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Pascal Sacrifice ‘Exercise’ Yields Majestic Street Theater in Preparation for Passover, Redemption

The slaughtered "Pascal" goat's blood was collected in a gold vessel to be sprinkled on a makeshift altar, in the middle of a JCC basketball court.

The slaughtered "Pascal" goat's blood was collected in a gold vessel to be sprinkled on a makeshift altar, in the middle of a JCC basketball court.
Photo Credit: Yori Yanover / JewishPress.com

The air inside and outside the community center in the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood in Jerusalem was rife with the kind of excitement one finds in rock concerts. Hundreds (maybe as many as two thousand) of religious Jews, mostly in Haredi garb but quite a few in “modern” street clothes, and an enormous band of local children, pushed, shoved, pressed, retreated temporarily before the loud demands from organizers, then got back to pushing as relentlessly as before. If the measure of such an event was how intensely thrilled folks were to be in it – this one broke a few records. If the core idea of the entire event, which was to urge our Redemption from above by starting it down below, right here on Earth, then this one had to have cut through a whole bunch of “klipot” (evil shells).

The Moriah synagogue in the Shmuel HaNavi synagogue was packed with Jews eager to take in hyper-realistic terms regarding the Pascal sacrifice.

The Moriah synagogue in the Shmuel HaNavi synagogue was packed with Jews eager to take in hyper-realistic terms regarding the Pascal sacrifice.

The organizers, the Movement for the Renewal of the Holy Temple and The Temple Institute (special thanks to Hillel Weiss who was very helpful to this reporter) are comprised of hard core believers in the principle of “acting as if” – or, if you will, attempting to do the maximum on our part in adhering to the commandments which are connected to the sacred labors of the holy Temple, gone now some 1942 years, so that up in Heaven a complementary response would usher in the Messiah and bring about the rebuilding of the actual holy Temple.

This yearnings, coupled with the voracious curiosity of a crowd of many hundreds of Jews of all sizes and weights and fragrances and sounds and colors, made for the most fantastic street theater yours truly has encountered in years. Move over, Occupy Wall Street, make room for Occupy Temple Mount.

The crowd of adults and children was the event – their eagerness making an indelible comment regarding the yearning for Redemption.

The crowd of adults and children was the event – their eagerness making an indelible comment regarding the yearning for Redemption.

The event began with a scholarly discussion of all the many aspects of the Pascal sacrifice, a two hour session before a very deeply interested crowd of mostly men in the neighborhood Moriah synagogue, with a huge assembly of children who watched the slanted, crooked, computer-generated slide show on the bare wall with an intensity and joy that easily topped those of any kid playing any video game. There’s a family of Jews waking up early in the morning to start the journey, along with a bull for the holiday sacrifice and a lamb or a goat for the Pascal sacrifice, Rabbi Israel Ariel, head of the Temple Institute, would narrate, pointing at a colored illustration up on the wall, and the children would stare, mystified, never taking their eyes from the simple images.

Some girls were watching the scene intently from above.

Some girls were watching the scene intently from above.

The audience sat through two hours of detailed discussions of precisely what must be done, when, where, how much, and all the other W’s of religious super-realism, in case, God willing, come Friday, Nissan 14, 5772, the Prophet Elijah would appear on CNN alongside the next King of Israel, and proclaim that it’s on. At that point, asked Rabbi Tzvi Idan from the podium, where does one go for a Pascal sacrifice? Never mind all the other crucial questions having to do with integrating a modern-day society with the tenets of a Biblical one.

Some kids were extremely creative about picking their perching points.

Some kids were extremely creative about picking their perching points.

But the scholarly stuff, although daring and amazingly well thought out, couldn’t match the visceral, irrepressible excitement that followed outside, on the grounds of the Shmuel HaNavi Matnas (the local equivalent of a JCC, but with fewer swimming pools). As soon as the teaching was over, the court yard in front of the spacious, three-story building became packed with big and small Jews, as well as a band of reporters, photographers and cameramen of both sexes – that last part raised a few grumpy comments from some organizers, but the ladies with the cameras, including the Jewish Press’ videographer Yarden Yanover, who were the model of tznius in their manner of dress – stood their ground and kept shooting.

How would a secular journalist transmit the context for this event? Tough question…

How would a secular journalist transmit the context for this event? Tough question…

(Although one of them, working for AFP, confessed to me that she had no idea how to sell these images to her editors. How would she create the context for them, within which they could understand why this was a thrilling, uplifting event, and not images of barbarian Jews ganging up on two innocent goats.)

The goats were sweet and wooly and tiny.

The goats were sweet and wooly and tiny.

The goats were sweet and wooly and tiny. The organizers had promised a “kazayis” (the size of an olive) bit of roasted goat’s flesh to each member of the crowd, but those small creatures didn’t look like they had enough meat on them for even that little. Meanwhile they stayed near the wall of the Matnas, touched and petted and groped and pushed around a bit by a million children – which I’m sure that’s how it felt from the goat’s point of view.

The goats had to be moved to a nearby basketball court for the slaughter.

The goats had to be moved to a nearby basketball court for the slaughter.

The crowd was so absolutely eager and relentless, it became apparent that the slaughtering of the animals just couldn’t take place over there, in the midst of all the people. It just didn’t make sense for anyone, including a skilled shochet, to be wielding a sharp instrument inside that ever-pressing, shifting, squeezing, pushing and shoving mayhem.

The animal was presented for the slaughter.

The animal was presented for the slaughter.

So, once the two animals had been inspected by a Jerusalem Municipality veterinarian—who was an Arab, to make this an even happier story—the organizers decided to shoo away the basketball players from the fenced court nearby and the thick procession was transported over there, with many hundreds now pressing their faces against the cyclone fences.

In the end, one of the goats was shechted, quickly and expertly, and its blood was collected into a special, gold vessel, and sprinklde over the base of the quickly assembled altar.

The priest sprinkled the collected blood onto the base of the altar.

The priest sprinkled the collected blood onto the base of the altar.

Then the animal was skinned – expertly, and the parts of its body which would have been sacrificed on the altar were paraded around the inside of all the fences, for everyone to glare at with the yearning curiosity and desire of someone who’s just come home after being away for years and years, and they’re standing outside their father’s place, there’s a light inside and joyous noises are emanating, and any minute now they would come up the stoop and push the doorbell…

It was the most exhausting assignment I’ve engaged in in some time, even though it only lasted a few hours. It was draining, emotionally and spiritually, to be struggling with my camera and tape recorder to get the shot against a sea of humanity, who so obviously wanted to become one with the goat and the knife and the sprinkled blood and the roasting fire. It was love of Heaven pushed through a meat grinder, passion for a better world jettisoned against the walls of a starved gathering.

The skinned animal was carried to the fire.

The skinned animal was carried to the fire.

When the real Messiah comes, I must have a couple of urgent words with him regarding crowd control.

May we all merit to partake of the Pascal sacrifice in our lifetime!

May we all merit to partake of the Pascal sacrifice in our lifetime!

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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35 Responses to “Pascal Sacrifice ‘Exercise’ Yields Majestic Street Theater in Preparation for Passover, Redemption”

  1. I honestly don't see us going back to that.

  2. Moshe Fuld says:

    if it was any other religion, our reaction would have been that they are a primitive barbaric blood thirsty people…

  3. If it were any other religion, most Jews would defend the rights of it's practioners no matter how barbaric a ritual seemed.

  4. No, for any other religion, we would respect its sources and significance, if not admire their determination to cling to their ancient traditions. How many people have criticized the recent hunting of eagles for Native American religious rites?

  5. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    I am opposed to any sacrifice being performed until the Temple is rebuilt and our land actually entirely freed.

  6. Moishe Sachs says:

    @ Moshe Fuld I also find it upsetting to look at a slaughtered goat, I find it just as upsetting for you to call people involved in the slaughter of a goat with a knife sharper than a razor, where it arguably cannot even feel the quick cut of its blood & air, making it pass out quickly, the most humane way to kill an animal for food, which is what it will be used for "primitive barbaric bloodthirsty people." Why don't you watch a Muslim stoning, female genital mutilation, burning alive, etc. They're available on-line. God ordained that we slaughter animals for Him before we were permitted to do so for our own food, if I'm correct. Regardless of the timeline, He is the One who said to do it. Many of us back then didn't care for having to make sacrifices as probably is the case today. It's one mitzvah that is obviously troubling to any normal person. But, the focus of all of those people wasn't on watching a goat getting slaughtered, something they can see anytime at a slaughterhouse. It was the bringing to life of the ancient Pesach sacrifice with some of the attending activities that had them interested. I've never understood the whole sacrifice thing, either, Michael & Moshe, but again, it's really God's business. Once the universe undergoes the physical change when Moshiach arrives, hopefully before Pesach, we'll be able to better understand these things. I mean, just think of it, the verse says that all flesh will see that God has spoken, our flesh will have some sort of sight capability. That's just freakin' wild. Happy Pesach, and may those who mercifully kill animals for food be avenged from those who slaughter innocent human beings for their demon god allah. And for that matter, may all those Jews who suffered so unimaginably over the greater part of the last 2,000 years to the Chrisians also be avenged.

  7. Jerry Aloof says:

    Michael Lipkin: You'd better get ready, sir Kohen!

  8. Moshe Fuld says:

    take yourself out of the equation. Lets make believe this is happening in Africa. There is a crowds gathered around and there is excitement in the air. What is it all about? The tribe is slaughtering a goat as an offering to their god. After they slaughter the goat, with a knife sharper than a razor, they take the blood and smear and sprinkle it on their god's alter. Truthfully, what is your reaction? I am not a vegetarian nor am I an animal rights activist but I am also not numb. Notwithstanding the fact that it is G-d's commandment, it has to affect a merciful person; at the very least. I guess what most irked me is that it became a spectator's sport….

  9. Moshe Fuld says:

    Especially in light of the fact they G-d's commandment in on hold; so they just slaughtered a goat for practice….

  10. Moishe Sachs says:

    Moshe Fuld They did not slaughter the goat for practice only. If they did, it's an aveira, a Jewish crime against God & the animal. We aren't permitted to kill an animal if we're not going to eat it. It does seem an odd way to illustrate how blood was flung on the altar in the bais hamikdosh, but if they want to use blood that was collected from a Jewishly slaughtered goat to do so, it may be gross, but it isn't bloodthirsty. We aren't permitted to drink or eat blood. Their interest in the whole complicated religious procedure isn't surprising. Heck, people with few outlets, like t.v., hang around backhoes watching the construction workers for hours. Happy Pesach.

  11. Jerry Aloof I'm going to wait and see how it plays out. I have *faith* that we've moved beyond this.

  12. David says:

    Someone said a long time ago, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Jerusalem… Prepare and open your heart for your King is coming.

  13. The time has come the final call for redemption the fulfillment of Gabriel's words to Daniel the prophet "to make an end of sin…to finish the transgression" G-d will stand for our people if we will stand for HaShem. the prophet said of G-d "Draw nigh to me and I will draw nigh to you" Make our stand now Israel has Returned!

  14. André Queiroz Carvalho de A. says:

    Bendito seja HaShem, Ele está trazendo a Sua Salvação para Seu Povo! Que HaShem abençoe os homens que realizaram este ato. Benditos sejam.

  15. Ruth Hirt says:

    @Moishe Sachs You based your arguments, stemmed from your Abrahamic faith. It is very consistent. You worded it in line with what your ancestors have received from HaShem.

    To other respondents who regard the practice as barbaric, before anything else, THIS IS TO INFORM you, you SHOULD know what has transpired between Adonai and the Jewish people. It was Adonai Who performed the first sacrifice of animal when He resolved the problem of sin Eve and Adam committed which opened their eyes made them be conscious that they were naked, thus, paved for corruption to enter into a man's life, so they (both of them) made fig leaves as their aprons to cover their bodies but HaShem has the perfect idea to cover them, He gave Eve and Adam coats of skins, naturally from animals, which was suppose to be more durable from wear and tear with their bodies' movements. Genesis 3:7-21
    It was G_d Himself Who introduced slaughtering an animal as sacrifice for man's sins. FROM THAT TIME ON, THIS ACT OF SLAUGHTERING, EITHER BULLOCK, GOAT, LAMB, A PIGEON ACCORDINGLY AS THE ALL MIGHTY, advised later more elaborately to Moses, AND SACRIFICING WAS SYMBOLIC OF THE COMING REDEMPTION OF THE JEWS, OF MANKIND, JEW OR GENTILE FROM THE ETERNAL CONSEQUENCE OF SIN(S). IF YOU REFUSE TO BELIEVE THE BIBLE, IT IS SAFER FOR YOU TO REFRAIN FROM CRITICIZING THE JEWS OTHERWISE YOU ARE THE MORE NAILING YOURSELVES TO PERDITION. G_D OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH IS OUR CREATOR, THE GIVER OF LIFE AND THE TAKER OF IT.

    History witnessed the coming of Messiah, once He is recognized by His Friends' descendants, sacrifices and offerings shall cease because HaMaschiach offered Himself, He is the PERFECT SACRIFICE.

    Consult the Holy Scriptures, the so-called the Holy Bible, containing every explanation of man's existence, why's and wherefores of human nature, norms and mores.

  16. Ruth Hirt says:

    Ariam Ronaele Otorpo thank G_d you appreciate what the Jews practice to commemorate their Passafest. In fact, it affects us Christians so much what the heavenly Father did for them. It serves us much now as to how we should live our faith, the pleasing life we should live to bring Him honor and glory particularly before the eyes of the unbelieving.

  17. Bob Harlan says:

    This is discusting, What kind of Diety would want an innocence throat cut and blood sprayed on an altar? Are you some kind of Aztec? And why would a Diety want a Human such as Christ to be tortured and savagly killed? Does this make God happy or pleased to see such violence or the snuffing out of a life? Oh and what about this Genital mutilation called circumcision? I don't think God screwed up his design of a penis. You would think this would all go away once we left the cave. I wish I could just sit all the Jews and Muslims and Christians down in a room and say " All this stuff is just stories and legends and opinions. None of it is true. You have been doing all this fighting over nothing. Maybe you could look at each other as just people who are ALLl genetically related. Yes the Diety is the God of the Universe and all this crap these naked apes are doing pisses him off. You over populate, Kill all his innocence, polute his planet and follow rules written 3000 years ago by people who barely left the cave. Enough already! At least you don't run around in mastodon skins cause someone told you to.

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