Unholy mess brewing on the Temple Mount
It's been nearly 1,600 years since the Jewish religious tribunal has been convened in Israel. The present body of 71 rabbinical scholars, "composed largely of [Meir] Kahane sympathizers," according to The Jerusalem Post, was inaugurated last October 13, as the self-appointed senior authority on Jewish Law.
Issues on the table during last week's conclave in Jerusalem's Old City included restoring the Davidic monarchy, determining the precise location of the Temple altar ("determined through prophecy," reports the paper Arutz Sheva), and re-establishing the Temple sacrifices.
Perhaps surprisingly, designating an heir to the Throne of David may be the Sanhedrin's easiest task. Touted as a likely candidate for King of Israel is Rabbi Yosef Dayan, "known," says the Post, "for his recent threats to place a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon." Dayan is reported to have "two documented ancient sources which draw a direct line between him and the males in his family to King David," which apparently puts him ahead of the game.
Restoring Temple sacrifices is another matter. For one, there is the business of the Temple of the Mount to contend with. As the Post reports, some members of the Sanhedrin are thinking outside the box:
One of the ideas, members said, is to climb the Mount and build the altar within minutes and sacrifice the lamb before security forces can stop them. Another, said leading Sanhedrin member Baruch Ben-Yosef, is to pray for a tsunami-like disaster on the Mount.
"In one second, God wiped out 150,000 people," he said. "Who knows? Maybe he'll help us if we show him we are ready."
Yet, even with a providential disaster, one thing is lacking: the ashes of a red heifer, required for a rite of purification before entering the Temple. Well, actually ....
It can now be revealed that less than one month ago, a red heifer was born in Israel. After the heifer's owner contacted the Temple Institute, on Friday, April 5th, 2001, Rabbi Menachem Makover and Rabbi Chaim Richman traveled to the farm where the heifer is located, to inspect and validate her status. The rabbis found her to be kosher and were satisfied that this heifer could indeed be a candidate to be used in the process of purification described in the book of Numbers, chapter 19. This is a prerequisite for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.
Tradition records that a red heifer in our generation is a herald of the Messianic era. It is certainly an important development towards the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Our sages taught that Israel’s redemption can be compared to the dawn. "In the beginning, it progresses very slowly...but as it continues, it grows brighter and brighter."
Of course the minds obsessing about this - the Kahane-influenced Sanhedrin, and its far right religious constituency - are neither representative of Judaism nor of Israel. This is a fanatical minority of fundamentalist zealots hoping to fulfill their eschaton of a Messianic kingdom on Earth. While it may seem strange to us, you can bet their fundamentalist brethren in the Christian and Islamic camps can relate. Because doctrine aside, all fundamentalists view the end of the world as we know it as a good and necessary thing.
The world we knew is already receding into memory. And in the dusk of this new Dark Age, extremes of belief are being exploited by cynics, and worse, to cover a multitude of crimes, and to hide the true fragility of our condition until it's too late.
While most Jews, most Christians, most Muslims, most everybody abhor and eschew the harness of fundamentalist thinking, history is not driven by most of us. (Christian Dominionists sound hilarious, going on about the legal obligation for stoning disobedient children, until you realize their unaudited machines count America's votes.) As a rule, majorities are ruled. It's the fanatical few, at whom we may laugh one day and cower before the next, who are history's engine. It's a minority of single-minded maniacs who can take a holy place and make an unholy mess.