[Aired on Arutz-7 on September 26, 1996]

The Word - From Jerusalem

By Rabbi Zalman B. Melamed

Thank G-d, the government has opened the Hasmonean Tunnel in Jerusalem. The Arabs, for their part, are fuming, and are showing it by rioting and shooting. They do not accept the fact that the Jewish people have a share in Old Jerusalem. Although our political leaders have explained over and over that the tunnel does not pass under the Temple Mount, they refuse to recognize our bonds with the city of Jerusalem.

I am happy and gratified that the government has made this move, which on the face of it is really nothing special - although it was delayed for several years. At the same time, I regret certain remarks of various government ministers that imply that there is a "separation of rights" in Jerusalem, as if to say that the Western Wall is ours, and the Temple Mount is theirs, Heaven forbid. After all, the only value of the Wall for us is the fact that it is the Wall of the Temple Mount, and that it is so close to the Temple. The source of holiness for the Jewish people is within, on the site on which stood our two Temples. Only because of our sins are we in a situation wherein we cannot perform the purification ceremony required to ascend to the Mount. But the fact that we therefore do not enter the site of the Holiness does not imply that our connection to the place is waning; on the contrary, it shows the sublime regard in which we hold the Temple Mount.

We must therefore openly and unabashedly, over and over, declare the simple truth that the entire Temple Mount is ours. It is the site of the two destroyed Holy Temples, and is the place upon which the Third Temple will be rebuilt - soon, with the help of G-d. We have not given up on the Temple Mount, we have no authority to do so, and we will never do so. It is the heart of Jerusalem, of the Land of Israel, of the world - and it is the heart of the People of Israel. We have been promised by the Prophet Isaiah (2,2), "It shall come to pass in the Last Days, that the Mountain of the L-rd's House shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all the nations shall stream unto it. And many nations shall go and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the L-ord from Jerusalem." We are closer to the fulfillment of this prophecy today than we have ever been. Even when we were in exile, we never abandoned our claim to the Temple Mount - how much more so now that we have returned to Jerusalem.

The Arab response to the opening of the tunnel in Jerusalem shows us precisely how important it was to make such a move. It is an indication of how crucial it is to perform actions that show that Old Jerusalem is ours forever. It is not open for negotiations, and we do not have "partners" in controlling it. It is totally ours.

The Arab response, using the weapons that we allowed them, is merely a harbinger of things to come if, G-d forbid, the Israel Defense Forces withdraw from the city of Hevron. Following such a scenario, every house that is built, or every wall or garden that is established, could cause riots that could seriously endanger the Jewish community there. It is therefore forbidden to give up control over any part of the city of Hevron. We must call upon the Jewish public to visit the old city of Jerusalem, and not to be scared, but rather to show and strengthen our presence throughout the walled city. It is our city, our holy city, the city of G-d, the city in which our Kings ruled, the City of David, the Eternal City, the city that will be rebuilt speedily in our days, Amen.

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