On Tuesday evening, while Israelis headed to the polls for the fourth time in two years, a reenactment of the Korban Pesach (the Passover Temple service) was held near the Shaar HaAshpot (the dung gate) near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The date, the tenth day of the first month, was significant in many ways.
Korban Pesach: Rising in Significance
Assaf Fried, the spokesman for the Temple Organizations, related to Israel365 news that when Temple activists began holding the Korban Pesach reenactments over a decade ago, it was perceived as an extremist event intended to incite Muslim violence. As such, the civil authorities refused to grant permits to hold the ceremony in Jerusalem and the police actively sought out any attempt to bring a sheep to the Old City of Jerusalem. This gradually changed as public opinion changed. Last year, the event was canceled due to pandemic restrictions and it was feared that the Passover reenactment would return to its former status.
Given this history of official disapproval, Fried was shocked when a senior police officer approached him a few weeks ago, inquiring about the plans for the Passover ceremony.
“He was enthusiastic that it should take place,” Fried said. “He pressed me to make sure it happened. I was shocked because I remember when we operated as an underground movement. Even more impressive was that he referred to it as the ‘Korban Pesach’.”
“The police and the Jerusalem municipality now view this as another totally acceptable public happening, an event they would like to see take place. But the amazing thing is they actually refer to in terms of the Temple service,” Fried said. “The reenactments were intended for the Kohanim to practice but it has had a profound effect on the less religious segments of Israel. The officials see that it is run properly, does not lead to incitement, and they are getting used to it, Even the mainstream media has begun to accept the event as something other than extremist. They are all beginning to accept that the Temple Service is not a crazy idea, that it is an acceptable aspect of modern Israel.”
“It seems clear that one day, sooner than we imagine, there will be the same event but a few hundred meters to the north, on the Temple Mount, and no one will think it is a crazy extremist event,” Fried noted. “In truth, it shouldn’t be since anyone who reads the Bible knows about this and it took place for thousands of years.”
The Temple in All Its Glory…Almost
The ceremony was accompanied by blasts from silver horns specially prepared for the Third Temple. Musicians played songs based on the Hallel service, a prayer service composed of verses from Psalms, that was sung in the Temple while the Passover sacrifice was being prepared.
Permission from the government was not granted to enable the slaughtering of a lamb but meat from a freshly slaughtered lamb was brought to enable the ritual roasting.
The sheep was prepared roasted whole on a long pomegranate branch in the manner described in the Torah and served to the Jews gathered to witness the reenactment.
They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. Exodus 12:8
Tenth Day of the First Month
Shimshon Elboim, the organizer of the event, was amazed at the public response.
“Just three days before, we had no idea whether the even would be permitted due to Health Ministry restrictions,” Elboim told Israel365 News. “But everything came together and even though we were permitted a limited number of a few hundred attendees, at least that many people came to participate. Perhaps actually a few more than that.
Elboim expressed gratitude to the Israeli Police who “went above and beyond the call of duty ensure that the event took place.”
Elboim noted that the reenactment takes place every year on the same date; the tenth of Tishrei, which, according to Jewish tradition is the day that the Children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River into Israel.
“It was also the day that the Hebrews sacrificed the lamb before they left Egypt,” Elboim said. “Jewish sources say that in the end of days, the tenth of Tishrei will become a minor holiday. But we did not choose to hold the Korban Pesach on election day. They chose to hold the elections on the tenth of the month and since every Israeli gets the day off in order to vote, the prophecy came true.”
“By virtue of supporting the Korban Pesach, the government gains the right to rule over the nation. And we also see the public support of the ceremony from all segments of the society is increasing by leaps and bounds every year. Many important rabbis and leaders took part as well.”
Elboim emphasized that the return to the Temple service is of universal importance.
“The original Passover sacrifice offered in Egypt on the night before the Exodus was intended to stop the final plague which was described as a נֶגֶף (negef: disease),” Elboim said. “In addition, King David purchased the Temple Mount, built an altar, and offered a sacrifice to stop a plague. It is important to hold the Korban Pesachm, even as a reenactment, in order to bring an end to the pandemic.”
“God Did Not Take Us Out of Egypt to Establish Democracy”
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the former spokesman for the Sanhedrin, took part in the ceremony.
“The ceremony was successful in several aspects,” Rabbi Weiss said. “There were many spectators and the ceremony was impressive, with wonderful music.”
But the Rabbi emphasized that the ceremony taking place on the same night as the elections underscored the message of Passover.
“God did not take us out of Egypt in order to establish democracy,” Rabbi Weiss said. “The pinnacle of Pesach is the Korban (sacrifice). The entire point of the Exodus is for the people to serve Hashem, which we could not do in Egypt and cannot even do in freedom in America. Our service of God is not dependent on which person sits in any government. This is true of any man of God anywhere in the world.”
Rabbi Weiss announced that on Sunday night after the Passover holiday ends, there will be a reenactment of the Omer Harvest that Israel365 will be reporting on.
Passover Sacrifice: A Requirement Today
The importance of the reenactment was underscored last week when Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, ruled that the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice) is incumbent upon the Jewish people even in current times, even in the absence of a Temple structure or lacking a Red Heifer to purify Israel, though the sacrifice may only be performed on the Temple Mount. The only obstacle to actually performing the Passover service is the government’s refusal to permit it to take place, which is in contravention of Israeli law. It should be noted that the Sanhedrin ruled that at this juncture, one sacrifice made at the Temple Mount brought in the name of the entire Jewish people would suffice.
Last year, the reenactment ceremony was canceled for the first time in a decade due to pandemic restrictions. Despite receiving all the necessary permits for a small, socially distanced ceremony, the ceremony was not allowed to take place due to Health Ministry regulations restricting public gatherings. At the time, Jews were restricted from visiting the Temple Mount.
The Korban Pesach is of utmost importance. There are only two mitzvot (Biblical commandments) for which non-compliance receives the most severe punishment mandated by the Torah, karet (being cut off from the community, or excommunicated): brit milah (circumcision) and the korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice).