A Religion of Truth

Rabbi Reuven Mann 

Our religion is based on the supreme value of truth. We must seek to emulate the ways of the Creator who is referred to as relating to His creatures with “ abundant mercy and truth.”

This absolute value must be adhered to not only when it is  convenient.

The Midrash relates that Nimrod commanded Avraham to renounce  the true God and worship idols or face certain death, Avraham refused and was cast into the fiery furnace and emerged miraculously unscathed.

In our long and turbulent history the  Jewish People have been faithful to this imperative. We have resisted every attempt to  to compel us to  relinquish our Torah and affirm the validity of alien, man made religions. The most compelling example of our unyielding opposition to falsehood is that of Mordechai who put the fate of the entire Nation at risk because he would not bow down to Haman who had assumed the status of a deity.

We would not be here today with our Torah, both written and oral intact, had our predecessors not put their lives on the line in resisting the most severe forms of religious repression.

This principle is of great importance in our time. For thousands of years the Jews were exiled, dispersed and endlessly abused. Our survival, physical and spiritual which  was challenged by the most lethal persecution culminating in the Holocaust constitutes one the greatest miracles in history.

Our existential condition has dramatically improved due to the establishment of Israel in 1947. With God’s help this tiny country, surrounded by nations seeking her destruction has developed into a potent military force capable of fending off her numerous adversaries. In the Six Day War Of June ‘67 she defeated a coalition of Arab armies and liberated vital areas of historical Israel such as Hebron and East Yerushalayim.

For the first time since the exile Jews were in control of their political and spiritual affairs. We could visit the Cave of Machpelah and draw inspiration from the Matriarchs and Patriarchs who are buried there.

We could also return to what Moshe Dayan referred to as the “holiest of our holy places” and endeavor to elevate our prayers and reach higher spiritual levels.

However, this newfound opportunity was limited to the Kotel. Many may not be aware that the holiest place and the one most suitable for prayer is the Har Habayit commonly referred to as the Temple Mt.

It is sad but true that the Har Habayit is also the location of the Dome of the Rock. This is a Moslem shrine constructed in 691 to mark the spot which according to Arab legend was the place from which Mohammed’s (mythical) ascent to heaven originated.

In my opinion it is not coincidental that they chose to locate their famous edifice in the very place where Judaism’s Holy Temple was situated. It was clearly intended to make the statement that Islam had supplanted Judaism as the authentic divine faith.

Before the advent of the ‘67 war, Jews had limited access to the Kotel and none to the Temple Mt. All that changed on the second day of fighting when heroic Israeli troops liberated Yerushalayim and Commander Motta Gur uttered the electrifying words, ”Har Habayit Beyadeinu” (“The Temple Mt. is in our hands”).

However the joy and promise of that moment did not last long. Severely flawed and misguided political decisions transformed a great victory into a defeat. Then Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, Impulsively decided, against the heartfelt importuning of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren ZT”L, to restore the authority of the Jordanian religious entity known as the Wagf over activities at the Mt.

Dayan was operating under an attitude of appeasement and the delusion that his grand gesture would soften the hateful hearts of our Arab enemies. He could not have been more mistaken. The Arabs have no appreciation for Jewish generosity which they regard as weakness and are contemptuous of what they interpret as insecurity and lack of commitment to their religious beliefs.

We must sadly admit that we dropped the ball because Moshe Dayan did not realize the full opportunity that Hashem had granted us. Our failure to affirm our right to pray at the Har Habayit constitutes a severe violation of our obligation to proclaim the absolute truth of Torah Judaism and to scrupulously refrain from any word or deed that  implies acknowledgement of the veracity of any other religion.

The Mosque was located on the Temple Mt. to be a symbol of the Moslem belief that it had superseded Judaism. For over a thousand years we lacked the ability to negate that view. But we knew deep in our hearts that the time would come when we could proudly proclaim that—not for one moment—did we ever believe that Hashem had replaced our religion with another.

The opportunity arrived when Motta Gur and his holy warriors fought like lions to retake the Makom Hamikdash (place of the Sanctuary). Our failure to fully control it and utilize it for its proper purpose, i.e., Jewish worship, amounts to a tacit endorsement of the Arab claim.

We must emulate the moral heroism of the Avot, Mordechai Hayehudi and countless other great Jewish leaders who were prepared to die rather than support the fraudulent claims of man made religions.

Our acceptance of the Waqf restriction of Jewish prayer on the Mt. is a grave desecration of God’s Name. It also deprives us of achieving the most efficacious quality of Tefilla.

This is not a call for violence against anyone. It is a plea for Jews to appreciate the supreme  significance of the Har Habayit and the great merit of praying there.

If the Jewish People, in ever increasing numbers, will make peaceful pilgrimages to the place of the Temple,  Israel’s Supreme Court will act to remove all (illegitimate and unlawful) barriers to our full right to serve Hashem there.

And we will sanctify G-D’s Name by proclaiming with absolute conviction,

“Moshe emet veTorato emet” (Moshe is true and his Torah is truth).