Religion & Beliefs

The Temple Mount: Open for Business

Over at Haaretz, a story about how an increasing number of Religious Zionist Rabbis are encouraging people to visit the Temple Mount.  Currently, rabbinic consensus in the religious Zionist and the ultra-Orthodox world prohibits Jews from entering the Temple Mount. … Read More

By / May 9, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

Over at Haaretz, a story about how an increasing number of Religious Zionist Rabbis are encouraging people to visit the Temple Mount. 

Currently, rabbinic consensus in the religious Zionist and the ultra-Orthodox world prohibits Jews from entering the Temple Mount. This is because the exact location of the Holy of Holies is not known, and therefore Jews who have not properly purified themselves may accidentally walk there or through other prohibited places.

And that's changing right now, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem.  Cool, right?  But it seems you can't pray there.  Which I didn't actually know until just now.  Why?

The policy was set 40 years ago by then-defense minister Moshe Dayan. Dayan argued that the national and territorial dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict should be separated from the religious dimension, and for this reason Jewish prayer and ritual should be prohibited on the Mount. At the same time, it was decided that ultimate responsibility for security on and around the Temple Mount would be in the hands of Israel, while religious and administrative autonomy at the Temple Mount would be under the Waqf (the Muslim religious authorities), a situation that prevails to this day.

This is fascinating to me.  I never think about this aspect of regulating prayer.  In America we argue so much about whether to allow prayer in schools, but when we talk about it, we don't mean to actually restrict PRAYER.  We simply mean to restrict the public and community aspects of prayer. We mean to keep ourselves from sliding into enforcing prayer.   

But on the Temple Mount, they mean to RESTRICT prayer!  Check it out:

Nahum relates a story of a religious woman who, upon touring the Mount, was tired and sat by a tree to rest. She closed her eyes and it looked like she was meditating. The police detained her for violating the ban on prayer.

I find myself thinking again about something I learned in Israel– that context is everything.   I remember one day, in Jerusalem, being massively relieved to see a cop (there's a long back story to this, but suffice it  to say I was scared).  And I thought to myself then that it was funny. Since as an American teenager I hated cops. I was offended by the existence of cops. Pigs.  The people who broke up Peta rallies. Etc. But when I saw this young guy in his military garb, with his gun, I wanted to hug him.

And this feels a little like that to me.  While I am, as an American, pretty violently opposed to "prayer in schools"… if the context shifted, the cultural setting, the mindset…  I might be all for it.  I would most certainly be bothered by an attempt to KEEP anyone from praying on a personal level. That kind of restriction freaks me out.

So maybe I'm a bible thumper. Who knew?

Lesson: Never name the well you won't drink from.