On Monday, the United Temple Movements organized a full-dress reenactment of the Passover sacrifice in preparation for the reinstitution of the Temple service.
A glimpse of the glory of the Temple
Kohanim carried out the reenactment, Jewish men who can trace their ancestry back to Aaron the High Priest, wearing the vestments mandated by the Torah. Rabbi Baruch Kahane acted in the place of the Kohen Gadol (High Preist) for the purposes of the reenactment. The ceremony was accompanied by blasts from silver trumpets specially prepared for use in the Third Temple. The event was open to the public and held adjacent to the Western Wall near the Dung Gate.
As specified in the Torah, a lamb was ritually slaughtered and roasted on a spit of pomegranate wood. The meat was distributed to the public, who observed the event.
Government approval-Arab incitement
Rabbi Shimshon Elboim, who organized the event, emphasized that all arrangements were coordinated with the municipal and government authorities.
“Ten years ago, we were forced to hold the reenactment several miles away from the Temple Mount, nowhere near the Old City. As the reenactment becomes more popular, the authorities are warming up to the event. It is, after all, an expression of the Biblical roots of the country.”
“Unfortunately, fringe groups unassociated with the Temple Movement tried to hold actual sacrifices without working with the government,” Elboim noted. “The Palestinians posted these on social media to incite violence.”
There was, in fact, a general call among the Palestinians to prevent the Jewish ritual, along with claims that the reenactment of the Biblical ceremony was a covert effort to attack the Arabs on the Temple Mount.
Rabbi Hillel Weiss helped organize and officiate the reenactment. He emphasized that this claim was entirely false.
“We do this every year. There is nothing unusual about this. Even if the government allowed us to make the actual Passover sacrifice, one that would be valid in every respect, we could set up a temporary altar in less than one hour, make the Passover offering in every respect, and then remove the altar. No one can object on the basis that reestablishing the Temple service would endanger the Muslims. The truth is that the Waqf and the people who object to the Temple reenactments do not want to see any connection between Jerusalem and the Torah. The only place Jews can perform the Temple service is on the Temple Mount.”
Citing Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the preeminent 11th century French Torah scholar known by the acronym “Rashi,” Rabbi Weiss explained that the return of the Paschal offering is a significant marker in the Jews’ return to Israel.
“According to Rashi, the Passover sacrifice was only performed once in the desert,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss explained. “Because of its nationalistic nature, it was not offered again until the Jews entered the land of Israel.
“The Jewish return to Israel and the end of exile will not be complete until the Passover sacrifice is reinstated in its proper place and at its proper time.”
One lamb for all of Israel
The importance of the reenactment was underscored last year 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. However, the sacrifice may only be performed on the Temple Mount. The only obstacle to performing the Passover service is the government’s refusal to permit it to to allow 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.
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).
In 2020, 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 prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount.
In the Temple, the priests would arrange themselves in a line stretching from the courtyard where the lambs were slaughtered, extending to the altar. The blood from the sheep would be collected in a vessel and then passed from one priest to another, hand over hand until it arrived at the altar upon which it was poured. The lamb would then be taken and roasted to be eaten in the person’s home at the Passover seder.