Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Should the Performance of the Korban Pesach be Illegal in the Jewish State? (Judean Rose)

The Passover offering (Korban Pesach) was the central feature of the Passover holiday until the destruction of the Temple. Today, only a remnant of this important ritual remains, in the form of a roasted shank bone on the seder plate. The Passover seder, in fact, has replaced the Korban Pesach so that most of us are now unaware that the Passover sacrifice was ever more than an anecdote we reference at the Passover table. And yet, as sure as death and taxes, each year in the run-up to the Passover holiday, Arabs claim that Jews have stormed the Temple Mount to perform the Korban Pesach using the lie as an excuse to commit violent acts of terror against Israeli Jews. The media then trumpets the lies even as it sweeps the acts of terror under the rug.

It is not only the lies, the corruption of the media in repeating the lies, and the heartbreak of the resultant seasonal terror that rankle and disturb those of us who track these events. It’s the fact that the main reason we no longer perform the Korban Pesach is the desire to avoid offense to and prevent subsequent violence by Muslims—both local and abroad. For this reason, it is against Israeli law to make a Korban Pesach on the Temple Mount. This fact, in and of itself, is completely sickening to contemplate: that an important Jewish practice is outlawed in the Jewish State for fear of upsetting non-Jews in and outside of Israel. We are accused and attacked for an observance we do not observe.

Some Israeli Jews, however, are not content with waiting a further 2,000 years to perform the Korban Pesach. Raphael Morris, chairman of the Chozrim L’Har (Return to the Mount) movement, for example, has been attempting to perform the Korban Pesach for years on end. Every year he is arrested. “He goes to prison every year. It's a regular thing,” said his uncle by marriage, Edward Horowitz, a cardiologist.

Morris’ crime this year? A lamb was found in his home, deemed evidence of intent to perform the Korban Pesach. According to a report from Honenu, a legal aid organization that defends “Soldiers and civilians who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression, or due to their love for Israel,” Morris and three other activists were strip-searched and detained on Thursday and released late Friday afternoon, on the eve of Passover. “They were generous this year,” said Horowitz. “They let him out of prison for the seder.”

At the hearing, police submitted material from the Telegram channel of Raad Salah,
“who has consistently made threats in light of the activists' intentions to perform the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount. In reply to a question from Rom regarding the threats, the police representative answered that the police do not intend to investigate Salah about the matter.”

Honenu Attorney Nati Rom, representative for Morris and the other Chozrim L’Har activists, criticized the police over their handling of the incident:

"The Israel Police makes declarations that freedom of worship will be maintained for all religions. Unfortunately, that does not happen. Tens of thousands of inciters call for the destruction of the State of Israel and for violence on the Temple Mount, but when two people walk around with a young goat, they are illegally detained and humiliated.

"The Israel Police refused to answer our questions regarding threats to violence, and which sector poses them. In court, the police presented a post from the Telegram channel of Raad Salah, a terrorist, who threatened violence if the Passover sacrifice were performed. To my question of whether or not the police intended to investigate or detain Salah over his incitement to violence, the reply was 'no.’"

In a statement to the court, Raphael Morris said that, "every year, the State of Israel prevents Jews from performing the Passover sacrifice in its designated place on the Temple Mount. This is in addition to preventing Jewish worship on the Mount during the entire year. The police find various excuses for detaining Jews whose only fault is that they would like to fulfill the commandment of performing the Passover sacrifice according to Jewish law. Time after time, [the charges] are unceremoniously thrown out of court.”

Responding to a Jewish Press report stating that “The arrests came as the terror factions in the Gaza Strip threatened Wednesday to attack Israel if Jews arrive on the Temple Mount and ‘practice their provocative rituals in the courtyards of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,’” one reader remarked that “It's pretty likely people would have died as a result of their planned action, not to mention violation of Israeli law to start with. The Jewish Press' suggestion that Hamas and the Israeli Police are in cahoots may well violate Israeli laws against incitement and slander.”

These are perhaps valid points. The vast majority of Israelis, even those on the religious right, would not make the preparations necessary to perform the Korban Pesach even once, let alone year after year. At the same time, it is tragic that in the Jewish State, such is the state of things that preparing to perform an age-old Jewish ritual stands as an act of incitement. Especially since we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. The ritual is illegal and hasn’t happened in thousands of year, yet Muslims yearly claim that we have “defiled” the Mount with our sacrifices and dirty feet.

Why then, should Israel continue to maintain the status quo in regard to the Korban Pesach? The enemy slanders, smears, and kills us, even as we refrain from performing the very ritual they protest. Will terror victims somehow be deader if someone should slaughter a goat or a lamb on the Mount? "If there is concern that Arabs will riot following an attempt to perform the Passover sacrifice, says Honenu Attorney Itzhak Bam, the rioters should be dealt with. Those wishing to realize their right to freedom of religion should not be harassed."

And still, the law is the law, and not every Temple Mount activist agrees with violating that law to make a point. “Redemption Expediter” Josh Wander, Founder and Managing Director of Bring Them Home said, “I don’t believe getting arrested on Erev Pesach is a Mitzvah. On the other hand, there are many Jews, us included, who prepare sheep and goats before every Pesach and have everything ready hoping that the prime minister will finally allow us access to the Temple Mount to fulfill our religious obligation. The reenactment is for educational purposes and is done every year a week before Pesach.”

Asked about the relevance of the Korban Pesach now that the Temple no longer exists, Wander explained that it is a common misconception that the Korban Pesach cannot be performed in the absence of the Temple. “The Mishne in Ediyot clearly states that sacrifices can be brought without a mikdash and indeed that was what was done when Ezra returned from Bavel* until the second mikdash was built. The two concepts are interrelated, not interdependent,” said Wander.

Many believe that performing the Korban Pesach on the Temple Mount would usher in the Messiah. Wander calls this “another interrelated concept.” “I’m in the process of writing a book on the subject…all positive acts move the process forward,” said Wander. “Things that specifically deal with Geula (Redemption, V.E.) more so. But there actually is a tradition from the Vilna Gaon that the proper bringing of a sacrifice would immediately usher in the Geula.”

Through the ages, Jews have spoken of the resumption of the observance of the Korban Pesach. Some have even made elaborate plans to carry out the sacrifice on the Temple Mount. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank who was instrumental in the establishment the office of Chief Rabbinate of Israel and served as Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem for several decades, was rumored to have created a plan to perform the Korban Pesach on the Temple Mount, only to be stymied by his own death before the plan could be realized. According to an anecdote heard by this author, Rabbi Frank planned to convey everything needed for the Korban to the Temple Mount by helicopter, thus ushering in the Messiah and the Final Redemption.

Will Israel someday have a government willing to allow the Jewish people to once again perform the Passover offering? This seems a faraway dream. But then again the Jewish State of Israel was also once only a dream, a seemingly unattainable idea, and yet the desert blooms today, in our time.


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