The Temple Mount visits

Hitherto, rabbinic authorities have forbidden Jews from visiting the Temple Mount because the exact location of the Temple and the Holy of Holies on the Mount is unknown.

Consequently, the rabbis feared that Jews would enter the area without having first immersed in a mikva – which they should do in recognition of the holiness of the site – or would unwittingly set foot in the forbidden area where only the Kohen Gadol would ever enter.

On the 14th May 2007, a number of Ashkenazi, religious-Zionist rabbis visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, intending to encourage others to do the same.

Presumably the rabbis who entered were able to agree an area they could enter that definitely did not risk being the forbidden area.

Since the rabbis went onto the Temple Mount, other groups of religious Jews have done so.

These events stand in contrast to the experience of Sir Moses Montefiore in the 1860s, who, so some chroniclers record, was carried onto the Mount in a sedan chair (so his feet would not touch the holy ground) and whose visit led to a call by some Jerusalem rabbis for him to be excommunicated. It is recorded that he later expressed regret that he had breached the prohibition upon entering.

As background, Sir Moses Montefiore made a major contribution towards financing the establishment and developement of Jewish settlements in Palestine in the 1800s and this was important in the formation of Israeli society. For already, when the State of Israel became a reality in 1948, there was a network of communities, with their social and political ideals and systems, that were in place partly because of his financial assistance.