Passover Paschal lamb ceremony in Jerusalem draws hundreds, but not without controversy

Many rabbis criticize the current ceremony arguing it must wait until the Temple is reinstated, but proponents say its intention is educational.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News 

Hundreds gathered on Monday to reenact the ancient Passover ritual, including the eating of the Paschal lamb, which in the days of the Jewish Temple was brought to Jerusalem as a sacrifice on the eve of the Jewish holiday.

The First Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C.E, and later, the Second Temple, built on the same site, was destroyed in 70 C.E.

In recent years, the ceremony has been held near the Temple Mount.

Many rabbis criticize the current ritual, saying it must wait until the Temple is rebuilt and reconsecrated.

Others, however, counter that the reenactment is carried out for educational purposes and for instilling the desire to rebuild the Temple, and is not the actual ceremony.

The ritual slaughter of the lamb first took place as the Jews were about to leave ancient Egypt in the story of the Exodus. They received the Torah on Mount Sinai, wandered  through the desert, and ultimately arrived in the Promised Land.

When the State of Israel captured the Temple Mount in 1967, 19 years after the modern Jewish State was established, various religious leaders embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of the Jewish historic link and practices.

The site is still considered the holiest in Judaism and rabbis have been divided over whether its holiness prohibits Jews from stepping foot there in light of what is considered the current state of ritual impurity of all Jews. However, the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount has increased over time.

Reenactors blow trumpets, April 15, 2019. (TPS/Eitan Elhadez)

Those who argue that the Mount can be ascended as long as the holiest area is not encroached are still faced with the prohibition against reciting Jewish prayers because of a ban imposed by the Waqf Islamic Trust, guardian of Islam’s third holiest shrine located nearby.

The Passover ceremony conducted in recent years has not been carried out on the Temple Mount, but rather elsewhere in the Old City. The event also includes the reciting of the priestly blessing and blowing of trumpets.

The Passover holiday begins Friday night with the ceremonial Seder meal honored in Jewish homes around the world. The family service has become the center of the festival in lieu of the Temple ceremony.