Chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef have signed a declaration reiterating
the Chief Rabbinate’s opposition to Jews visiting the Temple Mount.
Chief Rabbinate has – since its inception under Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen
Kook in 1921 – banned Jews from visiting the site out of a concern they may
inadvertently step into an area which, in Jewish law, it is forbidden to enter
unless one is ritually pure. It is not possible to perform the purification
ceremony today for various halachic reasons.
In their signed declaration,
Lau and Yosef said they were repeating the prohibition first issued by Kook
against going up to the Temple Mount.
“In light of [those] neglecting
[this ruling], we once again warn that nothing has changed and this strict
prohibition remains in effect for the entire area [of the Temple Mount],” the
chief rabbis wrote.
The declaration, which was promoted and advanced by
senior national-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, was also signed by several
other leading rabbis, including former chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Bakshi
Doron, Rabbi Tzvi Tau, dean of the haredi-Zionist Yeshiva Har Hamor, and
In recent years, increasing numbers of religious people have
ascended to the site, largely due to the activities of several religious
organizations which promote Jewish rights and Israeli sovereignty over the
Temple Mount complex.
Their activities have been given religious sanction
by several leading national-religious rabbis, who rule that it is possible to
visit the Temple Mount without entering the prohibited areas.
Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona and Hebron, and one of the most respected
national-religious authorities in Jewish law, reiterated his position recently
in the Shabbat pamphlet Gilui Da’at that it is halachically permissible to visit
the Temple Mount.
The increasing number of people visiting the site and
the increasingly vocal campaign insisting on the right of Jews to visit and pray
there have led to increased tensions at the Temple Mount and intense political
opposition from Arab MKs.
In a Knesset committee hearing on the issue in
November, MK Jamal Zahalka of Balad accused Bayit Yehudi lawmakers who are
supportive of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount of being “pyromaniacs,” telling
them “you’re playing with fire and you’re starting an inferno.”