Why is the Temple Mount Sacred to the Jewish People?
The Jewish people have a historical, religious, spiritual, and national connection to the Temple Mount area that dates back to antiquity. For Jews, the Temple Mount represents the holiest site on the entire planet. Adam was created there. The binding of Isaac occurred there. Eventually, the First and Second Holy Temples stood on this very ground. When the Temple existed, all Jews visited them to perform sacrifices to G-d at least three times each year, in fulfillment of G-d’s commandments. This sacred building housed the Ark of the Covenant in which the Ten Commandments were stored.
Archaeological treasures found on the Temple Mount prove unequivocally that a Jewish Temple existed there. Israeli archaeologists have also rescued evidence, discovering a fragment from a Herodian-style Second Temple-era sculpture that stood on the Temple Mount. Similar discoveries include a Babylonian arrowhead attesting to the destruction of the First Temple and a seal belonging to a First Temple-era priestly family. The Western Wall also stands today as a visual reminder of the Jewish Temple that once stood on the Temple Mount.
Muslim religious sources throughout history have accepted the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount area. According to the Global Research in International Affairs Center (GLORIA), “In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the ‘Farthest Mosque’ is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, notes that the ‘Farthest Mosque’ is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term.”
Even after the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Jews continued to journey to the Temple Mount area to weep over the destruction of their holy site. According to the Cairo Genizah, a collection of rare Jewish manuscript fragments discovered in an Egyptian synagogue storeroom, 70 Jewish families relocated to Jerusalem and lived very close to the Temple Mount following the seventh century Arab conquest of Jerusalem.
To this day, Jews continue to travel to the Temple Mount to pray. The great Torah sage Nachmanides described this journey, writing shortly after his return to the Land of Israel around 1263 CE, “[T]he loss of all this and of every other glory my eyes saw is compensated by having now the joy of being a day in thy courts, O Jerusalem, visiting the ruins of the Temple, and crying over the desolate sanctuary.”
In modern times, many Jews travel to the Western Wall, otherwise known as the Kotel, to pray and place notes to G-d inside the cracks of this ancient edifice.
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