Feb 3, 2008

Rav Aviner and Rav Ariel on Har Habayit

The original article I saw from Rav Aviner about not going up to Temple Mount is still unavailable from the original source, but I got hold of a copy anyway. Zeev from Israel Perspectives got hold of one that was published on the Machon Meir website, and he also had it translated, which saves me a ton of work....

So here you have Rav Aviner on the topic of Har Habayit (I will repost Rav Ariel's response after Rav Aviner's article)

"Be Careful not to Climb the Mountain, or Even to Touch its Edge" (Shemot 19:12)

The Temple Mount constitutes an unsolvable halachic problem. One is not allowed to enter the site of the Temple, and whoever enters there incurs "Karet" [divine "excommunication"], even today when the Temple stands in ruins. We do not know where the Temple is located on the Temple Mount. Much research has been written, many sketches have been drawn, with numerous measurements taken. That itself is the source of the problem: If everything was so certain, it would be enough to make one measurement. Occasionally a new researcher emerges and nullifies all the previous calculations. The situation has not changed in a hundred years, when the great rabbis of Israel and of Jerusalem ruled that one must not go beyond the wall. Everything is still veiled in doubt.


Already in the past when the Jews returned to build the Second Temple, a prophet was needed to determine the location of the altar. The truth has to be stated, that all this measuring was displeasing to Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, and when they would bring him a brochure with such measurements, he would shunt it aside, hiding it under a pile of books. He classified making such calculations as "spitting on the Temple Mount" (Sichot Rabbenu 21, se'if 9). He also mentioned that the mitzvah of Temple reverence does not just apply at the site of the Temple itself but on the entire Temple Mount (Sichot Rabbenu, ibid.). After the Six Day War the great rabbis of Israel announced that it was forbidden to ascend onto the Temple Mount. Our master Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook and his son Rav Tzvi Yehudah forbade ascent. The great rabbis before that forbade ascent. The Chief Rabbis of Israel forbade ascent (including Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren in practical terms – see "Ma'alin BaKodesh", Av 5763, page 149); and including Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu and Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira – and we are not greater sages than they, nor greater saints nor greater Zionists.

After the Six Day War, the Chief Rabbinate deliberated on the matter, and a proposal was raised that they would not decide but would leave it up to each rabbi vis-à-vis his own community. Yet that proposal was rejected. The Temple Mount is not the private mountain of any particular community but a mountain belonging to the entire Jewish People, and those in charge of deciding are the Chief Rabbinate.
In conclusion, not only is there no mitzvah amongst the 613 mitzvot of the Torah commanding us to ascend the Temple Mount, but there is a prohibition, and you cannot turn a prohibition into a mitzvah.

As far as the Arabs who go up there, that is not our responsibility. If they wish to be living fulfillment of "Any non-Levite who comes near shall die." (Bamidbar 9:51), that is their affair. Moreover, if halachically it is impossible to go there we understand that such is G-d's will. We have no prophets who can inform us of G-d's will. Yet also delay can attest to G-d's will, whether what delays us is a practical constraint or derives from halachah, what is known as "a constraint with an inner motive".

It is yet a long way to the Temple Mount. We have a lot of mitzvoth to do, a lot of kind deeds, a lot of Torah to learn, a lot of the Land to build, a lot of honor to show Torah scholars, a lot of love to show our fellow Jew, a lot teaching to do, a lot of solutions to find for the unemployed and for a lot of poor people, and for a lot of hungry people…
One might say: We are not ascending the Temple Mount as a mitzvah nor in search of holiness, but as part of conquering the Land of Israel." My response to this is that there are all sorts of ways to conquer something. This is not the way to conquer the Temple Mount. The rest of the Land of Israel is to be conquered by the pioneer with his self-sacrifice and by the soldier with his weapon and by the settler with his faith – but the Temple Mount has to be conquered differently – by causing the Divine Presence to come to rest. Sometimes not everything can be approached the same way. Sometimes there are differences. See what our great master Rambam wrote in Hilchot Beit Ha-Bechirah (6:6), that the holiness of the Land of Israel is established through conquest, whereas the holiness of the site of the Temple by way of the Divine Presence. And how do we cause the Divine Presence to come to rest? Through Torah and mitzvoth, through kindness and love. We say in our prayers, "G-d builds Jerusalem" (Shemoneh Esreh), and "Jerusalem" is referring to the Temple. Yet how does G-d "build" it? We don't see anything happening right now. Surely we should instead say, "He WILL build it"? Rather, we do not see because we have the eyes of mortal man. The commentaries explained that every mitzvah of every Jew throughout the world and throughout the generations builds Jerusalem, and when a particular quantity is achieved, then the Temple will actually be constructed. Particularly important is groundless love, as in Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook's famous words that the Third Temple will be built through groundless love (Orot HaKodesh III:324).


Even King David, when he wished to build the Temple, was told by G-d that the time had not arrived. G-d told him: Now is the time of wars. Now is the time of building up the kingdom. The time for building the Temple will come later – by way of your son Solomon.


The halachic delay tells us that the time has not yet arrived. We have a lot of work ahead of us. When the Six Day War ended and Rav Tzvi Yehudah's class for his greatest students and scholars recommenced, he humbly asked, "What should we learn now?" One student suggested, "Perhaps the laws of the Temple?..." Our master warmly grasped that student's hand and said to him, "Before we learn that we have a lot more to learn about the laws of kings and their wars."

Yet a longing for the Temple and the Temple Mount has existed throughout history, and every prayer ends: "May it be G-d's will that the Temple should be rebuilt speedily in our day." From this fierce longing we derive strength and valor to add yet one more mitzvah, more Torah learning, more kindness and more holiness. Through all of them the Temple will be rebuilt.


And, again, here is Rav Ariel's response...

Rav Shlomo Aviner titles his article from Sunday in Makor Rishon "Do not touch the Mount or its edge". The Rav comes out prohibiting ascending Temple Mount and he adds, "There is no mitzva among the 613 Mitzvos of the Torah to ascend Temple Mount".
The Rav uses the verse in this past week's parsha that says "Guard yourself from ascending the mount (Mt. Sinai in the verse) or from touching it for whomever touches it shall surely die" - that is a timely warning.
The Rav recounts the various gedolei yisrael and gedolei Yerushalayim, among them Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook zt"l and Rav Goren zt"l who prohibited ascending Temple Mount.
It is amazing that a halachic article by a Rav, coming to annul the obligation to build the Temple in our day, is written without sources from Chaza"l. Because Temple Mount and the Temple consist of a third of all the mitzvos in the Torah, that is about 200 mitzvos, one should wonder how, with the stroke of a pen, one can just wipe away 200 mitzvos, and that is without even bringing a serious source.
First we will deal with the facts mentioned in his article: The Rav claims that Rav Goren zt"l prohibited ascending the Mount. The facts are different. Rav Goren publicized a complete sefer called "Har Habayit" that completely deals with the appropriate method of entering Temple Mount in our days. In the introduction to the book, Rav Goren dedicates 10 pages to describing the military seminary that he set up on the Mount. he further describes the prayers he led on Temple Mount including the reading of the Torah. In the book it describes the battle he had with the Defense Minister and the whole government about having prayers and a permanent place on the Temple Mount. Rav Goren established a permanent synagogue int eh Temple Mount complex, that exists even today. Rav Goren held minyanim regularly on 9 Av and Yom Kippur and prayed there regularly until the last day of his life. the synagogue continues to function today in the same format using the special prayers to be said upon Temple Mount, as brought in the gemara and Rambam, and as established by Rav Goren zt"l. The Rav (Goren) held conferences of Rabbonim and caused made much ruckus about Temple Mount and what happens there. Whoever knew Rav Goren knows that one of the things that shortened his life was the deteriorating situation on Temple Mount. And now Rav Aviner tells us something new that Rav Goren prohibited (!!!) ascending the Mount...
Rav Aviner further writes that "Maybe you will say: we do not go up because of holiness, rather in order to "conquer" - that is not how we conquer the Mount! We conquer it with effecting the Divine Presence in the place."
Since Rav Aviner quotes many times "Our Rabbi Rav Zvi yehuda Kook zt"l" who prohibited ascending, we should get down to the facts: Rav Kook and Rav David Cohen the Nazir both went up to Temple Mount together on the day it was recaptured on 28 Iyar in 1967. The both spoke and decided they are going in as a function of "conquering"!
While they were walking on the Mount they met the Chief Rabbis of Israel;Rav Unterman and Rav Nissim. When Rav Kook arrived home, he decalred "I went up to Temple Mount from the halachik point of "conquering"!. The Nazir made the same declaration (in an interview with the newspaper HaTzofeh 26 av 1967. I also have testimony from Rav Menachem Cohen who witnesses the Rabbonim entering Temple Mount. The author of this article [Rav Ariel himself] is also a first-hand witness to some of the above events.)
Now is the place to wonder: Rav Kook went in himself with his own feet onto Temple Mount as a "conquerer", yet Rav Aviner argues with "Our Rabbi" and says "This is not how we conquer Temple Mount.. rather we conquer the Mount with effecting Divine Presence!". Whose opinion should we accept - the opinion of "Our Rabbi" Rav Kook, or the opinion of his student [Rav Aviner]??
Maybe you will say Rav Aviner brings a proof from the Great Rabbi the Rambam who said that Temple Mount we do not conquer with weapons, as we do Eretz Yisrael, rather Temple Mount we conquer by effecting the Divine Presence (Rambam in Hil' beis HaBechira 6:17). We will turn to one of the only sources Rav Aviner uses in his article and read what he writes - this is the actual text of the Rambam there "the holiness of the Temple and Jerusalem because of the Divine Presence never fades". Where does it say that we do not conquer Temple Mount with weapons? See how he drafts the great Rabbi the Rambam for his fight against conquering Temple Mount, using a source that does not contain anything relevant to the topic!

I should point out that the Rambam describes in a very detailed fashion how he ascended Temple Mount - "the Great and Holy House" on 6 Cheshvan, and how he made the day of his ascension to a day of celebration for the rest of his life. It seems from his words that he did not wait for the Divine Presence to return, but went on a special trip to Temple Mount in order to daven there and to do what he could minimally do during its state of destruction.

There is place to expand on this further, but it seems to me that due to the responsibility of "fear and honor of the Temple" we are obligated to not dig it in for the sake of digging it in.

It should be asked: If we do not conquer the Temple Mount with weapons, but with Divine Presence, why did Judah Maccabee fight a very bloody war , with few against many, in order to reconquer Temple Mount and the Temple? How did he not think of the concept that seems so simple that we should conquer it with "kindness and love ", in the words of Rav Aviner? Why do we sing for over two thousand years on Hannukah about "the might and the battles" and why do we point out the "holy priests"? We have a Rav who claims that is a lll a mistake, as we do not conquer and build the Temple with weapons, but "with undemanding love the Temple will be rebuilt". Who here is mistaken?

The title of the article is a concentration of his whole methodology: how to disconnect from the Temple. I should point out about the title that in the past the same verse was used against people who made aliya to the Land of Israel. See the book of Rav Yisrael TaShma "knesset Chachmei Ashkenaz" where he brings a drasha that was commonly accepted in the days of the Baalei Tosafos among groups who disconnected themselves from eretz Yisrael, and they would say "Guard yourself from going up to the Mount [of the Land of Israel] and from touching its edge {an admonition to not force the end of times] -for whomever shall touch the Mount shall die [from too much holiness of the land], for he shall be stoned [whoever goes to Israel] or shall be smitten [because one cannot keep the difficult commandments that are dependent upon the Land], at the time of Yovel [only upon the blast of the shofar of the Messiah] will they go up to the Mount [then we will go to the Land of Israel].
So we have a rehashing of the same misuse of the verse, this time for the Temple Mount - and that is being done within the Holy Jerusalem!

The phrase of Rav Aviner is already common by us " Regarding Temple matters - we are Satmar!" Therefore he troubled himself to mention the phrase from the ay after the giving of the Torah, lest we forget God forbid, a third of the 613 commandments and we might go build the Temple.

According to rav Aviner's opinion, how will the Temple be rebuilt? he has the winning formula of "Undemanding love, longing, and Divine Presence" for rebuilding the Temple.

And we simply thought that the Torah writes otherwise (Shmos 25:8) "Make for Me a Temple and I will dwell within". Meaning, first fulfill one of the 613 commandments that are relevant to the Temple Mount and Temple and build it, and only then will the Divine Presence rest there.

Int eh words of Chazal it is described that the Divine presence did not rest on the Temple immediately after it was built.. only after Moshe and Aharon made a special supplication did the jews merit to have the Shechina rest in their handiwork (of the mishkan).

This is how Rashi describes it (Vayikra 9:23): the entire 7 days (of training) they constructed and deconstructed the structure daily, yet the Presence did not come. the people were complaining to Moshe that all the work they did the Shechina should come!. Meaning even after all teh donations of gold and silver from the jews and the great work invested in the mishkan and the vessels, even then it was still not promised to Israel that the shechina would rest there, and Moshe had to daven that the shechina should come down on their work.

And now Rav Aviner teaches us something new "Hashem builds jerusalem" - when the mitzvos reach a certain number and quantity, suddenly the temple will be built! Meaning, there is no more mitzva to build the Temple in our days, there is no need to donate gold and silver, there is no need to build the Temple! Just with undemanding love, with performing mitzvos, with longing, the Divine Presence will come on its own and the mikdash will be built and the Shechina will rest on it!

We will also say to Rav Shlomo Aviner HaKohen While you admonish us and recommend to us that we should be satisfied with simply longing for the Temple, we will also fulfill the commandment of rebuke and we will say "retract what you said!"

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