Rabbi Gedaliah – Where Strangers Tread
One of the people who accompanied Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid on his pilgrimage to Eretz Yisrael was Rabbi Gedaliah, author of the book “Seek the Peace of Yerushalayim”. One of the sights which troubled them when they arrived in 1701 was that of Yishmaelite Arabs walking on the Temple Mount.
The Hebrew word shualim is mentioned in the Prophet Yirmiyahu’s lament that Mount Zion is desolate and shualim tread there. Rabbi Gedaliah calculated that the numerical value of the letters which make up this word is equivalent to that of the ones which form the word hayishmaeli (456), leading him to interpret the presence of the Yismaelites on this mountain as a fulfillment of the Prophet's vision, that strangers would some day make a brazen claim to ownership of the site upon which stood the Beit Hamikdash.