I’m seeing a lot of fear and ambivalence regarding the Third Temple.
But what if the rebuilt Temple doesn’t include animal sacrifices? What if it doesn’t imply the priesthood or Rabbinate gaining more power over our daily lives?
Imagine a Temple that is merely a place where we connect with things bigger than ourselves.
Imagine it combines everything we feel when we walk up to great memorials, historic sites, concert halls and national parks. Or for us philistines, baseball stadiums.
We step up and we’re flooded with greatness of past and future. We take our children and remember how our parents took us.
We read words that inspired generations, just as we do at the Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall.
A great choir sings a daily song.
Priests lovingly bless the people every day. “May God bless you and keep you. May God shine his grace upon you and guide you. May God raise His grace towards you and grant you peace.”
A place where we think only of what unites us.
A Temple modeled as a house, reminding us that goodness starts in our own homes, with our love of spouse and family.
A Temple containing the Ten Commandments, reminding us that we can only worship God if it’s part of our commitment to general ethics and to maintaining a society that is just and kind.
A place we go when we want to share our happiness and success. And where we find comfort when we’re scared and alone.
A place that attracts tourists who want to share in the same feeling, and to recognize God.
We’re not there yet. There are a million questions that still divide us. Who runs the place, and how? Does a hereditary priesthood violate the Basic Laws? The gender issues alone would destroy us, even if we could get past the issues related to the Muslims and the mosque.
There may be miracles in the Temple, but from past experience we know it doesn’t solve our social problems for us. We can’t build the Temple together until we can build the Temple together.
If we really want to bring that day closer, the most important next steps involve mutual respect.
I understand why many fear a Third Temple. I hope they can understand why I pray for it.