Rabbi Yisrael Ariel – founder of the Temple Institute – made a blessing over fruit on the Temple Mount, brought by a woman who came especially from the Golan, to give thanks for her husband’s recent recovery from sickness.
Two groups of approximately 50 people each, braved a rainy but blessed morning, to ascend the Temple Mount. A call had gone out a day or two earlier for Jews to take part in Ha’aliyah Hamonit, a mass ascension to create a presence on the site of the two Temples. While there, the woman, who had somehow managed to bring dates with her, distributed them to those gathered. Each person made a blessing over the fruit prior to eating it and Rabbi Ariel said one when everyone had finished.
This ascent to the Temple Mount comes amid an uptick in tension and activity at the site. Called al-Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, it is Islam’s third holiest site. On Tuesday, a Palestinian terrorist threw a firebomb into a police post next to the Dome of the Rock. A policeman was seriously wounded and riots ensued after police arrested the terrorist. The police responded by closing all entrances to the site and ordering everyone to leave.
For Jews, an unbroken tradition of thousands of years places both Solomon’s original Temple and King Herod’s one which replaced it on the Temple Mount. It is, therefore, considered the holiest site in Judaism. There has been increasing unease about a number of developments over recent months. Non-Muslim prayer is outlawed, with any moving of lips or shedding of tears considered tantamount to a declaration of religious war. In addition, there are concerns about changes to the status quo, with the Waqf‘s (Islamic religious authority) attempts to build a third mosque on Temple Mount.