Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Holy Temple


[model of the Temple c. 66 CE from Israel Museum, Jerusalem]

This coming Saturday, Jews will read Leviticus 21:1-24:23 in the synagogue. The book of Leviticus deals primarily with the sacrifices, which were initially brought in the Tabernacle and later brought in the Temple.

The Temple was located in Jerusalem, the center of Palestine, the Jewish homeland. Palestine itself is located at the intersection of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, at the crossroads of the Old World. The Temple was intended to be a spiritual center for all of mankind, Isaiah 56:7.

The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 CE, and today its memory seems very distant, however for centuries it was the center of Judaism and large sections of the Torah and Talmud deal with its rituals.

The Temple served as a symbolic house for God. There was a table where bread was brought each week and an altar where incense was burned twice daily. There was a lamp, the menorah, visible to this day on the arch of Titus. It was lit each day. Lambs were burnt each day on the altar in front of the Temple. We demonstrated our love for God by symbolically feeding Him.

The Temple service was conducted with the greatest reverence. Only descendents of Aaron, the righteous elder brother of Moses, were allowed to be priests and they had to have no physical defects. They wore special dignified garments. They had to avoid any contact with anything considered to be unclean, for example certain dead animals. If they did have contact with unclean things, they had to wash in a pool of water before reentering the Temple. Likewise, anything having contact with the offerings had to be ritually clean. This all emphasized the great reverence which we have for God.

Today, we mourn for the loss of the Temple each year on the anniversary of its destruction. We pray daily for its restoration. We still study the sections of the Torah and Talmud which describe in great detail all of its rituals. The Temple is still very much a part of Jewish life.

In addition to this, the synagogue today substitutes for the ancient Temple. The daily prayers substitute for the sacrifices. Although lacking the level of sanctity of the Temple itself, we must nevertheless be conscious of the great awe and reverence which we must have in God’s House today.

21 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

Just out of curiosity, why do you refer to Israel as "Palestine," a name given to the land by the Roman conquerors who destroyed the Beis HaMikdash?

Why not Israel? Or, if that's too unpalatable, how about Eretz Yisroel?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

It was called Palestine when the Temple was there.

BrooklynWolf said...

Only part of the time. And it was called Eretz Yisroel then too.

Again, why do you insist on using a name our conquerors forced on us rather than a name that is in use today or one that is used all over the Torah?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

This blog is in English.

BrooklynWolf said...

Fine. Can I offer Judea as an alternative then? It was called that as well... and that name is far more Jewish than Palestine.

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

Call it whatever works for you.

BrooklynWolf said...

I know what works for me. I was just curious why *you* chose to use the name when there are many other Jewish alternatives to use.

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

Because that's what I meant.

Palestine is a name which has been widely used since Roman times to refer to the region that was earlier called Canaan, which spreads between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In its broader meaning as a geographical term, Palestine can refer to an area that includes contemporary Israel and the Palestinian territories, parts of Jordan, and parts of Lebanon and Syria. In its narrow meaning, it refers to the area within the boundaries of the former British Mandate of Palestine (1920-1948) west of the Jordan River.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine

The Temple was located in Jerusalem, the center of Palestine.

DrJ said...

From your dogmatic statements and illogical arguments, it is obvious that you are in reality a closet atheist and use these blog entries to cover it up.

I suspected this before, but now it is clear. By bringing up the most convincing evidence for agnosticism and Darwinism, then summarily waving them off, you can no longer conceal that you believe what is clear to us all.

It is like a closet homosexual who acts like a homophobe.

There is no other explanation.

Welcome to the club!

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, this is going a little bit off the topic of this post. However, actually, I see something else going on.

The "Jewish skeptic" blogs don't sound like intelligent critiques of Judaism or religion, but rather they sound like a bunch of teenagers who are mad at their rabbis for not letting them have a girlfriend or for making them get up early every morning to go to services. The IQ of these bloggers seems to be on the borderline retarded level.

Maybe these blogs are being secretly written by rabbis who are trying to discredit atheism?? Who knows; after all they are all anonymous.

jewish philosopher said...

"Welcome to the club!"

I didn't know you were a closet homosexual. That explains a lot.

DrJ said...

Don't tell my wife and girfriends (remember that we're whoremongers)

jewish philosopher said...

Until you're ready to come out, that's fine.

Garnel Ironheart said...

JP, your history needs work.

The land of Israel was called Yehudah in Hebrew (Judah in English) and Judaea in Latin. Hence the coin minted in Rome after the destruction of our Temple (may it speedily be rebuilt) which carried the label "Judaea capta".

The name Palestine is the Latin form of Philistine. The Romans purposefully renamed the province after a non-existent people to sever the Jewish connection with the land.

Therefore the land was never called Palestine while the Temple stood and should be avoided.

jewish philosopher said...

It's called Palestine now.

BrooklynWolf said...

JP,

Stop flip-flopping. When I pressed you on the issue, you rejected the usage of Israel (which is the present usage) in favor of what (you claimed) was used then.

Now that you're pressed on that, you're going back and relying on what's used now. If that's the case, then "Israel" is the correct terminology, not "Palestine."

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

How about "the Levant"? Or "Israel and the Palestinian territories"?

Shalmo said...

The Jewish people are never getting that temple back. You lost it the second you lost favour with God. Remember your sinat chinam led to your exile.

Should the jewish people even consider so much as scratching the Al-Aqsa mosque, well then let me assure you there won't be much of a jewish people once we reduce Israel to ash and cinder.

You have been warned!

jewish philosopher said...

Wow.

Ploni Almoni said...

JP, why was the Temple destroyed, according to Chazal and the gedolim? Maybe you don't know...

jewish philosopher said...

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2007/12/good-hatred.html