The Temple Institute has released a new video encouraging Jews to hope for the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. The video comes as religious Jews around the world observe the traditional "Nine Days" mourning period leading up to the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, Tisha Be'Av, when the two Jewish Temples were destroyed.
In the video, entitled – "Tisha b'Av: People Get Ready!" – pictures of dozens of people form a collage as an announcer reads the second verse of chapter 2 of the biblical book of Isaiah, which reads, "It will happen in the end of days: The mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and the nations will stream to it."
As the collage becomes fully formed, the images fade into a rendering of the Temple set in modern day Jerusalem, followed by the words, "People get ready."
The video is the seventh in a series which began with "The Children are Ready" video. The series aims to challenge "the viewers’ preconceptions of Tisha B’Av as a day of eternal mourning, evoking Isaiah’s promise that the Third Temple is the secret of world peace and harmony and the hope of all mankind," according to a statement by the Temple Institute.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, international director of the Temple Institute, stressed that the goal is to get people to focus on "the true meaning of Tisha Be'Av."
"Tisha B'Av is not about just mourning, it is about acting to bring the Holy Temple back to the world – a ‘House of prayer for all nations,'" said Richman. "Every year, millions of Jews worldwide robotically observe the mourning rituals of the three weeks, nine days and Tisha B’Av as if nothing has changed in the last century. Meanwhile we are losing our connection to the Temple Mount because most of Orthodox Jewry have ignored the fact that it has been in Jewish hands for five decades."
The Nine Days begin on the first day of the Hebrew month of Av, nine days before the fast of Tisha Be'av (the ninth of Av).
Traditionally, Orthodox Jews avoid joyous and/or risky practices, including listening to music, getting haircuts, attending or holding weddings, eating meat and drinking wine, swimming, traveling for pleasure and buying new clothes, to mark the time of year during which many tragedies occurred throughout Jewish history.
"It’s time to vote with our feet and send a clear message to the world that we truly believe that the Temple Mount is ours and we truly hope and pray for a time of unparalleled world peace and harmony with the re-building of the Third Temple," added Richman. "This new video is an emotional and visual tool to awaken world Jewry this Tisha B’Av and have them internalize the message that the dream of 2000 years is finally within our reach."
Soon after Israel took over eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian control in 1967, Moshe Dayan returned the Temple Mount to Jordanian control and forbade Jewish worship on the mount, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Dayan decided that since the site is a "Muslim prayer mosque," but is no more than "a historical site of commemoration of the past" for Jews, then "one should not hinder the Arabs from behaving there as they now do," wrote the former chief of staff in his autobiography Story of My Life.
The restrictions on Jewish worship still hold today, and non-Muslims are only allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount through one gate, while Muslims may enter the site from any gate. The Waqf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the site.
Visits by religious Jews are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to tourism website Tourist Israel.
While the Supreme Court has ruled that "every Jew has the right to ascend the Temple Mount, to pray on it, and to commune with his Creator," they also decided that "this right, like other basic rights, is not an absolute right, and in a place at which the likelihood of damage to the public peace and even to human life is almost certain – this can justify limiting the freedom of religious worship and also limiting the freedom of expression."
Many Jewish religious authorities avoid going onto the Temple Mount for various halachic (religious law) or political concerns, including uncertainties about the exact location of the ancient Temple Mount, according to the Orthodox Union. Jews who are impure in certain ways, including impurity received from contact with the dead – which all Jews are assumed to have today – are forbidden from walking on certain parts of the Temple Mount. It is also debated by religious authorities if the Temple Mount maintains its religious sanctity when there is no Temple standing there.
Much of the platform which is called the Temple Mount was not considered part of the Temple complex by Jewish law and was instead a platform built by King Herod meant to expand the available space around the actual Temple complex. The platform was built during renovations initiated by Herod on the Temple and the area around it.
The Temple Mount itself was about 62,500 square meters. The area now referred to as the Temple Mount covers about 145,000 square meters.
The Israeli Rabbinate forbids Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount. Some sources indicate that under Muslim control about a thousand years ago, Jews were permitted to build a synagogue on the mount, according to the Orthodox Union.
On Tisha Be'av, which falls on Saturday night, August 10, Jews mark the day that the two Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed by fasting for 25 hours and abiding by other mourning practices, including sitting on the floor or low chairs and reciting the Book of Lamentations (Megillat Eicha), in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile.
Some 55% of Israeli Jews claim that as far as they are concerned, Tisha Be’av is just a regular day. For other national days of mourning like Holocaust Remembrance Day or Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars, only a small percentage of Jews (9% and 5% percent respectively, most of them haredi) claim they are just regular days.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.