Saturday, December 12, 2015

Third Temple Extremism in Israel Today

(Violence is abhorrent and terrible. I condemn all acts of violence. May peace soon come to the Holy Land.)

Third Temple Extremism on a shirt.
(Ma'an News Agency.)

Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 it was decided by the religious leaders of Judaism that Jews were forbidden from going to the site of the Temple lest they should unknowingly walk upon a holy area. Historically Jews were forbidden by their own religious leaders to walk onto the Temple Mount. That this is the current stance of most ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel as may be seen in the following article.
Chief Sephardic Rabbi (Rav) Rabbi Shlomo Amar has published a call to believers not to ascend to the Temple Mount. The call appears under the heading "avoid ascending to the Mount and touching its edge," which was the ruling about Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus before the Ten Commandments.
Rav Amar's declaration was co-signed by former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Rav Eliyahu Bakshi Doron; Rav Shalom Cohen, Head of Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, Old City Rabbi Rav Avigdor Neventzal, and Kotel Rabbi, Rav Shmuel Rabinovich.
It followed in the footsteps of declarations by Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook and Rav Avraham Elkana Shapira, both Chief Rabbis and heads of the Zionist flagship yeshiva, Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem, who expressly forbade ascending the Mount. Rav Zalman Melamed, Dean of Beit El Yeshiva, is also against it. All hareidi [ultra-Orthodox] rabbis forbid it.
"It is a holy obligation to make you aware that it is completely forbidden by halakhah to ascend to the Temple Mount, and this prohibition has always been a simple and clear one, and this thing has been forbidden by all of the Great Ones of Israel.
"Since, in the recent period, all kinds of organizations are calling on the public to ascend to the Temple Mount, we hereby proclaim the Torah opinion, that the prohibition still stands, and it is completely forbidden to ascend to the Temple Mount at this time." (Arutz Sheva, March 6, 2012.)
However in the Holy Land the national religious split from the ultra-Orthodox. And so was born the national religious community among the Jews in the Holy Land. Unlike the ultra-Orthodox they adapted to modernity by integrating into mainstream society in ways the ultra-Orthodox chose not to. At first the national religious were a minority that for the most part just went along with everyone else. This began to change in 1967 after the State of Israel gained control of East Jerusalem from Jordan.

Naturally the messianic fervor that accompanied gaining control over the Temple Mount made some national religious Israeli Jews dream of building a third temple. Until recently it was widely regarded by most Israeli Jews as a bizarre dream. The ultra-Orthodox maintained their stance that it was wrong to build a third temple and that it can only be done after the messiah comes.

This dream of building a third temple has proven extremely inflammatory. In October 1990 at least sixteen Palestinians were killed during protests against an attempt by third temple extremists to lay a corner stone for a third temple.

But despite this terrible loss of life that third temple extremism helped cause to occur the third temple extremists continue to this day to call for a third temple to be built or in a somewhat milder form call for animal sacrifices to be implemented. These words are uttered seemingly with little regard for the potential for harm they have as has been witnessed in recent days.

The Present Situation

Currently it is most unlikely for any construction of a third temple will occur. The Israeli government say they will do no such thing. The dream of building a third temple is mainly is to be found among a small minority of hardliners.

But the constant insistence by third temple extremists that such a thing must be done in the present time continuously inflames the situation.

The third temple extremists constantly belittle and criticize Jews who do not share their extremist dream as refusing to fulfill divine commandments and of even committing mortal sins continuously by not holding animal sacrifices there.

The current wave of violence afflicting the Holy Land was provoked by Palestinians frustrated that many of them were forbidden by Israeli guards from entering the grounds of Al Aqsa while at the same time increasing numbers of Jews were visiting Al Aqsa. Many of those Jews hold this extremist dream of a third temple in their hearts. Some of those extremist Jews have even prayed there contrary to the agreement made by the State of Israel regarding how affairs are to be managed on Al Aqsa.

How terrible it is that so many others who do not share this extremist dream suffer because of what these third temple extremists say and do.

What Third Temple Extremism Is Not

Some say the third temple will only be constructed after the Messiah comes. Some say the third temple will arrive from heaven fully made by divine will and be placed in Jerusalem from heaven fully made. These forms of the dream of a third temple assume that such a thing can only occur after the Messiah arrives. In a practical sense this would mean leaving things as they are now.

When I refer to third temple extremism I am not referring to any teaching that assume that a future temple will be built after Messiah comes or that says that a third temple cannot be built until the Messiah comes. When I talk of third temple extremism I refer only to ideas and teachings that assert that a third temple must or (at least should) be built now without waiting for the Messiah to come or advocating for some other form of Jewish presence to be inserted on the grounds of Al Aqsa contrary to the agreement made by the State of Israel in 1967.

Inserting a Jewish Presence on Al Aqsa

This dream of inserting some kind of Jewish presence in the Temple Mount (whether visiting, praying there, establishing a place of worship, partitioning the place of worship, building the third temple) is composed of a whole spectrum of actions and possibilities.
  • Visiting the Temple Mount.
  • In its most mild form is the call for Jews to be allowed to go to the Temple Mount and pray there. Today it is forbidden for Jews to pray there as part of the State of Israel's agreement regarding how to manage affairs on the Temple Mount.
  • A more potent form of this dream is for some type of synagogue to be built there possibly away from where the Holy of Holies was. 
  • Partition of the grounds. In Hebron the tomb of Abraham was forcibly partitioned by the Israeli authorities so that it is shared by Muslims and Jews. Palestinians fear a similar arrangement might be imposed on Al Aqsa in the future. 
  • A more potent form of this dream is for animal sacrifices to be conducted.  
  • The most extreme and inflammatory form of this dream is to demolish Al Aqsa and build the third temple.
Belittling the Other Jews

Here are the words of one Jewish woman who has made a habit to visit the Temple Mount every week and to organize tours of Jews visiting Al Aqsa. 

Note how praying at the Wailing Wall is belittled as not interesting, an imitation and as "so little". This article was written just before the current wave of violence began to afflict the Holy Land.
“I remember climbing the Mughrabi Bridge [leading to the Temple Mount] and seeing the Western Wall beneath me, so small, and and all these different Jews way down there,” Fraenkel told The Times of Israel recently, standing at the bottom of the same bridge and waiting to enter. “You ask yourself: ‘Hold on, what was I doing down there all these years? It just isn’t interesting. I’m up here now!’ That’s a feeling you can never take back.”
“We still go to the Western Wall and love it, but you suddenly realize the difference. Why settle for so little? Why settle for imitations when we have the real thing?” (The Times of Israel, August 31, 2015.)
And why is it that the rest of us, including the many Jews who are uninterested in visiting Al Aqsa and even view such visits as sinful, have to endure the fallout caused by the few Jews who insist on visiting Al Aqsa? Furthermore at the same time many Palestinian Muslims find that they are restricted from visiting Al Aqsa by Israeli guards.

Increasingly More Jewish Visitors

The number of Jews visiting Al Aqsa is increasing.
According to data provided to Israeli daily Makor Rishon, the number of Jewish Israelis visiting Temple Mount annually has steadily but significantly climbed in recent years: from 6,568 visits in 2009 to 8,528 in 2013 to 10,906 in 2014. (The Times of Israel, August 31, 2015.)
Funding Third Temple Extremism

Haaretz has just released a report noting that third temple extremists have received donations from the deputy defense minister of the State of Israel among others.
Israel's deputy defense minister and a key U.S. donor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have donated to efforts aimed at re-establishing Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount, a Haaretz investigation has revealed.

The flashpoint site has been at the heart of the violence in the region over the past few months, amid Palestinian claims that Israel is trying to change the status quo at the site, holy to Jews and Muslims.

Netanyahu insists that Israel is committed to the status quo and that claims to the contrary are part of a campaign of incitement. But a Haaretz investigation shows that Netanyahu's deputy defense minister, as well as one of his key donors in the United States have financially supported those who wish to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. (Uri Blau, "Netanyahu Allies Donated to Groups Pushing for Third Temple," Haaretz, December 9, 2015.)
Instances of Third Temple Extremism

(All articles cited below are from Arutz Sheva, a media outlet that caters for national religious Israeli Jews.)

On the ninth of Av this year in which the destruction of the Temple is commemorated by Jews the following rally was held by Israeli Jews in Jerusalem in which the following speakers alluded to this subject.
Deputy Minister of Defense, MK Rav Eli Ben Dahan ... also noted that during his relatively short term in the last Knesset as Deputy Minister of Religions, he prepared regulations for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. Today, Jews are forbidden from praying there due to Muslim threats, despite it being the holiest site in Judaism.
"Particularly on this day we demand that these regulations be approved. We expect the prime minister and the government to approve organized Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. I cannot be that every people can pray at this place and only the Jews are not permitted to pray there." ...

After Rabbi Ben Dahan’s words, former MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad spoke ... During his speech, Prof. Eldad noted the historical findings in which national figureheads who had persecuted Israel have stated as absolute fact that there was no longer a People of Israel, but today, while nothing remains of them but historical remnants, the People of Israel lives on. Eldad stated that just as these predictions were disproved, other, early predictions will also be disproved – the People of Israel will establish settlements that it himself destroyed a decade ago, and this is also how the Third Temple will be built, and sooner than we think.
"We demand that the government of Israel allow Jews to pray and to lay the cornerstone of the Third Temple," concluded Prof. Eldad. ...

The third person to speak at the gathering was MK Bezalel Smotrich, ... "Prayer in the Temple Mount is the minimum. We have a commandment to build the Temple. The Almighty has done his part and has liberated for us the place with tremendous miracles. Now it is in our hands. And as everyone aspires to fulfill the 613 commandments, we must also fulfill this commandment." (July 26, 2015.)
Considering that even an MK should talk like this in public at a rally why wouldn't Palestinians be fearful that such a thing as building a third temple might occur?


Here is one article in which the author concedes construction of a third temple cannot be done at present. 
It is a fundamental belief of Religious Zionism, that the Jewish People are obligated to take an active role in the process of redemption, as laid out in the Torah and the Prophets. This worldview, certainly contradicts the view of the Haredim (ultra-orthodox), who believe that we may do nothing to further the Messianic process. They believe that we must wait for the Almighty himself to come and redeem us.  ...

There is no question that there are technical difficulties involved in re-building the Temple today and no one is advocating for the immediate re-construction at this moment in time.  However, we can begin to advance the process that we will lead to the physical re-construction of the Holy Temple. ...

Let us pray that this year we not only mourn the Temple, but use our mourning to strengthen our resolve to move towards the process of rebuilding and renewal of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem. (July 27, 2014.)
Then just two days later this same writer gets himself excited and tries to rally like minded individuals to prepare for the construction of the third temple.
Friends we have been praying 3 times a day for 1,947 years for the reconstruction of the Temple. If only 1 person prayed 3 times day for the last 1,947 years that would amount to 2,131,965 prayers for the rebuilding of the Temple!  Since we know that millions of Jews in every generation have uttered these prayers, its number can only be counted like the stars in the sky and sand on the beaches of the earth.  IF WE DO NOT TAKE PHYSICAL ACTIONS TO BUILD IT; IT WILL NEVER BE BUILT!!!
Now the time has come to physically prepare so that we may be shown a good sign!
I call upon each and every one of you to take a moment and stop crying over the Temple and start doing something to rebuild it!
Although he writes as though it is to happen right now it must be stated that in practice he is trying to mobilize like minded individuals to prepare for such thing. In that sense it is not literal.


There is a third temple organization named the Temple Institute that has long been making plans for a third temple.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of The Temple Institute noted that one of his organization's key aims is to educate Jews about the centrality of the Temple to Judaism, after nearly 2,000 years without it
"One third of all Torah commandments pertain to the building of and service in the Holy Temple," Rabbi Richman noted. "Today, we not only mourn the destruction of the two Holy Temples, but also our inability to fulfill one third of the Torah."
"Over the last three decades, the Temple Institute has done everything in our power to research and prepare for the Third Temple. As world Jewry sits on the ground mourning the first two Temples, we have taken a huge leap towards the rebuilding, by releasing a 3D architectural rendition of the Third Temple. (July 26, 2015.)

Here is one Arutz Sheva writer insisting that somehow the Temple Mount never belonged to any Arab in all the time that it has stood since AD 690. Instead this writer insists that the site belongs to the Jewish people.
The Temple Mount does not nor has it ever belonged to Jordan or the Arab nations.  It belongs to the Jewish people and it is there that the Third Temple will be built in honor of the L-rd of Israel. May it be soon amen. (November 9, 2014.)
The Dome of the Rock was made back in AD 690. It has stood there longer than the first and second temples combined. If those Muslims don't own it then can anyone own anything?


Here is one Arutz Sheva writer saying that it was a mistake not to have build a third temple after reunifying Jerusalem in 1967.
In 1967, G-d had us liberate the Temple Mount.  He GAVE us the opportunity then and there to posses the Temple Mount and build the Temple.  We did not TAKE it.  So what do we do now, that the reality could spark a major war, if the Israeli government all of a sudden decided to physically build the Third temple?  Well, we can AT LEAST build it on a spiritual level.  One of the first things we need to do is to DESIRE it.  YEARN for it.  WANT it.  Enough mourning.  Le'ts tip the scales with ACTION.  With more good deeds, more kindness, more charity giving and personal character-trait work.  Let's talk to G-d each and every day, and tell him how much we want it.  Let us be little children again when it comes to the excitement of wanting something so bad, that you use every opportunity to get close to it.  Let us repair this national tragedy the Jewish People (and the World!) have suffered and are sorely missing in our lives.  Watch this video which has gone viral.  And then, let's take some -at least- spiritual action - and help build it, spiritual stone, by spiritual stone - until the rest of the people actually come together and agree it is time to physically re-build it!  (July 25, 2012.)

In 2010 a poll was conducted in which about half of the respondents said that a third temple should be built. I have no way to verify how accurate this poll is.
Half the Israeli public wants the Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) to be rebuilt. This is the main finding of a poll commissioned by the Knesset Television Channel and carried out by the Panels Institute.
The poll was taken in advance of this Tuesday’s national day of mourning, known as Tisha B’Av, on which the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, respectively.
Forty nine percent said they want the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, while 23% said they do not. The remainder said they were unsure. (July 18, 2010.)
Is it possible that Palestinians saw this poll and feared that there just might be the political will out there among Israeli Jews to build a third temple?


Here is one Rabbi from a third temple organization who hoped to eventually conduct a Passover sacrifice at the Temple Mount.
The group of Jews was led by Rabbi Yitzchak Brand of the city of Emanuel and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. The rabbis say they intend to bring ever-larger groups of Jews to the Mount with the purpose of eventually holding a Passover sacrifice there. (May 25, 2010.)

In 2010 one organization named Our Land of Israel placed advertising on buses to promote the construction of the third temple. It is even noted that many of the ads would be seen in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
Our Land of Israel said that the campaign is intended "to lead to the rebuilding of the Temple swiftly and in our times, and to increase the public consciousness and expectation for the construction of the Temple." The movement, which is headed by Rabbi Dov Sholom Wolpo and veteran activist Baruch Marzel, has placed the advertisements on about 200 Egged buses. Many of these buses travel on routes that pass through the heavily Arab-populated eastern neighborhoods of the city, the movement's press release noted.
Chairman of Our Land of Israel Rabbi Wolpo said Tuesday that “the Nation of Israel awaits with bated breath the building of the Temple and the coming of the Messiah.” He added that “the Arabs, and President [Barack] Obama as well, know that the Temple will be constructed on the Temple Mount instead of the temporary structures that are currently there.”
“In the face of the waves of hostility and hatred and the attempts to wrest Jerusalem from the Jewish people,” said Baruch Marzel, “we should remember the deep expectation for the coming of the Messiah and the building of the Third Temple.” (March 3, 2010.)
Could it be possible that many of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem saw these ads? Could it be that one reason why so many Palestinians are so scared and fearful that extremists just might make a third temple was that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem saw these ads?

How are they supposed to believe that the Israeli authorities are not planning to do such a thing when they see ads on the bus insisting that a third temple is to be constructed?


Here is one Rabbi associated with a third temple organization mentioning a blessing that occurs every 28 years and then scolding follow Jews for not holding an animal sacrifice on Passover.
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute warns the public not to get overly caught up in Birkat Hachamah, the rare once in 28 years Blessing on the Sun set to take place on the day before Passover. There is no Biblical requirement to bless the sun, he says, while on the other hand, the Jewish People are failing to uphold a tremendously important commandment – that of the Passover offering. (April 1, 2009.)
Note how not building a temple or even an alter is denigrated as a failure to fulfill a divine commandment. In other words the traditional Jewish prohibition against setting foot on the Temple Mount is renounced and the vast majority of Jews either uninterested or opposed to such moves are belittled as sinners.


Here is one report of a third temple organization that ends with the yearning that a third temple is to be built and saying that "alas" there are mosques there in the way of such a dream.
And now we have rabbis and yeshiva devotees working diligently to prepare for the rebuilding of the Third Temple. They see time as a sequence of events on their side - the Jews return to the Promised Land, the Jewish state is reborn; surrounding hostile nations try to destroy Israel, the Jewish people reclaim Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Those are the obvious events. Less obvious are the more subtle realities that add up - the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter; Jews steadily moving into the Old City; even the Temple Mount tunnel excavations.
But alas, those big mosques are still situated on the Temple Mount. For now.
So in the meantime, they pray and wait - and prepare for that inevitable day when the Third Temple will be rebuilt. They know. They've learned from history. (August 31, 2008.)

In this 1994 article the late Rabbi Binyamin Zev Kahane, son of the infamous Meir Kahane, mentions that some Jews teach that no temple will be built until the Messiah comes. Kahane denies this is the case and presents the possibility of building a third temple today as something that is required to be done.

He also refers to the Muslim call to prayer by Palestinian Muslims as "the wailing of the jackals" and appears to refer to Al Aqsa as "a terrible desecration of God's Name."
Bringing 200 Mitzvot Back to Life
Perhaps it would not be so bad if our inactivity and lack of awareness to fulfill this mitzvah caused the Temple Mount to stand empty. But that is not the case. In the absence of a Jewish presence, there is Muslim occupation of the site. The vacuum created by lack of sanctification of G-d's Name has been filled by a terrible desecration of God's Name. Jews go to the Kotel and ignore the Muslim domes above their heads, oblivious to the wailing of the jackals that blare from the loudspeakers five times a day.
Every generation is obligated to build the Holy Temple (see Ohr HaChayim on the verse, "And they shall make a temple...."). The conquest of the Temple Mount 28 years ago gives our generation an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah. It still is not too late. (1994, reprinted February 8, 2008.)
Rabbi Binyamin Zev Kahane was murdered by a Palestinian in December 2000 during the opening months of the second intifada.


At present it is most unlikely that any attempt to build a third temple will occur. The Israeli government say they will do no such thing.

But it is most unfortunate that these third temple extremists continuously inflame the tense situation by calling for a third temple to be constructed. The fact that the deputy defense minister has financially contributed for such a cause does not help in any way. Calling for a third temple to be built inflames the current situation. It is wrong to inflame the current desperate situation.

The situation is most severe. The current wave of violence was started largely due to frustration among Palestinians that some Muslims were forbidden from entering Al Aqsa while at the same time increasing numbers of Israeli Jews were visiting the grounds that some Muslims were forbidden from entering.

It is so terrible that violence afflicts a land so precious to so many. I wish to restate again that I condemn all acts of violence. Political acts to achieve peace need to be made and end the cycle of violence are an urgent necessity. We need peace now. May peace soon come to the Holy Land.

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