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Is the Third Temple on the Verge of Construction? Altar Construction Begins on Day of Destruction

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A survey conducted by the Panels Institute revealed that 64 percent of the Israeli public, and half of secular Israelis, want the Temple rebuilt. Ninety-seven percent of respondents knew that the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av).

The survey's second question queried the public's desire to rebuild the Temple. Sixty-four percent responded favorably and 36 percent said no. Analysis of the answers revealed that not hareidi-religious and other religious Jews want to rebuild the Temple, (100 percent and 97 percent respectively), but also the traditional public (91 percent) and many secular Jews (47 percent) do as well.

The Temple Institute began work on the sacrificial altar Thursday, Tisha B'av, the day the Second Temple was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago.

The Temple Institute has already built several of the Temple vessels such as the Ark and the menorah, and has now embarked on an ambitious project to build the altar, which will ultimately measure 3 meters wide by 3 meters long and 2 meters tall.

During Thursday's ceremony, which took place in Mitzpe Yericho just east of Jerusalem, the Temple Institute laid the cornerstone for the altar and demonstrated how tar will be used to cement the stones together. The Institute plans on bringing the altar to its proper place on the Temple Mount when the Temple is rebuilt.

"Today, Tisha B'av, is not just a time to mourn the destruction of the Temple," said Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the head of the Temple Institute. "It is also a time to build."

Yonaton Tzadok, was also on hand to explain why its stones were taken straight from the Dead Sea. "The altar is supposed to represent going back to our roots, to the time of creation when everything was pure," he said. "We took rocks from the Dead Sea, where it is likely that they were never touched by human hands."

During the ceremony, many people who came to watch were surprised when they were invited to take part and pour tar onto the cornerstones. Rabbi Ariel first asked if there were any Kohanim (priests) in the crowd, and asked them to start. When a woman requested to join in, Rabbi Ariel said "of course" and emphasized that women are commanded to build the Temple as well.

With the sun setting, Tzadok asked for volunteers to come back another day to help build the altar. "Carrying rocks and pouring tar is a lot of work," he said. "We could use a few hundred people to help." More information on the Temple Institute is available at http://www.templeinstitute.org/main.htm.

In a related story, a rare 2,000-year-old ritual vessel made of limestone and inscribed with 10 lines of text has been discovered in an excavation near the Zion Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is an unprecedented find, according to Dr. Shimon Gibson, the archaeologist who heads the University of North Carolina team conducting the dig.

"Such stone vessels were used in connection with maintaining ritual purity related to Temple worship, and they are found in abundance in areas where the priests lived," Gibson reported. "We have found a dozen or more on our site over the past three years. However, to have 10 lines of text is unprecedented. One normally might find a single name inscribed, or a line or two, but this is the first text of this length ever found on such a vessel," he said.

Although the letters are clearly visible it will take some time before their meaning can be discerned due to the style of the writing. Gibson estimated in his preliminary report that it could take up to six months to translate the inscription. "It is written in a very informal cursive hand and is quite difficult to read," he explained.

Initially, Gibson thought the inscription was written solely in Aramaic. However, a group of experts consulting on the matter was not convinced; they say there is a possibility that the text contains the sacred name of God and is deliberately cryptic.

"Stephen Pfann, of the University of the Holy Land, is leaving open the possibility that it is Hebrew. He has also suggested that the text might have had meaning within a closed circle of priests, similar to texts at Qumran," said Dr. James D. Tabor, co-director of the dig.

The excavations, which lasted several months, were carried out under the auspices of the Jerusalem branch of the Nature and Parks Authority.

At least 30 people per week "sacrificed their own money, time, and hard labor to advance this important effort," according to Gibson, who said the results "have been simply astounding, the finds quite spectacular, and the whole area has been transformed."

He added that the excavation site was in ancient times "precisely at the center of Herodian/2nd Temple Jerusalem...we have extraordinarily well preserved ruins from the 2nd Temple period, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE."

It is that terrible holocaust that is commemorated, as well as the destruction of the First Temple, on the Fast of Tisha B'Av. Excavations began on June 14, in the same site where previous archaeologists had probed the earth searching for clues to Israel's history in the 1970s.

This time around, structures from the First and Second Temple periods were discovered, including a mikvah (ritual pool) left almost completely intact, a vault, and a room with two ovens. Buildings from the Byzantine and early Islamic periods were also uncovered, as well multiple coins, intact lamps, ceramic and glass vessels, bits of jewelry and similar items.

Also uncovered were at least half a dozen Murex snail shells with holes drilled through them. "Prior to our excavation one or two such shells had been found in all of Jerusalem," Gibson said. "That so many would be found at our site further supports our supposition that we are in a priestly residential area."

Murex snails were cultivated in ancient times at sites along the Mediterranean Sea, and a royal blue dye was extracted from them. "According to some experts this blue color was used for the priestly garments, as well as the tzitzit or threaded tassels worn by all pious Jews of the period," he explained in his report, referring to the biblical tekhelet -- the thread of blue that God commanded male Jews to include in the ritual fringes on the corners of their garments.

"Speak to the Children of Israel and bid them that they make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (tekhelet). And it shall be for you as a fringe, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of God, and do them..." (Numbers 15:38-15:39)

Such fringes are worn by observant Jews to this day, although in most of them, the thread of blue is no longer included, since the precise technology for making the dye has been lost. However, in recent times rabbis have overseen a modern recreation of the tekhelet technique and some Jews have begun using tekhelet in their fringes again.


Netanyahu Defers Deportation of Foreign Workers' Children

By YnetNews.com

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that the decision on the deportation of foreign workers' children would be postponed to October.

Meanwhile, the children and their parents will be given the necessary residence permits for the said time period. "The prime minister met with the interior and finance ministers and they have decided to continue with the government's policy to encourage foreign workers to leave Israel of their own accord," said a Prime Minister's Office statement.

Nevertheless, Israel will continue with its deportation policy: "The constant flux of illegal aliens into Israel over the past few years has resulted in us having one of the highest foreign workers ratios in the world. This fact contributes to unemployment among Israelis and significantly changes the demographic balance within Israel," added the statement.

Earlier Thursday, Tziki Sela, head of the Immigration and Population Administration's Oz Unit, which has been detaining illegal aliens in recent weeks, defended his unit and accused the human rights organizations of shamelessy using children in their campaign against the deportations.

"I didn't say I was removing children. This is a cynical interpretation by people that don't care about the State. They are making shameless use of children," Sela told Ynet.

He continued to say his unit was not targeting children specifically: "We don't have a mission called children, we are not looking for children and they will not be at the center of our operations." Sela also rejected claims that the children's deportation would pose a "serious risk to their health" and that the Israeli reality is all they know.

"Do not confuse things – I am sending them back to their homeland, they have a state to absorb them," he said. "We always, always make sure these families have somewhere to go back to. That they go back to a legitimate state, that is sovereign and without dangers. I don't have to make sure they have families to greet them. For me, the government is like family," he added.


Gaza Children Try for Kite Flying World Record

By Reuters

Thousands of children in the Gaza Strip attempted to set a new world record Thursday by flying colorful homemade kites amid the ruins of Israel's offensive earlier this year.

The event, sponsored by the United Nations, brought some 6,000 campers in orange uniforms and blue caps to a beach in Gaza's war-torn north, where they released their kites into clear skies. Some included designs such as the red, green, black and white Palestinian flag.

"We are happy we came here, full of joy, full of life, said 11-year-old Marwan Mohammad. We hope that we can be free and can enjoy the same freedom these kites enjoy in the air. All we are looking for is to grow up like normal children."

Marwan said his neighborhood in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was bombarded in Israel's January offensive against Palestinian rocket launchers. He said many of his friends' relatives were killed in the attacks.

Since the three-week-long war, terrorists have mostly stopped firing rockets at Israeli communities across the border. Israel, in turn, has scaled back its military activities in the area significantly. The lull has allowed daily life to resume, though an economic blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has prevented Gaza from rebuilding.

John Ging, the head of the UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, said the fact that the event was taking place in Gaza held special significance. "It is an expression of the demand for liberty by these children," he said. "Look at what the children of Gaza can do if they are given a chance."

Hamas members kept away from the kite-flying event, which was seen in Gaza as a show of strength for the UN agency that provides education to about half of Gaza's children in addition to food and other aid. The agency and Hamas compete to attract youngsters to their summer camps.

The Guinness Book of World Records said it had received an application from Gaza for most kites flown simultaneously. Guinness was unable to send a judge to the attempt due to travel restrictions into Gaza.

But the children would be able to break the record even without a judge by verifying the accomplishment in other ways, said Guinness spokeswoman Karolina Thelin. The current record for simultaneous kite flying stands at 967, set less than a year ago in Melle-Gronegau, Germany, Thelin said.

The UN agency said the Gaza children smashed that record and would release its final tally on Saturday. It's unclear if Guinness will accept it.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency, said every child at the event had their kite registered in accordance with Guinness protocol, which he said event organizers followed with military precision. "The symbolism of thousands of children in one of the world's most locked up communities, creating beautiful kites, letting them soar upward, is truly beautiful," he said





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