Feb 7, 2007

going to Har Habayit or not: part I

The current controversy regarding excavations at the Mugrabim Gate entrance to Har Habayit has prompted this post.

We learned in the gemara the other day in daf yomi in Taanis 28a an interesting idea. The gemara, discussing the idea of donating wood for the Beis Hamikdash, mentioned that the pestle-smugglers, the fig harvesters and the ladder-people acted righteously.

The Greek authorities had decreed disallowing the Jews to bring wood for the Beis Hamikdash, nor the Korban of the Bikkurim. The pestle-smugglers and the fig harvesters got around the decree against the Bikkurim by covering the Bikkurim with figs and smuggling it through the guards.
The ladder-people would bring ladders through the guards claiming they were using the ladders for maintenance. Once inside, they would dismantle the ladders and use them as wood for the korbanos.

The gemara declares that "Regarding such people the passuk says זכר צדיק לברכה - The Tzadik is remembered for blessing".

I am reprinting (with the author's permission) the contents of an email someone sent out about this gemara:
Acc. to Marsha, this is how to understand the gemara.
During Beis Shenie, When the Greeks started to take power, They had no control over the Beis Hamekdash, and were unable to prevent Korbanot.
So they set up guards on the roads, and area where they did have control.
They only prevented two Korbanot, the Wood ( only to each family that had a holiday from their ancestors of bringing on that day - in the beginning -- Holiday for them ),
and Bikkurim. These two Korbanot were related to Simcha. They wanted to prevent Jews from Bringing Korbanot that would bring the Simcha.
They only prevented these Korbanot, all others were okay, and that is why, when they looked at the Korbanot, there was always fire, but they could not tell which Korbanot were being offered.
The Gemara tells us Stories of families that would LIE, and sneak past the Guards to bring Korbanot Besimcha.
These are the people , and the Gemara points out, people WITH SIMILAR ACTIONS, are Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.
I don't know if this phrase, zt"l, is used anywhere else, for people learning torah ( except that you can say, they are Moser Nefesh to learn Besimcha ).
But what impacts me the most is the LIE, to achieve this grate goal.

I can only reflect and compare this to people who go up to Har Habayit, to daven Besimcha.
I personally do not go, nor can I say it is permitted.
But only time will tell, regarding these people, who do it BESIMCHA, where they will be remembered the same way, as the families in our Gemara,
Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.

I do not know when else the term "Zecher Tzadik LeVracha" is officially used. Nowadays we commonly use the term to refer to talmidei hachamim and people who have done great hessed (and sometimes not so great people) who died.

Going up to Har Habayit today is fairly controversial. Some rabbonim are in favor, some are against for a variety of reasons.

One of the major reasons against going up to Har Habayit is "Lo L'hitgarot B'goyim" - not to "tchepper" with the goyim. Not to provoke them.

To this claim I say that Har Habayit is only their latest claim of our provocation against them. They do not want us here in Israel at all. If we would accept that claim, we would all have to leave Israel, and most other countries, so as not to upset the goyim.

I imagine that back then, along with at any point in history in which a significant portion of the populace disagreed with the ruling evil parties (for this post I will only be referring to those governments Jewish history considered wicked and evil, leading the Jews astray from following Torah and mitzvos), we would hear similar complaints.

There would be groups of people who would insist on going to the Beis Hamikdash to bring korbanos, despite the decrees against and despite the social pressures against. I imagine them in shul talking to their friends about their plans to go to the beis Hamikdash next week.

The friend would show concern and say something like, "You do that? Isn't it dangerous? What will be if the Greeks find out? What will be if Yerovom finds out? You know they have guards to keep people away? You know they have snitches and others who keep their eyes out for anybody involved in these things and they can make your life hell? They will get your kids thrown out of school, you will not find shidduchim for your kids, your kids will be thrown out of yeshiva, etc.". And these people were good people, they were religious, even possibly Haredi, if the type existed back then. They were against people going up to the Beis Hamikdash because they were afraid of the repercussions.

Yet the people who continued to go to the Beis Hamikdash, probably small in number, would press on and say this is what needs to be done. They would insist "We cannot follow them in their evil ways and give in to their dictates". They would risk everything to do what was right.

And the Gemara says these are the people who it is written about Zecher Tzadik LeVracha.

It is comforting to think about this, as someone who does go up against the general consensus, that according to Jewish history we (those of us who go up) are in good company of people who our Torah considers Tzaddikim just because they were willing to risk everything in order to continue the relationship with Hashem and the Beis Hamikdash.


  1. B'simcha, even though it means getting up before 5 am.
    B'simcha even when it's cold and you're tired.
    B'simcha, even though you've got a deadline at work.
    B'simcha, even though you need to take a bus to work in TA from Jerusalem.
    B'simcha even though you can't overtly pray without getting arrested.
    B'simcha even though you see the Yishmaelim just as Rabbi Akiva saw the fox come out of the Makom HaMiqdash.
    B'simcha because this is THE place (HaMakom) and you feel it each time you go up.
    B'simcha because it's a gift to learn Torah on Har HaBayit.
    B'simcha because no matter how silent your prayers, HE is listening.

  2. In the times of the BHM we were commanded to bring these korbanos. Are we commanded to go up on Har Habayit now? (curious, non-rhetorical question)


  3. we are not commanded to nowadays. But most people then found excuses not to go to the Beis Hamikdash. They probably said things like those guys are right wing fanatics. Get with the times. Who needs it. The more religious probably said things like it is dangerous and sakanas nefashos to go.
    The people who were moser nefesh to go are the ones who get the credit.
    The same debate rages nowadays. Will those who go get the same credit? I do not know, nor is it for me to judge and rate. But it is an interesting thought.

  4. Obviously, there's a big halachic debate whether you can go at all, so ask a competent rabbi. But if he says yes, than I believe it's a mitzvah deoraita (ואת מקדשי תיראו) to visit the site of the beit hamikdash with the right mindset.

    And while "not upsetting the goyim" is the Israeli government's justification for keeping Jews off Har habayit, I don't think it enters into the halachic analysis... on the contrary, halacha would say that it's better to assert our rights there and thus have them recognized. At har habayit no less than in any other part of Israel, and probably more.

  5. I have asked my Rav who is competent in this mater and he approved of my going up...

    I have heard in the debate of whether it is allowed or not the consideration of "lo lhitgarot b'goyim". It is not just political, but is used as a halachic concern (rightly or wrongly.. I obviously disagree with it) as well...


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