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Yesha Rabbis: A "Mitzvah" To Visit Temple Mount

The Yesha Rabbis Council issued a Halakhic ruling today not only permitting Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, but even mandating it, contingent upon proper precautions.
First Publish: 9/5/2003, 3:25 PM

The Yesha Rabbis Council issued a Halakhic ruling today not only permitting Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, but even mandating it, contingent upon proper precautions. Excerpts from the announcement of the ruling:
"...One of the rabbis commented that by refraining from ascending, we are thereby declaring to the world as if we, G-d forbid, have no part in the Mountain of G-d - and we thus strengthen the Arabs' feeling that the Temple Mount is theirs.
"The public is not aware that many rabbis are of the opinion that we currently have the information necessary to enable one to ascend without transgressing, and that therefore those who permit it are not being 'lenient' and are not disputing those who came before them - but are rather clearly relying on that which is now known.
"We therefore call on every rabbi who [agrees with this] to actually visit the Temple Mount, and to guide his congregants in doing so according to Halakhah [Jewish law]. It is a disgrace for us that the Arabs - 'who say let us seize for ourselves the pastures of G-d' [Psalms 88] - ascend to the site by the tens of thousands, while barely any Jews do so...
"All those who continue to feel that it is forbidden did not check the matter sufficiently, and forbade it only because of uncertainty [as to the permitted locations] - but this doubt has been cleared up, and it can be clearly delineated where on the Mount we are permitted to walk.
"It is our tradition that 'we do not add decrees.' In order to forbid something, the Sanhedrin, or all the generation's Torah leaders, would have to convene and make this decision - but that has not occurred, and therefore the Law remains as it was, namely, permitting ascent to the Temple Mount, as Maimonides himself did and as the Meiri testified that it is a 'common-place custom' to do so. Even a prophet cannot uproot a commandment except as a temporary measure.
"Those who wish to be extra careful [should know that] their stringency is leading to a leniency, in that many people who would be happy to follow the Halakhah actually transgress it out of ignorance - simply because the proper laws are not publicized."

The Yesha Rabbis' announcement, which quotes Maimonides' ruling [Biat HaMikdash 3,4], states that one who ascends to the Mount while adhering to three conditions - immersion in a mikveh; keeping the laws of Awe of the Temple (no leather shoes, etc.); and knowledge of the precise permitted areas - is fulfilling a "great mitzvah [Torah commandment]."

The rabbis also praise Public Security Minister Tzachi HaNegbi for his efforts in opening the site to Jews.