Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Priestly blessing at Western Wall

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Worshipers and police crowd Western Wall for priestly blessing. Tens of thousands pack Jerusalem holy site for ceremony; security forces boosted amid holiday tensions (RAOUL WOOTLIFF AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF).
Tens of thousands of people thronged to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City under heavy police guard for a twice-annual mass blessing ceremony Monday morning.

Police said tens of thousands of people packed the Western Wall plaza, as security forces were bolstered amid sky-high tensions over a fresh outbreak of violence connected to increased Jewish visits to the nearby Temple Mount holy site for the Passover holiday.

The blessing ceremony, which sees male descendants of the Kohanim priestly caste gather to bestow benediction, involves the raising of hands in a form similar to the “Vulcan salute” which Leonard Nimoy borrowed from Judaism for his “Star Trek” role as Mr. Spock. Those conducting the blessing also cover their heads with prayer shawls.

There's video at the link. For Nimoy's "Spock salute" see here and links.

I was surprised to see this in the article:
The Western Wall is the closest spot to the Temple Mount where Jews can pray. Though allowed to visit the Mount, where Jews believe the two ancient Jewish temples stood, Jews are not allowed to pray and increased Jewish visits often spark tensions.
My bold emphasis. Who slipped that in? This is not just a matter of a religious belief. For the record, no one who has any understanding of the ancient history and archaeology of the site has any doubt that two ancient Jewish temples stood on the Temple Mount. This (non-)issue came up recently with regard to an unfortunate article in the New York Times which was eventually corrected. See here and links for the story. And I have documented a great deal of propaganda from the Palestinian and Arab worlds which denies that the temples ever existed. For recent examples, see here and links. I assume that the sentence quoted above is just worded poorly, but it is disappointing to see the Times of Israel appear to flirt with Jewish-temple denial.

The priestly blessing comes from Numbers 6:24-26. Incidentally, the oldest surviving copies (c. 600 BCE) of any biblical passage are the silver amulets from Ketef Hinnom which contain the text of this blessing.