While Jews around the world fasted on Sunday, the 17th day of the Hebrew month Tammuz, a group of less than 50 gathered in Mitzpe Jericho to witness a dry-run of the Korban Tamid, the twice-daily sacrifice performed in the temple.
The 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. It is also the day that Jewish tradition teaches that Moses destroyed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments after descending from Mount Sinai and discovering the Children of Israel engaged in the Sin of the Golden Calf.
The Prophet Zechariah predicts
The fast in Tammuz, the fourth month of the Hebrew Calendar, is mentioned by the Prophet Zechariah who predicts that in the Messianic era, it will change from a day of austerity into a day of celebration:
Thus said the lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Yehuda; but you must love honesty and integrity. Zechariah 8:19
Several tragedies befell the Jewish people on the 17th of Tammuz but one that stands out was the cessation of the Korban Tamid during the three-year period when Jerusalem was under siege by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar prior to the destruction of the Temple.
As such, the Temple movements chose that day to perform a reenactment of the Korban Tamid service at Mitzpeh Yericho where a full-size altar was erected for such events. A wooden model of the golden altar used for incense was also erected. The event was held late in the afternoon, close to sunset when the evening daily sacrifice was brought.
A full reenactment including the slaughter of lamb
Rabbi Baruch Kahane, who instructs Kohanim for the reenactments, insisted that a full reenactment including the slaughter of lamb and the arrangement of its pieces would only take place if the minimum complement of 15 priests were present. Unfortunately, this was not the case so Rabbi Kahane was not in attendance. A lamb was included for illustrative purposes but was not slaughtered.
Since King David established the altar on the Temple Mount, Jews may only bring actual sacrifices at that site. The rituals may only be performed by Kohanim, male descendants of Aaron the priest. Though all of Israel is considered ritually impure, time-bound public sacrifices such as the Korban Tamid, may be brought in a state of ritual impurity. The necessary implements for the service stand ready and the only thing preventing the beginning of the Temple service is the Israeli government’s objection to Jewish rituals being carried out on the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Mordechai Persoof, the head of the Mikdash Educational Center, helped organize the event. He explained that a כבס (keves, lamb) must be less than one year old and, as the Hebrew word indicates, is a male. Rabbi Persoff also noted that in order to be used as a sacrifice, the lamb must be without blemish and since the lamb used for the demonstration had the government-mandated identifying ear tag, it was disqualified for use as an actual sacrifice.
An “animalistic soul pulling”
“When a man sins, it is his animalistic soul pulling him,” Rabbi Persoff said. “When a Jew brings a sin offering, he places his hands on the animal’s head and presses down. Through the sacrifices, we acknowledge our animal nature. But we also demonstrate our intention to overcome this animal nature, to show that we are in charge of dedicating our entire self to the service of God.”
Rabbi Persoff emphasized that the Korban was offered by the priests in an area of the Temple that was inaccessible to the other tribes but representatives of the tribes had to be present.
The ritual was then demonstrated without any harm being done to the lamb. A special vessel for catching the blood was filled with colored water and the proper sprinklings on the altar were performed.
Josh Wander, a correspondent for Israel365 News, was impressed with the turnout.
“About 49 people showed up on a fast day and stood in the heat in order to take part,” Wander said. Wander noted that throughout the total of 830 years that the two temples stood, the ritual of the Tamid sacrifice was only interrupted twice when the temples were destroyed. “There is a tradition from Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (an 18th century Torah scholar known as the Vilna Gaon) that after the Temple service will be restarted the third time, it will never be interrupted again.”
‘Every reenactment comes closer’
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the former spokesman for the Sanhedrin, has been involved with these Temple reenactments for many years.
“Every reenactment comes closer, teaches us more of what we need to know to bring back the service forever,” Rabbi Weiss said. “But each reenactment becomes even more difficult, raising up unprecedented obstacles.”
He noted that the annual Passover reenactment, the highlight of the year, was canceled twice due to the pandemic.
“As more people support the events, it generates political and spiritual opposition,” Rabbi Weiss said. “Technically, we could go up to the Temple Mount right now and begin the service. All of the necessary elements stand ready. We are preparing several options for each element to make this possible. But it is not our intention to make a provocative political statement. The Temple is the source of peace, not conflict. Our only intention is to bring about the prophesied House of Prayer for all nations.”