T O P I C
STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
THE FIRST TEMPLE (SOLOMON’S TEMPLE)
According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ: Beit HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE and its subsequent replacement with the Second Temple in the 6th century BCE.
The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah and that during the Kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Jewish historian Josephus says that "the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built", although rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE, 165 years later than secular estimates.
Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. No archaeological excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times. Therefore, there are very few pieces of archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple. An Ivory pomegranate which mentions priests in the house "of ---h", and an inscription recording the Temple's restoration under Jehoash have both appeared on the antiquities market, but their authenticity has been challenged and they are the subject of controversy.
The only source of information on the First Temple is the Tanakh. According to the biblical sources, the temple was constructed under Solomon, during the united monarchy of Israel and Judah. The Bible describes Hiram I of Tyre who furnished architects, workmen and cedar timbers for the temple of his ally Solomon at Jerusalem. He also co-operated with Solomon in mounting an expedition on the Red Sea. 1 Kings 6:1 puts the date of the beginning of building the temple "in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel". The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are circa 970 to 931 BCE. This puts the date of its construction in the mid-10th century BCE. Some scholars have speculated that a Jebusite sanctuary may have previously occupied the site. not specific enough to verify] 1 Kings 9:10 says that it took Solomon 20 years altogether to build the Temple and his royal palace. The Temple itself finished being built after 7 years. During the united monarchy the Temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and housed the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.
The exact location of the Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is situated.
According to the Tanakh, the Temple was plundered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire king Nebuchadnezzar II when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 (2 Kings 24:13). A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BCE, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city (2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar).
ARCHAEOLOGISTS SPOTLIGHT FIRST SOLOMON’S TEMPLE-ERA ARTIFACTS EVER FOUND ON TEMPLE MOUNT
Carried out in rare cooperation with Muslim authorities, series of digs in recent years at flashpoint site yielded unprecedented proof of biblical-time activity.
Times of Israel, Ilan ben Zion, October 27, 2016, 9:20 pm 23
Israeli archaeologists on Thursday presented new details of what they said were the first tiny artifacts, unearthed in situ on the Temple Mount, ever conclusively dated to the time of the First Temple over 2,600 years ago. The discoveries were made during limited scientific excavations carried out atop the flashpoint Temple Mount in the past decade, the first of their kind since the British Mandate.
The highly sensitive Israeli excavations were conducted with minimum publicity in cooperation with the Islamic Waqf which manages the incendiary holy site. The artifacts excavated from the mount, detailed in a paper and presentations at a conference at Hebrew University, are said to include olive pits, animal bones and pottery fragments dating to the time of the First Temple, between the 8th and 6th Centuries BCE.
Archaeologists have previously found a limited number of artifacts from First-Temple-period Jerusalem, but none of those finds were uncovered atop the mount itself. Rather, they were recovered from the Ophel excavations to the south of the Mount, and from the Temple Mount Sifting Project, which examines rubble credibly believed to have been removed from the holy site and dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley
“It’s the first time that we’ve found artifacts from this period in situ on the Temple Mount,” Yuval Baruch, the head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem region, said Thursday of the discoveries. “As far as the biblical period is concerned, the Temple Mount is a tabula rasa, nobody knows anything,” said Baruch, who headed the archaeological work. It’s still “very limited,” but the tiny fragments of clay and bone are at least something: “It exists.”
The digs at the Mount were carried out between 2007 and the past year after the Waqf requested authorization from Israel to perform maintenance work on infrastructure servicing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, the main structures situated atop the Temple Mount. Previous Waqf projects carried out on the Temple Mount, such as construction of the Marwani Mosque in the late 1990s, did not involve cooperation with archaeologists and resulted in the destruction of antiquities and severe tensions between Israel and the Islamic authorities.
The IAA had made limited announcements in the past about its activity on the Mount, releasing brief details of First Temple finds, but Thursday’s conference marked the most detailed presentation of the near-decade of work, the finds, and their significance.
Excavation of a trench for electric cables in 2007 allowed archaeologists the first opportunity to delve below the surface of the contested holy site since Israel captured it in the 1967 Six Day War. All work was conducted with police escort due to the sensitivity of the site.
Although the Waqf received permission from the Israel Police and Electric Corporation to lay the power cable, some archaeologists at the time criticized the operation, saying it wasn’t conducted with “professional and careful archaeological supervision involving meticulous documentation.”
Presenting the finds on Thursday after their examination also marked an opportunity for the IAA to rebuff critics who claim the Temple Mount is a scene of archaeological bedlam.
While the Temple Mount Sifting Project has rummaged through fill from the holy site excavated during the construction of the Marwani Mosque in the 1990s, these newly described digs were the first archaeological study atop the Temple Mount since the 1930s.
The finds on the Temple Mount itself range from a previously undocumented monumental structure believed to be from the 11th and 12th centuries — the period preceding and including the Crusades — to artifacts from Roman times and, unprecedentedly in situ, finds from as far back as the First Temple period.
“It’s not an excavation that you go to a place and dig,” Baruch said of the work on the Mount. “It’s more inspection, and in that framework finds are discovered.”
Among the most significant of those finds, dug up during the laying of the power cable approximately 400 feet southeast of the Dome of the Rock, was a jumble of remains dating to the First Temple period.
“This layer included pottery fragments characterized in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, as well as animal bones and charred olive pits,” Baruch, Ronny Reich and Deborah Sandhaus, authors of the accompanying paper on the discoveries, wrote. “Carbon 14 dating of the olives yielded dates from the 6th to 8th centuries BCE. This date is confirmed by the dates of the pottery.”
Another segment of the same trench turned up a Roman coin dating to 383 CE, and iron arrowheads, which the authors said could be “rare evidence of activity in the Roman period in the courtyard between the raised part of the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Additional findings from the work carried out on the Temple Mount by the IAA have yet to be published, Baruch said, including conservation work conducted in Solomon’s Stables, a subterranean vault beneath the Temple Mount’s platform, in the past year.
The publication “points to the fact that, despite all the statements and such, we’re on the Temple Mount and working, overseeing, and business is done under the authority of the IAA,” Baruch told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the conference.
THE SECOND TEMPLE
The Second Temple was an important Jewish Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי, Beit HaMikdash HaSheni) which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, between 516 BCE and 70 CE. According to Judeo-Christian tradition, it replaced Solomon's Temple (the First Temple), which was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE, when Jerusalem was conquered and a portion of the population of the Kingdom of Judah was taken into exile in Babylon.
Jewish eschatology (the part of theology concerned with death, judgement, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind) includes a belief that the Second Temple will be replaced by a future Third Temple
The accession of Cyrus the Great of the Persian Empire in 559 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible. According to the Bible, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1–4, 2 Chron 36:22–23), construction started at the original site of Solomon's Temple. After a relatively brief halt due to opposition from peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed ca. 521 BCE under Darius the Great (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (ca. 516 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.
The events take place in the second half of the 5th century BCE. Listed together with the Book of Ezra as Ezra-Nehemiah, it represents the final chapter in the historical narrative of the Hebrew Bible.
The original core of the book, the first-person memoir, may have been combined with the core of the Book of Ezra around 400 BCE. Further editing probably continued into the Hellenistic era.
The book tells how Nehemiah, at the court of the king in Susa, is informed that Jerusalem is without walls and resolves to restore them. The king appoints him as governor of the province Yehud Medinata and he travels to Jerusalem. There he rebuilds the walls, despite the opposition of Israel's enemies, and reforms the community in conformity with the law of Moses. After 12 years in Jerusalem, he returns to Susa but subsequently revisits Jerusalem. He finds that the Israelites have been backsliding and taking non-Jewish wives, and he stays in Jerusalem to enforce the Law.
Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity, arrangements were immediately made to reorganize the desolated Yehud Province after the demise of the Kingdom of Judah seventy years earlier. The body of pilgrims, forming a band of 42,360, having completed the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their proceedings by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of their first concerns was to restore their ancient house of worship by rebuilding their destroyed Temple and reinstituting the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot.
On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm. First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple; and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mixed feelings by the spectators (Haggai 2:3, Zechariah 4:10</ref>).
The Samaritans made proposals for co-operation in the work. Zerubbabel and the elders, however, declined all such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple without help. Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. According to Ezra 4:5, the Samaritans sought to "frustrate their purpose" and sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the work was suspended.
Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, died (2 Chronicles 36:22–23) and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the "false Smerdis," an impostor, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius became king (522 BCE). In the second year of his rule the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion (Ezra 5:6–6:15), under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people (Ezra 6:15,16), although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai includes a prediction that the glory of the second temple would be greater than that of the first (Haggai 2:9).
Some of the original artifacts from the Temple of Solomon are not mentioned in the sources after its destruction in 597 BCE, and are presumed lost. The Second Temple lacked the following holy articles:
The Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Stone, before which were placed the pot of manna and Aaron's rod
In the Second Temple, the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) was separated by curtains rather than a wall as in the First Temple. Still, as in the Tabernacle, the Second Temple included:
The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 22b), however, the Temple lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of Holiness, present in the first.
Traditional rabbinic literature state that the Second Temple stood for 420 years and based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, placed construction in 350 BCE (3408 AM), 166 years later than secular estimates, and destruction in 70 CE (3829 AM).
REDEDICATION BY THE MACCABEES
Following the conquest of Judea by Alexander the Great, it became part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt until 200 BCE, when King Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated King Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt at the Battle of Paneion. Judea became at that moment part of the Seleucid empire of Syria. When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and its religious services stopped, Judaism was effectively outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He also banned circumcision and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the Temple.
Following the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid empire, the Second Temple was rededicated and became the religious pillar of the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom, as well as culturally associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
HASMONEAN DYNASTY AND ROMAN CONQUEST
There is some evidence from archaeology that further changes to the structure of the Temple and its surroundings were made during the Hasmonean rule. Salome Alexandra, the queen of Hasmonean Kingdom appointed her elder son Hyrcanus II as the high priest of Judaea. Her younger son Aristobulus II was determined to have the throne, and as soon as she died he seized the throne. Hyrcanus, who was in line to be the king, agreed to be contented with being the high priest. Antipater, the governor of Idumæa, encouraged Hyrcanus not to give up his throne. Eventually Hyrcanus fled to Aretas III, king of the Nabateans, and returned with an army to take back the throne. He defeated Aristobulus and besieged Jerusalem. The Roman general Pompey, who was in Syria fighting against the Armenians in the Third Mithridatic War, sent his lieutenant to investigate the conflict in Judaea. Both Hyrcanus and Aristobulus appealed to him for support. Pompey was not diligent in making a decision about this which caused Aristobulus to march off. He was pursued by Pompey and surrendered but his followers closed Jerusalem to Pompey's forces. The Romans besieged and took the city in 63 BCE. The priests continued with the religious practices inside the Temple during the siege. The temple was not looted or harmed by the Romans. Pompey himself, perhaps inadvertently, went into the Holy of Holies and the next day ordered the priests to repurify the Temple and resume the religious practices.
Reconstruction of the temple under Herod began with a massive expansion of the Temple Mount. Religious worship and temple rituals continued during the construction process. When the Roman emperor Caligula planned to place his own statue inside the temple, Herod's grandson Agrippa I was able to intervene and convince him against this.
Herod's Temple was one of the larger construction projects of the 1st century BCE. Josephus records that Herod was interested in perpetuating his name through building projects, that his construction programs were extensive and paid for by heavy taxes, but that his masterpiece was the Temple of Jerusalem.
The old temple built by Zerubbabel was replaced by a magnificent edifice. An agreement was made between Herod and the Jewish religious authorities: the sacrificial rituals, called offerings, were to be continued unabated for the entire time of construction, and the Temple itself would be constructed by the priests. Later the Exodus 30:13 sanctuary shekel was reinstituted to support the temple as the temple tax.
BUILDING THE SECOND TEMPLE
The historical importance and practical history of rebuilding ancient Judaism's sacred center.
My Jewish Learning by Lawrence H Schiffman
From the point of view of Judaism as a religion, there can be no doubt of the historical importance of the restoration of the sacrificial ritual in approximately 520 B.C.E.
The Book of Ezekiel, which was written soon after the destruction of the First Temple (in 586 BCE), held up the dream of a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, including an enlarged Temple complex, in which sacrifice would be offered to an even higher standard of priestly sanctity and ritual purity than that required in the levitical codes of the Torah.
The restoration allowed Israel to continue its ancestral worship of God in the ways prescribed by its ancient literature. More importantly, it established the biblical sacrificial system as the dominant pattern of worship for the entire Second Temple period. Some groups, like the sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls, withdrew from participation in sacrifices, but the ritual of the Temple was seen by the majority of the Jewish people as the most efficacious manner by which to reach God and secure his favor.
PLANNING THE SECOND TEMPLE
The original structure of the Second Temple, before it was refurbished by the Hasmoneans, and later, more extensively by Herod, was built, as already mentioned, at the decree of Cyrus [Cyrus II the Great, King of Persia]. Indeed, vessels from the First Temple, recovered by the Persians from the Babylonians whom they had conquered, were returned to the Jews to facilitate and encourage the rebuilding of the Temple.
Many Jews living outside the Land of Israel contributed financially to the project. A start was made in the time of Sheshbazzar [governor after 538 B.C.E.], but the disturbances made continuation of the work impossible. Zerubbabel [Sheshbazzar’s nephew, who followed him as governor c. 522 B.C.E.] completed the project. He began by erecting a temporary altar on which to offer sacrifices. Since this act seemingly contradicted the requirements of pentateuchal law, the rabbis later termed it an emergency measure.
Opposition to the rebuilding of the Temple came especially from the nobles who had taken control of Judea after the exile. They were probably closely related to the aristocracy of Samaria. Among those who encouraged the project were the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. The rebuilding was resumed in the second year of the reign of Darius (521 B.C.E.). Despite continued harassment by their neighbors, the Judeans persevered in the work.
BUILDING THE SECOND TEMPLE
While there is no complete description of the Temple built by Zerubbabel, considerable detail can be gleaned from various sources. It had two courtyards. One report suggests dimensions of 500 by 100 cubits (about 750 by 150 feet) for the inner courtyard. There were at least four gates in the wall of the outer courtyard, and at least one of them faced a street. There were at least two gates to the inner courtyard. Various chambers surrounded the Temple in both courtyards. Most of these were in the outer courtyard, and were used for the storage of tithes, equipment, and vessels. Certain high officials apparently merited private chambers within the Temple precincts.
The returnees constructed their altar on the site of the altar of the First Temple. The Temple building was of hewn stone, with wooden beams reinforcing the walls from within. The Temple itself was 60 cubits (approximately 90 feet) high. The Holy of Holies was empty, as there was no ark and no cherubim.
The construction was completed in 515 B.C.E., and the rededication was celebrated amidst great pomp and ceremony. After 20 years of effort, sacrificial worship could now take place in accordance with the rules laid down by the codes of the Torah. The Temple would stand as rebuilt by Zerubbabel until the Hasmonean period. While substantial refurbishing was undertaken by Simon ben Yohanan (Simon the Just) c. 200 B.C.E., he did not modify the basic structure. (Herod the Great would substantially refurbish the Temple starting in 20/19 B.C.E.) The returnees to Zion had fulfilled their dream; God’s house had been rebuilt and He would continue to dwell in their midst.
DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE
In 66 CE the Jewish population rebelled against the Roman Empire. Four years later, on 4 August 70 CE (Tisha B'Av – 9th Day of Av) or 30 August 70 CE, Roman legions under Titus retook and destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The Arch of Titus, in Rome and built to commemorate Titus's victory in Judea, depicts a Roman victory procession with soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the Menorah. According to an inscription on the Colosseum, Emperor Vespasian built the Colosseum with war spoils in 79 CE—possibly from the spoils of the Second Temple.
The sects of Judaism that had their base in the Temple dwindled in importance, including the priesthood and the Sadducees.
The destruction date according to the Hebrew calendar was the 9th of Av, also known as Tisha B'Av. The Temple was on the site of what today is the Dome of the Rock. The gates let out close to Al-Aqsa Mosque (which came much later). Although Jews continued to inhabit the destroyed city, Emperor Hadrian established a new city called Aelia Capitolina. At the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, many of the Jewish communities were massacred and Jews were banned from living inside Jerusalem. A pagan Roman temple was set up on the former site of Herod's Temple.
THE THIRD TEMPLE ????????
Laying the groundwork for a Third Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple Institute creates vestments and ritual items for use in future temple, and lobbies for more Jewish access to the Temple Mount
Times of Israel, By Ben Sales, 16 July 2013
JTA – No praying. No kneeling. No bowing. No prostrating. No dancing. No singing. No ripping clothes.
These are the rules that Jews must abide by when visiting the Temple Mount, the site where the First and Second Holy Temples once stood, located above and behind the Western Wall in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Although the area is under Israeli sovereignty, the mount — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif — is controlled by the Islamic Wakf, a joint Palestinian-Jordanian religious body. As the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, whose golden dome overlooks the city, the Temple Mount attracts daily crowds of Muslim worshipers.
Under Wakf regulations, Jews may only access the mount for 4 1/2 hours per day and are forbidden from praying there.
But when Rabbi Chaim Richman stands only feet from the Dome of the Rock, surrounded by Muslim visitors, he whispers a chapter of Psalms.
“God will answer you on your day of trouble,” he mutters on a recent visit. “The name of the God of Jacob will protect you.”
On previous visits to the mount, Richman says he’s sung the entire Hallel prayer under his breath.
A frequent presence on the mount who knows the guards by name, Richman is the international director of the Temple Institute, an organization based in the Old City with a singular goal: to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Ahead of Tisha B’Av, the fast day next week that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the institute released a video showing Jewish children donning tool belts and leading their fathers out of synagogue to begin construction of the Holy Temple.
“Our goal is to fulfill the commandment of ‘They shall make a Temple for me and I will dwell among them,’ ” Richman says, quoting Exodus. “The basis of a Torah life is action.”
Following the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 C.E., most rabbis adopted the position that Jewish law prohibits reconstructing the Holy Temple prior to the age of messianic redemption, or that the law is too ambiguous and that the messiah must come first.
The Temple Institute takes a different position.
“There are no Jewish legal barriers” to rebuilding the temple, Richman says, only political ones.
The institute isn’t shy about advocating what many see as a radical goal: replacing the mosque at the Dome of the Rock with a new Jewish Holy Temple. A painting in the institute’s exhibition depicts this scenario, with the city’s light rail line taking residents to the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute is dedicated to laying the groundwork for this vision.
The organization has formulated a program for where the temple will stand and what its vessels will look like, aided by 20 men who study Temple law full-time. The products of this research — 40 ritual objects — are on display in Plexiglas cases at the institute’s headquarters in the Old City.
Silver trumpets to be blown by priests and a wooden lyre are perched next to two deep pans with long handles — one for collecting blood from small sacrificial offerings and another for large sacrifices like the Passover lamb.
In another room, mannequins with beards wear the respective vestments for deputy priests and the high priest. The high priest’s outfit, with azure weaves, gold thread and a breastplate with 12 precious stones, took 11 years of research and $150,000 to complete. Next to it stands a massive 12-spigot sink with electric faucets — technology that Richman says will be permitted in the Third Temple.
The institute’s crowning achievement — the Temple’s golden, 200-pound, seven-branch menorah — stands outside in a case overlooking the Western Wall. Unlike art or history museums, the institute’s goal is to remove the objects from their cases and bring them to the mount for use as soon as possible.
Many Israelis view the goal as a danger to the status quo that has kept this site holy to Muslims and Jews from turning into a tinderbox.
In 1984, Israel’s security services stopped a group of Jewish terrorists conspiring to blow up the mosque at the mount who reportedly got very close to achieving their goal. Ever since, authorities say they have kept a close watch on any attempts to disturb the peace on the mount.
Though observant Jews pray thrice daily in the Amidah prayer for the Temple to be rebuilt, few do anything about it. That’s as it should be, says Michael Melchior, an Orthodox rabbi and former Knesset member who is considered a religious moderate.
“We pray for holiness, but we also need to be careful of others’ desire for holiness,” Melchior said. “The moment you want to translate that into building a Temple, you upset the sensitive balance we’ve created here, by which we exist here.” He called Temple construction advocates “irresponsible.”
Given the obstacles to breaking ground on a Holy Temple, the institute also has taken up a more modest cause: expanding Jewish rights on the Temple Mount to allow unrestricted access and prayer. In that endeavor, Richman is joined by several right-wing Knesset members and a group of archaeologists who say the Wakf is reckless with archaeological remains at the site.
“It has exceptional historical importance,” Eilat Mazar, a Hebrew University archaeologist, said of the site. “There needs to be access for everyone. Authorities don’t take care of it.”
Moshe Feiglin, a nationalist Likud Knesset member, made a practice of visiting the Temple Mount monthly until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned him from the site in order to prevent provocations there. Last month, Feiglin wrote on Facebook, “Whoever turns his back on the Temple Mount is also giving up on construction in the city.”
Richman says support for the institute’s goals is growing. For him, the issue involves far more than politics, archaeology or even Jewish legal research. The Temple Institute, he says, is doing God’s work.
“The point is that we can’t live without the Temple,” Richman says. “It’s not about building, it’s about a concept: the idea that all of human experience can be elevated to a sense of divine purpose.”
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