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Priestly Water Pouring

The Temple organizations on Sunday will hold a live demonstration of the Sukkot pouring of water on the altar and Simchat Beit HaSho’eiva (lit. “Rejoicing of the Water-Drawing House”), with Kohanim dressed in their priestly garb, a demonstration altar, trumpets and flutes.

The Pouring of the Water is a mitzvah that took place at the Temple on the morning of each day of the Sukkot festival, a time when the divine decree regarding water for the rest of the year was being decided. The pouring of water took place alongside the year-round pouring of wine over the morning sacrifices on the altar.


Simchat Beit Hashoeivah was a special celebration held by Jews in Jerusalem during the Intermediate days of Sukkot, when every night tens of thousands of spectators would gather in the outer Temple courtyard, to watch the most pious members of the community dance and sing songs carrying lit torches and accompanied by the harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets of the Levites. According to the Mishnah, (Tractate Sukkah), “He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of Simchat Beit Hashoeivah has never seen rejoicing in his life.”

Sunday’s water-pouring demonstration will be held with the participation of Torah scholars and yeshiva deans. The celebrants will descend from the Dung Gate near the Western Wall to the City of David and the Shiloah Spring, where water for the ceremony will be pumped with the on looking crowd singing.

After the pumping, the celebrants will ascend to the gates of the Temple Mount, to carry out the demonstration of the water pouring in the Temple.

Spokesman for the Temple Organization Headquarters Assaf Fried noted happily that for the first time the demonstration of Temple labors would be so closely linked to its original location on the Temple Mount. “The Temple works are moving closer to their proper place,” says Fried.

Fried said there is no more appropriate time than the jubilee year for the liberation of the Temple Mount to renew the Temple service in its proper place, on the Temple Mount. “However, even if the authorities persist in their refusal [to allow Jews to celebrate the holiday as it was intended] this year, it is clear to us that as more Jews participate in these events, we will eventually merit to carry them out where we should.”

Among the rabbis who issued their blessings for the demonstration are Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba Dov Lior, Dean of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, all of whom have participated in past demonstrations, as well as Rabbi Yaakov Medan, Rabbi Shabtai Rappaport, Rabbi Uri Sherki, Rabbi Benayahu Bronner, Rabbi Menachem Burstein and Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer.

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