Rabbis: Temple Mount Accessible?

The Temple Mount is sacred to the People of Israel, rabbis agree. Whether to block Jews from accessing the site completely is another story.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 2:49 PM

Temple Mount
Temple Mount
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Temple Mount is sacred to the People of Israel, rabbis agree, but at least one -- Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv -- has urged President Shimon Peres not to allow Jews to tread the site.

Rabbi Elyashiv, a leader of the Litvish-Yeshivish hareidi-religious world, discussed the matter when Peres visited the rabbi's sukkah Thursday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim. The president was accompanied by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.

R. Melamed: Block Gentiles from Temple Mount, Sacred to Jews
Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Chief Rabbi of the Samarian town of Beit El, agreed that it is forbidden to allow gentiles to enter the site. However, he said, Jews might approach if they are in a pure state.

But because the Temple Mount is sacred to Jews, Rabbi Melamed noted, "Jews should not enter it as long as they are not pure."

Entrance of gentiles to the site is forbidden altogether due to purity concerns, said Rabbi Melamed, "because this place is sacred to Jews."

R. Elyashiv: 'Block Jews from Temple Mount to Avoid Bloodshed'
Rabbi Elyashiv called on President Peres to block Jews from going up to the Temple Mount, and explained that Jewish law forbids such an act, since the precise location of the Holy of Holies is not known. It is forbidden by Torah law for anyone other than the Kohen Gadol (High Priest -ed.) to enter the Holy of Holies, and that only during specific times during worship in the Temple service.

However, that was not the only reason to prevent Jews from going up to the Temple Mount, said the rabbi, who stated that such an act is viewed as an extreme provocation by gentiles. Rabbi Elyashiv contended that Jews who go up to the Temple Mount are "playing with fire" and said that such an act could lead to bloodshed, and possibly a religious war.

The president received a blessing for good health and praise for having been a good emissary for the People of Israel.