Israel: Head Sephardi rabbi blasts Ben-Gvir for visiting Temple Mount

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Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to the Temple Mount at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City during the Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022.
Photo by Yonatan SindelL/Flash90Itamar Ben Gvir makes his way to the Temple Mount at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City during the Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 29, 2022.

'The great ones in Torah are the ones who guide us. And they have all forbidden us to go to the Temple Mount'

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef spoke out against the head of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, during a Torah class on Saturday night.

The religious leader expressed his anger at the fact that the deputy publicly visited the Temple Mount, despite the prohibition of many rabbinical authorities from going there. 

"The great ones in Torah are the ones who guide us. And they have all forbidden us to go to the Temple Mount."

He went on to say that those who went to the holy site, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, were "stubborn" and guilty of profaning God's name by contradicting the orders of the great rabbis of the generation. 

"When I entered the Chief Rabbinate, one of the things we did with my colleague, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, was to sign a joint statement prohibiting going to the Temple Mount. And more than 100 rabbis also signed it," said the rabbi. 

Yosef said that entering the Temple Mount is a "very serious sin" because most people who go there do not perform the ritual immersion required by religious law before entering certain areas of the holy site. 

"We need to get away from this member and all those around him. What kind of leaders are they?" said Yossef. 

Ben-Gvir is one of the few Israeli lawmakers who support pilgrimages of Jewish worshippers to the Temple Mount. He last visited the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, saying he wanted to show "who Jerusalem belongs to."  

The official position of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is that entry to the Temple Mount is prohibited.

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