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Friday, July 27, 2007

Rebuld the Jewish Temple?

On Tisha B'av (ninth day of the month of Av) the traditional commemoration of the destruction of the temple, Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg asks, Should Jews build the Third Temple?. As there are a number of Jews, and many more Christian Zionists who would support this project, the question bears discussion. His answer is "no."

I have to agree, but for different reasons. He points out that each of the temples lasted only a relatively brief time before being variously looted or destroyed. Curiously, he doesn't mention the temple built upon the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, only the temple of Solomon and the rebuilding done by Herod. The second temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was a great national rallying point, and served as the symbol of the Maccabee revolt.

The Muslims would of course object to building a temple in place of the mosques, but perhaps this could be overcome by building a temple on the Ophel, which was probably the actual site of the first temple.

The big problems with rebuilding a temple are that Israelis do not want to live in a theocracy, do not want to engage in animal sacrifice, and do not want to support everyone named Cohen and Levy as temple acolytes and priests. I am not a vegetarian, but God might be.

Perhaps it would be OK to erect a modest structure on the Ophel, to symbolize the return of the Jewish people to our national home. That, after all, would be the real importance of the temple in a Zionist context. Instead of paying to subsidize Cohens and Levites, worshippers could voluntarily donate money to charity.

Ami Isseroff

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