Who may not ascend to Temple Mount?
Who may not ascend to Temple Mount?Israel News photo: (Temple Institute)

Sheikh Kamal Riyan called on Jews to “observe Jewish Law” and not visit the Temple Mount. It is true that Jewish Law restricts Jewish entry to the Mount, Rabbi Zalman Melamed responded, but it also forbids non-Jewish entry to the Temple area outright - which the sheikh did not note.

The Muslim Sheikh, who heads the Al-Aksa Association for the Islamic Trust, pointed a finger at the Israel Police, the Government of Israel, and the entire Jewish Nation for allowing themselves to be “held hostage” by the “extreme right-wing.”

'Riyan has Chutzpah'

Riyan noted in this connection that Jewish Law forbids Jews from entering the Temple Mount. Unsurprisingly, as his background in Jewish Law is not extensive, and his mistakes in this area include the following: Basic Jewish Law allows Jews to enter the Temple Mount, after having purified themselves of a certain level of legal impurity, but they may not enter the site where certain parts of the Temple itself stood. Many rabbis today adhere to the leniencies of this law, while others say that Jews should not enter any part of the Temple Mount, for fear that they will enter the wrong areas. 

Furthermore, as Rabbi Zalman Melamed noted on Tuesday in response to Riyan’s statement, Jewish Law most certainly forbids non-Jews from entering the holy areas of the Mount. (See Mishna, Tr. Kelim 1,8)

Rabbi Melamed, who heads the Beit El Yeshiva Center and is Chief Rabbi of Beit El, is among those who discourage Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount. However, he said, “Riyan's statement that Jewish law forbids Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount is an expression of nerve and chutzpah... It is true that according to Jewish Law, a Jew who is not in a pure state cannot ascend to the Temple Mount - but certainly Arabs may not ascend to the Temple either."

Riyan released a statement saying that the “extremist settlers” and the “Jerusalem extremists” are linked by a desire to “create facts on the ground in opposition to international law, humanism, and even the word of the Creator.” He blamed the Jerusalem violence of the past few days – in which over 20 Arabs were arrested and at least three Israeli policemen were injured – on the “settlers and on the Israeli establishment that protects them.”

“If Israel truly does not intend to build a synagogue [on the Temple Mount] or to build the fake Holy Temple [sic],” Sheikh Riyan said, “it must prove this to the entire Arab world.” Many Muslim clerics have claimed in recent years that there never was a Jewish Holy Temple atop the site – contradicting not only Jewish sources and countless historical and archeological proofs, but also an Islamic Waqf booklet of 1925 describing the Temple Mount that mentions, twice, the historic existence of the Holy Temples there.