A group of Israelis rabbis visiting Jerusalem's Temple Mount last week publicly recited the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), an act that under normal circumstances would results in detention by the police.
The group, which was organized by the Temple Institute, was visiting the Temple Mount to commemorate the 1165 visit to Judaism's holiest site by Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, one of history's greatest Jewish philosophers.
At one point, a rabbi spontaneously began reciting the biblical blessing, eliciting the expected cries of outrage from nearby Muslim officials who noticed the Jews were daring to pray at the site Islam today claims as its third holiest.
To the surprise of the rabbis, Israeli police stationed at the Temple Mount took their side and ordered the Muslims to stop harassing them.
In the past, Christians and Jews who were suspected of even praying quietly to themselves were forcibly removed from the Temple Mount and detained for questioning. Israel's official policy is to bow to the Muslims' insistence that none but the followers of Allah may pray atop the Temple Mount.
Temple Institute director Rabbi Haim Richman told Israel National News that last week's visit marked probably the first time since the Roman destruction of the Second Temple that descendants of Israel's priestly caste had recited the Priestly Blessing on the holy hill.
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