13 December 2018
Members of the Temple movement who seek to destroy Masjid al-Aqsa unveiled a new altar Monday they say is intended to be placed at the Masjid site and used to offer sacrifices.
For at least the past decade, these zealots who are preparing for a Temple by recreating some of the ancient tools used in rituals, have been practicing offering sacrifices in the days before Passover.
On Monday, the activists wanted to practice using the altar but had to suffice with only part of the service because the Jerusalem municipality would not let them slaughter an animal in a public park.
“In the end there will be a grander altar, but for the time being we have this, and the moment they open the gates we’re ready to take it up to the Temple Mount,” said a veteran Temple Mount activist, Shimshon Elboim.
So far the practice sessions have included slaughtering an animal and offering it on a temporary altar of wood. On Monday the activists wanted to enact the complete ritual of slaughtering the animal and offering it, and had even received a permit from the police.
But the municipality’s legal adviser rejected their request to slaughter an animal in a public park outside the Old City walls, thus the sheep earmarked for this purpose was taken to another location to be slaughtered.
“What we still have to do is awaken the people,” Elboim said. “There is slow but sure progress, and if the authorities allow it, tomorrow we can do the whole service.”
The initiative came from Prof. Hillel Weiss, a hard-right political activist and Temple activist, who established a non-profit organization called The Temple in Zion and raised some NIS 40,000 for the building of the altar.
The project was also backed by the Committee of Temple Organizations, an umbrella group for Temple groups.
The altar is built out of bricks over a wooden frame, and specifically not of stone, since Jewish law requires that the Temple and its various structures not me made out of stone that has been hewn by iron implements.
The altar itself weighs some four-and-a-half tons, and the ramp another two tons. It was built in the Elkana settlement in the Occupied West Bank district by carpenters, brick layers and other construction specialists.
Organizers intended that a sheep was to be slaughtered during the dedication ceremony, and the various rituals, including burning
some of its limbs and innards on the altar, was to be performed. However, Weiss said, objections were raised by the Jerusalem Municipal Authority’s legal department.
Instead, a sheep was slaughtered earlier this week in an abattoir, and just one of its front legs was burned on the altar in a practice sacrificial exercise.
He rejected the notion that people today cannot connect to the ancient practice of animal sacrifices, saying, “The world today is impure. We want a world of purity,” he said, adding that people’s impure actions and thoughts remained the same regardless of how they relate to the prescribed method in the Torah of expunging impurity, that is, through animal sacrifices.
He said he and the Temple organizations would begin animal sacrifices immediately if the state allowed them to bring their altar to the requisite spot at al-Aqsa – claimed to be several meters east of the Dome of the Rock, and declared that the state should be “the first to support” the resumption of these rituals.
Asked if restarting Jewish animal sacrifices at the site would cause tensions and conflict with the Muslim world, which views al-Aqsa Mosque at the site as one of the holiest places in Islam, Weiss said emphatically that this should not be a concern and that only Jewish courage to “rebuild the Temple” would end anti-Jewish sentiment and actions.
“This is propaganda disseminated by the Jewish unit of the Shabak [Shin Bet General Security Service] and antisemitic Jews who talk in the name of non-Jews and who have brought us the situation in Gaza, and other situations, and are trying to scare people,” said Weiss.
“We think the opposite, that as long as the Jews don’t have the courage to build the Temple, they will be persecuted. As long as there is no Temple, there will be antisemitism.”