Last year set a record for the number of Jews ascending to the Temple Mount but this week, with two months still left until the Jewish new year, that record was broken. This rising interest in Judaism’s holiest site is hopefully paving the way for the Third Temple and one activist notes that current events may one day be written down as an addendum to the Bible.
Elisha Sanderman, the spokesman for the Temple Mount activist organization Yera’eh, told Breaking Israel News that 22,566 have gone up to the Temple Mount so far this year, more than visited the site all of last year. His organization tracks this statistic daily, beginning and ending on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
“It is difficult to estimate how many will arrive in the next few months,” Sanderman told Breaking Israel News. “Last year 2,264 Jews visited the Temple Mount on the 9th of Av, so it is reasonable to hope, though astounding to imagine, that twice that number will visit the Temple Mount on the 9th of Av this year.”
The 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, referred to as Tisha B’Av, is a fast day commemorating the destruction of both Jewish Temples. It begins on the evening of July 21 and ends the following evening.
“In these last two months leading up to Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, we usually see more Jews go up as they begin to put a special effort into tshuva (repentance),” Sanderman said.
Sanderman speculated as to the reasons behind the powerful phenomenon.
“The police and government are being more supportive of Jews going up but that would be meaningless if it weren’t for a spiritual awakening among the Jews,” he said. “It used to be that just young men from the national religious movement visited the site. But now, we see all types of Jews, including Haredi, many of whom do so despite their rabbis’ objections.”
He even noted many non-religious Israelis who are taking an interest in Judaism’s holiest site. Sanderman told a moving story about a call he received from a secular Israeli who inquired about the religious laws pertaining to ascending to the Temple Mount.
“He said that he isn’t religious, but if he was going to go to the site, he wanted to do so in the one-hundred percent proper manner,” Sanderman related.
Yera’eh does not count the Christians who visit the site since they do not pass through the security checkpoint. Sanderman noted that there has been a new phenomenon of Christians and non-Jews who relate to the site as spiritually significant. He related how four non-Jews from Texas had taken an oath on the Temple Mount to uphold the Noahide Laws.
“We counted them along with the Jews in our statistics,” Sanderman said. “It was powerfully inspiring to witness their oath. In many ways, the Waqf (Muslim authority) guards relate to them even more harshly than they do to Jews. Their presence may not be as quantitatively impactful but it is no less significant in the struggle to return the Temple Mount to its role of ‘a House of Prayer for All Nations’.”
“We are witnessing history in the making. We know about 24 books in the Bible but we are writing the 25th book right now. One day, people will read about the construction of the Third Temple just as we read about Ezra and Nehemiah building the Second Temple and Solomon building the First Temple. Perhaps the 25th book of the Bible will even list names of people we know, those who have a special role in what is happening today in what we call politics but which is actually so much more.”