Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef, as well as more than 100 prominent Israeli rabbis, issued a statement Thursday reiterating a previous decree barring Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.
The rabbinical decree forbidding Jewish worshippers from visiting the volatile holy site in Jerusalem has been in place for decades.
“We have been blessed, by the grace of God, to witness the fact that this holy place is in our possession, and many among the people of Israel flock to it, so that they may see it with their own eyes. Some even venture into the Temple Mount, despite the generations-old warning barring us from setting foot anywhere on the premises, so that we do not fail and, heaven forbid, infringe on the purity of this sacred place,” the rabbis’ statement read.
In Jewish law, entering the Temple or the Tabernacle while in a state of ritual impurity is one of 36 offenses punishable by kareth (“cutting off”)—extinction of the soul and denial of a share in the world to come.
“With time, we have become unaware of the exact location of the Temple, and anyone entering the premises may unknowingly enter the holiest of holies, potentially risking kareth,” the rabbis said.
In response to the rabbis announcement, Temple Mount Heritage Foundation founder Rabbi Yehudah Glick, who is well known for his work on the Temple Mount, criticized the religious leaders for attempting to politicize a highly volatile issue.
“It is very sad that at this time many rabbis exploit this sensitive situation that we are presently in to promote their legitimate political opinion!” he told Breaking Israel News.
“The dispute between rabbis is not a new one but to publicize it presently, as if there is only one side, one official rabbinical authoritative view, works to strengthen our enemies. This is a totally non moral way of behavior and should be condemned by all parties,” he said.
Additional reporting by Israel Hayom and Breaking Israel News