Nov 28, 2006

monthly ascent

Today is the 7th of Kislev. That means it is time for the monthly ascent to Har Habayit. It is difficult to arrange going every month, but today I was able to wing it.

We had a small group of 4 from Bet Shemesh. A couple of our regulars went yesterday instead of today because of a scheduling conflict. The situation was quiet and calm. The police did not check every inch of our bodies for threatening prayer paraphanelia, as they have at times in the past. They did a cursory check and asked if we have any siddurim in our pockets or wallets and left it at that.

We went up. The guy who led us, did a phenomenal job connecting us with the upcoming holiday of Hannukah and it's relevance with various aspects of the mikdash and the menorah. It was a very inspiring visit. And we had the opportunity to daven (silently of course), and there are plenty of things to daven for right now (as always I guess); quiet and safety in Sderot, quiet up north, peace in Israel the return of Eldad Regev, Udi Goldwasser and Gilad Shalit, the return of the older MIA's - Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, Zvi Feldman, Guy Hever, Ron Arad, the freedom of Jonathan Pollard, the personal issues such as friends and relatives who are sick, parnassa, hatzlacha, happiness and success, etc.

If any of my pictures came out decent, I will try to add a coulpe of them later on...

Some interesting ideas:
1. While we were waiting for them to open the gate to go up to the Mount, we noticed on a post at the entrance to the Kotel a flyer telling people to keep their eyes open for Benny Sela (the escaped rapist) with his picture. I figure they put the notice up there because he might show up at the kotel in order to daven for his continued success in evading the police, so someone might spot him.

2. On the note of Benny Sela, someone on the Mount mentioned his name (I do not remember in reference to what). At the time I criticized him and said his name should not be mentioned up here. The Rav leading us pointed out that there is good to everything. he said, benny Sela has succeeded in unifying the whole nation in an issue of sexual sins, something which has seriously been lacking here recently. He compared it to Mr. ben Drusai.
Who was Mr. ben Drusai? In hilchot shabbat we find the concept of how cooked a food must be to be considered cooked and the minimum level is called the amount of the food of ben Drusai. ben Drusai was a thief who had to eat on the run often and did not have time to let his food cook completely. This thief is famous for having a halacha named for him. Something good came out of ben Drusai - there was a measurable amount of cooking to quantify the halacha.
the Rav suggested something similar in regards to Benny Sela - he succeeded in bringing the whole nation back together on the issue of sexual indecency. Some good might have come out of the whole Benny Sela affair.

3. There is always a debate as to whether it is preferable to walk on the Mount barefoot or if non-leather shoes are just as good as barefoot. it is clear non-leather shoes are acceptable, the question is if barefoot is better. Personally, I prefer barefoot. The problem is that in the winter, the stone floor of Har Habayit is like a block of ice and after walking barefoot in the early morning on the cold floor of Har Habayit, it feels like you might lose a toe to frostbite, along with all sorts of other pains from the pebbles and the general pain of a frozen foot. My compromise is to wear socks (only when it is really cold) - while they do not do much, they take off just enough of the bite to make it bearable. In addition to reminding me of the holiness of the place, it reminds me of the fact that the Kohanim had to be barefoot on the cold floor of the mikdash and one goal was that it kept them awake and fresh. In the mikdash itself, (non-leather) shoes would not be allowed.
Someone else there took off his non-leather shoes (after having asked me why I was barefoot) to walk barefoot. After a few minutes, he could not take the cold and put his shoes back on. He later commented how cold it was and that he could not take it and asked how I was able to stand it.
My answer to him was based on a Tosafot I learned recently in daf yomi. There is a discussion whether a woman whose mikva night falls out on Tisha B'Av should dip on Tisha B'Av or delay to the next day. This discussion is not relevant nwadays because women nowadays do not dip on the correct time and therefore would not dip on Tisha B'Av regardless. This is only relevant to the days past when dips were very strictly done on the correct day, with no extra chumros or takkanos pushing off tevila, which we do as standard nowadays.
Tosafot, in support of the opinion that holds the dipping should be pushed off to the next day uses to following argument. He says that the bet Hamikdash is worth giving up one mikva night a year. Meaning, to commemorate the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash and respect its holiness, one day a year to not dip on time for that sake alone is worth it.
Based on that I said, the holiness of the Bet Hamikdash is worth my suffering on the cold floor for 45 minutes. If we can give up the mitzva of dipping on time for the sake of the Bet Hamikdash, I can walk 45 minutes barefoot for the honor of the Bet Hamikdash.


  1. Very Nice , Raffi
    It makes me feel , That I wished I had come with you.

  2. That really does sound cool, everytime I hear about it...

    I should go sometime.

  3. Interesting post...! I'm surprised they only gave you a cursory check - I'd think it's one of those things that they'd make sure of every time.

  4. Dr. Shmuel - there is always next month!!!

    social - next time you are in Israel make it a mandatory stop

    Robbie - sooner rather than later

    Ezzie - it might have been cursory because it was quiet. it might also have been slightly affected by Vitamin P = Protektzia. We do not really have protektzia, but the head police guy there likes our group. He knows us already for the most part and he is always happy to say the bet Shemesh group has never made trouble for him on the Mount. So when he sees us he sort of relaxes and knows things will go smooth. he might have been a bit more lenient because of it.

    I asked him if he wants me to pen my wallet (like last time) and he said "No. I trust you" (he had already asked if I have anything inside and I said no)

  5. Why only one night a year (referring to not using the mikvah) what happened to Yom Kippur?

  6. Great Vort, as wel as the rest of the post

  7. Wow! Sounds amazing!

  8. Is this a regular tour to the kosel or something more than that?

  9. westbankmama - as I mentioned in the post, it is not really elevant nowadays anyway because women do not sip anymore in the time it is considered the mitzva. Tosfot was discussing back then when they did dip the right time what one should do.
    That being said, that argument of tosafot was one argument in a large discussion. I do not know if that was the final word or not. I just found the idea of Tosafot's statement mind boggling.
    Also, the reasons we do these things on tisha b'av and the reasons on yom kippur are very different. 9 av is mourning the destruction of the Temple. Yom Kippur is a day of repentance. Therefore the applications of such statements would be different as well - on yom kippur that argument would not apply at all...

    Avromi - it is not a regular tour. Just a bunch of guys who try to go fairly regularly. Some are more knowledgeable than others and therefore try to "lead" the group when available.

  10. Not just cold - your forgot to mention they were also wet - such mesiras nefesh!

    I bentch you that it should carry over to all the mitzvos you do!

  11. I thought that barefoot in itself was considered disrespectful.

  12. me - amen. thanks

    batya - not at all. we say that nowadays about shuls that barefoot might be disrespectful, but in the beit hamikdash the kohanim could not even wear socks! it would be called a chatzitza and invalidate the service.
    As Hashem told Moshe at the burning bush - Shal Na Nealecha me'al raglecha - remove your shoes because you are in a holy place...

  13. Rafi, this was great. I love how you described, "the stone floor of Har Habayit is like a block of ice". It was so vivid. With Hashem's help soon we should all be in Yerushalyim and dancing so much that the stone floor is hot to the touch!

  14. "The situation was quiet and calm. The police did not check every inch of our bodies for threatening prayer paraphanelia, as they have at times in the past. They did a cursory check and asked if we have any siddurim in our pockets or wallets and left it at that."


    i was there once fifteen years ago, but i don't remember being checked like this. maybe because i was alone.

    is it true that the soldiers/policemen on har habayyit itself are not jewish?

  15. Ari - you do not remember being checked like that 15 years ago because they did not check like that 15 years ago. Since Ariel Sharon went up in 2000 that "sparked" the riots that led to the second Intafada, they closed the Temple Mount to Jews. About 2.5 years ago they re-opened it to jews but with very strict limitations, including what I have described...

    As to your question, it might be partially true. Some pf the police/soldiers might not be Jewish. But they definitely do have Jewish policemen and soldiers there. I have seen some with kippot. I have seen some that are clearly jewish, and I have seen some that I know (regular policemen that I know from the kotel area...)

  16. I am scheduled to lead a walk-about on Chanukah, 27 Kislev at 7:30 and I'll have to prep a bit. Things have changed so much since I first went up there 36 years ago. What do people expect to be informed about?

  17. ymedad - I would stress two things. First of all, if you have first time goers it is important to tell them what they are looking at, from a historical and religious point of view. Second, being you are going on channuka, I think it will be extra meaningful if you explain how the mikdash was connected to hannuka. Explain the battles in the mikdash, talk about the menora and how it was regularly lit and how and why it is different than our menora. Point out the olive trees (that should not be there..), talk about the song maoz zur and its references to the bet hamikdash (the gates being broken into in 13 places), etc...

  18. puxDear Rafi G,
    Just Curious I see you have a strong yeshiva background I was wondering about going up my self but I see Rav Eliyshiv is against and I imagine as well the rosh hayeshivah where you learned at also would not allow as well. Which Posek did you rely on to go ? I would like to go up as well.

  19. Dear Rafi G,
    Just Curious I see you have a strong yeshiva background I was wondering about going up my self but I see Rav Eliyshiv is against and I imagine as well the rosh hayeshivah where you learned at also would not allow as well. Which Posek did you rely on to go ? I would like to go up as well.

  20. anonymous - please write to me offline at israeli.jew at gmail dot com and I will send you my details...

  21. B"H Re: good coming out of evil, I would like to suggest that this is b'dia'vad and not lekhathhilah.

    Re: barefeet - simply recall the footwear of the Kohanim in the Miqdash (none). To anyone who says that non-leather shoes are preferable to barefeet, I challenge him to show me a [hallachic] source to this effect. There may very well be one, but I am not aware of any.

  22. ben-yehuda -- nobody says non-leather shoes are better than barefeet. They say it is just as good (at best) or ok (at worst).
    I agree the good coming out of bad is only bedieved..

  23. B"H Yeah, I know. BTW, someone just mentioned a good reason TO wear non-leather shoes instead of barefeet on Har HaBayith: It may be easier to run, or to fight, as the necessity presents itself. I'm almost embarrassed to mention this, as it's SO obvious.


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