- The re-established "Sanhedrin" convened to
hold its monthly meeting this week, with
- the question of the Holy Temple's precise location the
main topic on the agenda.
- The recently re-established Sanhedrin - ideally, Judaism's
top legal assembly - of
- 71 rabbis and scholars also moved to solidify logistical
aspects of the body.
- The Sanhedrin heard expert testimony on the various opinions
as to the exact part of
- the Temple Mount upon which the Holy Temple stood. The
fact that there has never
- been an archaeological expedition or dig on the Temple
Mount, coupled with
- continuous Muslim efforts to destroy historical evidence
of the Holy Temple at the
- site, have made determining the exact location difficult.
- Identifying the spot on which the Temple stood is a matter
of controversy among
- scholars, and has serious ramifications for those wishing
to visit the Temple Mount.
- It is also critical for the renewal of the Passover sacrifice,
and ultimately for
- the building of the third and final Holy Temple. While
numerous opinions have been
- expressed throughout the years, and while several of
them were expressed at the
- Sanhedrin gathering this week, the two main opinions
state that the Temple stood
- either on the spot currently occupied by the gold-topped
Dome of the Rock, or just
- to the north of that spot. An opinion that the Temple
stood south of that spot,
- approximately behind the present-day Western Wall, was
also presented - though most
- scholars basically discount it.
- The opinion that it is impossible to determine the site
of the Temple without
- prophecy was also presented.
- Currently, observant Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount
undergo strict preparations
- in accordance with halakhah (Jewish law), including -
but not limited to - immersion
- in a mikveh (ritual bath) prior to ascending the Mount.
Once on the Mount, they
- adhere to a specific route, based upon the accepted positions
- authorities. (A map of the permitted area reflecting
the most central and
- widely-accepted route can be viewed by clicking here).
- The opinions were delivered by rabbis, professors and
archaeologists, all experts in
- the matter of the Temple Mount. A final presentation
on the matter will be given to
- the Sanhedrin by a subcommittee now in formation. The
subcommittee will thoroughly
- examine the various opinions, and present its findings
to the Sanhedrin, which is
- then to make a decision on whether the site can be determined.
- The founders of the new Sanhedrin stress that they are
merely fulfilling a Biblical
- mitzvah (obligation). "It is a special mitzvah ,
based on our presence in Israel, to
- establish a Sanhedrin," Rabbi Meir HaLevi, one of
the 71 members of the new
- Sanhedrin, has explained. "The Rambam [12th-century
Torah scholar Maimonides]
- describes the process exactly in the Mishnah Torah [his
seminal work codifying
- Jewish Law]. When he wrote it, there was no Sanhedrin,
and he therefore outlines the
- steps necessary to establish one."
- During Temple times, the 71 members of the Sanhedrin,
the center of Jewish
- jurisprudence, were seated in a semi-circle within a
special chamber in the
- courtyard of the Temple.
- AGADAH: The Gemara cites the verse in Shir ha'Shirim
(3:7-8) that states, "Behold,
- it is the bed of Shlomo, surrounded by sixty Giborim
(mighty men) of the mighty men
- of Israel. They all grasp the sword and are trained in
warfare; each man with his
- sword upon his thigh, [protecting] against the dread
of the nights." The Chachamim
- derive from this verse that a Dayan, when issuing a ruling,
should be as fearful as
- though a sword is placed beneath him between his legs
and Gehinom is below him.
- THE VILNA GA'ON (ibid.) supports Rashi's interpretation.
He explains that when
- Sanhedrin sat, ten (of the most important members) sat
in the middle of the group,
- and they were surrounded by the other sixty. These are
the "sixty mighty men
- *around* the bed of Shlomo. (The ten in the middle correspond
to the seven "Ro'ei
- Pnei ha'Melech" and three "Shomrei ha'Saf,"
who are closest to the king, in a king's
- court -- and in the king of king's court -- see Megilah
23a. The verse in II
- Melachem 25:19, which associates these authoritative
members of the king's court
- with sixty other men, is discussing the members of the
- "It is appropriate that the Sanhedrin convened to
discuss this lofty matter [of the
- Temple's location] this week," Sanhedrin spokesman
Rabbi Chaim Richman told
- Arutz-7's Ezra HaLevi, "as the Torah portion is
Terumah - the portion of the Bible
- which begins to deal with the preparations for the Tabernacle.
- esoteric, the preparations for building a Tabernacle
and the Temple are at the
- center of who we are as a people."
- Richman also said that it was heartening to see that
despite talk of withdrawal from
- parts of the Land of Israel, and despite Prime Minister
Sharon's declaration that
- Israel has "given up its dreams," the Sanhedrin
continues to move toward
- strengthening the nation of Israel. "As all these
things happen all around us,"
- Rabbi Richman said, "the Sanhedrin is researching
ways to renew the deepest roots of
- our faith - to renew Temple service, reunite Jewish legal
tradition and inspire the
- Jewish people to aspire to greatness. Our people have
one path before us, and we
- will continue to march toward our destiny."
- Sanhedrin member Rabbi Yisrael Ariel - former Yeshiva
head, founder of the Temple
- Institute, and one of the paratroopers who took part
in the 1967 liberation of the
- Temple Mount - said:
- "People today ask, 'Who are we in this generation
to even consider building the
- Temple?' But in this week's Torah portion we see that
the commandment to build a
- Temple was given to Jews who had just sinned and committed
idolatry in the Sin of
- the Golden Calf. The fact is that what G-d requires in
this world is for regular
- people to do their best. That is what we are trying to