(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In an attempt to calm Muslim tension over building near the Al Aksa Mosque, the Chief Rabbinate has requested to meet with leading Islamic spiritual leaders.
Oded Weiner, director-general of the Chief Rabbinate, said that both chief rabbis were interested in meeting with Muslim religious leaders and that a Muslim go-between was contacted on Friday.
Chief Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitz pointed out that according to the Chief Rabbinate's directives, Halacha (Jewish law) prohibits entry to the Temple Mount.
"As chairman of the body responsible for upkeep of the Kotel, I can assure you that no work is being done near the Temple Mount," said Rabinovitz. "In fact, the Halacha prohibits coming anywhere near Al Aksa. Any claims to the contrary are just pernicious lies designed to take control of the Temple Mount."
The classic rabbinic response to the Temple Mount has been one of awe and maintaining cautious distance.
In September 1967, just three months after the Six Day War, the Chief Rabbinate issued a "notice and warning" that forbid Jews from entering the Temple Mount.
The letter, signed by the two chief rabbis at the time - Isser Yehuda Unterman and Yitzhak Nissim - and other leading rabbis including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, stated that "after we had the merit out of God's kindness that the holy mount and the Temple are under our control, and many of the house of Israel are rushing to the Temple site... we are prevented from entering the area of the Temple Mount for fear we will desecrate the holiness of the place."