|Positive Mitzvah Twenty-One
Revering the Temple [Mikdash]
We are commanded to be in exceeding great awe of the Temple, and to regard it in our hearts with fear and dread. The scope of that reverence is defined in the
Sifra: "What does reverence mean? One may not enter the
Temple Mount with his staff, or his sandals, or his wallet, or with the dust
upon his feet, nor may he make of it a short cut; still less may he spit there."
(VaYikra 19:30; Sifra)
It is explained in several places in the Talmud that it was not permissible for anyone to remain seated in the Court [of the Sanctuary] except only the Kings of the House of David. All this follows from His words (exalted be He),
"And you shall reverence My sanctuary", the observance of which is binding for all time, even in our own days, when [the Temple], for our manifold sins, has been destroyed.
In theMishneh Torah Maimonides explains the eternal sanctity of the ground on which the Temple stood:
It is for this reason that even today a Jew is not permitted to walk through those regions of the Temple Mount that he was forbidden to enter when the Temple stood. Moreover, since in view of the laws of cleanness and uncleanness - and of the impossibility of observing these in our days - we must all be adjudged unclean, Jews are altogether forbidden today to enter the Temple grounds. (See also Positive Mitzvah 31, and Negative Mitzvah 78.)
The Kotel (or Western Wall) in Yerushalayim, where Jews congregate for prayer, is merely the western part of the Outer Enclosure, which encircled the whole Temple Mount and is approached only from the west - the Temple Mount proper being situated to the east of the Kotel.
The synagogue of today being regarded in Jewish law as "the Little Sanctuary' - concerning which Yechezkel prophesied in the words,"Thus said Hashem G-d: 'Although I have removed them far off among the nations, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet have I been to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they are come'" (Yechezkel 11:16) - it follows that the reverence spoken of in this Mitzvah is in a measure to be extended also to our own houses of worship (Megillah 29a).