When students asked HaRav Tzvi Yehuda if there was a need to organize tours which encircled the Temple Mount, in order to strengthen the fact that it belongs to us, he responded: "The Temple Mount is in our hands - there is no need for tours." They told him that not everyone knows that the Temple Mount is ours. In that case, he responded, there was positive value in the tours in order to strengthen the proof of our ownership.

HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook – Jerusalem and the Temple Mount

by HaRav Shlomo Aviner, excedrpted from his  book “Rabenu.”

A student related: When I asked HaRav Tzvi Yehuda the well-known question whether reciting the content of the prayer “Nachem” (recited on Tisha B’Av in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer for the rebuilding Jerusalem) is not relevant in our time because of the passages describing the “bitterness of our situation,” he responded: “Jerusalem is still scorned and desolate, since the essence of Jerusalem is the Temple. Furthermore, the Old City of Jerusalem is in a state of desolation without inhabitants. It is impossible to approach the Old City and see piles of stones of synagogues and not burst into weeping!”


When I came to request permission and to receive a blessing from HaRav Tzvi Yehuda in order to establish a Yeshiva in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem (in an Arab neighborhood), he rejoiced with great joy and encouraged me.


In the twilight of his years, when I asked him – in the name of my colleagues – if we should request that Tzahal should guard the gates of the Temple Mount and not non-Jews, he did not see this as a pressing matter. He responded: “Slowly, slowly (the Redemption arrives, as noted in the Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 3:2). When I continued and asked if should we request the presence of our army on the Temple Mount, he again cooled me down with his glance and said sternly: “Slowly, slowly.”


At the same meeting, when I mustered the courage, I asked – in the name of my colleagues who greatly pressed me to do so – “Should we request that the flag of the State of Israel be flown on the Temple Mount?” He looked at me with a dreadful glance of pain and amazement that I had sunk so low to the point of asking such questions, and he said forcefully: “We will raise a banner in the Name of our G-d!” (Tehillim, 20:6). Despite this, I asked again, following the guideline, “It is Torah and I need to learn,” (Berachot 62A). “Certainly, we will raise a banner in the Name of our G-d,” I said, “but won’t it be by way of the flag of the State of Israel?” HaRav Tzvi Yehuda patiently repeated: “I told you: we will raise a banner in the Name of our G-d,” with his absolute insistence on the supernal holiness of the Temple Mount, in its being above and beyond  all down-to-earth considerations of the hour.


At the end of this meeting, I told HaRav Tzvi Yehuda how we are continuing with the acts of redeeming the heart of Jerusalem, house after house. Hearing this, his stern and dreadful facial expression disappeared and a full smile of eternal kindness enlightened his face. When I detailed the names of the streets and their locations, he said that I need not bother, because all of these places were etched in his memory from his youth.


A student was once scheduled to give HaRav Tzvi Yehuda a ride but was late because of traffic. When he expressed his apologies, Rabbenu replied: “On the contrary, I am happy that Jerusalem is filled with people.”


A Torah scholar brought researchers of the Temple Mount to meet with the Rosh Yeshiva. They were trying to identify the boundaries of the Temple, since, in their view, it was permissible to walk there without harming the sanctity of the Beit HaMikdash. HaRav Tzvi Yehuda told the scholar that such investigations were irrelevant. He said that in the time of the “Aderet,” HaRav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Te’omim, former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and father-in-law of Maran HaRav Kook, there was a Rabbi who wrote a book filled with proofs about the existence of G-d. The “Aderet” commented, “Why do we need proofs?” He quoted the words of our Sages: “Any matter which is not clear, bring sources for it from the Talmud. We believe in Hashem above all proofs,” (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 2:3; Eruvin 10:1). The same was true regarding the Temple Mount, Rabenu remarked.  Its boundary is surrounded by a wall. We do not traverse it, and we have no need for researchers.


After the liberation of the Old City during the Six-Day War, there were extensive excavations of the Kotel Tunnels, which extend under the Temple Mount. HaRav Meir Yehuda Getz, Rabbi of the Kotel, asked HaRav Tzvi Yehuda, if it is permissible to excavate under the Temple Mount to find the vessels of the Temple? HaRav Tzvi Yehuda answered, “No, do not dig.” He explained that our generation was not ready to merit discovering the treasures of the Temple.


When it became known to HaRav Tzvi Yehuda that archeological excavations were being performed under the Temple Mount, he responded with great distress: “What is all this for?! For what purpose should one cause a fuss there?”


When students asked HaRav Tzvi Yehuda if there was a need to organize tours which encircled the Temple Mount, in order to strengthen the fact that it belongs to us, he responded: “The Temple Mount is in our hands – there is no need for tours.” They told him that not everyone knows that the Temple Mount is ours. In that case, he responded, there was positive value in the tours in order to strengthen the proof of our ownership.


After the Six-Day War, when a Torah scholar and professor came to the Rosh Yeshiva and asked him why he did not begin to build the Temple, he responded, “The mitzvah of building the Kingdom of Israel takes precedence, according to the ruling of the Rambam, which he states at the beginning of the Laws of Kings.” This point was later extensively explained by HaRav Tzvi Yehuda in the article “From Behind the Wall,” where he insisted that only after great improvement in the building of the Nation, both physically and spiritually, can we enter into the holiness of rebuilding the Temple.


When a delegation of public figures came to HaRav Tzvi Yehuda with the request to work as forcefully as possible against the agreement which the Government of Israel was prepared to sign with Jordan, which included surrendering the Temple Mount to their control, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda reacted: “What about fighting against the surrender of any patch of earth in the entire Land of Israel?” They repeated their words many times, and he repeated his.


After the Six-Day War, students approached HaRav Tzvi Yehuda and quoted the words of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher in the introduction to his book, “Derishat Tzion,” which repeats a belief recorded in the name of the Vilna Gaon, that if we would only leap forward and sacrifice one Pascal Lamb, then everything would be ready for Redemption. They asked if the time had come to organize a Pesach sacrifice? When Rabbenu heard this he became enraged: “We need to strengthen the Kingdom of Israel and return the Torah to the hearts of the Nation,” he roared emphatically. “We need to inspire a great repentance, and only then will we ascend to the Temple Mount to fulfill the words of this prophecy.”


After the Six-Day War, the Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan, evacuated the non-Jews from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. A few young men who fought in the Jerusalem Brigade felt that it was not enough, and they prepared explosives to blow up the buildings on the Temple Mount. Before proceeding, they told their plan to HaRav Tzvi Yehuda who rejected the idea. He told them that such an undertaking must come from the entire Nation, and not a part of it. Then they went to Reb Aryeh Levine, thinking that since he had supported the Etzel and Lechi underground movements before the establishment of the State, he would response positively, but he also rejected their idea for the same reason – that a national agreement was needed on such a matter. Reb Aryeh related a story, which HaRav Tzvi Yehuda also told, about a certain influential preacher who would travel to different cities and encourage belief in a false messiah. When Rav Chaim of Volozhin was informed that the man was scheduled to speak on Shabbat in a particular community, he sent two messengers, who were to violate Shabbat to stop him, since it was a matter of life and death. They were successful in preventing the speech. Consequently, a rich Gentile asked Rav Chaim if he had heard about the preacher, and if, in his opinion, he was the Messiah. Rav Chaim responded: “And what do you say?” The fellow answered, “This has nothing to do with me.” Rav Chaim said: “You are wrong. When the Mashiach comes, even you will feel it.” The story was meant to convey the understanding that the Mashiach’s coming was not a private affair, concerning the Jews alone, but a world-encompassing event. The young men then asked Reb Aryeh, half in jest, “If so, the building of the Temple depends of the decision of the Knesset?” He answered: “It may be.”



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