Fifteen prominent rabbis have asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to open the gates of the Temple Mount to Jewish religious observance next week. In particular, they want to offer a Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount when the biblical holiday begins next Wednesday evening.
“We have been blessed by God’s grace that the place of the Temple is under Jewish control, and to the extent that the State of Israel sees the offering of the Passover sacrifice as a national interest first and foremost, as it should be, we want to offer the Passover sacrifice in its rightful place and at its rightful time despite all the difficulties,” the rabbis wrote in a letter addressed to the prime minister and his Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
The “difficulties” to which they referred have to do primarily with the expected violent reaction of the Muslim world, which today sees the Temple Mount as Islam’s third holiest site.
The rabbis noted that the rulings of Jewish sages throughout the centuries were in favor of offering the Passover sacrifice even before the Third Temple is built.
Every Passover Eve a group of Temple Mount activists tries to enter the sacred compound in order to offer a Passover sacrifice in accordance with biblical law. But the Israel Police is always prepared, and has never allowed this to occur.
“They are crazy!”
The calls for a renewal of biblical ceremony and custom are usually met with a hostile reaction by those secular Israelis who are paying attention.
Giving voice to their displeasure this year was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who accused Netanyahu and his government of seeking to “destroy” the Al Aqsa Mosque (at the southern end of the Temple Mount) and start a war with the entire Muslim world.
This despite the fact that Netanyahu has not and most certainly won’t respond to the rabbis’ letter, and that the police under his government’s orders will prevent a Passover sacrifice from being conducted atop the Temple Mount.
In a rambling interview with the UK-based think tank Chatham House, Barak asserted that kippa-wearing religious Jews like Ben-Gvir want to turn a purely political conflict with the Palestinians into a religious war against Islam as a whole.
He believes that it will only become a religious war if people like Ben-Gvir are permitted to “implement something like old traditions, traditions of the Torah, of slaughtering goats and sheep for sacrifices.”
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