Thursday, June 14, 2012

If You Build It, He Will Come

Rebuilding the Holy Temple:  The Temple Institute of Jerusalem is pleased to announce the forthcoming US visit of Rabbi Chaim Richman, the Director of the Institute's International Department.

Rabbi Richman has scheduled (Little Bear fire permitting) appearances in New Mexico

Roswell - Comfort Suites
Monday June 18 @ 7:00 pm

Santa Fe - Kol BeRamah
Tuesday June 19 @ 2:00 pm

Albuquerque - Hoffmantown Church
Tuesday June 19 @ 7:00 pm

The Temple Institute, according to its website, is
dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual well-being of both Israel and all the nations of the world. The Institute's work touches upon the history of the Holy Temple's past, an understanding of the present day, and the Divine promise of Israel's future. The Institute's activities include education, research, and development.
The Temple Institute appears to support the normative, traditional Jewish belief: that when the Messiah {"he") comes (speedily, in our days), the Holy Temple ("it") will be rebuilt.

When He [Messiah] Comes, It [Temple] Will Be Rebuilt

The Temple Institute has, therefore, launched programs of education and preparation - including  refabricating the High Priest's garments and vestments, and attempting to reproduce and round up red heifers.

Why red heifers? Because we Jews are all - after 2,000 Temple-less years - ritually impure.  Our Kohanim, in their present state, cannot officiate in the rebuilt Temple.

Only the ashes of a red heifer can return our Kohanim, our Levi'im, and Klal Israel to ritual purity. (See Chapter 19 of Numbers for a full description of the enigmatic - to say the least - ritual cleansing process.)

Abq Jew must emphasize that the normative, traditional Jewish belief is not overtly political. The Temple Institute, one may claim, simply wants the Temple rebuilding project to be as "shovel-ready" as practicable.

But wait! There's more! The website continues:
The Temple Institute's ultimate goal is to see Israel rebuild the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, in accord with the Biblical commandments. 
Which comes first, the Messiah or the Temple? Messiah first, then the Third House? Or is it the other way around? The If you build it, he will come tag line for Rabbi Richman's US visit plainly shows where the Temple Institute stands:

When The Temple Is Rebuilt, The Messiah Will Come  

Which is the cart, and which is the horse? In this video from the Temple Institute website, Rabbi Richman asks:
What is holding back the people of Israel from rebuilding the Temple today? How close are we? How will the nations of the world be affected? Are the obstacles really that insurmountable... or could we overcome them if we only try? Are we waiting for G-d to step in and perform a miracle... or is He waiting for us to take the initiative?

Abq Jew must emphasize that If you build it, he will come is not the normative, traditional Jewish belief, and is, as it turns out, intensely political. And not just with respect to the Islamic world, and not just because the Dome of the Rock happens to currently sit atop the Temple site.

For Jews, going up to the Temple Mount - for purposes of presence, prayer, or construction - presents a serious theological conundrum. Who may go up to the Mountain of G-d? asks The Jerusalem Post:
The divisions among different rabbinic leaders are sharp; some outlaw ascent to the Temple Mount in absolute terms on pain of spiritual excommunication; others see the refusal to go up and insist on the Jewish right to pray at the site as a deviation from Torah law.
In spite of all the perceived difficulties, the Temple Institute would, if it could, hasten the Coming of the Messiah. This does not set the Temple Institute apart from the generations of Israel that have preceded it.

Abq Jew must also emphasize that he has it on the highest authority (never having met or spoken with Rabbi Richman) that Rabbi Richman is a great guy, a terrific speaker, a true mensch who does many, many good things.

Come and listen! Think about what you hear!

And - in case you were wondering - Abq Jew knows exactly where the Messiah is at this exact moment - although he, all Israel, and indeed, the whole world still do not know when he will undertake his sacred mission.  From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a:
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asked Elijah, "When will the Messiah come?" "Go and ask him himself." "Where is he sitting?" "At the gates of Rome." "What will identify him?" "He is sitting among the poor lepers. While all of them untie all their bandages at once, and re-bandage them together, the Messiah unties and re-bandages each bandage one-by-one, saying 'I might be needed, so I must not be delayed.'"
Speedily, dear G-d, in our days!

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