Renewing the Vision
To renew the dream of building the Third Temple it is necessary to raise a new vision of the Temple that will be relevant to the needs of the modern world. This vision would also address the real dangers associated with its construction. We propose an architectural-cybernetic model for the future Temple, one that removes most of the objections for building it. The Third Temple can be an important and necessary vessel for human redemption/reconstruction on a worldwide scale. Following are proposals for a physical Third Temple and a "virtual reality version" of this Temple that can be developed and implemented immediately.
Future Zionism - the pilgrimage to the Temple and to the Heavenly Jerusalem
Both Isaiah (2:3) and Mikhah (4:3) referred to a future "Zionist" vision when they prophesied "for out of Zion will issue a Torah (teaching) and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem". The prophets saw the new Temple as the fulfillment of Zion and the Heavenly Jerusalem, and envisioned that the new Torah will be revealed to the pilgrims who participate in the workings of the future Temple.
The future Temple should be part and parcel of the world of all those who appreciate the Biblical tradition, and who expect the development - even the transformation - of all humankind, not just the Jews, as announced by the prophet Isaiah (56:3-7):
"for My House shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations".
The Future Temple as the Focus of Social Transformation
Many contemporary movements (including, but certainly not exclusively, "New Age" circles) have put individual growth, even transformation, as the highest aim. In developed societies this goal has replaced the struggle for national liberation. But such personal-spiritual gains may exacerbate the problems of alienation and disintegration of modern societies. At the same time, the most significant contemporary change of humankind is a change in the direction of unification, towards a universal society, a kind of giant human super-organism or a "Global Brain". These changes are the result of the economic and technological ("technotronic") development of organizations, rather than of individuals, and no appropriate socio-spiritual movement has developed to match it. The contemporary world needs new means of social and organizational change in order to add spiritual values into the new technotronic system. The future Temple can help create a spiritual community that includes all of humankind, a global community that leads to harmony and integration.
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A Possible Pattern for Building the Future Temple
We propose three alternatives in which it is possible to build and operate the Temple of Jerusalem without interfering with the present structures on the Temple Mount. The first proposed model is a giant cube, about 200 meters (600 feet) on each side built upon giant pillars outside of the Temple Mount and constructed above it. Above the pillars are supported four steel "space-frames" containing thousands of cubical cells, all looking like a cubical envelope over the Temple Mount. This form fits perfectly with Jewish, Christian and Moslem conceptions of the Temple. Its source is an interpretation of the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, according to which the future Temple will contain thousands of cells and chambers whose function was not specified in the prophecy. According to our interpretation the cells are intended for individual development and (self) sacrifice, and the chambers for the appropriate forms of group work.
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The Meaning of Sacrifice in the Future Temple
The Jewish tradition contains many explanations for sacrifices. One of the most dramatic moments in the Bible is the binding of Isaac, where on the spot of the future Temple animal sacrifice substituted for the human sacrifice of Isaac.
In the Kabbalah "the secret of sacrifices" (Sod haKorbanot) is interpreted in terms of transformations of spiritual and vital energies (Hayut) to get closer to God. According to the teachings of Hassidism we all have an animal soul and a divine soul. The divine souls are interconnected in hidden ways, and the assembly of all of them constitutes a unified and sacred divine entity, an entity that is developing through the spiritual development of each one of its individual components.
The Torah and its commandments were formed to guide the spiritual transformation from the dominance of the animal soul to the preeminence of the divine soul. This "divine soul" is common to all humankind, as well as to all the spiritual worlds. The majority of the commandments of the Torah deal with Temple worship and the sacrifices, processes of spiritual transformation that are not available to us as long as the Temple is not functioning.
Based on the above ideas we propose that worship in the future Temple will not include the substitute animal sacrifices, but the sacrifice/dedication of the animal soul of each person. In this way we may return to the primal intensity of sacrifice: human sacrifices. This time it will be self-sacrifice rather than the sacrifice of a substitute offering. Sacrifice will return to its primordial meaning, namely man will be able to realize his whole being, illuminated by his Divine spark, through "dying to his animal soul" to make space for the Divine within.
The Worship at the Future Temple as Social and National Transformation
In the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, Abraham (Avraham) is called ha'Ivri, the Hebrew. Traditional Biblical commentators emphasize that this word is refers to a passage - ma'Avar. The passage that Abraham made from idolatry to the knowledge of God was not just a personal transformation: it meant the formation of a new nation that was destined to lead all humankind into a similar change and transformation. The future mission of the Temple will be individual, social and even national transformation. On a national level the Temple will lead to The New Israel. It will be a passage from the fixation on the familiar old track: Jews vs. Gentiles, to a new federation of twelve New Israeli Tribes (among which "Judah" - in the sense of orthodox Halakhic-Rabbinic Judaism will be just one, albeit a senior, member), on the way to a future global Israel. Click here for details on what the Temple processes of transformation many look like.
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Establishing the Virtual Third Temple
As long as the problems exist which the construction of the real Temple are likely to pose, it is possible to use "virtual reality" and the Internet to produce a simulation of the Temple, with its cells, chambers, courts and shrines.
What we are really concerned with here is not a simulation of forms and the placing of various models on the image of the Temple Mount. The real challenge is to perform simulations of the temple processes as sanctification processes - to generate processes of sacrifice-as-nearing to the Divine, and the spiritual transformation of the participants. The essential question is how can you build sacred space in virtual reality and/or on the Internet?
Many traditional forms of religious ritual are currently disintegrating through the impact of modern media, yet the human need for contact with the sublime remains. This need could find expression and nurturing in the virtual temple. There is a whole generation of people nowadays who would not go to a synagogue or a church, but would not neglect entry into a computer-generated place of worship. Many people want to participate in the more exalted quests of humankind, such as the return to Paradise, The Restoration of Israel, and the Coming (or Return) of the Messiah. The communication and simulation media could support communities and "virtual synagogues" which allow encounters of intensive spiritual rituals, and the virtual temple could be their global focus.
The virtual temple will contain, among other things, individual units - "cells"; places for group work - "chambers" or "lodges"; as well as "altars" and their equipment for the analysis of the spirit and its healing. The pattern discussed above - that of the great cube so appropriate for the visions of the three religious - is, primarily, a matrix of cells, which is an excellent pattern for virtual reality applications. "The virtual pilgrim" will get an individual cell for his/her experiences of the Temple Process.
About Sacrifices in the Virtual Temple
Virtual death sacrifices (as in most computer games) are not that attractive, and are not likely to engage the player spiritually. In order to create meaningful sacrifices in the virtual temple, we can look at what people do in casinos, whether they are real or virtual. The players place tokens - which represent their material assets - on the gambling table, which acts as a kind of altar upon which these "sacrificial offerings" are "burnt". In exchange, they expect the blessing of Chance, a process somewhat reminiscent of the people who used to bring their cattle (Mikne, literally "asset") to the Temple, expecting a blessing, and the priests accepted these for slaughter and burning.
The utilization of casino-like procedures may bring more realism and represent the element of risk associated with the offering of sacrifices. People who come to the Temple in order to improve themselves will be able to "gamble" on the spiritual degree they may attain, namely to convert their current spiritual state for a deeper more fulfilling one.
Each participant needs to gamble something important and dear to him. Two possibilities are: 1) personal confessions/annoying secrets which (s)he will be ready to expose in the course of the process or 2) a real sum of money. An important condition for the sacrifice of money is - just like it was in the real Temple - that the money deposited shall not be more than a tenth of one's capital, and will be distributed to charities through certified organizations.
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Where To Go From Here
The Virtual Third Temple will be open to all peoples. Everyone who visits it will have the opportunity to worship and transform themselves through the Temple processes. Beyond individual transformation is the potential to form communities that break traditional barriers through shared spiritual experiences. These communities can lead to a new level of tolerance and respect for the other in the light of Divine inspiration and knowing.
We invite you to participate in the building of the Third Temple. Contact us with your ideas, proposals, and support.
(This is a summation of the second essay by Dr. Y.I. Hayut-Ma'N in the Hebrew book "Let the Old be Renewed and the New Sanctified - insights into the Meaning of the Temple" (haYashan Yithadesh vehaHadash yitkadesh - he'arot leMashma'ut haMikdash. Click here for the translated essay).