Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 17:13:22 +0300
From: Dov Bloom
Subject: Re: [Avodah] Har Habayit - (sent by his Roshei Yeshiva in
Last night I met with Aaron Eliyahu ( a brother of the former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu). The father of the Eliyahu family was R. Salman Eliyahu, a well-known kabbalist in the old city of Jerusalem in the early 1900's, and the author of a popular commentary on the "Eitz Hayyim" of the ARIZ"L (see previous post).
Mr A. Eliyahu, who is in his 80's but pretty alert, related the following story (be-dido havey uvda) which relates to the thread on ascending to Har HaBayit. Actually, it is apparent that the story was a case of Pikuach Nefesh D'Rabim so I don't know if it sheds any light on our thread.
Mr. Eliyahu learned at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the 1930's. The Yeshiva is and was located close to the kotel and Har Habayit. 1936-1939 were years of frequent Arab riots in Eretz Yisrael. 415 Jews were killed during this period [actually over 525]. Mr. Eliyahu, who grew up in the old city , related that every Friday after Moslem prayers in the El-Aksa mosque on Har Habayit the Moslem worshippers would swarm out of Har Habayit in some direction, and look for 'infidels' to hurt or kill C"V [chas v'shalom]. "Sometimes they went to one part of the Jewish quarter in one direction, sometimes to another part of the Jewish Quarter in another direction, sometimes to the Christian quarter, every Friday to a different area" he related. A number of times they came to the Porat Yoseph Yeshiva which was protected by a fence and a gate that could be locked. The Jews had a relatively small number of guards who could not protect all of the possible sites. If the Jews would know where they were heading they could mass all of their guards.
Mr. Eliyahu, who was fluent in Arabic, having grown up in the old city, was sent in 1939 "by the Roshei Yeshiva" to infiltrate the Moslem prayers on Fridays, so that he could overhear the Moslem worshippers discussing and deciding where to go that day to riot. He would then quickly leave and inform the Jewish community which sites to protect. He said "they never knew why whatever site they went to it was guarded". He did this numerous Fridays until the riots petered out.
He was told to dress like an Arab, speak like an Arab and go with the crowd that entered Har HaBayit from the northern side. He took his shoes off like the Arabs. He was taught the Moslem prayers so that he could 'fake it' and was told to "pray aloud just like the Arabs so he wouldn't be suspected". When he asked his Roshei Yeshiva if saying the Moslem prayers wasn't an aveirah, he was told that "he would be forgiven".
I asked him who sent him - was it the Haganah or something, and he said, no the Porat Yosef Yeshiva sent me. I asked (in light of our thread about where on Har Habait one could walk) if he was instructed to avoid certain areas and walk only in others, he answered that he was told to go with all of the Arabs and not to be different, not to raise suspicion. He repeated that he took his shoes off with them. I asked him if he was instructed to go to the mikveh first and he repeated that he was told not to do anything different than all the Arabs (he didn't give direct yes or no and I had no opportunity to question him further.
Dov's related revelation is quite interesting.
In 1929, that is exactly how the rioting started, with Arabs pouring out of the TM gates and the Mufti looking on from the Machkemah.
The number of Jews murdered in the three years of the "Disturbances" or "Arab Revolt" was over 525 according to the Sefer HaHaganah.
As an aside, the Yosef family was probably jealous of the Eliyahus since two of RAY's brothers joined up with the Irgun with one participating in the attack on the Schneller Compound (known well to those who visit north Geula) on the Shabbat.
Given that all he told is more or less how it happened, I guess that the washing of the feet done in proper Muslim practice and the fact that the prayers were conducted in the El-Aksa Mosque (the Dome of the Rock is not properly a prayer site), were enough, together with a pikuach nefesh psak, to allow him to act as he did.