‘Don’t preach to me’ – Ben-Gvir fires back at haredi MK after criticism over Temple Mount visit

Ultra-Orthodox MK slams Ben-Gvir for Temple Mount visit; Ben-Gvir responds by saying lawmaker isn’t in a position “to preach morality.”

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir dismissed criticism from United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, stating that the lawmaker should not be lecturing him about morality.

Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, which is considered the holiest site in Judaism, on Tuesday morning. Most ultra-Orthodox Jews, including Gafni, believe that Jews should not visit the site for religious reasons, as their rabbis consider all modern Jews to be ritually impure.

However, some Religious Zionist spiritual leaders permit visits to the holy site, and Ben-Gvir is aligned with their interpretation of Jewish law.

During a Knesset Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, Gafni said that “it is not okay” to visit the Temple Mount and that “ascent to the holy of holies is prohibited.”

He added that the historical punishment for such a violation was “banishment” from the Jewish people and land of Israel.

Gafni also appeared concerned that the visit could spark violent retaliation from Islamic terror groups, calling Ben-Gvir’s tour of the site “a provocation in front of the whole world.”

Ben-Gvir responded to Gafni on Twitter, noting that the latter’s party had refused a seat on Israel’s national security and defense council as they are opposed to being responsible for life and death decisions in war time.

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“Rabbi Gafni, I appreciate you, but as [a member of] a party that does not want to be in the government [to avoid] taking responsibility for the country, it’s inappropriate to preach morality to me,” Ben-Gvir wrote.

“The Temple Mount is not just a religious issue (and our rabbis say that it is a mitzvah to ascend!), it is a symbol of sovereignty and governance, and the enemy is testing us according to our actions there. On my watch, Israel will not surrender to Hamas.”

Gafni has repeatedly expressed that his primary concern as a lawmaker is securing subsidies and other social aid for ultra-Orthodox Jews and lower-income communities, as well as maintaining the religious-state status quo, rather than focusing on matters of security or national sovereignty.

“I’m not a leftist, I deal with every issue rationally. But on political matters, I’m probably closer to the left,” Gafni said at a conference in Jerusalem in 2017.

At another conference several months later, Gafni said, “I am neither left-wing nor right-wing, I work within reason.”