Jewish Freedom of Religion on the Temple Mount

For true freedom of religion to exist in this matter, the Muslims must have their holy place in Mecca and the Jews must have their holy place in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount.

Prof. Alan Friedlander

Judaism מהומות בהר הבית
מהומות בהר הבית

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, so why does the government continue to deny Jews freedom of worship in their holy place? The government is still unfairly elevating Islam above Judaism on the Temple Mount and no wonder that God has given them Islamic countries to worry about.  But this could change immediately for the better.

An artificial glass ceiling prohibits the Jews from their Temple Mount. For thousands of years, it has been known that the Jews will return to their land and rebuild their Temple. If the only wrong that was done was to delay the building of the Temple, that would have been tragic enough, but even equal access as is granted to Islam is also not on the table.

In fact it was recently announced that Muslims from Judea and Samaria will now also be granted access for the month of Ramadan, but no mention of freedom for Jews at least during the month of the High Holidays, Tishrei. This is the antithesis of the concept of freedom of religion, and by leaders of the very people who God commanded, "proclaim liberty throughout the land." (Leviticus 25) But this can be changed, as it says"With the blessing of the upright, the ceiling is raised," (Proverbs 11)

There is a well known Talmudic dictum that the way a person judges others, they themselves are judged. (Sotah 8b) Before Iran became an enemy it was an ally. Before Israel gave the keys to the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf, it had an opportunity to first offer it to the Rabbis, or the Cohanim (priests), or even direct descendants of King David, the original purchaser of the Temple Mount. But the governorship was instead given to the Waqf.

Measure for Measure, the forsaking of this, spiritually speaking, turned a friend into the worst of enemies. It began the spirit of the land for peace philosophy that has delayed peace in the region all these years.  It created the spiritual foundation for the current predicament with the Islamic state in Iran and the rise of radicalism in the region. While there were dangerous nations before, the West had leaders who knew how to deal with Arab countries that endangered humanity. Now, the West is mostly confused on how to fix things.

Israel conquered the Temple Mount, but quickly sought to surrender it. George W. Bush quickly conquered Iraq, but soon became overwhelmed after the victory.  From a Torah perspective, these events are not isolated from each other. If Israel would hand control of the Temple Mount to an appropriate Jewish authority, it would create a spiritual reversal of fortune that would soon find its way into the "real" world. It's a matter of destiny that it will happen, but how blessed would it be if it preceded the messiah and did not wait for him to occur.

However, I'm not settling for mere equal rights to the Temple Mount, for the causes are not equal. Muslims who pray on the Temple Mount turn their backs to God's most Holy place on Earth, in order to pray to Mecca. They are there only to ultimately deny the Temple Mount's holiness, not embrace it. In their mind it is not that holy. They do not intend it as evil, but as for us, who are bidden to treat that place as the most sacred on Earth, how do we allow it? For this we're delaying a Third Temple? If they at least needed the Temple Mount too, it would not hurt as much, but they do not; not religiously at least.

If the Knesset does not want to take responsibility for governing the Temple Mount directly, authority should be removed from the Muslim Waqf and immediately granted to the Rabbis or either the Cohanim or to the known descendants of King David, who in turn would hire Cohanim to man the holy site.

The seal of world peace has long been revealed in Tanach. The Lord will first return the Jewish people to the Holy Land and in the time when the Third Temple is built, the wolf will lay with the lamb, and swords will be made into plowshares. This is guaranteed by the Creator.

"And they shall build houses and inhabit them" (Isaiah 65, verse 21)
i.e. a house of government and then the house of the Lord, and only then,
 "A wolf and a lamb shall graze together" (Verse 25)

For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain therein. But the wicked shall be cut off from the land, and the treacherous shall be uprooted therefrom. (Proverbs 2)

In the Book of Ezra, Cyrus, the Great, inspired by the prophecy of Daniel many years before, allowed the Jews the right to rebuild their temple on it's mount. Who can the Jews appeal to among the politicians in Israel? For all the good the government does, to make the return of Israel to the Holy Land more bitter than exile itself by denying the birth of the seal of world peace, the Third Temple, at the birth stool, is cruelty to their own people and those among the nations of the world who also yearn for peace. Hasbara for this can and should be done. And in fact it is guaranteed success if attempted.

"Will I bring to the birth stool and not cause to give birth?" says the Lord. "Am I not He who causes to give birth, now should I shut the womb?" says your God. (Isaiah 66)

"The wicked will be overthrown and they are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand." (Proverbs 12)

"...and the Sanctuary of the Lord shall be in its midst." (Ezekiel 48)

For true freedom of religion to exist in this matter, the Muslims must have their holy place in Mecca and the Jews must have their holy place in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, replacing the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque there. Anything less is not true freedom of religion for practitioners of both faiths in the purest sense.

A few years ago Jewish Home MK Zevulun Orlev called for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. 

He said that removing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque would mean that the “billion-strong Muslim world would surely launch a war.” However, he added, “everything political is temporary and there is no stability (anyway.)”

A couple years ago Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel also called for the rebuilding of the Temple.

In other words, these members of Knesset believe that the threat of war is relative. The constant danger Israel is in is a greater threat than any potential violent backlash against removing the Waqf from authority on the Temple Mount. It's not worth worrying about such consequences, according to these members of Israel's government.

But there is another layer to this.  The enemies of Israel hate them no matter what, but if Israel stands up to the oppression and for their God given rights, they will surely receive Divine assistance the likes of which have not been witnessed for a long time.

Just as Israel strives to cater to the religious needs of the gentiles living in the State of Israel, so too should they do so for the Jews who live in Israel. It is the right thing to do. And a host of Scriptural sources would encourage such a risk.  Most investments are risks, and yet people make them all the time. But the best of intelligence sources, the Prophets of Israel, tell us that having a Temple is a protection, not a cause for fear. And the third Temple is a seal of peace, not a cause of war. 

The fear of battle at the time the Jews built the Second Temple was not due to the Temple being built, but for the settlement and building of Jerusalem itself.

"Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabs, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the wall of Jerusalem was repaired, that the people who were exposed had commenced to be closed in, that they became very angered. And they all banded together to come to wage war against Jerusalem and to wreak destruction therein." (Nehemiah 4:1,2)

... Despite the fear at the time, fortunately the war was prevented...

"And I saw, and I arose, and I said to the nobles and to the prefects and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them; remember the great and awesome Lord, and fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your households. And it came to pass when our enemies heard that it had become known to us, that God had frustrated their counsel, that we all returned to the wall, each one to his work. (Nehemiah 4:8,9)"

If the Arabs are not attacking en masse for settlement of the land, why would they attack for a holy place that is not truly one of their main holy places? They would not go to war only for that.  And if they did it would only be a pretense. They already have all the pretext they need, because Jews love life, and the radicals of the Arabs love death. When they feel it's time for a battle, they look for excuses for a new intifada or battle.  Remember when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount and then an intifada began? The timing was right for an intifada or else it would not have amounted to much to the radicals.

The government of Israel builds all the time, and only occasionally is there an attack. It's based less on what Israeli policy does, than on perceived opportunities to attack and internal Arabic war preparation timelines.  But it is wrong to assume that it would start when people show the Creator respect. That is a fallacy, conceived in the heart of those who have little hope or trust in a higher power and beneath God's nation, the kingdom of priests, the people of Israel.

It's only a matter of time until a government of Israel does what is right, and they can then share in the blessings of peace that will bring in it's wake. But the current Knesset has the opportunity decide if they will be that fateful assembly that will acknowledge the God given inalienable rights of the Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as Cyrus, the Great, did long ago.  May it soon be so, by the grace of God.