More than 500 people went up to the Temple Mount on Monday night and Tuesday, in commemoration of Tisha B'av, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said Monday evening.
With that, the Foundation expressed satisfaction at the positive reaction to its call for more people to ascend the Mount on the day that Jews commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple.
Among those who ascended over Tisha B'av were 120 students and rabbis of the Otniel Yeshiva, students from the Shavei Shomron Talmud Torah, and a group led by Moshe Feiglin of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) movement in the Likud. That group was attacked by a number of Arabs from the Waqf, the Muslim group that administers the mosques currently occupying the Temple Mount.
Feiglin said that police failed to protect his guests, and did not arrest the Arabs who tried to intimidate and threaten the Jewish group.
Altogether, members of the Foundation said, about 1,000 Jews had ascended the Temple Mount during the Three Weeks period, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the weeks that Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and the lengthy exile that followed.
For the first time this year, a rally was held in the Hareidi Geulah neighborhood of Jerusalem advocating ascending the Mount. Most Hareidi Jews oppose ascending the Mount because of concerns that the ritually impure Jews of today will enter areas that impure people are not allowed to enter. According to the Torah, the Divine penalty for entering those areas while ritually impure is “death at the Hands of Heaven.”
Late Chief Rabbi and head of Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Avraham Elkana Shapira, was opposed to ascending the Mount, as is the head of the Beit El Yeshiva, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Shlita.
Rabbi Yisrael Appel of the Foundation presented a long list of Hareidi leaders and rabbis who had actually advocated ascending the Mount. These rabbis had given permission for followers of theirs who had asked about the matter to visit the Temple Mount, Rabbi Appel said, but preferred not to publicize their point of view because of internal community politics.
And indeed, Rabbi Appel said after the rally, a group of community members who fiercely opposed ascent onto the Temple Mount interfered with the rally, harassing participants and attempting to take apart the stage where Rabbi Appel was speaking.
Participants called police who promised to send a patrol car – but they never showed, and the rally was halted before it was completed due to the harassment.
Nevertheless, said Foundation chairman Yehuda Glick, “there is no doubt that this is a positive development. We must continue to increase the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, so that the appearance of Jews there will become a daily sight that everyone becomes used to.”