Rabbis Call to Break Holiday Tradition of Fasting: Arise to Temple Mount

Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, Chief Rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho in Judea and dean of the Hara’ayon Hayehudi (the Jewish idea) yeshiva (Torah academy) in Jerusalem, released a ruling this week instructing that ascending to the Temple Mount is so important that a person who does so may even break the fast by drinking water in order to do so.

Rabi Kroizer ruled that if someone visiting the site begins to feel very weak, they are permitted to drink water. If they can manage with drinking a smaller amount of water, they should only drink 40 milliliters every nine minutes. The weather is unseasonably hot so Rabbi Korizer’s ruling is particularly relevant. 

Jews who ascend to the holy site are required to immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) before entering the Temple Mount Compound. Rabbi Kroizer instructed that Jews should go to the mikva on Wednesday before the fast begins, as bathing on Tisha B’Av itself is forbidden. If, however, one becomes ritually impure on Tisha B’Av itself, they should go to the mikva on Tisha B’Av before ascending to the mountain.

The Temple Mount organizations called on the Ministry of Religious Services to open up the ritual baths on Wednesday for worshipers planning to visit the Temple Mount. The ministry is not expected to comply as the official position of the Chief Rabbinate is that it is not permitted for Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount. 

Rabbi Kroizer explained his controversial ruling.

“My ruling does not diminish the importance of the day,” Rabbi Kroizer said to Breaking Israel News. “Even more so the opposite. Ascending the Temple Mount speaks to the essence of the day which is not just crying for what was lost. The importance of the day is also what we are looking forward to. The day is supposed to wake us up to the need for the Temple. Ascending to the Temple Mount is a powerful reminder of what we lost, what we lack, and what we still need to do.”

“Implicit in the mourning is that in the future, the day will become a day of feasting and joy,” Rabbi Kroizer said.

Elishama Sanderman, head of the Yera’eh Temple Mount advocacy group, noted that last year on Tisha B’Av, 1,729 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount.

“Last year, Tisha B’Av coincided with a Muslim holiday,” Sanderman noted. “Usually, when that happens, the Temple Mount is closed to Jews. Until the very last moment, it was unclear whether the police would open the site to Jews. Fortunately, at the last minute, the police opened the site to Jews but there were disturbances, riots, by the Muslims.”

Some 40 Muslims and four Israeli police officers were injured in the clashes. This year, the Muslim holiday falls on Friday but Sanderman expects a poor turnout of Jewish visitors.

“Fewer people have been ascending in recent weeks because of the coronavirus,” Sanderman explained. “Jews will be limited to groups of no more than 20 and the hours are more limited than usual.”

“This is offset by a decrease in the number of Muslims at the site but it is still disappointing,” Sanderman said.

“This is an important day,” Sanderman said. “We need to remember the destruction of the Temples. We need to cry and fast. But when the day of mourning is over, we need to get up and begin building.”

The Temple Mount is open to Jewish visitors from 7:30 AM to 11 AM and from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM.

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