By Anav Silverman
For the first time since the beginning of Pesach, the Har Habayis was opened briefly to Jewish visitors and tourists on Sunday, April 20. The site had been closed last week on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday because of violent Palestinian rioting. On Motzoei Shabbos, April 19, five Arabs carrying tear gas were arrested as they tried to access the holy site.
However, on Sunday morning, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and his family were able to experience two full minutes on the Har Habayis. The rabbi’s visit was cut short when violent rioting once again broke out on the holy site. The riots forced Rabbi Soloveichik and his family, who were accompanied by Temple Institute International Director Rabbi Chaim Richman, off the site within two minutes of ascending.
Two police officers were injured in the confrontation, and 24 arrests were made. Arab worshipers threw concrete blocks and rocks at Israeli police.
The Islamic Waqf, which was given administrative control of the mount following the Six Day War in 1967, bans Jewish prayer and worship.
Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik gave the invocation at the opening session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He is a son of Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, grandson of the late Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik and the great-nephew of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.
He currently serves as rov of the Sephardic Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States.
Commenting on the incident, Rabbi Soloveichik expressed his dismay at the current situation.
“Under the current circumstances, even to go to the Temple Mount for two minutes was a tremendous privilege,” said Rabbi Soloveichik. “I am very much in favor of ascending the Temple Mount according to Halacha [Jewish law] and after taking the appropriate halachic precautions. It is critical for Jews to understand the importance of the Temple Mount. I applaud the increasing number of Orthodox rabbis and heads of yeshivot that are going to the holy site, and I predict we will see even more Jews ascending in the future.”
Most preeminent poskim of this and past generations have forbade ascending the Har Habayis.
Tazpit News Agency