Fight for Har Habayis

by Tzvi M Arnstein

October 17, 2023

It started over 3000 years ago. Avraham Avinu had 2 sons, Yitzchak from Sarah & Yishmael from his maidservant Hagar. Hashem told Avraham that he would bless both children; however the torch of truth and Avraham’s pure value system would be passed along only through the younger son Yitzchak. 

Fast forward to about 100 years ago, the Arabs enjoyed hegemony over the middle east with the ideology of Islam afforded an absolute monopoly over the spiritual sphere in both public and private. Suddenly, after 1000s of years of exile and shame, the voice of Yitzchak stirred with calls for independence and triumph. The century-long rule of Yishmael was facing a threat. A threat that could potentially undermine Islamic ideology and influence for eternity. Thus started the “terrorist” onslaught which has killed, maimed and displaced Jews for decades since. 

We Jews know the end of the story. As the Chumash hints to us at the death of Avraham Avinu, Yishmael recognized the spiritual superiority of Yitzchak and Yishmael will once again bow and surrender that right to us before the end of time. However until he does there is a battle going on from which we cannot escape. 

The video that says it all

Watch the first and last 20 seconds....

Part of Yishmael’s formidability is his lack of appreciation for life and his willingness to sacrifice everything to win this spiritual battle. Making this battle more difficult is that Yitzchak (who comes from a Jewish mother) represents the ultimate sanctity of life and preserving life at all costs. How do we, who will do anything to preserve life battle an enemy that's willing to risk its entire existence? 

With a physical battle you win when you have either subdued the enemy to surrender or you have gained control of the territory in dispute. Similarly, in this spiritual battle we can only win when we have established our spiritual superiority and the Arabs surrender the fight with that realization. 

Har Habayis - the Temple Mount, is the physical representation of the spiritual battle between Yitzchak & Yishmael. We both recognize that Hashem created the world from the Even Hashesiya, it is the point where Heaven touches earth and from where divine connection & blessing all flows. The possuk makes it very clear that whole formation of Am Yisrael was for Avodah as it says “שלח את עמי ויעבדוני.” The same way the meat is in the middle of a sandwich, the Torah intentionally placed the Avodah of Seder Vayikra smack in middle of the Torah. Har Habayis is the place that “Hashem Chose to rest his presence” It's where Avraham went to bring Yizchak for the Akeidah and where Yaakov Avinu rested and had the vision of the Malachim on the ladder. Its where David Hamelech places his hope throughout Tehillim ברב חסדך אבוא ביתך אשתחוה אל־היכל־קדשך and Yonah Hanavi attributes his salvation תבוא אליך תפלתי אל היכל קדשך

The Kohannim, Leviim, Sanhedrin and even the King's palace were all stationed at the Mikdash. The center of Jewish life is meant to be in the Mikdash. And not only Jewish life, all life, including non-Jews, as we know the korbannos of Sukkos represent the 70 nations, כי ביתי בית תפילה יקרא לכל העמים

When we miraculously won the invading Arab armies and got control of Har Habayis in 1967, we essentially won the greatest physical & Spiritual battle of all time. The Arabs understood the significance of their loss, they were not the chosen people and they would have to surrender to Yitzchak the same way Yishmael did so at Avraham Avinus funeral. This would have ushered in an era of peace and tranquility, the likeness of which the world has never seen.

Alas, we made one of the largest blunders in 3,500 years of Jewish History. Instead of immediately taking advantage of our renewed divine connection and building the Beis Hamikdash, we did the exact opposite and gave Har Habayis back into the hands of Arab control. Instead of getting peace and tranquility we got the exact opposite. We got the Yom Kippur war, Oslo terrorist attacks, calls for a 2 state solution and much more. 

While we know how the battle ultimately ends, the amount of pain and suffering until then is up to us. We must learn and educate ourselves on the centrality of Har Habayis to our spiritual destiny. Har Habayis is the master bedroom of the land of Israel, as long as we leave it in Arab hands then we are the guests and they are owners. This knowledge gives them the energy and inspiration to keep battling us - they sincerely feel that they have the upper hand and with just a little more effort they will manage to eradicate us completely. In WW2, the US incessantly pummeled and bombed Japan but Japan didn't surrender until the Atom bomb knockout punch. Similarly we must deal the Arabs with the knockout punch that will bring them to their knees by taking back Har Habayis. Until that happens we are skirting the issue and fight the dragon's tail instead of cutting off his head. This just prolongs the battle and continues our own suffering.

Practically speaking, how do we accomplish this? We must make every effort to visit as much as possible. As long as there is a small Jewish presence why should the government make an effort? When the Temple Mount has as many visitors as the Kotel Plaza - then we can expect to see policy changes that will increase our foothold on the Har until ultimately, we as a people retake complete control and establish our triumph over our enemies.

While Tefilla is very important we must remember that the gemara says that any worthy endeavor must be equally supported with concrete action otherwise its “not enough”.

Torah learning is also very important but the Gemara makes it clear that that is also not enough. The Gemara in Brachos says "מיום שחרב בית המקדש אין לו להקדוש ברוך הוא בעולמו אלא ארבע אמות של הלכה בלבד" If we pay attention we will notice an additional intent for this popularly misunderstood statement. The Gemara is saying multiple limitations: 1) “Miyom Shecharav“
which means that only once the Beis Hamkidash was destroyed is it this way. 2) “Ain Lo Baolmo” which means the “only” place in this world 3) “Ela” which again means “only” 4) Daled Amos which means a very small minimum amount of space 5) Shel Halacha “Bilvad” which again means “only”. The message from this is that while Hashem really fills all of the universe, that concept is only established when the Beis Hamikdash is standing, while it’s in ruins, Hashem has “Kavyachol” no connection to this world except for Torah Learning  - it becomes the Beis Hamikdash so to speak. However this Beis Hamikdash is very not ideal, its very ‘confining’ for Hashem as it is only Daled Amos - hence the Lashon אין לו להקדוש ברוך הוא בעולמו אלא ארבע אמות של הלכה בלבד. We must not let it continue this way, we must once again re-establish Malchus Shamayim and divine connection over the entire universe, that requires concrete action on our part. 

As the Yerushalmi says כל דור שלא נבנה בית המקדש בימיו כאילו נחרב בימיו Let us all take this to heart and take the next steps TODAY to bring ourselves closer to this goal so we may be Zoche to see the building of the Beis Hamikdash in our days! Amen!

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