Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered one of the greatest living experts on Jewish law, has reiterated that it is halachicly forbidden for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount.
Elyashiv told this to President Shimon Peres on Thursday when the latter visited him in his succa in the capital's Mea She'arim neighborhood.
Peres, 86, who makes it a practice to pay Succot visits to the chief rabbis of Israel as well as to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, 89, had not previously called on Elyashiv, 99.
Aside from the halachic issue, said Elyashiv, it was important to consider that any provocations on the part of Jews who were determined to reach the Temple Mount could lead to needless bloodshed and further condemnation of Israel by the nations of the world.
There are those in the religious camp who disagree with Elyashiv. Yehuda Glick, director of the Temple Institute, has been arrested several times this year for encouraging Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute is dedicated to the construction of a Third Temple on the site "to serve as a royal house of prayer."
Peres said that the voice of a renowned and revered authority such as Elyashiv should be heard and heeded.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Elyashiv gave Peres a blessing, saying to him: "As president, you need a special blessing to steer the nation on the right course in these difficult times."