THE LEVANT – The following is the text of the letter by Rabbi David Yosef, Head of Beit Hamidrash “Yahavei Da’at” and member of the Council of Torah Sages (Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah), to Benjamin Netanyahu. The letter was written on November 9th, 2014.
Pursuant to the Halacha Ruling publicised last week by HaGaon HaRav Yitzhak Yosef Shalita regarding the prohibition against entrance to the Temple Mount in our time, I turn your attention to the response by my father and teacher, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of blessed and pious memory, in his book of questions and responses in which he cites all the Torah Sages of all generations proving that the prohibition against entrance to the Temple Mount was well-known by all the people of Israel throughout all of the generations.
The great rabbis of Israel ruled that the prohibition against entrance to the Temple Mount in our time is regarded in the Torah as “karet” (for the sake of comparison one who enters the Temple Mount is like one who eats on Yom Kippur). The great rabbis of the last generation such as Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook of blessed memory, the Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, pronounced their opinion that entrance to the Temple Mount at this time is strictly prohibited.
Entrance to the area of the Temple Mount is all the more prohibited by Jewish law for so-called “praying” and the prayer of that worshiper is an abomination that does not bless the Lord but rather curses Him.
In light of the above, I turn to you with the demand to close the entire area of the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors and not to allow yourself to be deceived by a bizarre and extremist minority that makes all kinds of “messianic” claims using Jewish law in vain. Their evil nature seeks fabricated “permission” based on an opinion decisively rejected by all adjudicators of Jewish law.
It is contrary to opinions of all of the great rabbis of Israel throughout the generations and causes tremendous harm to the people of Israel who dwell in Zion and to those who dwell among the nations of the world. They bring hate upon us and their deeds arm those who hate Israel with an excuse to kill us, to commit murder, attack us and incite all the nations of the world against us. The silent acquiescence allowing a bizarre fringe group to lead the general public with their messianic conceptions is unacceptable.
Of course, we must add in no uncertain terms that closing the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors does not imply that we forfeit our right to this holy place. On the contrary, the prohibition to enter the Temple Mount is on account of the enormity of its holiness that so far surpasses every other holiness that it is forbidden to enter it except after total purification that is not possible to reach at this time.
And with the help of God, blessed be He, we declare that with the coming of the messiah to the people of Israel we will return and realise our halachic and historical ownership of the Temple Mount as promised to us by God. Everywhere, for the time being, we must do what we can to save the public from “karet” prohibition and prevent [the Jews’] entrance to the Temple Mount.
I wish to stress that my opinion is shared by all members of the Council of Torah Sages (Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, all members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. In accordance with the demand by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, immediately after the Six-Day War a large sign was placed at the entrance to the Temple Mount forbidding [Jews’] entrance to it. Therefore, certainly in light of the situation that has arisen in which the Jews’ entrance to the Temple Mount causes such hate towards Israel, we must announce to the world the prohibition against Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. All the more so, we must forbid Jewish “prayer” on the area of the Temple Mount. If you do this you will be doubly rewarded by the Lord blessed be He.
Rabbi David Yosef
Member of the Council of Torah Sages