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Thursday, March 1, 2007

New Sanhedrin to make Pesach Sacrafice-Is it Kosher?

I am not a Halachic expert nor do I play one on TV. In fact if I studied 24 hours a day for the next 20 years I would not have the Halachic knowledge that Rabbi Steinsaltz (the Rosh of the resent-day Sanhedrin) has in his little pinky. I say that to make sure that you understand the reverence I have for his knowledge and that I ask my questions to elicit a better understanding for you, my readers, and for myself. I would ask that anyone who does understand please email for me to post, or post a comment as a means of teaching.

I read with great concern that a new Sanhedrin was established and they were going to perform the Korban Pesach (the Passover Sacrifice) this coming Passover, just a few weeks away. I guess the concern was borne from the hundreds of questions that leapt through my mind. Under what authority was this Sanhedrin established? I don't mean who voted for it. The first Sanhedrin's authority came from a long, long legacy extending all the way to Sinai. In Ethics of the Fathers 1:1 we are taught: "Moses received the Torah from [Hashem] at Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshuas; Yehoshua to the Elders; the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly." From the remnants of the Anshey Knesset Hagdolah, the Men of the Great Assembly, it was transmitted to various Sages, who eventually made up the Sanhedrin. Thus the historic Sanhedrin was directly connected to Sinai through a long unbroken chain. The first Sanhedrin met from that time until roughly 1500 years ago. That membership of that first Sanhedrin consisted of the foremost Halachic minds. These scholars’ then added new members as needed, usually after a long “internship.” It was always my understanding that the next Sanhedrin was to be selected by the Moshiach when once again we would be given all the lost traditions, the lost understanding.

The Korban Pesach: I always understood (rightly or wrongly) that before there could again be Passover or any other sacrifices on the Temple Mount we would need the Bayit Shlishi - the Third Temple, we would need to create a new set of ritual tools, build a new altar, etc. And before any of that happened we will need to purify the Temple Mount and at least some Kohanim --- and none of that can happen before the arrival of the Moshiach. Rabbis and great scholars, I do not understand! Please G-d that Moshiach should come today and render all these questions mute. Meanwhile, how can a Sanhedrin whose membership is mostly unknown, and one which none of the Guedoley hador - Great halachic minds of the generation have so far recognized, take it upon themselves to do this??

I haven't even seen or heard of a Red Heifer walking around, how then can there be any purification? Folks, it may very well be my lack of knowledge, but unless the Rabbis of the Present-day Sanhedrin know something we don't and I am sure that is possible, I see the move described in the article below as just an unnecessary provocation to the Arabs, something that just doesn't seem kosher while flying in the face of Jewish tradition as I have been taught it. So once again, I ask that those of you that know, that understand... Please email or comment so I can understand also.

Present-day Sanhedrin seeks to revive ancient Temple rituals

By Nadav Shragai

The present-day Sanhedrin Court decided yesterday to purchase a herd of sheep for ritual sacrifice at the site of the Temple on the eve of Passover, conditions on the Temple Mount permitting.

The modern Sanhedrin was established several years ago and is headed by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. It claims to be renewing the ancient Jewish high court, which existed until roughly 1600 years ago, and meets once a week.

Professor Hillel Weiss, a member of the Sanhedrin, told Haaretz yesterday that the action, even if merely symbolic, is designed to demonstrate in a way that is obvious to all that the expectation of Temple rituals will resume is real, and not just talk.

Several years ago, a number of members of the various Temple movements performed a symbolic sacrifice on Givat Hananya, which overlooks the Temple Mount from Jerusalem's Abu Tur neighborhood. During the ceremony, participants sacrificed a young goat that was donated by a resident of Tekoa. The participants also built a special two-meter tall oven, in accordance with halakha (Jewish law).

The Passover sacrifice is considered a simple ceremony, relative to other works performed in the Temple.Today, the Sanhedrin will hold its main conference, entitled "existential threats and ways to correct them." Rabbi Menachem Froman, far-right activist Moshe Feiglin, and Nativ editor Arieh Stav will participate in the conference. The guest of honor will be Makor Rishon publisher Shlomo Ben-Zvi.


Anonymous said...

their is a concept called "tumah hutra detzibor" that is if most of the tzibur is tamai, then a korban tzibor such as the pesach can be brought without the para adomah. Their has been a great deal of rabinical give and take (which is way over my head)over the years as to if Korban Pesach can or should be brought today in Jerusalam even in the absence of the temple. I believe that certain gedolim (posibly the Brisker Rov if I remeber correctly ) would make sure NOT to be in Jerusalam for Pesach so that they would not be obligated to bring the Korban according to the opinions that it should be brought.

Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

Without getting bogged down with details there are a number of "missing facts" in your recition:
1) Korbanot Tzibur are permitted in a time when there is no Parah Adumah even in a state of impurity
2) There is a very clear tradition that the place determines, not the building. There could VERY well be an argument that we don't know where the mizbach (alter) should be or if it must be in the same place as previous alters, but not that we need the building for Korban Pesach specifically.

Hope to see you and your family in Jerusalem this Pesach!

joshwaxman said...

can't track it down at the moment, but I think there is something that the baal haTosafot Rabbenu Peretz brought a korban pesach on har habayit.

As to whether we need mashiach to select a Sanhedrin, they are relying on Rambam (among other sources) that unanimous acceptance by the rabbis in Eretz Yisrael is sufficient to reestablish semicha. Indeed, there have been historical efforts to establish this, such as was obtained by Rav Yosef Karo. Check out their website where questions like this have been covered extensively.

And here there is insufficient space and time to elaborate. But yes, they have plenty on which to rely.

Soccer Dad said...

Here's some more.

Alex said...

Also, note the "conditions on the Temple Mount permitting." I take that to mean: they're going ahead with purchasing the sheep, but they won't actually go up onto the Har HaBayis to offer them, unless the security situation changes between now and Erev Pesach.

So there's no "unnecessary provocation to the Arabs," aside from the regular "provocation" that we continue to exist and to inhabit our land.