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The writer is an employee of the Temple Institute. He made aliya from New Jersey in 1984.
Imagine a place where primordial space intersects with primordial time; where a high priest - the direct descendent of Aaron, brother of Moses - dressed in white linen, enters the Holy of Holies, the portal of all existence, at one time only during the year, on the day of Yom Kippur; where 70 sacrifices on behalf of the 70 nations of the world are brought on Sukkot.
The place is the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, built twice by the Jewish nation and destroyed twice by her enemies. (The First Temple was destroyed in 523 BCE and the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.), and about which Jewish tradition teaches that it will be once again rebuilt and that its existence will usher in an era of universal peace.
The site of this place is known as Mount Moriah, or the Temple Mount. It is located in the center of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Although today the Holy Temple lies in ruins, and the very mention of its name conjures up images of confrontation that are quite the opposite of peaceful worship, this is the very place which tradition maintains that Adam, the first human being was formed, and where he later built an altar to God. (Pirkei De Rabbi Eliezer) This is where Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, bound his son Isaac.
Nearly a thousand years later, King David bought the threshing floor that was in use there, from a Jebusite named Arvona. His son Solomon built the structure known as the Beit Hamikdash.
As long as the First and Second Temples stood, the entire Jewish nation, en masse, from Israel as well as from abroad, would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year, on Succot, Pesah and Shavuoth. In its heyday, over one million Jews would arrive annually to offer the Pesah sacrifice. Concerning the Second Temple, refurbished by Herod, the Jewish sages said, "One who has not witnessed the beauty of the building of Herod has not witnessed beauty."
In the June, 1967 Six Day War, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel was a soldier in the paratrooper brigade, led by Gen. Motta Gur, which liberated Jerusalem's Old City. He was one of the first soldiers to reach the Temple Mount. The very first night that the Temple Mount returned to Israeli sovereignty, Rabbi Ariel was assigned the duty of guarding over the Dome of the Rock, site of the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple. Looking back at that time, he relates to the uniqueness of the moment, both universally for all Jews and for himself personally: the return of the Jewish people to this spot, the one place on earth that God has chosen for Himself, to begin the resumption of the Divine service.
Yet the anticipated revival of the spiritual center of the Jewish nation didn't take place. Within hours of the liberation of the Temple Mount, General Moshe Dayan had already decided to hand it over to the Moslem Wakf.
Immersing himself in study, Rabbi Ariel arrived at the realization that the positive commandment to rebuild the Temple is incumbent upon all Jews of every generation. In 1987, Rabbi Ariel founded The Temple Institute, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Together with a team of rabbis, scientists, artists and craftsmen he works tirelessly to recreate the vessels in accordance with halacha (Jewish Law) so that when the occasion arises, they will be ready for use.
The Temple Institute has spent almost 20 years researching and reconstructing the tens of vessels and utensils required for use in the Temple service, based on the Torah, the Talmud, and the clarifications of rabbinical authorities throughout the centuries, (most notably Maimonides), as well as archeological and scientific evidence.
"If the Beit Hamikdash were to be built tonight, these vessels would be fit to be used in tomorrow morning's Tamid service,"says Rabbi Ariel.
Among these "kosher" Temple vessels already completed, are the golden menorah (presently on display in the Cardo, the old Roman Market), the golden incense altar and the golden showbread table.
The ephod (apron) of the Cohen Gadol (the high priest) - as well as the tzitz, (the golden crown worn on his forehead), have been recreated. And in the final stages of preparation today is the me'il techelet - the blue robe worn by the high priest, made completely from the blue techelet-dyed wool derived from the Murex sea snail.
All these vessels and vestments and more can be seen at the Temple Institute's "Treasures of The Temple" exhibit.
The Temple Institute has also published a number of books concerning the Holy Temple, copiously illustrated with reproductions from The Temple Institute's original collection of hundreds of paintings, depicting the different holidays and happenings that took place in the Holy Temple. These books include holiday mahzorim (prayer books), weekly and Shabbat siddurim, various mishnayot, research volumes and large-format art books, all containing original commentary and research.
With the same intention of educating and inspiring within people a Temple consciousness, The Temple Institute also offers guided tours of the Temple Mount. Led by Rabbi Chaim Richman, these tours, available to Jews and Gentiles, are conducted in strict accordance with halacha. Going up to the Temple Mount continues a 2,000 year tradition that began almost immediately after the destruction of the Second Temple. The Gemarra records visits by Rabbi Akiva and others.
Maimonides himself made the pilgrimage, (very dangerous in his day), describing his visit in his collected letters (Iggerot Harambam). So moved was he be the experience, that he fixed the day as a personal festive day, and instructed his children to do so likewise.
On a visit to the Temple Mount today, one encounters the severe restrictions placed upon Jewish worshippers by the Israeli police. One also is eye witness to the illegal construction and wanton destruction by the Moslem Wakf. But no less so, visitors find themselves captivated by a sense of awe as they ponder the intrinsic holiness of the place itself.
The Temple Institute is a non-profit organization, and in addition to proceeds from its publications and entrance fees, the majority of its activities are funded by the generosity of thousands of international supporters. From Indonesia to India, Madagascar to Brazil, the United States and Spain, active supporters of The Temple Institute can today be found in 30 nations around the world.
The Temple Institute's website contains hundreds of pages of information and illustrations, and is updated on a daily basis.
It is in the spirit of the words of the prophet Isaiah that The Temple Institute pursues its mission of driving out ignorance and apathy, and kindling a longing for the day when, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 57:6)
The Temple Institute is located on Misgav Ladach 19, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The exhibit is open Sunday through Thursday, from 9-5 and Friday, from 9-1 p.m. Admission is NIS 20 and a guided tour is an additional NIS 50. Group rates are available.
Tel: 972-(0)2-626 4545. Tours of the Temple Mount can be arranged by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your comments >>
Doug Currie, Hamilton, Canada: Although I am a Gentile (evangelical Christian) I am fully supportive of the work of The Temple Institute and often visit their website at www.templeinstitute.org. I believe it is a main part of God's last days plans to have His chosen earthly people - the Jews - rebuild God's House in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount so He can dwell amidst them and the nations again. I eagerly now await the completion of the garments of the high priest and hopefully soon color pictures available on the Gallery section of the Temple Institute website so I can look at it and show it to Christian and Jewish friends, or other people interested in the Bible. I also await the decison of the Sanhedrin soon to determine the prior location of the First and Second Temples and where the next Third one should be built. I also hope it will be of some help in finding the Ark of the Covenant and Tabernacle of David, especially if they aren't under the Temple Mount. I cover some of these things also on my web site at www.spiritandtruthministries.org, although from an evangelical Christian viewpoint that however, is still very supportive of God's future for the Jewish people and nation of Israel.
God bless you all and may He send His Messiah soon to set up world peace and rule from the Temple in Jerusalem. (Zechariah 14, Isaiah 9:7, Psalm 24 etc)
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