Har HaBayit: Forgotten Home of the Jewish People

Smoke rises from behind the wall. I look up and see the Cyprus trees just behind as a terrible cry is blasted in a language I don’t understand. Somehow I long every day to enter a place I have only ever seen in pictures and to visit a site that I have only heard stories about, spoken about as fond memories around the Shabbat table. Plans have been made to go up and experience it, but this is merely the wishful thinking by those that speak much and do little.

In recent years, my attention throughout my daily tefilot (prayers) has been to this very place. Birthplace of the world, site of Avraham’s ultimate test, a House of Hashem to those that dream, bought by King David and ordained by King Shlomo. Since I first laid eyes upon it, Har HaBayit has burrowed into my mind like a rabbit for the winter. Only this winter is our exile from our holiest site.

Every time I take three steps forward I prepare to elevate myself to that very spot. The mountain that I long for, wish for, and that I pray for. When saying “ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לציון ברחמים” (‘And we shall witness with our eyes, Your return to Zion in mercy.’) I imagine the Divine Presence of Hashem flowing from around the world, from Heaven, and concentrating on Har HaBayit. It is such a pivotal part of my daily prayers that it rocks me to my core.

However, it seems that in the mess of modern day politics many have forgotten the true yearning that we desire. While politicians argue away about meaningless words such as peace, negotiations, and compromise, we as a nation have forgotten our home. Would this be the case if not for that horrible day in 1967 when Moshe Dayan gave the keys to the House of Hashem to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf? While Rav Shlomo Goren instituted a day of celebration for the recapturing of Jerusalem (Yom Yerushalayim), it is the actions of Moshe Dayan that should have been cause to create a national day of mourning. A day that would be second only to the 9th of Av.

It is because of those actions in 1967, that we forgot who we were as a nation, who we were as a people. It is because of those actions that has led to our neglect of what should be so near and dear to our hearts, Har HaBayit. We should be ashamed of ourselves. For the last 49 years we have been content with ourselves, to just waste away as we pray to a wall, we write notes to a wall, and we kiss a wall. We could have so much more. However it is the blunders of politics and our inability to not care what the ‘international community’ might think, that has let us squander our rights to our land.

In 1967 you would be hard pressed to argue that Israel had not captured Jerusalem through basic principles of war. We had every right to our land, we captured it not only for nationalistic reasons but for strategic ones as well. But now… do we even still have a claim? Our claim to Har HaBayit has long since begun to rot away. With every passing day we let our grip on our land slip away. We let UN resolution after UN resolution be passed against Israel. We let Arabs try to make unbelievable claims that not only is Har HaBayit a ‘Muslim site’ but so is the Western Wall. Instead of saying, ‘two can play at that game’, we let the Arab dictate the pace of the international parade of Anti-Zionism, just the newly adapted form of Anti-Semitism. Words against incitement makes us seem weak if they are not back up by action

While we worry about what the world thinks of us and while we squabble about petty arguments about prayers at the Western Wall, Arabs turn our holiest site into a park. Children play soccer, animals defecate where they please, Arabs burn trash, and women collect rocks to throw at visitors or praying Jews down below.

How could we have let this happen? It is time for the Jewish Nation to have a serious reality check. We must reevaluate what is truly important. Otherwise the loud cry blasted will always be in a foreign language and not the holy language of the Leviim singing Hallel. Otherwise the smoke you see coming from behind the wall will always be just Arabs burning trash and not the sacrifices by the Kohanim at the House of Hashem.

About the Author
Eliyahu recently graduated the University of Maryland and made Aliyah in August 2015.
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