The Ignorance and Arrogance of Rabbi Avi Shafran

Yosef Rabin,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Yosef Rabin
Yosef Rabin lives and works in Jerusalem and writes on a wide range of issues affecting Israel and the Jewish world. Yosef can be contacted at

The Ignorance and Arrogance of Rabbi Avi Shafran

 I was not surprised by the vile views expressed by Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel of America. I was surprised that he decided at this most sensitive time to publicly blame Jews for the crime of trying to pray on the Temple Mount. There is no doubt that such an attitude both legitimizes and strengthens Arab violence with a "rabbinic" stamp of approval. In my eyes, Shafran’s comments border on the criminal and he should be condemned by all.

In an article posted in Ha’aretz today, Rabbi Shafran tries to place the blame of Arab violence on Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount in accordance with Jewish Law. He makes several astounding statements in his article, which distort history, fact and Jewish law. For those without full access to Ha'aretz English website the Shafran blood libel can be read here:

“Which brings us to the other irresponsible abettors of the current violence against Israeli Jews.” (Rabbi Shafran)

Right from the start he is getting ready to pounce on those evil nationalistic (Religious Zionists) Jews who dare to act as free men in their own soil. It is sad to see the type of exile-ghetto Jew Shafran truly is, and thus I hope that he does not celebrate Chanukah and commemorate those terrible rebels who started a war that could have gotten everyone killed. I know that Shafran will answer, that the Greeks tried to stop us from keeping the commandments and that the Maccabees had no choice. To this I can only answer, that those who oppose ascent to the Mount are also trying to stop Jews from doing great and crucial commandments. A prime example is the Passover Sacrifice, which is still binding in our times.

I would only hope that Shafran abandons Purim, due to Mordechai's irresponsible be‎havior by boycotting the King’s Banquet and refusing to bow before Haman. Mordechai should have also reveled before the stolen vessels of the Temple at a party that was organized to celebrate the eternal downfall of the Jewish People. Mordechai should have bowed before Haman despite the fact that Haman wore an idol on his neck, because after all there was a danger to life. I guess according to Shafran, Mordechai put all the Jews in grave danger for his “nationalistic rush” and should also be condemned.

“In 1967, after Jerusalem was reunited, a decision was made to not disturb Muslim worship on the Temple Mount. Some, including Moshe Dayan, toyed with the idea of razing the mosques there, but reason won out – with the encouragement of great Rabbinic figures of the time.” (Rabbi Shafran)

 In 1967, Moshe Dayan did everything in his power to create a new reality for the Jewish People. He decided that the Western Wall was the new Temple Mount and thus created a massive plaza in front of the Western Wall. This was of course a terrible plot to divert the attention of the nation away from the Temple Mount. The Chief Rabbinate sadly went along with Dayan’s great scam, because they had forgotten the boundary dividing the permitted and forbidden areas of the Temple Mount. 400 years earlier the evil Turkish Empire expelled Jews from the Temple Mount and forced them to descend to the small dark alleyway that stood before the Western Wall to pray. The Rabbinate should have waited, checked the facts and then come to a decision, but like in the time of Ezra Hasofer, most rabbis were weak in spirit and not ready for the great challenge of the Temple.

There was one alleged conversation between Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Shlomo Goren (of blessed memory) and General Uzi Narkis, where Rabbi Goren requested the removal of the Dome of the Rock. I should note that the closest students of Rabbi Goren deny that the conversation ever took place. I heard directly from Rabbi Goren’s personal driver that the conversation never happened. Moshe Dayan, who was an extremely anti-Religious Jew and was even opposed to the liberation the Old City, certainly had no intention of ever harming the Dome of the rock. In fact, when Dayan reached the Mount and witnessed the glorious sight of an Israeli flag unfurled over the Dome of the Rock itself, he demanded its immediate removal and proclaimed that "We do not need this Vatican." Three days later, Dayan shamefully went into the Al Aqsa Mosque took off his shoes and forfeited the greatest Jewish victory since the time of the Maccabees by granting the Arabs full control of the Holy Mount.

“The Temple Mount is in our Hands”, was over within three short days and the great betrayal had begun. I should also mention that Dayan tried to pull the same stunt in Hebron at the Cave of the Patriarchs, but all the Rabbis backed Rabbi Shlomo Goren and the Torah stayed inside and the flag of our freedom stood high and proud over the cave.

“Leave aside the fact that Jews are prohibited by Jewish law, as interpreted by its most recognized arbiters, from ascending the Mount” (Rabbi Shafran)

As we already mentioned above, Jews had been banned from entering the Temple Mount for about 400 years, from the time of Turkish rule until 1967. Knowledge of the forbidden and prohibited areas of the Mount had been blurred. I would hope that even Shafran would admit, that according to Jewish law one is permitted and even adjured to ascend the Temple Mount in our times. I would hope that Shafran would admit, that we are still commanded in our age to bring many biblical sacrifices even without the Temple standing, despite our impure state. The facts are all laid out in Maimonides writings: “Laws of the Chosen House” chapters 6 and 7; “Law of the Passover Sacrifice” Chapter 7; “Laws of Coming to the Temple” chapter 3; we can easily establish beyond doubt that once we know the permitted and forbidden areas it is permitted and even a holy obligation to enter the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Chief Rabbi of the army instructed the Chief Engineer of the IDF to take careful measurements of the entire Temple Mount and used this study to discern the location of the Temple and permitted areas. Rabbi Goren wrote a very detailed and comprehensive book titled “The Temple Mount”, which is replete with detailed maps and Rabbinic and biblical sources. With the former Chief Rabbi’s work, plus the illegal Arab digs that have taken place over the past 15 years, we now know definitively where one may or may not tread on the Mount. Perhaps our detractors forgot that according to all rabbinic opinions it is forbidden for non-Jews to tread on the spot of the Temple and that infraction incurs the death penalty.

Numerous great rabbis ascend or at least support those who ascend, including: Rabbi Elyakim Levanon (Chief Rabbi of Samaria), Rabbi Dov Lior (Former Chief Rabbi of Keriat Arba), Rabbi Nachum Eliezer Rabinovich (Rosh Yeshiva Ma’aleh Adumim), Rabbi Tzfanya Drori (Chief Rabbi of Keriat Shmona) and Rabbi Yaakov Meidan (Rosh Yeshivat Har Eztion-“The Gush”) just a few from among a list of over 300 ascending rabbis. There are also a number of rabbis who do not ascend, but defend rabbis who do ascend, including: Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (Chief Rabbi of Tzfat), Rabbi Eliezer Melamed (Chief Rabbi of Har Bracha), Rabbi Chaim Druckman (Rosh Yeshivot Bnei Akiva( and Rabbi Chaim Eiram (Chief Rabbi of Elazar) among many others.

“Is the nationalistic rush born of physically asserting that the Har HaBayit is Judaism’s holiest site worth the hatred it has spawned among violent Arabs? Is the “victory” of praying in a holy spot worth the innocent blood spilled as a result?” (Rabbi Shafran)

If our goal was to only pray, then Shafran might just have a point, but our goals are broader and our aims higher. We are in a process that will lead to the re-dedication of the Temple service in our days. Please do not forget that Arabs were slaughtering Jews in the 1920s because Jews refused to stop praying at the Western Wall. In 1991 on Sukkot, less than one hour after the completion of the mass Berkat Kohanim (Priestley Blessings), in which over 20,000 Jews attended, Arab mobs threw stones down on the Kotel plaza from the Temple Mount. Had the attack taken place even a half an hour earlier, there would have been thousands of casualties. So perhaps according to the Shafran code, we should stop praying at the Western Wall as well.

The Goal of the Temple Mount Movement:

I will bring them to My Holy Mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

This verse outlines for us the four stages that will lead to the rebuilding of the Temple: Ascent, Prayer, Sacrifice and lastly the rebuilding of the Temple. This was the same way that Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the second Temple. They first ascended, then they built an altar and then years later actually rebuilt the Temple and they did this under threat as well. “And they (non-Jews) all banded together to come to wage war against Jerusalem and to wreak destruction therein”, but the Jews responded as good Jews should. “The builders of the wall and the carriers of the loads were loading with one hand doing the work and one holding the sword”. (Nehemiah 4:2-11). Had Shafran been in charge they would have just run back to Babylon with their tails in between their legs, but that is not how a good Jew responds to terror and threats.

 A good Jew fights his battles and stands his ground, and we learn this from King David: “Of David. Blessed is the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war…. Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners, whose mouth speaks vanity and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood”. (Psalm 144:2-11) We are fighting for our existence; we are fighting for the divine return to Zion, which will only occur via our great efforts and prayer; and like Ezra I call upon everyone to join us in this holy mission.

Rabbi Shfran would do well remember what our sages taught us in the Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 114: “Any Torah scholar who has a stain found on his clothing it is like he incurs the penalty of death.” If our sages stress the importance about the outward appearance of a single Torah scholar, just imagine the importance of the physical appearance of the entire Jewish Nation and our Holy Temple Mount. Our holy prophet Ezekiel admonishes us in chapter 36 saying: “They entered the nations where they came, and they profaned My Holy Name, as it was said of them, these are the people of the Lord, and they have left His land.” I could only imagine that the desecration of Gods Holy Name is tenfold when Jews are dwelling in the Holy Land and permit non-Jews to trash the Holy Mount with picnics, soccer games and mass rallies calling for our annihilation.

Rabbi Shafran, please cease your ignorance and arrogance and either support us or remain silent. For an exile-Jew to attack the re-builders of the Temple is both intolerable and unthinkable.

Yosef Rabin

Senior Activist in the United Temple Mount Movements.

Words to the Song - מילות השיר:

שוב נעלה אל בית מקדשנו
We  Ascend Once Again to Our Temple  
שוב נעלה לבית המקדש
We Return Once Again to The Holy House 
שוב ננגן בחצרות קודשינו
We Once Again Play Music in Our Holy Courtyard 
שוב ננגן בבית המקדש
We Once Again Play Music in the Holy House


כיסופנו לא מרפים
Our Yearning has not Weakened 
עוד נפשנו בוערת מבפנים
Our Souls Still Burn from Within  
זהו ביתנו מדור דורים
This is Our House from Generation to Generation  
בית תפילה יהיה לכל העמים
A House a Prayer it shall be for All Nations 

שוב נעלה בשלושת הרגלים

Once Again  Shall Go Up on the Three Festivals 
 כל ישראל כאיש אחד חברים
All Brothers of Israel as One Man  
משפחות משפחות במחולות וריקודים
Families upon Families Dancing and Dancing 
 אנא אלוקינו זה חזון הנביאים
O' Lord Shall this Vision of our Prophets Not Come at Last? 


 שוב ישמח לבבנו בראות פני אלוקים

Soon Our Hearts will be Gladden Before Our God 
 ובריח אפנו קטורת הסמים
With the Scent of Incense Wafting through our Nostrils 
נזכה בימינו כבימים קדמונים
May We Merit in Our Days as Days of Old 
 ותישמע בארצנו שירת הלווים
To Hear the Singing of the Levites Throughout Our Land