By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"And I will bring them to My Holy Mountain and I will make them happy in My House of Prayer... for My House will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations" [Yeshayahu 56:7].
"'Har Hamoriah' – from there teaching ('horayah') goes out to the world... from there fear ( 'yir'a') goes out to the world.
'Aron' (the Ark) – from there light ('orah') goes out to the world... from there curses ('arirah') go out to the world.
'Devir' – from there a plague ('dever') goes out to the world... from there, commandments ('dibrot') go out to the world." [Talmud Yerushalmi Berachot 4:5].
Kayin and Hevel
In recent weeks, the Temple Mount has become the focus of violent Islamic riots, with religion and politics thoroughly intermingled. To make the situation clear: Islam as a religion is being exploited in the service of Palestinian nationalism. And the international community stands against Israel. The believers of Islam are being incited by false propaganda about Zionist intrigues to destroy Moslem holy sites, and the Arab statesmen and their supporters in the world have rushed out, calling for a campaign against Israel.
Our situation in the arena of international advocacy is extremely low. Our enemies are good at lying, at blood libels, and at distributing false propaganda video clips. Even if we can garner the services of our best propaganda experts, it is very doubtful if we can compete successfully with evil forces which intentionally lie, callously, without batting an eyelash. This is weaponry which we are not capable of using, and in the tournaments of international lies we will always occupy the lowest position. Actually, this should give us a feeling of satisfaction! We cannot defeat the Moslem media liars who deny the existence of our Temple on the Mount, and their belief that the El-Aksa mosque preceded the Temples of Solomon and of the Chashmona'im.
At the foundation of the world, from the time of Creation itself, this small area of 500 by 500 Amot on the Temple Mount, was the arena of the struggle between Kayin and Hevel. According to the tradition of the sages, the very first murder occurred at this very site, in the wake of a frightful dispute about the control of this mountain (Bereishit Rabba 22:7). It would seem that this event left a mark of the dispute that has lasted through the generations. The words of the Midrash which are quoted at the beginning of this article also indicate that holy words that are related to the Mount – Moriah, Aron, Devir – can be interpreted in two ways: positive and negative, light and darkness, a blessing or a curse...
A Family Dispute
We have another very difficult problem. The Israeli leftists and part of those in the center do not feel that the Temple Mount is important, not in terms of sovereignty or with respect to allowing Jewish prayers there. They accept – either openly or deep in their hearts – the wretched historical decision made by Moshe Dayan: the Western Wall for the Jews, the Temple Mount for the Moslems! To add to the tragedy of political Zionism, prominent men from the Chareidi sector support this approach – either openly or deep in their hearts – and they are joined by the Chief Rabbis and some of the rabbis of the "Chardal" (Chareidi religious Zionist) groups (who, as far as I am concerned, can be more troublesome than the others). The Or Hachaim cried out about those who hold such opinions: "All the masters of the land, the great scholars of Yisrael, will be called to account for this, and G-d will demand retribution from them for the insult of the neglected house." [Vayikra 25:25].
In spite of everything I have written above, we cannot allow the political defeatists among us to raise their hands in surrender and to abandon the Temple Mount, if for no other reason than my firm belief that any surrender leads to another one! The Temple Mount is "the home of our lives," and as far as I am concerned whoever gives it up is "heartless" and pitiable. ("Let my eyes and heart remain there for all the days" [Melachim I 9:3].) I have such people in mind when I hear the blessings of the Haftarah: "Have pity on Zion for it is the home of our lives, and help the pitiable ones with all due haste."
Divide and Conquer!
I had a dream... In my vision, we arrived at an accommodation for enforced schedules of prayer and access on the Temple Mount, in the spirit of the arrangements at the Machpelah Cave in Chevron. After much struggling and the "Goldstein massacre," arrangements for "dividing" the time in the Cave were forced on the "two sides" by the government of Israel and the IDF. At the Machpelah Cave, there is rigid "territorial" separation, with separate entrances and control points. And, behold, the level of friction has been reduced dramatically. In addition, several days a year have been set, based (I think) on mutual symmetry, when every "side" has the privilege of occupying the entire area. It will be very easy to propose a similar arrangement for the Temple Mount, and to enforce it. (Well, I admit that it may not be easy, but it will probably be quite hard to implement!)
But I woke up, and it was merely a dream! In order to fulfill the prayer of Shlomo when he dedicated the Temple as "Your place of residence, where You will do whatever the Gentile calls out for You to do" [Melachim I 8:43], and to implement the vision of Yeshayahu quoted above, "My house will be a House of Prayer for all the nations" – to do that we will need cooperation among all the religious wise men and their representative leaders. At this point, at the top of the exalted mountain, it will be impossible to enforce a political arrangement without the brave involvement of the leaders of the antagonists. To tell the truth, what is needed is not necessarily active participation but perhaps only for the leaders not to object. And here I see an image of the Chief Rabbinate.
And now my dream returns... Behold, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel (under the leadership of Rabbi David Lau?)does not oppose the idea. And the government of Israel and the IDF enforce the arrangement – and the Temple Mount will indeed be in our hands too!