Thursday, April 17, 2014

An attempt to sacrifice a goat on the Temple Mount

There was violence again today on the Temple Mount today - clashes between Israeli police and young Palestinians (Police storm Temple Mount to disperse Palestinian riot). Surprisingly, once the "clashes subsided, the police allowed a number of groups of Jews onto the Temple Mount; hundreds of visitors were turned away." In the past clashes between the police and Palestinians on the Mount have led to its closure at least for that day, if not for several days thereafter.

A goat on the Temple Mount?

According to this Haaretz article, tensions have increased in the last several months, usually instigated by Jews "attempting to access the area in order to pray or demonstrate a Jewish presence." In fact, on Monday, the eve of Passover, "a group of right-wing Jews was detained while trying to bring a goat up to the Temple Mount. A few days earlier, a goat was sacrificed in the city's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood." As Haaretz reports, "Pesach is traditionally the most important holiday for the Temple renewal movements, and bringing a sacrifice to the Temple Mount on Passover has been one of their main aims, along the way to realizing their goal of renewing Jewish worship on the Temple Mount."

Two photos of the goat being brought into the city.

Photo from WND.
Photo by the Temple Movement, published by Arutz Sheva.

Video of the attempt to bring the goat up to the Temple Mount.

A change to the status quo?

Apparently, there are changes afoot on the Temple Mount - the Haaretz article says:
The Jerusalem police said in a statement that despite the violence, efforts are under way to develop the Temple Mount for visitors, and a few hundred people did visit the mount. "We could have closed it down ahead of time, but we did everything we could to allow visitors to enter,” a Jerusalem police official said.
I wonder what that means. "Develop the Temple Mount for visitors." Which visitors do they have in mind? Tourists? Tourists can already visit the Mount in the early mornings and afternoons. I've gone up with tour groups myself. Are they trying to "regularize" Jewish visits for prayer? The usual police objection to doing so is that it would cause clashes with Muslims. Has there been some kind of decision to change that calculus?

More on the goat

According to the Times of Israel, "Five Jewish Israelis were arrested Monday after allegedly attempting to sacrifice a goat at the Temple Mount in honor of the Passover holiday. The suspects were brought in to a nearby police station for further questioning. The goat was transferred to representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ynet reported."
In the Bible, a special ritual sacrifice is commanded on the Passover holiday and the custom was practiced by Jews during the First and Second Temple periods when their central shrine stood on the same site that today houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. However, most rabbinic authorities hold that the practice is forbidden nowadays.
In a Forward blog, Nathan Jeffay reports on the plans for the goat sacrifice in Kiryat Moshe -
In a few hours, in a yeshiva in the neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe, a religious non-profit will give a demonstration of the original Paschal service. Their slaughterer will kill a lamb as a choir sings of praise, and as a state veterinary inspector looks on. He will then sprinkle the blood as-per Biblical instruction. The lamb will be roasted and, as-per the Biblical procedure, everyone in attendance — men and women — will get a portion. The diners will include rabbis from a broad ideological spectrum within Orthodoxy. 
“Passover is not about matzo ball soup; it’s about the Passover offering,” Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute which is running the event, commented to Forward Thinking. 
Referring to the reams of rabbinic texts written on the Paschal sacrifice he said that is important, educationally, to give a more vivid insight in to what it looked like. “The logistics is a Jewish art discussed and clarified throughout the generations,” he said. 
He said that the slaughter is poignant, as lambs were considered sacred in the ancient world when the sacrifice was instituted. The ceremony is “literally to slaughter all of the idolatry in the entire world and stand up for what we believe in, namely one God,” said Richman.
The ceremony was presented as a demonstration of how the sacrifice would be offered, if it were currently permitted. They actually slaughtered the goat, but the rest of the ceremony was "as if." See the video below, which shows much of the ceremony.


  1. "a group of right-wing Jews" Funny how levels of Jewish religiosity are labelled according to a continuum which means nothing to a person of faith. To me all extremely religious persons are just that, extremely religious. Whether they are right -wing or Left-wing is quite irrelevant. Their defining quality is being inured to reason and very prone to extreme bias against other religions. Take this character, for example:

    He is unconditionally aligned with stupid "Left" ideologies that are predicated on his extremely religious pieties. Does he really care about Muslims or Palestinians? Only as far as they serve his religious sentiments which are very easily discerned in anything he writes on his blog.

    Jimmy Carter is another religious nutcase whose politics are inspired only by his Bible thumping obsessions. Does it matter that he is embracing Hamas in the service of his own pious beliefs? Really, what is the difference between him , the character I linked to above, and these extreme Jews whose love for the God of Israel provides them with the motivation to deny/defy centuries of rabbinical taboos?

    To my mind when these handful of Jews are labelled "Right wing" there is an implication that Right-wing Israeli Jews are all nuts and messianic and thus to be dismissed from any reasonable political discussion or treated with the typical derision reserved for Messianic persons. If you want an example how "right wing" and Messianic become synonymous in current journalistic punditry, I refer you to Peter Beinart and his coterie of ilks. What he does in this conflation is signal to his readers: Listen to what I say. Don't pay attention to anything religious, observant, secular Jews, Israelis or Netanyahu are telling you because they are all the same as these religious nuts you hear about and therefore irrational and should not be counted.

    This is beyond belief, from responsible people and we should try to call them out on this and not fall in with their tactics of fabricating meanings and terms. Remember Albert Camus who is reputed to have warned us about the danger of playing fast and loose with meanings:

    "Mal nommer les choses, c'est ajouter au malheur du monde' (Not to call things by their correct names is to add to the troubles of the world)"

  2. I agree. We should call a horse a horse because it is not an ass.