A storm of controversy arose on Sunday after HaGaon HaRav Yosef Yitzchak sharply condemned Religious Zionist MK Itamar Ben-Gvir for his repeated visits to Har HaBayis.
The report aroused even more interest than usual as recent polls show the Religious Zionist party as possibly doubling its mandates in the next election. Reports even say that the Shas party is very worried that Ben-Gvir’s popularity will cause them to lose a significant number of votes.
Speaking at his weekly shiur on Motzei Shabbos, HaRav Yosef slammed Ben-Gvir, saying that his visits to Har HaBayis are a chillul Hashem as they are contrary to the opinion of so many Gedolei Yisrael, who hold that it is assur to visit Har HaBayis.
Ben-Gvir’s Rav, HaRav Dov Lior, a well-known Dati Leumi Rav, holds that it is mutar to go up to Har Bayis and himself visits the site. However, HaRav Yosef is not impressed by that fact, saying “Ben-Gvir will say: ‘I also have a Rav.’ But think for a minute. Your Rav is like all these great Gedolei Yisrael?”
“I signed, together with HaRav Dovid Lau and over 100 Rabbanim, including Dati Leumi Rabbanim, against ascending to Har HaBayis.”
HaRav Yosef also criticized Ben-Gvir for stirring up controversy and said that “one should stay away from him and all his ways.”
In response to an inquiry from B’Chadrei Chareidim about the issue, Ben-Gvir said: “I respect HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef and love him.” He did not address the specifics of HaRav Yosef’s complaints against him.
The report aroused much discussion, with the Dati Leumi website Srugim publishing an article entitled: “HaRav Yosef hits the sore spot of Tzionit HaDatit.” The article said that, unlike other controversies, HaRav Yosef’s criticism has been met with resounding silence – both from reporters and the Religious Zionist party.
According to the report, Avi Maoz’s Noam party, which is part of the Religious Zionist party, is opposed to visiting Har HaBayis and is loyal to the Rabbanut. Members of Betzalel Smotrich’s party don’t visit Har HaBayis and are loyal both to the Rabbanut and to Rabbanim who allow visits to Har HaBayis. Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party is supportive of visiting Har HaBayis and allows its members to make up their own minds about the Rabbanut.
Due to the varying opinions, the issue is a complicated one. Religious Zionists MKs who may want to come to Ben-Gvir’s defense are hesitant to do so since they don’t want to publicly oppose HaRav Yosef and the Rabbanut.
Below is a video of Maran Hagaon Chacham Ovadia Yosef saying that there is an Issur Kares for those who ascend the Har HaBayis.
Gedolei HaPoskim throughout the ages including Gedolei Hador Shlita today have ruled it is absolutely forbidden to visit Har Habayis, even if one does so in line with Halacha including tevila. This is also the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. This is an Issur Kares.
Thirteen years ago on Sukkos, then President Shimon Peres paid a visit to the Sukka of the late Posek Hador, Maran HaGaon Rav Elyashiv ZATZAL, where Rav Elyashiv called on the President to prevent Jews from visiting Har Habayis, stating it is an act that that is viewed as extremely provocative by the goyim. Maran stated everything possible must be done to avoid a religious war, and the provocateurs are playing with fire.
Maran is quoted as explaining to the president that Halacha forbids going onto Har Habayis but today, it is more than this, it is an act that may lead to a religious war and bloodshed.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)