Rashbi's gravesite in Meron, during happier days
Rashbi's gravesite in Meron, during happier daysFlash 90

The "Committee of Five" which runs the gravesite of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) in Meron, has announced that the site will not close to visitors.

Earlier this week, the Committee warned that if no one would insure the site, the site would be forced to close.

Responding to that warning, Religious Affairs Minister Director General Shimon Ma'atuk sent a letter demanding that the Committee send him official notice of their stance, in writing.

"If you insist on your announcement of your intention to close the site, we ask the the members of the Committee of Five inform us of this immediately, so that we can examine the full operational significance of your announcement," he wrote.

Ma'atuk also said that following meetings on the matter, "the State is willing to take over full management of Rashbi's gravesite, immediately if need be, in order to ensure that the site does not close. This will be done in accordance with every law."

In his response, site manager Eli Friend said that the Committee had backtracked on its decision.

"Following the legal questions which arise from your letter, the Committee of Five has decided to suspend the closure of the site, until the receipt of a legal opinion which details the various legal options available, in accordance with the law to preserve holy sites," Friend wrote.

"At the same time, it is important to note that the Committee of Five runs the site in the best way possible. A lack of ability to find an insurance company which will insure the site is something which stands completely at the doorstep and sole responsibility of the State."

He added that the Committee intends to act using all means available to it "in order to transfer to the State of Israel, from now on, any lawsuit, from the smallest to the largest."