Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Real Holy Spot

While speaking with a prominent and wise Rav the other day, the topic of the Kosel came up and he shared an interesting insight with me.  He pointed out that the Kosel, as important as we all perceive to be, is not a real holy site.  Rather it's the elevated piece of ground beyond that is the actual prime spiritual real estate, the Temple Mount.
Now let's leave aside the argument over the permissibility of going up the Har HaBayis.  As this Rav noted, and I agree, we seem to have forgotten that the Kosel isn't the centre of Jewish world but a poor substitute because of the current occupants beyond.  We shouldn't see praying at the Kosel as an end unto itself but as an expression of the desire to one day prostate ourselves before the Shechinah in a rebuilt Temple (may it occur speedily in our day).
Yet habit and time seem to have robbed us of this awareness.  Consciously or not, we don't see Har HaBayis as the place prayers need to be offered from.  That belongs to "them" while we have the Kosel.  That's good enough.  Or is it?
This is what makes all the kerfuffle caused by the Women of the Wall so absurd.  They show up at the Kosel plaza dressed to instigate.  They succeed in getting the attention they want and then they shout that the Kosel isn't a Chareidi synagogue, that they too have the right to worship as they see fit, and so on.  And no one points out that while the Kosel isn't a Chareidi synagogue it's also not a synagogue in any sense of the word.  It's the one remnant of the outer wall of the Second Temple.  When that Temple was standing no one stood at its base tearfully offering prayers.
What's even more ironic is that, were the Temple to be rebuilt tomorrow, it would reinstitute worship that would be extremely class and gender segregated.  Women would be restricted to a small part of the Har HaBayis.  Non-Kohanim would also be limited in their movements and imagine the guards checking for one's tumah status.  For all their screaming about an inclusive Judaism that respects everyone, we would finally know that Torah worship is, in fact, very formal and rigid on what it allows.
Why is all this important to mention now?  As the Israeli election campaign careens to a close the story has broken that a candidate for Bayit Yehudi has been caught on video saying that he thinks it would be great if the Dome of the Rock were to be blown up.
The Tzipi Livni Party announced Saturday that it planned to request from the Central Elections Committee that a Bayit Yehudi candidate, who spoke of the Dome of the Rock being “blown up” in a video clip, be disqualified from running in Tuesday’s election.

The clip, which was first revealed by Channel 2, shows the 14th candidate on the Bayit Yehudi list, Atlantanative Jeremy Gimpel, addressing a group of Christian Zionists in Florida in November 2011. Gimpel states in the clip, “Imagine today if the golden dome, I’m being recorded so I can’t say blown up, but let’s say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the Temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine what would be? None of you would be here. You would be going to Israel. It would be incredible.”
Well you know what?  I also think it would be great.  I have no plans to make it happen.  I would oppose anyone who said they intended to make it come about.  I am sure we as a people are not ready for it and the needless bloodshed that would follow such an event would be incredibly tragic.  Having said that, yes I don't think the Dome belongs there.  I don't like that it's a non-Jewish place of worship.  I would much rather have a Temple there run by the right people acting as a central source of identity and unity to our nation.  I don't think that's anything to be ashamed about.  It's certainly not racist because the identity of the occupants of Har HaBayis is irrelevant.  It is our property, our spiritual centre and we belong there.   Frankly, what frum Jew wouldn't think that?
We need to remember the bigger picture, we need to remember the goal of history and we need to be as possessive of our property as other people pretend to be of it.

10 comments:

LTC said...

How do you know what the worship would be like in a re-built Beit Hamikdash in modern times? Would we reinstitute sacrifice? Not all sages even agree to that?

Would women play different roles?

You have no idea. No one does.

It would behoove us to stop denigrating women who feel an attachement to Judaism, yet feel shut out. It's simply too easy to cast them aside with the label "agitators."

Anonymous said...

In my ideal world, the word "kerfuffle" will be launched into deep space forever.

JRKmommy said...

Presumably, if the Har Habayit was rebuilt, it would happen because Moshiach (Messiah) had arrived. If that was the case, a whole lot of other things would be happening as well, which could have an impact on resumption of services after a 2,000 year hiatus. As if a massive war followed by eternal peace, and the raising of the dead weren't enough, there is also a teaching that I heard via Chabad that in the days of Moshiach, the feminine will dominate the masculine. [See http://rabbifinman.com/eparshap2.html or http://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380541/jewish/Kabbala-Redemption-and-Femininity.htm]. I imagine that all of this could affect seating arrangements.

Adam Goldberg said...

The phenomenon you mention is known as "nekeivah tesoveiv gever" See this for more information: http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/28208/

moshe moshel said...

The women at the wall will do teshuva whem moshiach comes as well.

Mr. Cohen said...

How can we merit to rebuild the Temple, if we fail to treat our synagogues with proper respect?

Friar Yid said...

The problem with the idea of rebuilding the Third Temple (aside from the reaction of the Muslims) is that nothing the Jewish people has shown lately suggests they are capable of dealing with such an event.

I know the Women of the Wall aren't the main focus of this post, but regardless of what you think about them, their motives, or their form of protest, the fact that they continue to do it really just illustrates my point. One of the biggest reason WoW keep coming to the wall is the reaction they get. And what kind of reaction? One that, by any standard, is absolutely shameful and which reflects incredibly poorly on anyone who considers themselves a religious Jew.

Everywhere you look our people are fractured, divided, defensive, intolerant, and a lot of the time, just plain old mean. Whether it's politics, halacha, culture, geography, many of our default modes is to treat them like crap, whether in person or online.

So frankly, even if I actually wanted a Temple, even if I actually wanted to bring back korbanot, and even if I didn't think the people behind all these projects to "set up" Temple systems as soon as the Messiah magically restores it were borderline nuts, I still wouldn't think it is remotely a good idea for us anytime soon. If we can't deal with sharing a wall, if we can't deal share a street, a bus, or online communities with each other, we certainly aren't ready to try re-centralizing Judaism again around an actual Temple with priests and sacrifices. We can't agree on which rabbis to listen to, but somehow we're going to get a consensus on a High Priest?

There is no "right people." The people are us. And assuming we ever had a group of "right people" (as opposed to people who were merely in charge), we haven't had them for a while.

There are lots of reasons we shouldn't have the Temple. One is that we're not ready. But another may be that we don't deserve it. Not yet.

ZP said...

"we seem to have forgotten that the Kosel isn't the centre of Jewish world but a poor substitute because of the current occupants beyond.

We seem to have forgotten that we are also in galut.

And who is to say which part will the women have and what size it will be? The gemara even discusses the different options it tried to see what work. When Mashiach comes will we go to the level before Adam and Chava, where women wont have the punishement from Chava? Or just pre-destruction? Who knows? bs"D we will find out soon, hopefully with peace.

Atheodox Jew said...

Tefillah bimkom korban was the one silver lining of the horrific churban/destruction. It was time to transition out of modes of worship used in the ancient world, and to adopt prayer as the more modern way to worship.

As far as the future, we'd be nuts to restore sacrifice. It ain't the Bronze Age anymore. IMO, if we want to truly evolve, we need to transition out of prayer as well, or any "worship" whatsoever.

That's my only quibble with the WoW people. They should thank God for being excluded from such idle worship! (Yes, idle - though "idol" may apply too.)

chaim b. said...

We missed a tremendous opportunity in 1967 to take full control over Har HaBayis. We had the upper hand and could have done it.