Haifa's long-time Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, who has taken part in many interfaith conferences and gatherings with Moslem religious leaders, says he's trying to gather support for a synagogue in the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Cohen, son of the late renowned Torah scholar known as the Nazir, Rabbi David Cohen, chairs the Chief Rabbinate Council for the Establishment of a Synagogue on the Temple Mount. Speaking on a special Temple Mount radio program on Voice of Israel's Moreshet (Tradition)-channel this week, he said he is working in the United States to amass support for the project.
Other rabbis have also called for the construction of a Jewish prayer site on the Temple Mount. Former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu is among them, though he has not campaigned for this cause. Other members on the Chief Rabbinate committee are Be'er Sheva's Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and Tzfat's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
Jewish Temple Mount supporters greeted Rabbi Cohen's announcement with enthusiasm. The Movement for the Establishment of the Temple declared, "The holiday of Chanukah, commemorating the liberation and purification of the Mount and the Temple, is the perfect time for the establishment of a prayer site for the Jewish People on the Mount. This will be a step towards full Jewish sovereignty over the holy site."
Rabbi Cohen took advantage of the opportunity to call upon the observant Jewish public to visit the site of the Holy Temple. He said this must be done only after taking the prescribed Halakhic [Jewish legal] precautions, such as immersing in a mikveh beforehand and others.
On Monday, the famous golden Menorah (candelabrum) - suitable for use in the Holy Temple, and familiar to visitors to the Cardo section of the Old City of Jerusalem - was relocated to the landing of the wide staircase that leads down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall. The $3-million, one-half ton Menorah is protected inside the same type of glass structure that has housed it until now. The Menorah's construction was made possible through the generosity of Vadim Rabinovitch, a leader of the Jewish community of Ukraine.
Some 1,500 people took part in the monthly "Temple Mount Gates March" on Sunday night, Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Tevet. The event was dedicated to the memory of Ido Zoldan, who was killed last month by Palestinians; his family took part in the march.
Hundreds of Jews have ascended to the Mount "in purity" - i.e., according to Jewish Law - on the various days of Chanukah. Rabbis of the Movement for the Establishment of the Temple were on hand to provide guidance and explanations.
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Torah-true Jews reiterate the statement of Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld in 1929: "The Jews do not want, in any way, to take that which isn't theirs. And they certainly don't want to contest the rights of the other inhabitants to the places held by them in which they regard with honor and consider holy. And in particular there is no foundation to the rumor that the Jews want to acquire the "Temple Mount". On the contrary, from the time that, because of our sins, we were exiled from our land, and our Holy Temple was destroyed, and we have been lacking the purity required by the Torah, it is forbidden for any man of Israel to set foot upon the grounds of the "Temple Mount", until the coming of the righteous messiah, who with the spirit of the L-rd, which will hover over him, will rule righteously, for the good of all creation, and will return to us the purity required by the Torah."
These irresponsible statements about rebuilding the Temple now come from a small faction of Zionist extremists who in any case have no power to put their ideas into practice. It is no coincidence that members of this same group are the most vocal critics of the Islamic Waqf's right to conduct repairs on the compound as they see fit. Torah-true Jews do not seek to control the compound or any other part of the Holy Land.
For the record, no Jewish authority in history has ever sanctioned the Jews rebuilding the Temple on their own. The Talmud (Bava Kama 60b) says that the future Temple will come down in fire from Heaven, pre-built by G-d. Rashi (Succah 41a) rules accordingly. The Rambam (Maimonides) says that only the messiah may build it, after he is recognized by the entire world as G-d's messenger based on clear criteria. But there is no opinion that holds that Jews will at any time force the building of the Temple on any other people.
This latest plan to provoke the Muslim world by building a synagogue and an official Jewish presence on the compound considered by Muslim to be their holy site, is sure to endanger Jews everywhere, especially since these Zionist extremists state openly that it "will be a step towards full Jewish sovereignty over the holy site." Their moving of their "menorah" closer to the Temple site sends the clear message that they are preparing to destroy the mosques and build the Temple in their place. We pray that G-d open their eyes to realize the extent of the danger they are bringing upon Jews with these militant acts.
At the same time, we wish to warn Jews that even if the Zionists do, G-d forbid, succeed in building a temple, it will not be the long-awaited Third Temple of G-d, but a temple of Satanic forces. This was stated 90 years ago by Rabbi Shmuel Weinberg, the Slonimer Rebbe, on his deathbed: "Jews, you must know that before the coming of the messiah, a group of unsavory people will travel to Eretz Yisroel, and they will enjoy great victories there, and they will build a temple, and a fire will come down from heaven in this temple as it did in the First Temple. And you must know that this fire will not be from the Holy Side, but from the Other Side."
Similarly, Rabbi Israel of Ryzhin said over 150 years ago: "Before the coming of the messiah, a fire will come down from heaven like the fire that came down for Elijah the prophet on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18:38). Jews, you must know that it will not come down for the true prophets, but rather for the false prophets. And Jews will have to climb up sheer walls to remain with their faith."