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    Rebuilding the Temple – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. When will the Temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem?

    Depiction of the Second Temple from a Haggadah, Amsterdam, 1695

    A. In 70 CE the Second Temple was destroyed, except for part of the surrounding wall – the Western Wall (Kotel Ma’aravi) which is the wall closest to the Holy of Holies.

    It is said that the Divine Presence, the Sh’chinah, has never departed from this wall.

    Grief over the Temple expressed itself in a variety of ways. The three daily services were timed as a reminder of Temple sacrifices; synagogue design emulated features of the Temple; and Jewish prayer yearned for the Temple to be rebuilt “speedily in our days”.

    The Kohanim schooled themselves in the details of the ritual in order to be ready to resume priestly activity when the sanctuary arose again.

    After the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 the subject took on new relevance, but apart from political considerations and the halachic question of whether an observant Jew may enter the Temple surrounds without ritual purification, at least seven preconditions need to be fulfilled before rebuilding can take place:

    1. The majority of the Jewish people must be living in the Holy Land.

    2. There must be conditions of peace.

    3. The wish for a Temple must arise out of a religious re-awakening among the people of Israel.

    4. There must be a supernatural act of Divine approval.

    5. A true prophet must give the command to rebuild.

    6. The site must be re-sanctified (though Maimonides’ view is that the original sanctity persists).

    7. The Biblical measurements, proportions and specifications of the Temple must be scrupulously followed.

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