Apr 22, 2008

Touring in Eretz Yisrael: Chol Ha'Moed: Day 1

We started off the day with a decision to daven vasikin at the Kotel. With sunrise being at 6:03 AM, that meant getting up at 4:15 am to have enough time to get to the Old City, find parking and get down to the Kotel in time for davening which would start at 5:30am. Being a holiday, the Kotel was pretty busy. There were a few hundred people there for the early morning shift.

After davening, a couple of us decided to go to Har HaBayit. We figured we would go to the mikva in the Old City and then be the first on the Mount which would allow us to go around quickly. Little did we know there was a large group planned for the first shift at 7:30am. So we joined the group, which was scheduled to be led by Rav Yitzchak Levi, the Rosh Yeshiva of Alon Shvut (not to be confused with Rav Yitzchak Levi the MK).

During the holiday everything seems to be busier than njormal. So it took a very long time to process our group, which consisted of over 50 people. While we were waiting, a number of tour groups (mostly Germans it seemed) passed through being allowed to go right up with no impediments or security checks. I suggested we sue the State, the Police, and the Waqf for racial profiling and discrimination, as only religious Jews are stopped and checked and escorted by police and Waqf officials. Anybody else can walk freely unescorted.

While we were waiting to be processed and allowed up, Tuvia Sagiv joined our group. I was up once with Sagiv. He is an interesting fellow. He is an engineer who has made his hobby and life interest studying the Temple Mount and trying to find what really is up there and where things really were. He is the author of an alternate explanation of where the Temple really stood. He claims it was further south than the opinion held by most people. He is really an expert on the material and sources, and makes for an interesting group companion raising issues and questions.

Sagiv introduced himself to Rav Levi and asked, very politely, that even though he knows Rav Levi does not ascribe to his opinions and views, if he would respect his work and not walk on the Southern Side of the Mount. The issue is really that the police generally do not allow groups to break up, as each person who would be breaking off would need his own escort. If Rav Levi would insist on walking on the southern side, it would present a difficulty for Sagiv who holds the actual Temple stood in a spot on the southern side rendering it not passable. The only solution for Sagiv is to walk along the west, north and east, and then retrace his steps, which he would not be able to do alone separated from the group.

Rav Levi agreed, meaning the whole group would walk along the west, north and east and then retrace the route backwards, thus avoiding the southern side.

The whole time, both while we were waiting and while we were on the Mount itself, Rav Levi and Sagiv were discussing the various opinions. Rav Levi asking how Sagiv deals with certain issues; topographically, archaeologically, sources, etc, Sagiv explaining, Sagiv asking, Rav Levi explaining. Often, while explaining something on the Mount, Rav Levi would then ask Sagiv if he wanted to add anything according to his understanding.

Rav Levi and Tuvia Sagiv in discussion

Police riot gear at the entrance to the Mount. They are prepared for anything.

After leaving the Mount and Kotel area, traffic was a mess with roads being opened and closed and rerouted because of the expected holiday traffic. We ended up driving by the site of a new hotel being built that was just announced in the news. The Waldorf-Astoria group is building a luxury hotel in Jerusalem and is expected to be completed by 2010. Here is a picture I got of the site and sign as I drove by it...

My family and I then went to visit relatives and spend the afternoon in Park Ra'anana, in, you guessed it, Ra'anana.

The park was pretty busy. It is a popular spot because it is a great park with lots of grassy areas, lots of play options, other activities (some for pay), and a small "zoo" with a few animals. I must say some of the "animals" were on the wrong side of the cages... as people were giving all sorts of food to the animals...one person gave his lit cigarette to a monkey who, in turn, burned himself as he touched it to his body.

They had a peacock who chose to give us a treat and opened his tail while we were there. he was not actually opening it for us, but for the female. Let's just say his wiles did not work and he was left disappointed.


  1. "He claims it was further south than the opinion held by most people."

    i remember hearing something like this back in the late 80s. some amateur archaeologist determined that the temple was on a differnt site on the mount. i don't remember where she said it was, but the arabs at the time reportedly paved over her main evidence

    "one person gave his lit cigarette to a monkey who, in turn, burned himself as he touched it to his body."

    israelis are such [self-censored expletive]. i saw people doing horrible things with the animals in the ramat gan safari

    "They had a peacock who chose to give us a treat and opened his tail while we were there."

    he was mooning you.

    what's the last picture?

  2. Hey, i live right near Park Raanana. Great, great park, perfect ch"m tiyul with kids, and relatively cheap considering how much you can spend otherwise.

    And it's nice and clean. We went to "Eretz Ha'ayalim" today in the Gush. Not as clean, but fun.


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