Demands to sacrifice Yom Kippur scapegoat on Temple Mount rejected

“The time has come that the Jewish people adds deeds to its prayers... The era of prayers by themselves and actions by themselves has ended."

September 17, 2018 20:10
3 minute read.
Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount

Orthodox Jews on the Temple Mount. (photo credit: MENACHEM SHLOMO)


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The casting of a scapegoat off a cliff, the sacrifice of another goat as well as a bull, two rams and two lambs, are among the various practices which one of the Temple Mount activist groups is demanding to enact this Yom Kippur on the sacred site in Jerusalem.

The “Returning to the Mountain” organization, which seeks to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount, has requested it be allowed to conduct the full ritual service for Yom Kippur as laid out in the Bible at the site, including ritual animal sacrifices that are a central part of the ceremony.

In ancient times, when the two temples stood, the High Priest would carry out a complex and meticulous ceremony in the temple and the Holy of Holies. The ceremony involved several animal sacrifices and other rituals, including the casting of lots for two goats, one of which would be sacrificed and burnt.

The High Priest would confess the sins of Israel on the head of the other goat and send it out to the desert to carry away the sins of the nation. In practice, it was thrown over a cliff to prevent it returning.

The request was made to Jerusalem police but was denied. A police spokesman cited a government decision in 1967, which instructed then-chief rabbi Shlomo Goren to desist from organizing prayer services on the Temple Mount, and to direct anyone seeking to pray there to the Western Wall.

The High Court of Justice has in principle upheld the right of Jewish prayer and freedom of worship at the site, but said the police are able to reject such requests if there is a fear that they may lead to violence and public disturbances.

Temple Mount activists insist, however, it is government policy in refusing to allow Jewish worship at the site which is the main obstacle to Jewish prayer and rituals on the Temple Mount.

Refael Morris, 23, who heads the Returning to the Mountain organization and lives in the unauthorized settlement outpost of Ahiya, insisted there are no restrictions within Jewish law against performing the service on the Temple Mount, and even at the site where the Holy of Holies was located, despite the inability to achieve the requisite spiritual purity in modern times.

“There is no real obstacle to doing this service,” said Morris, who said the police could secure the ceremony if it so wished.

“The time has come that the Jewish people adds deeds to its prayers... The era of prayers by themselves and actions by themselves has ended. The time has come for the redemption, in which prayers and deeds go hand in hand,” continued Morris.

“We have returned to the Land of Israel, and part of that is to rebuild the temple, and if we have the ability to do the obligatory commandments stipulated by the Torah then we have to do it,” he said.

Morris told The Jerusalem Post that he is in favor of rebuilding the temple, which he acknowledged would entail “taking down” the Dome of the Rock shrine, which sits on the Temple Mount.

He said he did not believe that such an action would provoke war with the Muslim world, since it would demonstrate “the Jewish people are strong and the true owners of this land.”

“The Temple does not descend from heaven, it is built with blood and tears,” Morris said. “This is what we have dreamed of for 2,000 years.”

He said his organization was considering an appeal to the High Court, but time has effectively run out for such a course of action this year.

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