Terumah: Removing the Mosques: Part One of the Mitzvah of Building the Temple

On the verse, “and you shall make me a sanctuary”, the Ohr HaChaim writes: “And by saying, ‘you make shall me a sanctuary’ – it is a mitzvah for all times”. The Rambam writes in Chapter 1 of “Hilchot Bet HaBicheira”: “It is a positive commandment to construct a House for G-d, as it is written, ‘and you shall make me sanctuary…” We have discussed this subject on numerous occasions, and we will continue writing about how the mitzvah of building the Temple is an unconditional commandment, not dependent on Moshiach, and not on the nation’s “level”. Certainly we will continue to address all the other arguments and lame excuses that have enabled Jews to dismiss themselves from this vital mitzvah.

But in this article, our goal is not to deal with the different arguments which oppose the building of the Temple in our days. A reason for this is that in recent years, more and more people have become aware of the Temple and the Temple Mount. The irrelevant arguments preventing Jews from building the Temple and entering the Temple Mount have been refuted in the hearts of many, as heightened awareness of the subject has caused Jews to study the subject in halachic depth. More and more people are beginning to understand that unless we are absolutely under compulsion (as was the situation for 1800 years when we did not have sovereignty in the Land of Israel), there are no excuses for canceling any mitzvah from the Torah, including the grand mitzvah of building the Temple, of which another 200 mitzvot are dependent upon. The moment the opportunity to build the Temple returned to us, then the mitzvah, “and you shall make me a sanctuary” also returned to become an obligation, no different than laying tefilin.

But before we can pick up the mortar and bricks to start fulfilling the awesome mitzvah of building the Holy Temple, there is a problem. It is on this problem we shall now concentrate, for it certainly is a precondition for building the Temple.

We are talking about the terrible “Hillul Hashem” (Desecration of G-d’s Name) that is created by the existence of the Moslem Mosques on the Temple Mount, precisely upon the place where the Holy of Holies once stood. We are speaking about the fact that while Jews are forbidden to pray or to exhibit signs of sovereignty there, the Arab jackals desecrate the site, blasting their loudspeakers five times a day, turning the place into their national and spiritual center, the hotbed for incitement and Jew-hatred.

Let us not make the same tragic mistake concerning the Temple Mount that the YESHA settlement leaders made. What mistake are we referring to? Since the very beginning of the Gush Emmunim settlement movement, Rabbi Kahane, HY”D, warned and pleaded that if we do not deal with the other (“negative”) side of the mitzvah of “Yishuv HaAretz” – that is if we do not expel the gentiles, than G-d forbid, the settlements will not last, as the Torah explicitly says. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. The settlement leaders preferred dealing in the “positive” aspects of “Yishuv HaAretz”, not wanting to jeopardize public support by discussing the Arab threat. The results we see today: The Arabs arose, the left labeled all the settlers as “extremists” anyway, etc., etc.

It appears that the exact same mistake is in danger of being repeated concerning the Temple Mount. The desire to be accepted by larger segments of the public and to expand existing circles has prevented all talk about the removing of the terrible reproach that is represented by the mosques on the Temple Mount. There is a difference, though. On the subject of “Eretz Yisrael”, the settlers were able to settle the land, and temporarily ignore (with the help of their illusions) the Arab powder keg that laid planted beneath the entire settlement enterprise. But regarding the Temple Mount, even this is impossible. What will they do? Build the Temple on the second floor of the mosque??

The removal of the mosques is an obligation that precedes the obligation of building the Temple. First, one must “remove from evil” (“Sur MiRah”), before he can “do good”. (“Ase Tov”) And so, we must speak about removing the mosques just as we speak about building the Temple. What are we afraid of? They will label us as fanatics? They do it anyhow!

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