OPEN SECRETS – bittul she-me-’ever le-ta’am va-daat


Selected Letters of a Jewish Mystic

Rami M. Shapiro

These selections are from a little book written by Rami M. Shapiro — Rabbi, poet, and author — to introduce his students to the non-dualistic teachings in the Kabbalah. He formulated the text as if it were written to his father’s father (his Zayde) by Reb Yerachmiel Ben Yisrael. Though the Rabbi is fictional, his teachings are authentic. The presentation represents the heart of Mystical Kabbalah.

29 Tichri 5637

My Dear Aaron Hershel,

You suggest that I did not go far enough in my last letter. You want to know how the practice of self-emptying works. If the answer helps you to stay with the practice, good. But if it distracts you from it, do not worry about the how and stay with the practice. The wisdom you seek will not come from abstract knowing, but only from direct experience. Nevertheless, here is how it works.

By following the breath, we quiet the mind. Our sense of separateness and independent being comes from the mind’s incessant chatter. When we just sit, watch and breathe, when we refuse to follow this or that thought or feeling, and simply allow them to rise and fall of their own accord, the mind slowly ceases its chattering. A deep quiet emerges. Thought ceases.

When thought ceases, the self fades. This is what the Psalmist meant when he sang, “Kalta Nafshi” [my soul is oblit­erated] (Psalm 84:3). The “I” — ani — becomes “Empty” — ayin [in Hebrew the two words are spelled with the same three letters: aleph, nun, yod]. This is what our sages call bittul she-me-’ever le-ta’am va-daat, annihilation beyond reason and knowledge, the end of thought.

Do not imagine, however, that the end of thought is the end of the matter. The dissolu­tion of self is not yet the fullness of God. Avodah be-bittul, the meditative emptying of Yesh into Ayin, finds its completion in tikkun ha-olam, repairing the world of Yesh with love and justice. Empty of ego, we experience a selfless love for all things as an extension of God. Overwhelmed with love, we naturally return to the world of Yesh where love can be articulated. We feel commanded to bring our experience of unity, love and compassion to bear in the world of Yesh, the world of seemingly disparate beings.

The emptying of self and the repairing of the world with love are two sides of the same spiritual practice. We are not seeking to escape the world, we are seeking to transform it. We do this by recognizing that we are God’s vehicle for revealing holiness and acting accordingly.


Bittul – Self-effacement

The Theory and Practice of ‘Bittul’ in Chabad Chasidism

Traditionally the mystical quest has focused on ascent from the world and supernal union (Devekut) with G-d. In Chabad, however, the focus is shifted to the attainment of self-effacement (Bittul).
Dveikut, Chassidism, Bittul
Watch ‘Bittul
Bittul means we nullify our will ratzon:
“The Kabbalists explain that ratzon, will and desire, is the most powerful force within the human being.”

Vayikra: The Wood Offering



Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

In the commentary of Toras Kohanim on the Torah portion of Vayikra , our Sages note that a gift of wood for use upon the altar may constitute a valid sacrificial offering.1 How can a mere adjunct to the actual offerings constitute a valid offering in itself?

The Ramban explains the significance of offerings in the following manner:2 The person who brings an animal sacrifice must realize that all those things being done to the animal should by right have been done to him. It is only because of G‑d’s mercy that an animal is substituted.

Thus, the intent of one bringing an animal sacrifice should be to offer himself to G‑d. This also serves to explain why every sacrifice had to be consumed together with the wood of the altar:

There are various types of sacrifices, each possessing its own laws as to the manner in which it is to be offered. According to the Ramban , we may understand the differences in the laws according to the effect the particular offering has upon the individual who brings it. This depends, of course, on the reason the offering is brought — whether it is an expiation offering, a free-will offering, etc.

On the other hand, the essence of every sacrifice is the offering of the person himself ; the person must be prepared to dedicate himself entirely to G‑d. It is only then that each form of offering fulfills its purpose.

That all offerings share this attribute is symbolized by the wood that is consumed together with every sacrifice: the wood provides the constant subtext of every offering — that the person offers himself to G‑d.

The Torah tells us that “Man is a tree of the field.”3 Man’s offering of himself to G‑d is thus expressed by means of wood. One of the differences between man’s “general offering” that finds expression in the consumption of wood upon the altar, and the “particular offering” of man’s individual powers (symbolized by the various sacrifices) is the following:

When a person offers a particular part of himself, he cannot free himself entirely of his ego, for his self-abnegation and devotion to G‑d refer only to this particular part of himself. The remaining components in every personality conceal and hinder a person’s selfless devotion to G‑d.

When a person realizes that, regardless of the particular nature of his sacrifice, he is offering himself totally to G‑d, there is nothing left within him to act as a barrier. The person then can dedicate himself in a manner that transcends intellect or emotion — even holy intellect and emotion.4

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXII pp. 7-12.


Vayikra 2:1.


Vayikra 1:9.


Devorim 20:19. See also Ta’anis 7a.


See Sefer HaMa’amarim 5659 p. 23ff; Likkutei Sichos XX p. 176ff.


Ta’anis 7a

R. Zeira felt too faint to teach R. Yirmiyah, so he told him an Agadic teaching:

1.A Pasuk refers to man as a tree.

2.One Pasuk tells us to eat a tree’s fruit and not to harm it, whereas another tells us to cut it down.

3.This means that if the person is a proper Talmid Chacham, we should ‘eat of his fruit,’ otherwise we should avoid him.


Davarim 20.19

When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?


Parashas Metzora (71)Leviticus 14.4, 7:

And the priest shall command; and he shall take for the person being purified two live, pure birds cedar wood and crimson wool and hyssop.

And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let go the living bird into the open field.


Cedar wood: Rashi: Because the plague comes because of haughtiness and red wool: Rashi: what is the remedy? He shall lower himself from his conceit as a worm and as a hyssop.

Source: What’s Bothering Rashi, by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek.


Bittul (Self Abnegation; Selflessness): (lit. “self-nullification”); a commitment to G-d and divine service that transcends self-concern.

This is what King David meant when he said, Kalta Nafshi, my soul is obliterated…! Tehillim 84.3

ג  נִכְסְפָה וְגַם-כָּלְתָה, נַפְשִׁי–    לְחַצְרוֹת יְהוָה:
לִבִּי וּבְשָׂרִי–    יְרַנְּנוּ, אֶל אֵל-חָי.


True humility is not feeling worthless or inferior.

True smallness is what happens when a person stops thinking, “What will be with me?”
and instead thinks, “What am I needed for?”

And now there is space for joy to enter.

Elul & Shir HaShirim

Ani L’Dodi v’Dodi Li

Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

September 2, 2016

Shir HaShirim (aka Song of Songs, aka Song of Solomon, aka Canticles, probably aka a few other things as well) 6:3 famously says, “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” It has been pointed out that the initials of the words in this phrase spell out “Elul” – the month of introspection, in which we prepare ourselves spiritually for the Days of Awe, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

The connection is obvious.

Shir HaShirim is on the surface a love song about a man and a woman but it is also a profound metaphor for the love between God and the Jewish people. Elul is the time when we work on drawing closer to God; when we do that, He draws closer to us.

Did you ever hear that the month of Marcheshvan is called “mar” (bitter) because it’s the only month with no holidays? Well, look at a calendar – there aren’t any holidays in Elul, either! But Elul doesn’t need any because it’s Elul, a special time in its own right! Elul is so special that it’s the only month that warrants its own category in OU Holidays.

Sure, we may have a few articles about Av or Adar, but they fit nicely in our general Months category. But Elul? We have seven pages of articles! We have some new features to start your Elul off right: The Power of Elul by Rabbi Yochanan Bechhofer and VaYigdal Moshe on Rosh Chodesh Elul by Rav Mosheh Twersky HY”D. Other current features include Elul: Growth and Change by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and Introduction to the Month of Elul by Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell. You’ll also find information on The Month of Elul and Rosh Chodesh Elul from the intrepid OU Web Staff. We’ll be changing features every week or so, not just for Elul but through Rosh Hashana, Tzom Gedaliah, the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah, Yom Kippur, Succos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, so check in on OU Holidays frequently. (Whew! That’s quite a pace! After Simchas Torah, it’ll be Marcheshvan, so we’ll get a breather then. No holidays, you know!)

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Danny Lewin H’yd: The very first victim of 9/11


Danny Lewin, veteran of the IDF’s elite commando team, outstanding graduate of Israel’s Technion and MIT PhD student at MIT will be forever remembered for his attempt to prevent the hijacking of Flight 11, becoming the very first victim of 9/11.

Ron Jager, 09/09/19 08:40 | updated: 12:50


Danny Lewin first walked into Samson’s Gym in Jerusalem in 1985 accompanied by his best friend, Aviad, the son of Peace Now pioneer activist Janet Aviad. Despite Danny not yet being 15, he came armed with a series of questions about Jerusalem’s legendary fitness facility, the first of its kind in Israel, and the much-talked-about new attraction in Israel’s capital. After asking about the equipment, the rates, the hours, and the type of workout program that he had hoped to get from one of the muscular instructors who seemed to epitomize the gym’s name, Danny asked a question that would seem haunting a decade and a half later. “Why are there no Arabs here and what are you afraid of?” His question seemed more a comment that stood to support the argument that would soon follow when his close friend brazenly challenged the gym’s unspoken policy.

The gym owner’s responded in his typically blunt manner: “Because we don’t want any trouble—”; yet, before he could further clarify, Danny Lewin boldly asked again: “What about the good Arabs?!”

Less than a month into their initial three-month membership, Aviad dropped out. The sport was simply too demanding. Danny, on the other hand, became more and more committed, visiting Samson’s Gym even on the days he didn’t train. He saw it as his home away from home, convinced that it would serve as the vehicle by which he would transform his life, helping to develop a fine-tuned body that would complement his noticeably gifted mind. His friends marveled, and the mirror reflected evidence of the rapid development of a determined, motivated, and aspiring muscle man.
There was something special about Danny; he radiated a sense of independence more fitting of someone twice his age. Only weeks into his membership, he asked if he could get a job at the gym and join the small team of instructors who were already well recognized as they walked the streets of Jerusalem wearing the coveted Samson’s Gym trainer tee shirt. Not taking no for an answer, he asked again a few weeks later. And yet again, a few weeks later, offering to “do anything” to become part of the team. Anything! And so it was. Still new to the iron game, 15-year-old Danny Lewin rushed to Samson’s Gym from school every day—to sweep the floors, mop the showers, and, yes, to clean the toilets. He could finally call himself part of the Samson’s team. A year and a half later, the now-muscular Lewin was ready to be an instructor—training a cadre of Jews, young and old, to believe in themselves and the inner strength that they possess.
After breezing through high school and matriculation exams, Danny volunteered and served in Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s most elite commando unit. He married at 21 and raised two young boys with his wife. He received his B.S. from the Technion, working long hours as a teaching assistant there and as a researcher for IBM in Haifa.

In 1996, Danny accepted a scholarship to study computer science and mathematics at MIT. Two years later, while working on his Ph.D., he founded Akamai Technologies which offered a new and revolutionary way to deliver content over the Internet. By 2001, Danny was widely recognized as one of the most influential technologists of his generation. One well-known trade publication ranked him as the seventh most important technologist in the world. His impact on people was so strong that, even today, battle-hardened CEOs and IDF sharpshooters get choked up when talking about him, in part, because his rise was so quick, so spectacular, and so tragically short.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Danny Lewin boarded American Airlines Flight No. 11 in Boston, expecting to reach Los Angeles. Instead, the flight was hijacked and commandeered by Arab terrorists, crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. On that fateful flight, Danny Lewin became the very first victim of the largest terrorist attack in history in which almost 3,000 Americans died. An internal memorandum of the Federal Aviation Administration says “that in the course of a struggle that took place between Lewin, a graduate of Israel’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, and the four hijackers who were assaulting that cockpit, Lewin was murdered by Satam Al Suqami, a 25-year-old Saudi.”

Sometime after the attack, the Lewin family in Jerusalem received a telephone call from the FBI offices in New York. On the line was the agent responsible for the investigation of the attack on Flight 11. He told Danny’s parents that there is a high degree of certainty that Danny tried to prevent the hijacking. The FBI relied, among other things, on the testimony of the stewardess Amy Sweeney.
Sweeney succeeded in clandestinely getting a call out during the flight to a flight services supervisor in Boston, from the rear of the plane: “A hijacker slit the throat of a passenger in business class and the passenger appears to me to be dead.” To this day the American investigators are not convinced that Danny Lewin was murdered on the spot. An additional stewardess, Betty Ong, who succeeded in calling from a telephone by one of the passenger seats, said that the passenger who was attacked from business class seat 10B was seriously wounded. It turned out that 10B was the seat of Danny Lewin.
The Lewin family, Danny’s parents and brothers, have no doubt that Danny battled the hijackers. And it is for them a tremendous consolation. “I wasn’t surprised to hear from the FBI that Danny fought. I was sure that this is what he would do,” Yonatan, his younger brother, said. “Danny didn’t sit quietly. From what we heard from the Americans, the hijackers attacked one of the stewardesses and Danny rose to protect her and prevent them from entering the cockpit. It is a consolation to us that Danny fought. We see it as an act of heroism that a person sacrifices his life in order to save others. That battle in the business section ended quickly. Lewin was overcome and bled to death on the floor. Two additional flight attendants were knifed and the captain was murdered. The hijackers were already inside the cockpit. They announced to the passengers to remain quiet in their seats.

As we fathom the tragic details of the incredible life journey of Danny Lewin, Hy’d, from mopping up the locker rooms of Samson’s Gym in Jerusalem to the pinnacle of the high tech industry in America, I am reminded of Danny’s question back in 1985, “What about the good Arabs?” Indeed, as we grasp the dimensions of 9/11 from a 10-year perspective, where were these “good Arabs” who rejected this compulsive need to murder one’s way to Islamic glory? Where are they today?

Danny Lewin H’yd –father, son and husband, a veteran of the Israel Defense Force’s elite commando team, the outstanding graduate of Israel’s Technion Institute, an accomplished PhD student at MIT and co-founder of the Internet giant Akamai Technologies will be forever remembered for his heroic attempt to prevent the hijacking of Flight 11 becoming the very first victim of 9/11.

*this article was prepared with the assistance of Mr. Meir Jolovitz. the legendary founder of Samson’s Gym in Jerusalem

**this article was cited as a footnote in Wikipedia for being the first source ever to name by name the very first victim of 9/11


The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F Medical Corp., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Community Resilience programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Is a former strategic advisor on Public Diplomacy for the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.              To contact:

Parshat Shophtim (Judges)


Devarim 16.18 “You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the L-RD, your G-D, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment.”

17.8 “If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the L-RD, your G-D, chooses. 17.9 And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment. 17.10 And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

Devarim 17.11 “According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left.”

What does this mean ‘ either right or left ? ‘ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל

RASHI says, either right or left,: Even if this judge tells you that right is left, and that left is right. How much more so, if he tells you that right is right, and left is left!- [Sifrei]

Avinu Avraham said, (B’rashith 13.9) “Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ “

Eliezer, Avinu Avraham’s Servant said, (B’rashith 24.49) “And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.’ ”

Sometimes the right or left can mean a geographical place, a physical separation or metaphorically refer to deviation (from the straight, correct, peaceful path).

Rashi to 17.8 If a matter eludes you [in judgment]: Heb. כִּי יִפָּלֵא. [The term] הַפְלְאָה always denotes detachment and separation; [here it means] that the matter is detached and hidden from you.

On the other hand, right or left  may refer to longevity, riches & honor; as it says:

Mishley (Proverbs) 3.16 “Length of days is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honour.”

Even if they (the Minim) bribe you with words of eternal life or tell you [turn to the right] “believe in Yeshki and be saved” [i.e. go after eternal life; to wit, have eternal life – that is have “Length of days”] do not divert from the word of the Judge; or if they offer you riches and honor, do not turn to the left … Be immovable like the Altar (that is, be like [17.10] “the place the L-RD will choose”) be firm, solid like a rock, resolute “to do according to the judgment they (the Judge and the Levitical Priest) tell you!” (even if it does not seem acceptable in your eyes [understanding]; RASHI: that is, if they (the Judge and the Levitical Priest) tell you [what seems to be] ‘right is left or left is right’ do not deviate from the[ir] judgment….) One must say, “I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.”

(Mishley 3.5 Trust in the L-RD with all your heart, and lean not on your own under – standing; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the L-RD and turn away from evil.” Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) 1.26-27 “And I will restore thy judges as at the first, And thy counsellors as at the beginning; Afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, The faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, And they that return of her with righteousness.”)

Devarim 17.10 “And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

17.11 from the word (haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ )

17.10 according to the word (haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ )

the word haDavar הַדָּבָר֙ (here is synonymous with Torah [Teaching or Enlightenment] 17.11) is expressed in the singular to emphasize the unity of judgment between the Levitical Priest and the Judge “that shall be in those days” (where the L-RD shall choose to place His Name 12.5). Shmoth 20.20 “An altar of Adamah thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee.”

Adamah – the place of Adam’s creation and of sacrifice – This passuk (Shmoth 20.20) connects “the place of Adam’s creation, (B’rashith – Genesis 2.7, 3.19) with the Place which HaShem chose….” (Devarim – Deuteronomy 12.5, 1 Chronicles 21.22-22.1, Note 26: “He answered him from heaven by fire” and 22.1: Then David said: ‘This is the house of the L-RD G-D, and this is the altar of burnt-offering for Israel.’)

17.9 “And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment haMishpat. ”

אֵ֖ת דְּבַ֥ר הַמִּשְׁפָּֽט “the words of the judgment” 17.9 haMishpat (again, expressed in the singular) the straight, peaceful path, (B’rashith 13.9, 24.49) the path a man should follow. (Pirke Avoth 2.1 “Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] would say: ‘Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind.’ “)

for the judgement is G-D’s

Devarim 1.17 “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is G-D’s; and the cause that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it.’ ”

Pirke Avoth 4.10 “He [Rabbi Yishmael’s son] used to say: Judge not alone, for none may judge alone except One. And say not, “Accept my opinion,” for it is for them to decide and not you.”

2 Chronicles 19:6 “Then he said to the judges, “Consider carefully what you do, for you are not judging for man, but for the L-RD, who is with you when you render judgment.”

who is with you (not against or opposed to you) Tehillim 82.1 “A Psalm of Asaph. G-D standeth in the congregation of G-D; In the midst of the judges He judgeth”


Yeshiyahu (Isaiah) 30.21 “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying: ‘This is the way, walk ye in it, When ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.’ ”

Deuteronomy 5:32
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the L-RD your G-D hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Joshua 1:7
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 23:6
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;


Numbers 20:17
Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, דֶּרֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ נֵלֵךְ we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.

Deuteronomy 2:27
Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, בַּדֶּרֶךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֵלֵךְ I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.

Deuteronomy 28:14
And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Mishley 4.27 “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; Remove thy foot from evil.”


“AND he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.” (II Chron. 17.)

The etymology can thus be explained, the word “Jachin” in Hebrew was pronounced Ya-Kayan, meaning firm, upright, or stable. Boaz on the other hand is “Baaz” meaning power or might. The one on the right means, “He Shall Establish” and the second, “in it is strength.”

Mishley (Proverbs) 3.16 “Length of days is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honour.”

from the place the L-RD will choose – from the place – min haMachom מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם expressed in the singular to indicate the Will of HaShem (the Judgment or the Place of HaShem which is neither to the right (Length of days) nor to the left (riches and honor) but is the middle pillar [WISDOM]. This is the Place of HaShem; the fear or awe one holds HaShem in….)

B’rashith (Genesis) 3.6 “Adam where are you?” ayeka At every moment one is asked Where are you? Eventually, One must arrive at the place of HaShem – “Thus saith the L-RD: The heaven is My throne, And the earth is My footstool; Where is the house that ye may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place?”

Esther 4.14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר but thou and thy father’s house will perish; and who knoweth whether thou art not come to royal estate for such a time as this?’

The Judge sits in the Place of HaShem – 17.10 And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-RD will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.”

Netanyahu’s Promises Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount “Before the Messiah Comes” But Security Minister Says Sooner Than That

Breaking Israel News (BIN)

“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8 (The Israel Bible™)

In the course of an interview last week in Ukraine, Ze’ev Kam, a reporter for Kan News, asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the “elementary rights of the Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, their holiest site.” Netanyahu’s answer, which was published in “Sheva”, was, “Don’t worry, it will happen, and before the arrival of the Messiah.”

On the website for Temple Mount advocacy, Har-Habaitthey noted that Netanyahu had already made this promise. Yehuda Etzion, founder of the Chai V’Kayam temple mount advocacy group, sent a letter to then-Likud candidate Netanyahu asking about his views on Jewish rights at the site.

“The right of the Jewish people to their holy place, the Temple Mount, is unquestionable,” Netanyahu wrote, “I believe that the right of prayer for Jews in this place should be arranged, and even more so that we should provide for the freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem.”

“It is clear that we should do this with the proper sensitivity,” Netanyahu wrote. “I believe we can do this properly after we return to the leadership of the state.”

As per Israeli law which legislates freedom and equality of religion, Jewish prayer is legally mandated but the Israeli police, tasked with maintaining order, are permitted to use their judgment in how to implement this law. As Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan is tasked with overseeing this task. He was put to the test two weeks ago when the Jewish holy day of Tisha B’Av coincided with the Muslim holiday of  Eid al-Adha. The Muslim religious authorities  closed all of the mosques in Jerusalem except for the silver-domed Al Aqsa on the Temple Mount, calling for the Palestinians to prevent the Jews from visiting the site. The police delayed Jewish entrance to the site until after the Muslim times of prayer but the Palestinians stayed at the site en masse and rioted. Rather than back down and bar the Jews from entering, the Israeli police valiantly protected the Jews and the Jewish right to visit the site. Thanks to their efforts, a record 1,729 Jews commemorated the destruction of the Jewish Temples precisely where they once stood.

In response to the Arab threat of violence, Erdan responded by asserting that religious freedom is necessary on the Temple Mount.

“I think there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67,” he told Israel’s Radio 90. According to an agreement between Jordan and Israel in the wake of the Six-Day War, the status quo mandate established by the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century governing the holy sites in Jerusalem would remain in place. This restricted non-Muslims prayer at Muslim sites.

“We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount,” Erdan said. “This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force.”

It is important to note that when Israel conquered the Temple Mount in 1967, there was one mosque. There are currently five locations on the Temple Mount that the Waqf designates as mosques and off-limits to non-Muslims.

The Jews are certainly reawakening to the Temple Mount. In 2009, 5,658 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount and had doubled by 2015. Just two years later, a total of 25,000 Jews visited the site.

“We completely condemn Israel’s violations of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on Twitter. “The occupation [Israeli] authorities’ absurd actions and attempts to change the status quo in occupied Jerusalem will only lead to the conflict being exacerbated and the situation blowing up, threatening international peace and security. We call on the international community to assume its responsibilities and pressure Israel to stop its violations.”

It should be noted that no Jews approached the Al-Aqsa  Mosque but Arab rhetoric has changed the term in recent years to include all of the Temple Mount.