Jews have a right to worship freely on the Temple Mount, says Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Yeshivat Hesder in Petach Tikvah. But they have more than a right to worship there, he says: They have a need to do so, because the Temple Mount – where the Holy Temple stood – is so much a part of Jewish tradition. And as such, preventing Jews from doing so is not just a matter of religion, but of basic human rights.
"The term 'struggle' as it relates to the Jewish desire to worship on the Temple Mount does not accurately describe the desire, the longing of Jews to ascend to the Mount and worship G-d," he writes in an article in a journal distributed by the Yeshiva. Rabbi Cherlow appeals to "lovers of truth and justice" to identify with that desire – as a matter of freedom of worship, a basic human right.
"The Jewish prophets teach us that Jerusalem's rebuilding begins not with bricks and mortar, but with the rebuilding – and reforming – of society," Rabbi Cherlow writes. "As the prophets said, 'Zion will be redeemed with justice.' Each time we restrain ourselves from parking in a spot reserved for the handicapped, rescue a poor person from financial injustice, or release an 'agunah' [a woman who is not free to remarry] from her chains, we rebuild the first layers of the Holy Temple, a place where lovers of justice and truth can join together," he writes.
Respecting others' freedom of worship is a part of the mosaic of truth and justice, according to Rabbi Cherlow: "Despite our differences of opinions in other areas, I appeal to you, those with whom I have worked on such issues, to support me now. There is nothing more dangerous than hypocrisy. The power of a moral stance is only strong when there is no hypocrisy, when it is untainted by political motives. It is effective only if it is straightforward and honest. Those who seek to advance the cause of humand rights and the basic elements of justice, but do not do so in an honest manner, cause untold damage to the cause of justice and ethics."
That logic applies when it comes to Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, he writes. "Those who fight for freedom of worship, but are quiet when Jews are shamed and bullied when they attempt to ascend the Mount, damage the cause of justice and morality. Those who claim that 'terrorists should not be rewarded' when it comes to a liberal cause, but here claim that we cannot ascend the Mount because of 'Muslim violence,' those who say that 'the time is not right,' but never seem to be able to find the right time, are committing terrible acts against the cause of justice – and still expect to be rewarded! This attitude is the same that disapproves of police violence only if you are the victim, or protests against freedom of speech when the people being kept quiet are the ones you don't like. This hypocrisy hurts us all, right and left. Anyone who does profess those values of fighting for truth and justice has an obligation to fight in this instance, as well."