A group of rabbis sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben Gvir, the Minister of National Security, requesting that Jews be permitted to perform the Biblically-mandated Passover ritual on the Temple Mount.
“The Passover sacrifice is one of the most important positive commandments in the Torah and is the first that the nation of Israel performed during the Exodus from Egypt as a sign of the covenant with the Creator,” the petition read. “This covenant is renewed every year in the courtyard of the Temple when all of Israel must participate in the ritual sacrifice.”
The letter goes on to explain that currently we lack the red heifer and are, therefore, in a state of ritual impurity, but that time bound public sacrifices, such as the Passover offering, must be brought even in a state of impurity.
“While we have the ability to perform this mitzvah and do not, this is relinquishing the responsibility that we took on upon leaving Egypt,” the rabbis wrote.
The letter also emphasized that Halacha (Jewish law) does not require a Temple structure in order to perform the sacrifices. In this case, when a Temple does not exist, an altar of undressed stones is sufficient.
“We [the Jews] have the merit to be in control of the Temple Mount,” the letter read. “In the case that the state of Israel sees a national interest in the Passover sacrifice, we would be able to perform the sacrifice in its proper time and place despite all the difficulties.”
Among the 15 rabbis who signed the letter were Head of the Temple Institute Rabbi Israel Ariel, Rabbi of Mitzpe Jericho Yehuda Kreuzer, and Rabbi of Amichai Yair Frank. A copy of the letter was also sent to the Office of the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem.
Thanks to the efforts of the Temple Institute and other Temple advocacy groups, all of the necessary elements to begin the Temple service stand ready. But Jews may only perform temple rituals at the site the altar stood in the Biblical Temples which is on the Temple Mount. The only obstacle to performing the Passover service is the government’s refusal to permit it to take place at that location.
The importance of the reenactment was underscored in 2021 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. The Sanhedrin ruled that at this juncture that 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).
Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO that petitions for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, issued a warning that “heightened vigilance” was required on the Temple Mount leading up to Passover, which they described as “one of the major festival periods that serve as a lightning rod for increased actions by Temple Movement activists – radical Jewish activists.” Ir Amim decried the petition for permission to perform the Passover ritual.
Arab media also issued warnings about a Passover sacrifice, emphasizing that the Jewish holiday fell during the month-long Ramadan.
“These organizations view the presence of ‘religious Zionism’ in the occupation government as a historical window to impose its dreams towards Al-Aqsa,” Ramallah News reported. “Those organizations and their rabbis have launched a frantic campaign to call for imposing the ‘Passover’ sacrifice in the blessed mosque.”
Ritual slaughters are permitted in Israel and the Samaritan community slaughters hundreds of sheep at their Passover sacrifice every year on Mount Gerizim in Samaria.
A reenactment of the Passover ritual will take place on Sunday at 2:00 PM adjacent to the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.