Monday, April 14, 2014
The School for Temple Priests
In my article entitled “Jerusalem’s Third Temple,” I said, “Jews regard the site of their former Temples as polluted. Since the Temple area is unclean, it is off limits to Orthodox Jews. Even if the two Muslim shrines were eliminated, currently there is no priesthood in Israel and hence no one qualified to cleanse the Temple Mount."
In my sequel article, I introduced readers to Rabbi Richman, international director of the Temple Institute. In September, 2013, he announced that the Institute had priests who were ready to serve in the Third Temple.
The last article of the trilogy, entitled “The Lost Ashes of the Red Heifer,” discussed the paramount importance of the original ashes not only to the purification of priests in Israel but to the cleansing of Temple Mount and ultimately the building of the Third Temple. A publication from the Temple Institute stated, “In our own times, the commandment of the red heifer takes on more and more significance. For without it, the Divine service of the Holy Temple cannot be resumed...Perhaps it would be difficult for some to believe that a cow could be so important. But in truth, the fate of the entire world depends on the red heifer. For God has ordained that its ashes alone are the single missing ingredient for the reinstatement of Biblical purity – and thereafter, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.”
At sunset on Thursday, April 10, 2014, a re-enactment of the Passover sacrifice took place at the Maimonides Rabbinical Institution Plaza in Jerusalem. For the first time, the sacrifice was performed by students of a new School for Priests which began operations shortly after the start of 2014. Ten students paid $290.00 tuition fees for three hour lessons, twice a week, which will teach them to be Temple priests. The director of the new school hopes enrolment will increase dramatically after the inaugural year. He estimates that a fully operational Temple would employ hundreds of priests. “The prayer to establish the Temple has no meaning if we don’t actually prepare for it. Think what would happen if tomorrow you got a functioning Temple and don’t have priests.”
However, the Al-Monitor article, which revealed the intriguing news, made no mention of the pre-requisites necessary to become Temple priests. Jews couldn’t just walk in off the street and register for classes. The Torah states emphatically that Jews serving in the Temple must fulfil specific conditions. Only direct descendents of Levi have the hereditary right to serve in the Temple and, more importantly, only direct descendents of Aaron have the hereditary right to serve as Levitical priests (Kohanim) and perform Temple sacrifices. And then there’s the question of the purification ritual.
There are two things for certain. The school for Temple priests is a fascinating idea and the movement aimed at building Jerusalem’s Third Temple is gaining momentum, and that’s exciting…