The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

16-Aug-2007

The Temple and Torah Zionism

Filed under: JudaismZionism/Nationalism — eidelberg @ 6:15 am

In a previous article I pointed out that Jewish control of the Temple Mount, Israel’s holiest site, is a fundamental precondition of uncontested Jewish control of Jerusalem and, eventually, of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel. Moreover, Jewish control over the Temple Mount will restore to the Jewish people the esteem of the nations and enable Israel to fulfill its historical mission: to declare from Jerusalem—from Zion—G‑d’s sovereignty in the world.

It needs to be emphasized that the first concern of any statesman worthy of the name is national unity. But that is precisely what the Temple symbolizes for the Jewish people. Let us recur to Joshua Berman’s The Temple, to clarify the Temple’s vital significance.

The Temple represents the entire congregation of Israel. The tribes ascended to Jerusalem, gathered in the Temple courtyard, there to encounter G‑d. Berman cites Psalm 122:

(1) A song of ascents of David. I rejoiced when they said to me, “We are going to the House of the Lord.”

(2) Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem;

(3) Jerusalem built up, a city knit together,

(4) To which tribes would make pilgrimage, the tribes of G‑d—as was enjoined upon Israel—to praise the name of the Lord.

(5) There the thrones of judgment stood, thrones of the house of David.

(6) Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem; may those who love you be in peace.

(7) May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace to your citadels.

(8) For the sake of my kin and friends, I pray for your well being.

(9) For the sake of the House of the Lord our G‑d, I seek your good.

Berman asks: “What does Jerusalem mean to the author of this psalm, and how does he view Jerusalem’s relationship to the Temple?” “[The psalmist] sees in Jerusalem a potent force for Jewish unity; he stands at its gates not in solitude but with his fellow pilgrims … [He] also sees Jerusalem as the center of justice: there the thrones of judgment stood … There sat the highest court of the land….”

From Jerusalem the Priests and Levites went out across the land and taught the laws and precepts of the Torah. Not only the Temple but also “the city of Jerusalem was considered the source of authoritative values.” Isaiah (2:4) declares: “For instruction shall come forth from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was also seen as the seat of government: “[there stood] thrones of the house of David.”

Berman asks: “What does Jerusalem mean for us today?” He answers: “All of the dimensions that animated and invigorated the spiritual meaning of Jerusalem for the psalmist centuries ago, have returned to animate her—if on a diminished scale—again today, two thousand years later. We await the reinstatement of the Davidic king, but we can already see in Jerusalem today the seat of a sovereign Jewish government. The Sanhedrin has not yet returned to its residence in the Chamber of Hewn Stone in the Temple, but the Supreme Court of the State of Israel adjudicates from Jerusalem.”

“We have no formal guild of Priests and Levites who bring the word of G‑d out from Zion, but Jerusalem is today the world capital of Jewish learning of all forms. We do not fulfill the halakhic requirement of gathering as a nation on the pilgrimage of the festivals in the Temple courtyard, yet Jews from all over the world flock to Jerusalem and to the Western Wall on each of these occasions. Jerusalem today stands as a symbol of the unity of the Jewish people as the largest Jewish city in the world, and the point to which all Jews look as the center of the Jewish world.”

“The rebuilding of the Temple,” says Berman, “needs to be seen as the pinnacle of a process that is measured in collective and national terms…. Zionism, from a religious perspective, ought to be perceived as a movement dedicated to building a nation around the highest ideals of the Zion of old—around a city that stands as a symbol of Jewish sovereignty on the land, justice, the wisdom of the Torah, Jewish unity, and the opportunity for collective encounter between the Almighty and His people, Israel.”

Let us not be dismayed by the ersatz character of Israel’s present Government and Supreme Court, or by the multiculturalism of Israeli universities. What else should one expect when Jews from a hundred nations—Jews influenced by gentile ways—return to Eretz Yisrael? All this is but a stage in the process of Israel’s redemption. Eventually, the Book of Truth will flow from Zion.