A Mount of Mistake

Rabbi Chaim Ozer Chait

The long period of Galus was a period of uncertainty and instability both regarding the ruling authority as well as determining the Halacha: Do we follow the Rambam, Ra’aved, or Meeri? All this was left to the people of that generation. There was no Torah authority who would give a Halachic P’sak (decision) on what the law is. There  was no one authority or Shulchan Orech to tell the people what the correct Halacha was. Which Rishon do we follow? Or was it clear in which areas in the Har Habayit is it permitted to walk? Excavations were not permitted for the most part. Rav Ishtori HaParchi (1280-1345) compiled his famous work The Kaftor VaFerach for the purpose of identifying the holiness of the land and boundaries of the cities according to the Gemara and Midrash. This included the Har Habayit. He did not see Herod’s Western Wall as it was all covered with sand and debris, leaving certain uncertainties in identifying the proper areas of the Har Haybayit. Sometimes a Minhag developed as to which route to take on the Har Habayit, as well as the practice which opinion in Halacha do we follow. Other times it was left to each individual. 

At about the late 1800’s many Rabanim in Eretz Yisroel felt that the Halacha was in favor of the Rambam. The Magen Avraham had already given his P’sak and his opinion was generally accepted as the final Halacha. Furthermore, the Mishna Brura concurred with the Magen Avraham.  Many Rabanim felt responsible to clearly establish that the Halacha is like the Rambam regarding the Har Habayit (keep in mind that Rav Kook personally held that the Ra’avad is basically in agreement with the Rambam, all the more reason to follow the Rambam…see last week’s article). At that time the Rabanim had no way to enforce the proper route that should be taken on the Har Habayit. Many felt that there was no choice but to issue a ban on entering the Har Habayit. This would prevent the people from violating a probation that is punishable by kares. Not everyone took the ban seriously. In 1855 Sir Moses Montefiore who was aware of the ban thought that he could overcome the ban by entering the Har Habayit in a closed box. Many of the local people were extremely angry with him and pelted him with stones when he subsequently visited a Shul. Some Rabbis placed him in Cheirem, prohibiting any social or commercial contact with him. This ban was removed only after he solemnly promised that he would not repeat such a visit. 

Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rochschild (known as “The Famous Benefactor”) went to the Har Habayit on his visit to Yerushalayim in 1887 and on subsequent visits. Rabbi Kook issued a stringent rebuke to the Baron for failing to adhere to the ban. Rav Kook declared that although the Har Habayit was then in the hands of the Arabs, it would eventually come back into Jewish possession. Rav Kook never intended that the ban should be in force until the days of Mashiach. That would be removing many Mitzvos from the Taryag (613 commandments). Today, Rav Kook would be shocked to see the Har Habayit under Jewish sovereignty and the Jewish people enforcing Islamic law on the Har Habayit, as well as erecting an edifice in honor of Islam and allowing the disgraceful acts of playing ball, and having family picnics on the Har Habayit . On one occasion I saw a funeral leaving the Azara. What a disgrace and degradation to our most holy site. These are clear acts of heresy and infidelity. We are violating some of the most basic tenets of our Torah. We have an obligation to inform the public of what is taking place on the Har Habayit today. We have to change the policy of our misguided government. 

By ascending the Har you are making a statement that we will not tolerate the defamation of the Har Habayit. We want to bring back the proper Kedusha to the Har Habayit such as Tefila while wearing our Tallis and Tefilin, building the Beis Hamikdash, Korban Pesach, and the Mitzvos that pertain to the Har Habayit.   

All those who wish to donate to our Yeshiva and Kollel or want additional information on the Har Habayit click on our link http://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)