judah, which was called Palestine after 135 CE.  He also was able to communicate with Jews in the Diaspora as well.  The communications were about such things as writing several regulations directed at social improvements based on the Torah such as the betterment of the legal position of women.  

Rabbi Akiva Ben Joseph lived from about the year 50 to 135 of humble origin and was an uneducated person until he was 40 when  with his wife's backing, devoted himself to learning.  He studied with many leading scholars and developed his own style of biblical interpretation according to which every word and sign in the Bible has a particular significance and can be used to establish a source for accepted halakhic decisions.  He collected and arranged the whole Oral Law according to subjects.  This rabbi was regarded as the greatest scholar of his time, and thousands of students studied at his school in Bene Berak, Israel.  He was one most interested in mystical speculation and was the only one of 4 rabbis who studied mysticism and was not harmed by it..  He went with Rabbi Gamaliel and others to Rome to secure the reversal of Domitian's legislation against the Jews.  They journeyed widely among Jewish communities outside Palestine.  This is one rabbi who backed the idea of Bar Kokhba being the king-messiah.  Jerusalem had fallen to the Romans in 70CE and it was in 132 that Bar Kokhba, with them men he had gathered, fought against the Romans in a 3 year battle and was able to take back this holy city for the 3 years, but then he was killed in battle in 135 and the Romans regained control.  

Famous rabbis made such a ruling at the beginning of our loss 2,000 years ago, and now events have progressed.  We are back after a very long period and Jerusalem is our capital, like it or not, world.  Must we wait till the 3rd Temple is built?  The true acceptance by our neighbors would be to allow us to say prayers.  Wouldn't that be a sight?  Jews, Muslims and Christians all praying to G-d for peace on earth, good will towards mankind.  

Resource:   "Entering the Temple Mount - in Halacha and Jewish History"
The New Standard Jewish Enyclopedia

1 comment:

    have you ever heard this before?
    is interesting, nadene. very much so in my mind.....