In the Holy of Holies

According to Rabbi Shlomo Goren and many others the heart of hearts of the Dome of the Rock is the place where the Holy of Holies stood.

This photograph, which is being published for the first time, shows Rabbi Shlomo Goren on June 7, 1967 in the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, holding a shofar and a Torah scroll. The photo is stirring great excitement among the Temple Mount movements; it could generate an earthquake regarding the view presented in halakha (Jewish religious law) concerning the entry of Jews to the Mount.

Goren, who was at the time the chief army chaplain, was known as the most prominent opponent of the rabbinic-halakhic consensus of the time, holding that Jews must be forbidden to visit the Temple Mount. Immediately after the Six-Day War, he sent members of the Chaplaincy Corps to carry out measurements on the Temple Mount, and he stipulated areas in which Jews must not set foot, for fear of treading on the place where the Temple and the Holy of Holies stood - places which Goren, too, said were off-limits to Jews in our time. Goren described the area as "Herodian additions" (the construction that King Herod added to the site of the original Temple) and allowed Jews to visit it, contrary to the position taken by the Chief Rabbinate Council and most of the religious-Zionist and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sages.

Now, on the basis of this photograph, it turns out, ostensibly, that under the "law of the conquest of areas of the Land of Israel" (which makes it mandatory to conquer areas that are held by gentiles), Goren allowed himself - in the course of the war - to enter the heart of hearts of the Dome of the Rock. This is the very place which, according to Goren himself, and according to many others as well, is the place where the Holy of Holies stood.

In the opinion of some of the Temple Mount movements and their rabbis, the "law of conquest" continues to apply today as well, in light of the Palestinians' de facto control of the Temple Mount. Therefore, it is obligatory to conquer it and thereby realize Jewish sovereignty and ownership of the Temple Mount. This photograph ostensibly supplies such movements with proof that the "law of conquest" makes it permissible to enter the most sacred area of the Temple Mount today.

The photograph is from the forthcoming "Collected Writings of Shabtai Ben Dov." Ben Dov, a member of the pre-state Lehi underground organization, who died 27 years ago, wrote much about the kingdom of Israel, the Temple and the image of the future redemption. Yehuda Etzion, a member of the Jewish underground organization in the 1980s, sees Ben Dov as his mentor and is publishing his writings. Etzion found the photograph in the Israel Defense Forces Archives, in a film that was never released for publication.