Advocacy group petitions Ben-Gvir to blow shofar on Temple Mount on Rosh Hashanah

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a sacred occasion: you shall not work at your occupations. You shall observe it as a day when the shofar is sounded.

Numbers

29:

1

(the israel bible)

August 16, 2023

5 min read

A group of advocates including rabbis and a farmer Knesset member has submitted an official request to  Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s Minister of National Security, asking for permission to blow the shofar on the Temple Mount on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah next month.

“We, Jews who ascend and pray and study on the Temple Mount. each according to his ability; We ask you, by virtue of your authority granted to you by law, to instruct the police and the officers assigned to the Temple Mount to allow Jews to enter the Temple Mount on Shabbat Rosh Hashanah, 5784, the first day of the seventh month of Tishri, September 16, 2023, the first of the seventh month according to the accepted calendar, in order to carry out the traditional prayers for Biblically mandated Jewish New Year called the Rosh Hashanah which includes the blowing of the shofar, the main part of the holy day and the essential Rosh Hashanna mitzvah.

“We request this permission due to the principle of religious equality for all religions and people as mandated by Israeli law.” 

“We emphasize that we are not requesting that the Temple Mount be closed to Muslims or any other person at that time,” the letter continued. “We do not think that we should acquiesce to the usual claims about the violation of public order by blowing the shofar. This is not our intention. This religious act is to announce the new year to the entire world. It is our belief that the Jews deserve the right of religious equality as much as any person and should have the ability to observe our religious rites like any other religion or race.” 

The letter petitioned the minister to exercise his legal authority on their behalf to allow them to enter the site on Saturday, when the site is normally closed to non-Muslims, and to allow them to perform the prayers and blowing of the shofar associated with the Biblical holy day.

They also requested that they be permitted to perform these rituals also on the following day, a Sunday September 17 when the site is open to Jews. Jews observe Rosh Hashanna for two consecutive days.

The request was submitted on August 8. The rabbis requested that a response be given by the first day of the month of Elul, which falls on Friday. This is in order to make suitable preparations.

“Happy New Year to you and your home,” the letter ended. “May you and all of Israel be written in the book of life for a good year.  May it be God’s will that the entire year will be good and sweet, and may the Temple be built. We wish you unhindered success in your unparalleled position and in the legal powers granted to you.

The letter was signed by Rabbi Avraham Balas, former Member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin,, Rabbi Prof. Hillel Weiss, Zeev Leibler, Asael Mordechai, and  Adv. Aviad Visoli.

It should be noted that normally, the shofar is not sounded on Shabbat. Originally, the shofar was sounded on Shabbat in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Temple’s destruction, the sounding of the shofar on Shabbat was restricted to the place where the great Sanhedrin was located. However, when the Sanhedrin ceased to exist, the sounding of the shofar on Shabbat was discontinued.

Rabbi Weiss explained that if permission is given, this will mark the fourth Rosh Hashanah since 5677 (1916) on which the Shofar will be blown in front of a Beit Din (rabbinic court).

“In order to observe the mitzvot completely and not just in a symbolic manner, the shofar from an Ibex must be blown on the Temple Mount at the east gate and accompanied by two silver trumpets,” Rabbi Weiss explained. “This mitzvah is the mitzvah of receiving the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, the Creator of the world, the God of Israel, upon us and the entire world. It is the commandment to accept the true law and judgment given at Mount Sinai.”

“Blowing of the shofar on the Temple Mount of Rosh Hashanna is not a simple ritual as it is done in synagogues around the world. This is not just for the Jews who are there to hear it. This is a shofar call to all the nations of the world. Now, more than ever before, we are crying out to Hashem to bless us with life, peace, and an end to plagues. Every leader in the world who cares and who sees himself as a representative of one of the 70 nations should call on Netanyahu to permit this to take place.”

“As political processes concerning Israel and the Temple Mount move forward, so much is being said about the Arabs but not a word is said about the rights and requirements of the Jews in their Biblical homeland and our holiest site. And no one is speaking about the true ‘owner’; of the land and His kingship. One of the names of the Temple was Bet HaTkiya, the house of the sounding of the shofar. Politics is nothing when compared to that.”

Visoli emphasized that according to the Israeli Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty which mandates equality and freedom of all religions, this should be permitted. 

“People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

“This is not a legal issue,” Visoli said. “The law mandates that we are permitted to do this. Our request is that the police be instructed to permit this religious ritual to take place.” 

Last year, several Jews tried to blow the shofar near the Temple Mount during the month of Elul preceding Rosh Hashanah when it is the universal custom to do so to inspire thoughts of repentance. The police arrested the Jews multiple times and each arrest was tossed out of court, eventually leading to the police being fined by the judges several times. 

This was done by the eastern wall in an area that was confiscated by the Arabs and converted into a cemetery. The site has been described in the media as an Arab cemetery but until recently, it was a site designated for Jewish prayer. In 2009, it was discovered the Arabs had begun burying their dead adjacent to the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount, in between centuries-old Jewish graves and the Temple Mount. 

On his Twitter feed, MK Simcha Rothman noted that despite being aware of the illegal Arab burials, the police refused to act to prevent this illegal activity which was destructive to the archaeology of the site.

At the same time, authorities caught Arabs preparing fake Muslim graves at the site, graves which contained no human remains, an action that can only be an attempt to distance Jews from being buried in the spot where the resurrection will begin. It has been determined that at least half of the graves at the location are empty with fake headstones.

In 2020, the Sanhedrin petitioned to blow the shofar on the Temple Mount but was rejected. Palestinian violence took place nonetheless.

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