Oct 13, 2009

How many go up to Har HaBayit?

Only 4658 Jews went up to Har HaBayit during the year 2009. The statistic was announced by Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovitch.

Only 4658? He didn't say how many went up in 2008, 2007, 2006 and further back, so we do not have any indication if the number 4658 is a number on the inclince or decline. Maybe 4568 is a great number (great for those who support Jews going up) as perhaps it is doubel the previous year. Who knows. The number on its own shows little about how Jews feel about going up to Har HaBayit.

Also, the number 4658 only includes religious Jews. Only religious Jews are counted and limited in our access to Har HaBayit. The police only check us, while anyone looking secular is allowed to go up with nary a glance. So there are thousands more Jews going up, just they are not religious and therefore not counted.

Aharonovoitch used this statistic to show that despite the minute, and relatively insignificant, amount of Jews going up to Har HaBayit, and taking into account the strict limitations imposed upon them, the Arabs still rioted and find any excuse to, making it clearly obvious that it is not the Jews ascending causing the provocation, but the Arabs looking for excuses.

During the debate over the issue in the Knesset, the number above was discussed and thrown around, and it was also used in the context of showing how few Jews are interested in going up to Har HaBayit, seemingly because of the overwhelming issur by the rabbonim of the day.

The problem is that this number is misleading, despite our not even knowing if it is an increasing or decreasing number. The number is misleading, because, I would say, 4658 Jews went up to Har HaBayit in 2009 despite the limitations, inconveniences, intimidations imposed upon them by the police.

For example, I have not gone up in 2009. Unfortunately. Every time I planned to, I encountered a different problem. One time I went and found Har HaBayit closed and there had been no statement for me to find that out anywhere in advance, wasting a lot of my time. Other times it didnt work out for other reasons. And even more times I just said to myself that I don't have the time to waste - you go to Har HaBayit, and it is supposed to be open to jews at 7:30. So you get there and are waiting already at 7:15 so you can get up quickly. But the police then don't even start checking you until almost 8:00. They are busy with other things, they are letting secular or non-Jewish tourists pass first, whatever. Then you waste 15 or 20 minutes waiting while they go through all the background checks and searches of the various people waiting to go up. Then they decide to limit it to small groups, so you have to figure out who will go up first and who will wait 45 minutes or so and go up int he second group, etc.

Basically, they make it extremely difficult and inconvenient to go up, and then you can't even go up with a siddur. You go through demeaning checks for anything resembling a prayer book. Then you go up in your limited group, and you are followed closely by a policeman and at least one Arab agent of the Waqf. They are watching you closely - if your lips even move or if you twitch the wrong way, the Arab will accuse you of praying, and the policeman will be forced to arrest you, at best.

So I am pretty sure that if they lessened the restrictions on Jews and made it even just slightly easier for us to go up, I am sure more Jews would. Many do not simply because of how difficult and inconvenient it is.


  1. Do they permit you to enter with your mobile phone? What about with a smart phone? If so, just download one of the various siddur apps and voila you have a siddur if you need one. Or you can just pray without a siddur.

    Can't antagonize the non-Jews, can we now?


  2. the cellphone trick has been used - make it look like you are talking to someone - but they are aware of it. They might stop you they might not. And yes, you can daven slightly - just be sure not to close your eyes in concentration, move your lips, or sway even slightly.
    That is not the point. Yes, there are ways to get around, a bit, the demeaning limits they set on us. That does not display ownership or control.

  3. sorry, I meant you can daven silently (not slightly)

  4. A Jew is not permitted to pray on Har Habayit to avoid offending the Arabs. Only in Israel do Jews demean themselves to keep the Arabs quiet.


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