Michael Boyden

Temple Mount Obsession

What exactly was government Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir looking for when he visited the Temple Mount? Getting some headlines on the news media?

Was he trying to say “The Temple Mount is in our hands” as Motta Gur did back in June 1967 when Eastern Jerusalem was liberated/conquered? Who remembers that 97 paratroopers died in the process and 430 were wounded?

It is precisely because the Temple Mount is not in our hands that Ben-Gvir as Minister of National Security decided to make a political statement by visiting there.

This has nothing to do with religion. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef criticized him by stating that “as a minister representing the government of Israel, you should act according to the instructions of generations of chief rabbis, who forbade going onto the Temple Mount.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. …Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, …. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn.”

When Moses was shepherding his flock in the wilderness, God appeared to him at the burning bush and told him: “Take your shoes off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

Holiness can be everywhere or nowhere. It all depends on how we act.

Jews place kvitlach in the Kotel as though it were the P.O.Box of the Almighty. But God is in every place. One of God’s names is Makom (Place), because, as R.Ammi taught: “He is the place of the world” (Bereshit Rabba 68:9). He is transcendent and not limited to any particular place.

Ben-Gvir’s visit was all about politics and had nothing to do with religion.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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