Does God exist in a temple

The third temple of Jerusalem

Ten men stand in a circle, singing and dancing. They wear crocheted kepis - the unmistakable sign of their origins: They are national religious Israelis - nationalists and pious Jews at the same time. There would actually be nothing spectacular about this if this scene did not take place on the Haram Al-Sharif, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The visit of the men with the crocheted kepis is a provocation for Muslims all over the world - and for the Palestinian Muslims who watch the dancing Israelis this Wednesday morning. They are under the protection of you, the Israeli police. The tension between Jews and Muslims, between Israelis and Arabs, even between Occident and Orient, is nowhere more palpable than here. Because the "Haram Al-Sharif", the "noble sanctuary" of the Muslims, the Dome of the Rock with its golden dome and the Al-Aqsa Mosque have been located exactly where the Israelite temple stood until 70 AD for 1300 years .

The number of Jewish-Israeli visitors to the Temple Mount has increased over the past decade. The pious nationalists now push the mountain every day, in small groups. They circle the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock and claim the Jewish claim to the sanctuary.

The State of Israel today respects the sovereignty of Muslims over the Temple Mount. In the Six Day War in 1967, the Israeli troops captured East Jerusalem, and with it the old town and the sanctuary. But hours later, the army command left the third holiest site in Islam to the Muslims again. The Jews were left with the so-called "Wailing Wall", which is called "Western Wall" in Israel, the western outer wall of the temple. 60 meters of the beige limestone wall are accessible to everyone for prayer. Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, calls this place "the largest synagogue of the Jewish people".

"Solomon says: God will also hear the prayer of the Gentile who comes from a distant land and does not live in the land of Israel and who comes to this place. And God answered him: I have heard your prayer that my eyes should be open to this place day and night. Here I listen, here I listen. And my eyes and my heart should open every day, whether the temple is standing or is destroyed. And therefore this place is the largest synagogue of the Jewish people, the place that our fathers dreamed of - and we managed to be here. "

The western wall measures 488 meters. It is especially sacred to the Jews because it is closest to the Holy of Holies in the earlier temple.

Since 1996 tourists have been able to walk along the entire western wall, along the huge, meter-high stone blocks - through a tunnel. The stone blocks are evidence of one of the greatest building projects of antiquity. Herod, king of the Roman province of Judea, had the temple built during Jesus' lifetime. The archaeologist Dieter Vieweger, director of the German Evangelical Institute for Classical Studies in Jerusalem on the gigantic work of Herod and his subjects:

"He just has to build a large, in the Roman world also visible and - oh - great temple. And he built it during his lifetime, and of course it was full of glamor. For this the whole temple environment is founded even better, the temple area is set higher. The walls that can still be seen today have survived every earthquake unscathed for two millennia. Engineering and technical achievement to put something like this on this uneven terrain in Jerusalem - a great temple. And it will be destroyed in the year 70. "

National religious groups want to rebuild this temple of Herod, which the Romans destroyed. They call themselves "Movement for the Establishment of the Sanctuary", "Friends of the Temple", "Crown of Priests", "The Priestly Guards" and the like. Some of them run Talmud schools and synagogues in the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. About 20 organizations are pursuing the same goal. For them, the Zionist mission is not completed with the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel, but only when the temple is back. The best known and largest of these groups is the "Movement of the Faithful of the Temple Mount". Its founder and leader is Gershon Salomon, a 69-year-old thin man with a gray mustache. Shortly before the Six Day War, he was injured as a soldier on the border with Syria. Since then he has been walking on a crutch. Still, Solomon was there when the Israeli army captured the Temple Mount on June 7, 1967. For Gershon Salomon it was a religious experience.

"I drove up to the Temple Mount in the jeep, over the Lion Gate in the north of the Temple Mount. And I stand there with tears in my eyes on the day of liberation. Not just me - I think that the whole people of Israel wept, that we returned to the Temple Mount and when it heard the commander Motta Gur - on the radio, back then there was no television: 'The Temple Mount is in our hands again'. "

"The Temple Mount is in our hands."

With his religious pathos, Gershon Salomon is not only successful among national religious Israelis. Evangelical Christians are also fascinated by his message. They interpret the construction of the third temple as a sign of the return of Christ. So Salomon travels to the United States every year and collects donations - from Jews and Christians. He asks for support for "our holy divine campaign and for the battle for the liberation of the Temple Mount," it says on Solomon's website. On Jerusalem Day in spring and on the great Jewish festivals, the "faithful of the Temple Mount" demonstrate for their project, and they have tried several times to lay the foundation stone for the third temple on today's Haram Al-Sharif. For the time being, Solomon and his followers had to put a five-ton stone in front of the gates of the old city of Jerusalem and put a plaque next to it. The last time they tried in May 2009 was to bring a 13-ton stone block onto the Temple Mount as a cornerstone. The Israeli police also prevented this attempt.

"Unfortunately there are still Jews among us, Israelis, who are blind to seeing the voice of God and hearing what he is doing to the people of Israel today. What do you think? That God brought the people of Israel back to Jerusalem, to the Temple Mount to pay a visit there, like tourists, and then go home the way it is today? He brought it back there to build the temple. Not only for the people of Israel, he brought them into the land Bring Israel back to a Jewish state and to the building of the temple, so that the people of Israel may fulfill their mission for the whole world. "

Anyone who wants to get to know the spirit of the Israeli national religious can orientate themselves in the program of the private radio station "Arutz Scheva", "Channel Seven", or take a look at his website. Here you can find all information about the temple friends - about demonstrations under the motto "The Temple Mount belongs to the Jews", about visits by right-wing politicians and a group of 43 rabbis on the Temple Mount. Films that can be seen on the Internet on "Arutz Scheva" begin with advertising.

"Are you visiting Israel? Learn to shoot with Israeli top anti-terrorism experts. We offer an action package with a two-hour practical exercise for groups, families and individual travelers."

For the national religious milieu of the settlers in the West Bank, such advertising is something very common - just like the firm conviction that the third temple will still be standing during the lifetime of their generation. Levi Chazan belongs to this milieu. In 2002 he co-founded the "Academy for the Third Temple". Chazan, a man in his early forties, was born in the United States and immigrated to Israel. He has a blonde beard and a brown crochet kippah on his head. Chazan suggested a Talmud school in the Orthodox Quarter of Jerusalem, in Mea Shearim, as a meeting place. The school was founded by the Israeli right-wing extremist Meir Kahane.

"Today I was on the Temple Mount. If you had come there with me ten years ago - how many Jews went to the Temple Mount then? How great was the interest in the people of Israel? Not worth mentioning. Two or three came. Today there are hundreds, even thousands of Jews a month who go to the Temple Mount. Not to the Western Wall, but really on top of the Temple Mount. It goes very slowly, but gradually the people of Israel wake up If you have the strength to do something, you can't stop it. "

The "Academy for the Third Temple" is to be built in the middle of the Judean desert, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. In an open field next to the Israeli settlement of Mitzpeh Jericho, halfway between Jerusalem and Jericho, remains of the first construction work from October 2009 can be seen. Here, too, Levi Chazan and friends laid a foundation stone. A wide field, about a hundred by a hundred meters, has already been leveled. Only the wooden frame for the concrete foundation of an altar is still there. A black plastic tarpaulin hangs over it, next to it an empty construction sign. This is the place where future priests and Levites should learn their craft.

According to a tradition that goes back thousands of years, only Jews with the surname “Cohen” - which means “priest” - should be trained as priests. Whoever is called "Levi" can become a Levite and is therefore responsible for singing and music and for guarding the temple building.

"At school we will first build the altar. Then we will first have a model of what the altar looked like in the temple. Then we will teach men with the surname Cohen, where the sacrificial blood, wine and water sprinkled on the altar All of these things must be seen and learned, and then they are ready for temple service. "

The building that Levi Chazan and his friends want to build in the Judean Desert should look like the temple of Herod: a surrounding wall in the form of a rectangle, on the west side a 50-meter-high building block with four monumental columns, in front of which the large one Burnt altar, 16 by 16 meters in size and ten meters high, with side buildings, colonnades, courtyards. Levi Chazan and the men from the "Academy for the Third Temple" want to build a kind of Potemkin village. Inside the building, priests and Levites are only supposed to be trained. The actual temple service is to take place later in the new Jerusalem temple itself.

Schmuel Rabinowitz has his office above the forecourt of the Western Wall, where believers and tourists crowd. Let us ask him, one of the highest rabbinical authorities in Israel, what he thinks of the attempts by the national religious to rebuild the temple.

"Of course my goal is that the third temple is built. How do you do that? In prayer, in dreams, in many requests to God. We will not build the temple. God will build it. It is written: 'Are in the fire You are gone, and in the fire your future will be built. ' The temple is going to come down from heaven. No one is going to do this, no one is going to bring it about, no leaders, no politicians, no rabbis and not the people of Israel. God will do that in his own way. And he will do it out of peace and not from destruction. "

Even if they wanted, Orthodox Jews were not allowed to rebuild their sanctuary, because according to rabbinical tradition all believers must clean themselves in a special ritual - with the ashes of a so-called "red cow". As long as these ashes are not available, Jews are not even allowed to enter the Temple Mount - according to Shmuel Rabinowitz.

Let's go once more to the Haram Al-Sharif, the noble shrine of the Muslims, in one of the side buildings. Yussuf Natsche is sitting there, a man in a white polo shirt who looks at the visitor both friendly and skeptical. Natsche is Head of Archeology and Tourism at Waqf, the Muslim Authority for the Holy Places in Jerusalem.

"The right-wing government actually supports the right-wing camp. That has encouraged them to visit the Haram. Think about how right-wing organizations are already preparing the reconstruction of the third temple. All of this worries the Muslim authorities and frightens the ordinary Palestinian people. They fear, that this is not a small group, but an effective group. And we take this opportunity to point out that tendency. "

Yussuf Natsche has observed an increase in visits by nationalist Israelis to the Temple Mount over the past two years. He cannot present exact figures on this.

In the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem, about 300 meters away from the Dome of the Rock, it becomes clear how serious the national religious groups are with their reconstruction plans. The so-called "Temple Institute" is located in a basement. It prepares the temple service down to the last detail. A group of 20 Christians from Puerto Rico are guests and listen to a museum guide. She points to an oil painting showing the large altar of burnt offerings in the future temple.

"All sacrifices were offered on the altar. In Hebrew, the word 'sacrifice' is derived from the word for 'near'. That means that the sacrifice is something that brings us closer to God."

In the showcases you can see the newly woven robes of the future high priest, his breastplate decorated with twelve precious stones, the copper washbasin in which he cleans himself, vessels for the libation, the cup to collect the blood of the sacrificial animal and cup and spoon for incense . The musical instruments for the Levites have long been finished and can be seen in this institute, the silver trumpets, the wooden harps and the ram's horn shofar.

Arab children in an alley of Jerusalem on their way home from school. The cheerful street noise, only a few meters away from the Temple Mount, can hide the seemingly indissoluble tension in the core of the city for a few minutes. - If the national religious in Israel should one day succeed in winning a majority for the temple reconstruction, then the country and the region are threatened with war. This war is still only waged with words. Levi Chazan of the "Academy for the Third Temple" justifies his regular visits to the Temple Mount.

"Of course the Arabs don't like that. Tourists don't bother them, but religious Jews do. They are very careful now that a religious Jew doesn't even open his mouth to pray there. They don't let Jews pray there because they have the power of prayer A Jew praying can open many doors in heaven. Of course that bothers them. But that's okay. Let it disturb them. Let them pack their bags and go where they belong. They have many countries, the Arabs . "