Yearn, But From Afar

Wherever in the world a Jew may find himself, when he davens he turns towards the holiest place on earth, the sacred mountain in Yerushalayim where the Beis Hamikdash once stood. In every tefillah that is uttered, we plea for its rebuilding.

Throughout our long and bitter travails in galus, in every set of circumstances, during joyful celebrations and times of deep mourning, our hearts have been filled with longing for this holy hilltop.

As women stand and shed copious tears over their Shabbos candles, they pray for the Beis Hamikdash to be rebuilt. Whenever we sing — whether zemiros at the Shabbos table or while dancing joyfully at a wedding — our songs are heartfelt entreaties for the binyan Beis Hamikdash.

Throughout the generations, it was always clear to our ancestors that even after the Churban, the holiness of the Beis Hamikdash continues to have a pivotal impact on our lives. We sense the influence of this holiness in every shul, every yeshivah and every Torah-true home.

This lofty bond between Am Yisrael and the Mekom Hamikdash is a purely spiritual one. It was due to our spiritual deficiencies that we lost the light of our lives and our enemies burned down the House of Hashem, and only through tefillah and the keeping of mitzvos will we merit the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash.

There is no such thing as a quirk of history, and it is solely due to hashgachah pratis that a Muslim mosque stands today on this spot. The large golden dome that stands out in every aerial photo of the Kosel area serves as a painful reminder that we are in galus, which in turn is a most powerful call for teshuvah.

Indeed, we are all obligated to be moser nefesh for the kedushah of the Beis Hamikdash, but this mesirus nefesh has to be a spiritual one, a total dedication to the keeping of halachah and subjugation to the rulings of the Gedolei Yisrael. Attempts to reclaim Jewish ownership of Har HaBayis through physical force are not only wrong and dangerous, but illustrate a painful lack of comprehension of what the Beis Hamikdash really stands for. These acts of kochi v’otzem yadi are the polar opposite of the very concept of Har HaMoriah.

Whenever acts are publicly committed that are in violation of the accepted halachah in Klal Yisrael, it puts Jews in danger. Our role is not to judge the deeds of others, but to express our anguish and do all we can so that others should not emulate them.

Last Friday, in a hesped for Shalom Aharon Badani, Hy”d, a 17-year-old yeshivah student who was niftar that morning after being run over in a terrorist attack earlier in the week, Harav Yitzchak Yosef, the Rishon LeTzion, decried those Jews who go up to Har HaBayis, which has caused so much unrest in recent days.

“They have to cease this …” he said. “No one among us has the authority to dispute what the Gedolei Haposkim have decided.”

Some 25 years ago, an idea was floated to build a glass bridge that would connect Har HaBayis with the Kosel plaza. An architect, working closely with local officials, spent long hours drawing detailed plans for the project. Then he got a phone call from a prominent Rav with a message from Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l: If this bridge were to be built, mispallelim davening at the Kosel would be able to see Jews entering Har HaBayis, and they would be obligated to protest. Therefore, Rav Auerbach said, he might find it necessary to instruct Jews to stop davening at the Kosel entirely!

The architect, who was a religious Zionist, promptly ripped up his plans, and this particular project was scrapped.

Today, as the Jews in Eretz Yisrael face grave dangers from within and without, is a time for strengthening our connection to the Beis Hamikdash on all fronts. This includes dedicating ourselves to protecting the kedushah of Am Yisrael, battling against those plans that are endangering the continuation of our people by tampering with the giyur process, defending the Torah world from all those who wish to harm it, and doing all we can to ensure that Jews adhere to the halachic prohibition against entering Har HaBayis.