by Hillel Fendel
Hundreds of religious Jews from all streams were able to happily commemorate the 44th anniversary of the first-ever entry of Israeli soldiers onto the TempleMount.
For the first time in the history of Israeli restrictions on Jewish entry to the Temple Mount, the recitation of the Priestly Blessing was permitted there. It happened on Wednesday, Jerusalem Reunification Day, when hundreds of visitors – all of whom immersed in a mikveh (ritual bath) prior to coming and took other precautions required by Jewish Law – were allowed to enter the Temple Mount in groups of 30-40.
Among them were several Cohanim (descendants of Aharon the Priest). They spread their hands in the customary manner and recited, “May G-d bless and watch over your… May G-d shine His countenance upon and show you grace… May G-d raise His countenance towards you and grant you peace” (Numbers 6, from the portion to be read aloud this week in synagogues throughout the Jewish world).
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute and one of the paratroopers who helped liberate the Temple Mount in 1967, and who was miraculously saved from death at the tim, recited aloud the blessing, “Barukh – Thou art the source of blessing, G-d, Who performed a miracle for me in this place.” Many visitors and listeners, including policemen, recited "Amen!”
The visitors specifically noted the fair and pleasant attitude displayed by the police, as well as the preparations and security precautions they implemented for all those wishing to ascend to the Temple Mount on this date.
In addition to the above, Rabbi Yoel Elitzur delivered a Torah lesson on Temple-related issues, after which the participants – again, including policemen – stood for the recitation of the Kaddish.
Despite the close proximity of the Moslem Waqf policemen and their obvious anger, the visit went off nearly without a hitch. One Israeli policemen yelled angrily and threatened the Jewish visitors, but that incident ended relatively quickly.