The Joint Headquarters of Temple Mount Organizations released a pamphlet with a number of rulings concerning Jewish law for those who visit the Temple Mount on Tisha Be'av on Wednesday, including a ruling that even people who are concerned that they may need to drink water after visiting the site should visit in any case.
Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Yericho and head of the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea, ruled that one who plans to visit the site on Tisha Be'av should go to the mikva (ritual bath) on Wednesday before the fast begins, as bathing on Tisha B'Av itself is forbidden. If, however, one becomes ritually impure on Tisha Be'av itself, they should go to the mikva on Tisha B'Av before ascending to the mountain. The Temple Mount organizations called on the Ministry of Religious Services to open up mivkas on Wednesday for worshipers planning to visit the Temple Mount. The official position of Israel's Chief Rabbinate is that it is forbidden to enter the Temple Mount complex.
As it is expected to be exceptionally hot on Tisha Be'av, Kroizer ruled that if someone visiting the site begins to feel very weak, they are permitted to drink water. If they can manage with drinking a smaller amount of water, they should only drink 40 ml every nine minutes.
On Tisha Be'av, which falls on Wednesday night, July 29, Jews mark the day that the two Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed and a number of other calamities occurred by fasting for 25 hours and abiding by other mourning practices, including sitting on the floor or low chairs, not wearing leather shoes and reciting the Book of Lamentations (Megillat Eicha), in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile.
The Temple Mount is open to Jewish visitors from 7:30 AM to 11 AM and from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM.
"Progress on the Temple Mount occurs daily, but there are special days from which you can progress further, days when partitions fall and rules are broken. Of course, the reference is to Jerusalem Day and Tisha Be'av," wrote Asaf Fried, a spokesman for the Temple Mount organizations, on Facebook on Tuesday.
Fried stressed that the opening of the Temple Mount to Jews during a Muslim holiday was "precedent-setting and historic."
"The next sentence I say carefully but emphatically: this year too, on Tisha Be'av, we can progress significantly on the Temple Mount! I won't go into more detail," wrote Fried. "Everything is dependent on the number of pilgrims."
Last year, Jews were initially barred from entering the Temple Mount on Tisha Be'av, but were eventually let on after an uproar by religious Zionist leaders. 1,729 Jewish worshipers ascended the Temple Mount in 2019, an increase of 289 compared to 2018.
Some 40 Muslim worshipers, according to Palestinians, and four Israeli police officers were injured in clashes with police on the Temple Mount after Jews were given permission to visit the site on Tisha B'Av last year.
Visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to tourism website Tourist Israel.
This year, Tisha Be'av once again coincides with Eid al-Adha, known as the "festival of sacrifice," which coincides with the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorates Ibrahim's (Abraham) readiness to sacrifice his son in order to demonstrate his dedication to G-d, according to the Independent.
The Jerusalem Post revealed in December that Jewish visitors to the site had started praying undisturbed by police forces.Jeremy Sharon, Alon Einhorn and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.