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Politics, Prayer and Sovereignty: A Torah Thought for Parashat Tetzaveh by Moshe Feiglin

43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Tent] shall be sanctified by My glory.
44 And I will sanctify the tent of meeting, and the altar; Aaron also and his sons will I sanctify, to minister to Me in the priest’s office.
45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.   (From this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, Exodus 29)

Driving home one night last week after a meeting and lecture with English speaking university students, I searched for a radio station to keep me awake. Much to my surprise, Israel Radio Channel 2 had dedicated an hour to the topic of the Holy Temple. I stayed with them, of course.

The broadcasters were of the opinion that the Temple Mount and Holy Temple are the pre-eminent spiritual center for all humanity and as such, nothing that smacks of sovereignty should be allowed at the site. Two interviewees also joined the conversation. One was veteran Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick and the other was an Israeli Moslem intellectual (who also translated the Koran into Hebrew) whose name I do not remember.

First the broadcasters turned to Rabbi Glick in an attempt to extricate from him his agreement to surrender Israeli sovereignty on the Mount. He refused, of course, to adopt the Channel 2 approach, but he did not directly address the claim that negates the integration of territorial sovereignty with universal spirituality.

Next, the Moslem intellectual was interviewed. As opposed to Rabbi Glick, he spoke in the most direct of terms. No Jews, or any other nation, for that matter, have any right whatsoever on the Temple Mount – and not at the Western Wall either, he explained. The entire area, according to him, belongs to Islam.

“We are not talking politics,” begged the broadcasters. “We are talking about spirituality. Don’t you want to see the Jews also praying at the holy site?” Again and again, the broadcasters attempted to extricate from him a hint of separation between politics and spirituality, but for naught.

I found myself laughing at their attempts as I drove along the dark road. The Channel 2 broadcasters with their Western, Christianity-based mentality are incapable of integrating the connection between the holy and the mundane; between the physical and the metaphysical. For them, holiness is absolute (like a Catholic priest who does not marry and connect to life). Their Moslem interviewee absolutely does not understand them. For him, prayer and politics, prayer and sovereignty – are one and the same.

Both sides have severed the connection between the material and the spiritual, the body and the soul. Neither side can be truly connected to the Temple Mount. For the site of the Holy Temple is where the metaphysical touches the physical. Just as it is impossible to bring children to the world by correspondence, so it is impossible to coronate G-d as King without a nation and sovereignty. And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Tent] shall be sanctified by My glory.

The Holy Temple is the tool necessary for the coronation of the Creator of the world over His universe. There is no king without a nation, without a country, without a capital and without a palace. Other nations of the world coronate human kings, enter into servitude for people who are mere flesh and blood and build them grand palaces. But for Israel, the majesty is G-d’s and the Holy Temple is His earthly abode.

This is how liberty is acquired for the Nation and the world. Not one person enslaved to the next. Instead, we are all servants of G-d, exclusively. The first to be enslaved to Him is the human king of Israel, whose entire purpose is the fulfillment of the destiny of the Nation of Israel – to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Shabbat Shalom,
Moshe Feiglin

(Illustration courtesy of The Temple Institute)

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