A video that a Jerusalem religious educational organization released on YouTube ahead of the Tisha Be’av fast has received significant attention from the Egyptian press and public in the five days since it was posted.
The video, which the Temple Institute says is designed to “change the way people think about the Temple and the commandment to rebuild it,” has garnered almost 200,000 hits in five days. It depicts two children building a sand-castle model of the Temple on a beach, and fleetingly features a copy of The Jerusalem Post open to an article about new Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.
Tisha Be’av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, which falls out on Saturday night and Sunday this year, is the second- most important fast in the Jewish calendar and commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as several other tragedies that befell the Jewish people during its history.
According to the Temple Institute, Egyptian activists flooded the YouTube page of the video with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans – which were subsequently removed – protesting what they interpreted as a subversive suggestion that Mursi would not hinder the rebuilding of the Temple on the Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aksa Mosque stand.
Several Egyptian and Palestinian news websites also picked up on the video.
According to its website, the Temple Institute’s “long-term goal is to do all in our limited power to bring about the building of the Holy Temple in our time,” while in the short term seeking to “rekindle the flame of the Holy Temple in the hearts of mankind through education.”
The organization has reproduced the Temple vessels in strict accordance with Jewish law, including a golden Menora costing $2 million, and also strongly advocates Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount.
In response to the backlash over the video, it said that the paper having fallen open to a page featuring Mursi was entirely coincidental, and that the film was meant as “an educational tool for Jews during the nine days [of mourning from the first to the ninth of Av], to enrich their understanding of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer which is truly missed.”
According to the institute, people have become “entrenched in mourning for the sake of mourning, instead of contemplating the true meaning of the Tisha Be’av: the loss of the Beit Hamikdash [Temple], a universal house of prayer and peace for all nations.” The video seeks to redress this, it said.
In a related development, a symposium on the Jewish concept of negative and derogatory speech is set to take place in Efrat Saturday night, the eve of the 25-hour fast.
Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev will be participating in the conference, as will Rabbi Ya’acov Medan, a co-dean of the Har Etzion yeshiva in the settlement of Alon Shvut, and Bar-Ilan University law professor Gidon Sapir, among other public figures.
The ninth of Av this year actually falls on Friday night and Saturday, but Jewish law forbids fasting on Shabbat, except on Yom Kippur, so the fast will be observed on Sunday instead.