Amihai Ariel, the father of Hallel Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli girl who was brutally murdered on June 30, held a memorial ceremony for her on Tuesday on the Temple Mount. In an unmitigated act of bravery, he defied the Muslim religious authority and performed a powerful Temple ritual, right under their watchful eyes.
A group of 50 close friends and family surrounded Amihai, and his wife Rina, as they prepared to enter the VIP entrance to the Temple Mount compound, accompanied by Israeli police. Before ascending, Amihai Ariel blew a silver trumpet created to be used in the Third Temple. He also blew a shofar (ram’s horn), of the kind used in the Temple service.
Guards from the Waqf, the Muslim religious authority, joined the Ariels and the 200 others who were with them in order to ensure that the Jewish visitors adhered to all the specified conditions for non-Muslims at the site. These restrictions include a prohibition against all non-Muslim prayer, including any motions that could resemble praying or speaking to God.
Upon arriving at the exact location where the Kohanim, Jews of the priestly caste, used to stand and give the special blessing over the people, the group halted. Amihai Ariel is a Kohen, and the spot has a special significance for him. While bored Waqf guards and Israeli police looked on, Amihai gave a short lesson on what used to occur at that spot, but his explanation contained a hidden message.
“He is the one who gives us this blessing,” Amihai explained. “He blesses, and he will bless you. He guards and he will also guard you. He will protect this blessing, and the entire nation that stands here at Zion, and will be blessed by the entire world. He will rise up with us. His face will shine upon you, and he will be gracious unto you, he will give you grace. And not only that, he will choose you. The Lord will lift up His face unto you and give you peace. He will choose you so that Israel will be the one to spread his light in the world, spread the peace and the completeness. That is the truth, with no lies. Peace and completeness to us, from here, and out to the entire world.”
A guest then explained, “At this point, in synagogues we say, ‘Amen’, but in the Temple, we would say, ‘Baruch Shem Kavod Malchuto L’Olam Va’ed’ (May His name be blessed forever and ever).”
The onlookers recited the final verse in unison.
What Amihai had accomplished was simply astounding: a Kohen blessed Jews on the Temple Mount articulating the prescribed Biblical verses hidden within what sounded like a regular speech.
May the LORD bless you and guard you –
יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you –
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace –
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם Numbers 6:23–27
Even more incredible was that the blessing was said outright in front of the Islamic Waqf.
When Breaking Israel News asked Amihai if that was indeed his intention, he answered unequivocally, “Yes, of course. As a Kohen, I blessed Israel.”
By violating the rules for entering the Temple Mount, he may be banned from visiting the site, or face even worse consequences. When asked if he was concerned about possible repercussions, his response was powerful and to the point.
“After my daughter is murdered, what more can they do to me?” he asked. “Ban me from the Temple Mount? Arrest me? What more can I possibly lose by blessing Israel? A Jewish man goes up to God’s mountain. I was trying to connect to God. So what are they going to do to me for doing such a thing?”
Ariel explained what he felt was the absolute need for such actions.
“It is clear that Israel needs to learn a lot about these things and what it really means for them, what the Temple really is,” Ariel explained. “I have heard people object to the idea of the Temple. These are people who buy meat and cook it, just to eat it for their base desires. They call me primitive because I think that eating meat is a powerful thing that should be sanctified.”
“I grow grapes in the Hills of Hebron. I want to bring my wine to the Temple and include God in what I do.”
Surprisingly, Ariel does not consider himself to be overly religious, despite his overt devotion to the Temple Mount.
“I think of myself as a very rational and realistic person. I am grounded, not mystical in any way,” he stated. “But when I look around and see the condition the world is in, I come to the conclusion that the world needs a place for God, his Temple in Jerusalem.”
Ariel understandably has little patience for politics or nuance.
“We need to start doing the work of building and so many people, for the wrong reasons, are stopping that from happening.”