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Ancient Ritual Bath near Temple Mount to be Back in Use

An ancient mikve (ritual bath) near the Temple Mount will be renovated and reopened for use by women who wish to ascend the Temple Mount.
By Sarah Lawent & Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/24/2013, 3:12 PM

Ancient Mikveh
Ancient Mikveh
illustrative

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), announced to the Knesset today (Thursday) that at last night’s meeting of the Committee on the Status of Women, during a discussion of the ritual baths in Israel, it was decided that an ancient mikve near the Temple Mount would be restored for use so that women could ascend the Temple Mount in ritual purity.

Ministry of Religious Affairs Chairman, Elhanan Glatt, revealed during the meeting that clear instructions had been given to the female bath attendants not to question women who visit the mikve as to their personal status.

“If a woman wants to enter the mikve in order to go up the Temple Mount, and even if there may be a halachic (Jewish law) issue involved, it is not within an attendant’s purview to prevent it,” Glatt stated.

Some ritual baths permit only married Jewish women to immerse themselves, in accordance with the standard practice in many modern-day Jewish communities. Other communities allow unmarried women to immerse as well.

The question of Jewish ascension to the Temple Mount continues to be controversial. The Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth according to Jewish tradition, and was the site of the First and Second Temples. As such, some rabbis say Jews should be encouraged to visit and pray at the holy site.

However, other rabbis say that Jews should not enter the Temple Mount until ancient practices have been brought back that would ensure they are in a state of ritual purity before stepping foot on the holy site.

In addition, today the Temple Mount is home to the Al-Aqsa mosque, and many Muslim worshipers and Arab leaders have expressed vehement opposition to Jews’ visits to the site, and have even attacked Jews who come to the area.