Amid the Palestinian terrorist campaign in recent weeks, the Temple Mount has taken center stage, prompting a loud and growing chorus of extremists to try to exploit the situation for political gain. Hurling abuse at their opponents, and blaming them for Israel’s woes, these radicals are putting forward a vision that, if implemented, would bring tragedy upon us all.
It is therefore time for Israeli society to take a stand and decisively declare: we will not cast our lot with those who seek to deny or sever the Jewish connection with our holiest place. After all, the real Temple Mount extremists are not those who long to visit the site or pray there, but those who denigrate and try to silence them.
Whatever one might think about the political fate of Jerusalem, it is simply impossible to deny the central role that the dream of a rebuilt Temple plays in Jewish belief. Like it or not, the longing for a restoration of the Temple is no less central to our faith than the desire for peace or social justice.
Ever since that dark day more than 19 centuries ago when the Roman legions set the Second Temple ablaze, the Jewish people have nourished the hope of returning to the Mount.
Indeed, since Talmudic times, Jews have concluded the Amida prayer, recited thrice daily, with the following plea: “May it be Your will, O Lord our God and the God of our forefathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt, speedily in our days.”
Does that mean that our ancestors were “extremists” for the past 1,500 years without even knowing it? And just last month, in the Mussaf prayer recited on Succot, we implored God to “be compassionate to us and to Your Temple with great mercy, and rebuild it soon and magnify its glory.”
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