Was Rabbi Kook really against ascending the Temple Mount?

An additional reading of Rabbi Kook's words raises the question whether he indeed opposed ascending the Temple Mount, as had been assumed.

Shimon Cohen,

The letter in question
The letter in question
Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Hakohen Center

In recent days, the Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Hakohen (Kook) Institute published a letter that was described as expressing Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook's objection to ascending the Temple Mount. However, another reading of the letter raises questions about this assertion.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook was the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi during the British Mandate period in Israel, a mystic and thinker, and the luminary of the religious Zionist movement.

The words of Rabbi Kook in question were written in a letter to Rabbi Shmuel David Halevi Levin, in response to his book on the sanctity of the Temple, which deals with the issue of the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount and the Temple. Rabbi Kook does indeed write in his letter that "Heaven forbid, we should not publish any thought that speaks of human endeavor prior to the revelation of the light of God in supreme and complete redemption, regarding entry to the place of the Temple." However, a closer reading of his words and his words in several other places raise doubts about the unequivocality of this conclusion.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, an official who wished to remain anonymous noted that the rabbi did not refer to the Temple Mount itself, but only to the “place of the Temple,” which possibly means that Rabbi Kook did not forbid ascending the Temple Mount per se, but only entering “the place of the Temple” - the area where a mosque is built today.

In addition, staff at Temple organizations also read the letter and found an explanation of the rabbi's words. The staff quotes from the letter emphasizing relevant words, which seem to indicate that the need to remain silent about the attempt to enter the site of the Temple derives solely from the pressures of the hour and the dangerous political situation.

The rabbi wrote (emphases by Temple organizations): "Now, because of the political situation and the danger to the public, by our haters who accuse us of wanting to take from them by force the place of the Temple, where they erected a mosque due to our many sins, Heaven forbid that we should publicize any thought on the matter of human endeavor, before the revelation of the light of God in the supreme and complete redemption, with respect to entry to the place of the Temple," Rabbi Kook wrote.

According to the staff, "After describing the terrible situation in which the Jewish community in those days was under foreign rule, Rabbi Kook sums up the attitude in his day regarding ascending the Temple Mount. ‘Heaven forbid to think to begin with any practical propaganda.’ The surprising description reveals for the first time the reason for the distancing of those who longed for the Holy in his generation from any thought regarding the Temple Mount. "

According to their reading of the content of the letter, "For the first time it is clear to all that the ‘political situation,’ which certainly hints at the threats to prevent the rise of Israel and the ‘danger to the public’ of the massacre of Jews under the auspices of the British, are what forced Rabbi Kook to hide his opinion on the matter of the Temple Mount, because of the ‘unclean savage murderers, and their wicked helpers,’ who literally threatened to annihilate the house of Israel.”

“On the other hand, in our day, thank God we have already twice merited to receive ‘the light of God in supreme and complete redemption,’ with the establishment of the rule of Israel in 1948 and the return to our control of the place of the Temple in 1967. Now, those who follow the light of Rabbi Kook will certainly hear his words to fulfill the commandment to build the Temple and renew work, as the Rabbi himself and his disciples tried to do several times in the years before the events of the massacre in 1929."