I know that most of our readers have heard much about the dismal situation on our holiest site – the Temple Mount but today when I was there it really came home.
I went to the mikva and wore non leather shoes as halacha prescribes. Then there were the humiliating preparations. I was told by our guide that since we are a Jewish group, we will be closely scrutinized by the Israeli police at the entrance. Any sign of Jewish identity would be reason to detain us yell at us, demand our ID and ban us from entering. And so, no kipa,no tzitit and certainly no dangerous contraband as a siddur or Tihilim. A magan david design on ones hat is also forbidden.
We were the only Jews waitng on the line. I saw a non Jewish person have his Bible confiscated. Nothing but Muslim religious articles allowed on the site of the Holy Temple.
It seems that there is one particular loud, bossy and rude police office who runs the place and sets the ugly tone. He does his job just as his bosses like. He ordered a map of the Bet Hamikdash confiscated and began yelling threatening us ..claiming that we were planning to make trouble. Our guide just lowered his head and absorbed the abuse as the other Gentile tourist looked on at the spectacle of Jews beng humiliated by Jewish police at our holiest site.
. I could not help but think how far we have come from the moment of grace God gave us in 1967 when Am Yisroel were thrilled as “The Temple Mount is in our hands!!”
Not long ago, a religious Jew who made the mistake of not disguising himself as a Gentile, had his bottle of water confiscated because the police claimed… he might make a bracha on the Mount…
Well, we were finally on the Mount and were the only Jews there. The area is huge – seventeen foot ball fields!.
There were a number of tourist groups and lots of Muslims. Some of them were having classes , some were strolling. Others were playing soccer. They were all at home. The Muslim authorities (Waqf) eyed us suspiciously. They knew when they smelled Jew. They were on their walky talkies and signaled to each other all over the mount. Were we going to move our lips in prayer, bow in the direction of the holy of Holies or do some other Jewish thing.?.
We continued our walk around the perimeter of the Mount – in the areas that halacha allows one to tread witnessing the places where our people have come up to for many centuries when Am Yisroel were indeed home and acted like it.
There was panic for a brief moment in our group when I took off my hat to wipe my brow – and ..my kipppa was visible! Imagine. In the very heart of Yerushalayim.
What have we done to ourselves?!
In the year 2000 , Prime minister Ehud Barak agreed to the Waqf’s request to make an emergency exit for the Al Aksa mosque. They brought up bull dozers, mack trucks and guted the belly of the southern part of the mountain. That was some emergency exit. When the dust settled a few years later they had built under ground, the largest mosque in Israel. Done.
The had extracted tons of dirt and rock, destroying precious remains of the Temple and then threw the whole lot in a garbage dump.Those remains are now being sifted to salvage what can be saved from the destruction.
During the brutal and unsurpevised earth moving, the very walls of the mount began to buckle. This is when the Isaeli authorities woke up and insisted that the ancient southern support wall be attened to and strengthened. The Waqf insisted that no impure Infidel will touch any thing on their holy site, and so a Jordanian team is doing the job, in a rather unasthetic manner I might add.
What can I say? Rabbi Akiva and his fellow rabbis saw the Mount and Temple in its ruins with foxes running about He laughed. His colleagues asked, “what are you laughing at”. He answered ,” Just as the prophet said there will be a destruction, he also said there will be a rebuilding and redemption.”
I saw the foxes today. I would have liked to laugh but it wasn’t the Romans who were responsible for the desecration and destruction. It was our own. We gave the keys back to our enemies and tormentors only moments after he greatest miracle since the Exodus.
Yes, we are in the midst of the time of redemption.
Yes, we have indeed come a long way.
Yes, the prophets have foreseen it all.
Rabbi Akiva you have comforted me.