Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat visiting the Temple Mount, October 28, 2014. .
(photo credit: MAYOR'S OFFICE)
Amid the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the severe tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, the largest-selling haredi daily newspaper, Yated Ne’eman, called on Thursday for the government to close the site to Jewish visitors, labeling Jewish visitation to the spot as provocative and contrary to Jewish law.
In its Thursday editorial, Yated Ne’eman, the mouthpiece of the Degel Hatorah political party, denounced efforts to take Jews up to the Temple Mount, likening it to “throwing a match into an oil well which bury the Middle East in smoking ashes.”
“They are laying out a red carpet for terrorists which will only become redder with blood as the tensions are intensified. These [people] will not be satisfied until they leave behind them and their activities politically scorched earth, and when Jerusalem, which sits on a powder keg, burns with the fires of hatred,” read the Yated
Mainstream haredi rabbinic opinion is that, according to Jewish law, Jews may not visit the Temple Mount, because the holiness of the site requires a ritual purification process that is not available in present times.
There are, however, significant numbers of rabbis, especially from the national-religious community, who argue that it is possible to visit the areas of the Temple Mount that do not require this level of ritual purity.
“The government of Israel must close the Temple Mount [to Jews]. It is not only a terrible security threat but more seriously an awful stumbling block for Jews, [who may violate] one of the most serious prohibitions,” the editorial stated.
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a yeshiva dean and a leading figure in the mainstream national-religious community, criticized Yated Ne’eman
’s stance, however, saying that the paper was not acknowledging the legitimacy of other opinions in Jewish law.
Cherlow himself believes that Jewish law does permit entry to certain areas of the Temple Mount and does himself visit the site.
“As is Yated Ne’eman
’s general approach, it thinks that the truth lies only within its pages and allows itself to disparage other legitimate halachic opinions.”
The rabbi added, however, that despite his stance, security considerations should be taken into consideration when approving Jewish visitation to the site.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute, an educational and activist group, also criticized the Yated
“The fact is that the Jewish people – from the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, through the era of Islamic ascent and until the Crusades – did not pray at the Western Wall but at the Temple Mount.”
Richman noted that the famed medieval rabbi Moses Maimonides, known as the Rambam, prayed at the site.