Isn’t the dream of a rebuilt Temple now outmoded even for religious Jews? Isn’t this
old dream only a source of trouble in today’s world?
The dream of a rebuilt Temple, which Jews have held fervently for two millennia
and express still in daily prayers, was never about a building, but rather about
the core Jewish mission to manifest the One God to the world. This was in fact the
key purpose of the First Temple, as recorded biblically in words of consecration
by King Solomon and later reiterated in many prophetic verses.
After the Temple's destruction by the Roman Empire, the body of Judaism was carried
on by the rabbinic method, in which study was central. But the soul of Judaism,
the role of Jews to bear witness to the One God, was carried on through the dream
of a rebuilt temple. Although an evil empire, Rome, held seemingly absolute power
at that time, this dream expressed the radical belief that one day, God would again
be triumphant upon earth, and that the ways of moral behavior that bear witness
to God would again reign supreme. The Jewish people and the world need to keep this
dream alive and fervent now more than ever.
But even given that the Temple dream is important and relevant today, doesn’t raising
this issue just increase the potential for conflict in this troubled region of the
The world pretends now that this issue isn’t important, but in fact Middle-East
peace accords have repeatedly failed in large part because of lack of ability to
achieve resolution concerning the Temple Mount. Ignoring longstanding Jewish dreams
of a rebuilt Temple and fears by Muslims that this dream could someday jeopardize
the status of the Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount, is a form of denial that
proved to be unhelpful again and again. What is exciting is that when we stop avoiding
Temple Mount issue based upon dark assumptions about inevitable conflict, and instead
bring the light of deep religious study to this subject, we find that this is not
a problem, but in fact a wonderful opportunity for world redemption.
These are noble thoughts, but in fact, according to Jewish law, isn’t it true that
a rebuilt Temple must be at the spot of the Dome of the Rock? Isn’t the dream of
a rebuilt Temple in fact a problem that is unsolvable and therefore best avoided?
In the paper, the Role
of the Prophet, as published in Tehumin, the
leading halachic periodical in Israel (Frankel, Y., (2007). The Authority of the
Prophet to Determine the Location of the Temple. Tehumin (27), Alon Shevut: Machon
Zomet) it is shown that according to halachah (Jewish law), a prophet would have
the authority to specify the spot on Mount Moriah at which the Temple should be
rebuilt. Due to God-inspired developments in history since the Second Temple was
destroyed, as summarized in the quote below by Maimonides, it is conceivable that
God could communicate through a prophet a location for a rebuilt Temple different
than the spot assumed by strong tradition for the Temple site. A halachic review
strongly indicates that a prophet would have the authority to make such a ruling.
But even if a spot in proximity to Islamic Shrines and Christian Churches were halachically
possible, why would Jews wish to compromise the sacred character of the Temple by
proximity to these shrines of other religions?
A key purpose of the Temple, from the words of King Solomon at the First Temple's
dedication to the words of the prophets and so many other Jewish sources in the
Talmud and later, has always been to manifest the One God to the entire world—"a
house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:7). Talmud and history both record the
active participation of non-Jews in the rites of the Temple. Proximity to shrines
of Islam and Christianity that draw millions of visitors annually fulfills the mandate
of the Temple to bear witness to the One God to the entire world. The vision proposed
is not a compromise, but rather the radical fulfillment of the Jewish mission and
the role of the Temple, as well as a core tenet of both Islam and Christianity,
to bear witness to the One God and to fulfill the prophecy, “On that day will God
be One and his Name One.”
But even given the role of the Temple to bear universal witness to the One God, why
would this justify in particular its proximity to Islamic and Christian shrines?
Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish sages of all time wrote (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot
Melachim 11:4), "And all these things of Jesus, and [Mohammed] that came after him,
are not but to carve the way for the king messiah and to direct the entire world
to worship god together, as said, "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language,
that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent"
(Zephaniah 3:9). These religions, according to Maimonides, are part of God's plan
toward the transformation to a world in which all will worship the One God together
A rebuilt Temple in peaceful proximity to Islamic and Christian shrines would hasten
a transformation of these religions towards this goal. At the same time, an equally
profound transformation would occur within Judaism toward focus on the Jewish calling
to transform the world through the message of the One God.
The quote above implies that Jews, Muslims and Christians throughout history have
all had a connection to the One God. We have all in part not lived up to the full
potential of that connection. The peaceful proximity of a rebuilt Temple, Islamic
shrines and Christian Churches will lead to the profound transformation in all three
religions toward worship of the One God and toward the triumph of the One God on
The ideas expressed here are noble and idealistic, and may perhaps be applicable
in future times, but isn’t it the reality of today’s world that Jews, Muslims and
Christians each have specific directives from their respective religions that put
them inevitably in conflict?
The Roman Empire was a master at fomenting conflict between different groups of
people (“divide and conquer”) as a diversion from its ways of extortion that victimized
all. The Roman Empire, after killing thousands of Jews and Christians, accepted
Christianity as the state religion but then disregarded the teachings of Jesus with
lip service while setting Christian against Jew and continuing its ways of extortion
and murder. Descendents of the Roman Empire carried on this vicious heritage, in
the name of Jesus, by killing thousands of Muslims during the crusades. The Roman
Empire destroyed the Second Temple, as Jew fought Jew, and left a legacy of destruction
and conflict for the Temple Mount.
It is time that we stopped carrying on the ways of the Roman Empire that persecuted
us all and set us against each other, and instead return to the ways of the One
true God at the core of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It is time to reject the
ways of destruction and division and to transform the Temple Mount into a place
that radically fulfills the teachings of all three religions to worship the One
God together in peace.
Why involve non-Jews in this discussion?
The Temple was meant to serve the whole world, not just Jews. Therefore, the destruction
of the Temple was a great loss for all, as recounted in the Talmud. Sharing in common
discussion of the dream for a rebuilt Temple in some small way can fill the gap
of that loss for the entire world, and can help all the world's peoples, Jews and
non-Jews, turn our hearts toward the time in which God will again be triumphant
on earth and all the world will worship the One God together.
Would a rebuilt Temple according to the proposed vision reinstate animal sacrifice?
Jewish commentators, in fact, are divided as to whether such practices would resume
in a rebuilt Temple. However, it is clear that the central role of the Temple was
always to manifest the One God for the entire world, and this would be the main
function of a rebuilt Temple as it was for the first and second temples.
What are you really trying to accomplish?
As observant Jews, it is halachically commendable to study the Temple, and this
vision and study is a way to fulfill this command. The mission of the Jewish people
is to bring the knowledge of the One God to the entire world, and we hope by proposing
this vision for the future Temple Mount to be true to our calling as Jews. We believe
that dark assumptions that grow in the absence of serious discussion of the future
of the Temple Mount are destructive. On the other hand, we believe that close religious
study of this subject by Jews, Muslims, Christians and others brings the realization
that this is not a problem, but rather an opportunity toward world redemption, to
fulfillment of the prophecy, “On that day God will be One and His Name One.” We
humbly offer this vision for study, with the hope that, should it become clear through
the worlds of a prophet that this is the will of God, that this vision will be realized