Secular Jews wouldn’t be opposed to paying these taxes when the day will come, he’s sure of it. “Just as the ultra-Orthodox pay taxes that go to the army,” he says. One thing is certain: The third temple will have cameras that will transmit what’s happening there to the whole world. The simulated sacrifice this Thursday can also be viewed online on the Temple Institute website.
Everything is ready, then, except two additional, small matters. The easy one, you’d be surprised, is the Ark of the Covenant. “The Second Temple didn’t have an ark, either,” Segel reminds me, and Friedman adds, “There are 10 studies about the location of the Ark of the Covenant. We read them and studied all of them, and reached the conclusion that the right answer is that it’s buried in the tunnels under the Temple Mount. When the day comes, we will get to it.”
The more problematic issue is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, which slightly impedes the architectural plans. “The temple will not be built through private acts and blowing up mosques,” emphasizes Segal. “That’s not the direction. The direction is changing consciousness. The preparations are mental more than anything.” One of the people involved in preparations, who requested anonymity, explains, “If not for the problem of the Dome of the Rock, they would build the temple today, and the temple would be built there. The third temple will be built by the government of Israel, not by private individuals. No one will do what shouldn’t be done, like an underground action to blow up the Dome of the Rock. The people who are committed to establishing the temple are normative and rational people, and just like we established the State of Israel, the day will come when we will build the temple, in an orderly, state-sanctioned manner.”
Segel notes that it can all start small: “The location of the altar where sacrifices are allowed on the Temple Mount is not within the bounds of Al-Aqsa,” he says, “so at least they should let us sacrifice on the Temple Mount.” But before any sacrifices take place there, much may have to change: Currently, the State of Israel doesn’t often authorize Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount, much less pray there.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly identified Shalem College as the location of this event. Al-Monitor regrets the error.]
Yuval Avivi, journalist and literary critic, is a columnist for the magazine "Firma" (of the Israeli economic daily "'Globes" group) and writes for "TimeOut Tel Aviv" magazine. He was previously deputy chief editor of the Israeli daily "Israel HaYom" weekend supplement.
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