As the holiday of Passover (Pesach) nears, interest focuses on the Temple Mount, where the Torah mandates that at least one Paschal sacrifice for the entire nation – and ideally, one for each household – should be offered on Passover.
As in previous years, a group of Jews who wish to fulfill the commandment of offering the sacrifice on Passover eve, this coming Monday, have asked for police protection. If the results of previous years’ requests are any guide, the police are expected not only to refuse to provide such protection, but to ban the event from taking place at all.
Last year, Rabbi Yehuda Glick and Noam Federman were arrested while on their way to the Temple Mount with sheep for the sacrifice. About ten others who awaited their arrival so that they could participate in the event were left without sheep to offer.
In letters to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Police Chief Aharon Franco, Attorney Aviad Visuly of the Land of Israel Task Force explained, “The commandment to offer a Paschal sacrifice on the 14th day of Nisan is a particularly serious one, leading to the punishment of karet (divine punishment by untimely death or eternal excommunication - ed.) ' for those in Jerusalem who refrain from fulfilling it. As a religious rite, it need not receive a police permit; we therefore request that you simply provide protection.”
Netanyahu’s office responded that the matter is something for the security bodies to decide.
At the same time, Rabbi Glick is still struggling to be allowed to visit the Temple Mount at all this coming holiday week. After a Jerusalem court judge turned down a police request to ban him from the site, police officer Avi Roif submitted yet another memorandum to the court. Roif claims that Glick’s arrival on the Mount would cause public disturbances and would provide him with yet another chance to violate the regulations – such as "no praying" – on the Jewish People’s holiest site in the world.
Glick has responded that the affidavit is “full of lies,” and accused Roif of aiding the “Muslim enemy on the Temple Mount.”
Though the Bible forbids entry into the Holy Temple area without proper prior purification procedures, Glick and many others believe that the precise areas of forbidden entry are now known and are easily avoidable. This past week, a letter endorsed by great rabbis – both hareidi-religious and religious-Zionist, and both of this generation and the previous – states that such entry is gravely forbidden.
The letter prompted a very sharp response from Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. “There are rabbis who are blue-and-white Satmar (a hassidic dynasty that opposes Zionism - ed.)!” he said with great emotion. “What did they say Hallel [prayer of praise] for in 1967 when the city was unified?! Did they say it because we liberated the Arab market place?! Did they say it for the plaza outside the Western Wall? They said it for the Temple Mount, the site of the Holy Temple, the holiest site in Judaism! How can they say they are Zionists if they turn their backs on Mt. Zion?!”
Rabbi Ariel continued, “It is generally assumed that it was Moshe Dayan who returned the keys to the Temple Mount to the Waqf after the Six Day War – but the fact is that it was a big rabbi who actually said the words, ‘Give the keys to the Arabs.’ How did he get himself to utter such words – to give away the place where the Divine Presence dwells, the place of the Holy of Holies, to the Arabs? Such lowliness and degradation, the apex of exile-type thinking, and against the entire Torah. On what Halakhic [Jewish legal] basis is it permitted to allow [Arabs] to debase this holy site, for which we always pray and cry, by playing soccer there?! This has nothing to do with Torah; such rabbis went against the Torah!”