Our Holiest Site
Rabbi Chaim Ozer Chait
The most holy site for the Jewish people is the Har Habayit, an area of five hundred square amot situated on the Temple Mount. With the destruction of the Second Temple the Jewish people were exiled from their most holy site and the long and painful years of the diaspora began. For the past two thousand years the Temple Mount has undergone many changes. It came under the rulership of many foreign nations: The Roman Period, Byzantine Period, Arab period, Crusader Period, Ottoman, British, Jordainan, to name some. With the changing of time its appearance underwent changes as well. From the concluding Gemara in Makot it appears to be a desolate area as Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues walked on the Temple mount. During the Byzantine period a Church was constructed on the Temple Mount and in 691 the Muslims erected the Dome of the Rock. Al-Aqsa was built in 705 on the site of the Byzantine church. From that point on it became a Muslim holy site. The Jewish ability to ascend The Har Habayit depended on the ruler. When relationships between the Jewish people and their ruler were good, their ability to ascend was more permissive. But throughout this long period of Galut, the Jewish people always felt like foreigners in their own land.
On the 28th day of the month of Iyar, June 7, 1967 things miraculously changed. The Temple Mount was returned to Jewish sovereignty. Fifty four years have passed since that miraculous gift from G-d to the Jewish people. One would imagine that the nature and the overall character of the mountain would change in both its outer appearance and religious practices as well. It would be obvious to all that this is a Jewish holy site (similar to a shul), but surprisingly that has not occurred. Except for the raising of the Jewish flag over the Dome of the Rock on June 7, for approximately one hour (Prime Minister Levi Eshkol as well as Moshe Dayan ordered it to be removed on the basis that we don’t display victory on the holy sites of other religions) nothing has changed and its Islamic appearance as a Muslim holy site is still ostentatiously visible. On the contrary, the Jewish people are still treated as foreigners, but now, in their own land. Even more shocking, we as a Jewish nation have only displayed disgrace and contempt to our most holy site. We have openly violated the 21 positive commandments according to the counting of the Rambam (and the 254 mitzvas according to the Sefer Ha'Chinuch) where we are commanded to show awe and reverence to this holy site, the Har Habayit.
For the first time in the history of the Jewish people we are enforcing Islamic law and of all places on the Har Habayit. Even more shocking is the fact that for most of the history of the Dome of the Rock the dome was not made out of gold, although originally gold, however the gold did not last long and for the last one thousand years it was made out of other metals such as bronze or other metals painted gold. In 1992 King Hussein of Jordan wanted to renovate the dome. He asked the Jewish state of Israel to grant him permission to build the biggest gold dome in the world to honor and glorify Islam (even in Mecca there isn’t a gold dome of that magnitude). Permission was astonishingly granted. This is the gold dome we see today that sits over the Kodesh Kadashim. This is outright shocking and blasphemous. That we should honor Islam over the the Kodesh Kadashim is categorically kefira (heretical). Furthermore, Rambam (Hilchos Beis Habechira 4:1) says that the Ark (contaning the Luchos and the Shivrei Luchos) are all buried there on the Har Habayit. To honor Islam over the Luchos is unequivocally kefira. Rambam states “he who says…that the Torah although of divine origin is now obsolete, as the Nazarenes and Moslems assert is a denier of the Torah.” “They have no portion in the world to come but are cut off and perish for their wickedness and sinfulness are condemned for ever and ever” (Hilchos Teshuva 3) How did we come to such an abominable and contemptible situation?! This and other important topics will be discussed in forthcoming articles.
I am presently serving as president of Yeshivat Har Habayit under the tutelage of Rabbi Eliyahu Weber Shlita and Kollel Drishat Tzion under the tutelage of Rabbi Elisha Wolfson Shilta. I therefore feel it is my responsibility to educate and inform the public what is happening on the Har Habayit. I asked Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim if he would give me a weekly column where I can communicate and inform his readers on one of the most important and pressing topics facing the Jewish people today. He enthusiastically agreed and offered his assistance whenever needed. The column will be called “Min Hahar.” We will work hard on giving our readers important Halachos as well as current events, upcoming events and politics pertaining to the Har Habayit. I will be asking others to contribute informative articles as well.
Please visit us at www.HarHabayit.org. We are dedicated and committed to protecting the holiness of this area and rendering it into a place where Jews have the right to visit and pray. Through our efforts I wish to point out that davening has returned to the Har Habayit on a regular basis, twice a day, Sunday through Thursday, as well as daily shiurim (an event to my knowledge has not taken place since the destruction of the second Temple). All are welcome to join and participate or to walk on the assigned route, thereby fulfilling the Mitzvot of showing Reverence to the Sanctuary and laying the foundation of the Third Beis Hamikdash. These visits are coordinated with the Israeli police to ensure safety and to scrupulously avoid treading on places where it is forbidden to go.
All those who wish to donate to our Yeshiva and Kollel or want additional information on the Har Habayit, please visit www.HarHabayit.org
NOTE: One should not ascend the Temple Mount without proper Rabbinical instruction:
1) You should be informed of the various routes that are available according to the different Rabbinicial opinions.
2) You must immerse in a Kosher Mikvah that meets the standards to be kosher med’oriasa.
3) You must receive instructions for the proper preparations for the Mikvah (Chafifah)