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(The slideshow can be paused by placing the mouse over the image.)

THIS PAST TISH'A B'AV, the anniversary of the destruction of both the first and the second Holy Temple, the Temple Institute inaugurated the first leg of a comprehensive and revolutionary project whose intended purpose is the construction of a large stone altar, (mizbeach), that will ultimately be transported to its proper location on the Temple Mount, when the historic opportunity arises.

ALTAR BUILDING IS AN ANCIENT JEWISH ART whose roots are biblical. Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob all are recorded by Torah as having built stone altars. The book of Exodus describes the precise measurements and details to be included in the altar built for use in the desert, and these requirements were later expanded upon and employed in the construction of the great stone altar used in the Holy Temple.

BUT THE ART OF ALTAR BUILDING and the knowledge and skills required to create an altar which conforms in its dimensions, materials, details and utility to the requirements of Torah and of the Oral tradition, have laid dormant for two thousand years.

NOW THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE has revived the ancient craft rooted in the land of Israel. Our sages have bequeathed us with precise instructions and descriptions of the particular materials to be used, including the type of stones and the recipe for the manufacture of the mortar to hold the stones. Reclaiming this knowledge and relearning the methods and skills required involved hands on experimentation and investigation. The Temple Institute is currently exploring a number of traditions handed down by our sages describing different methods of construction.

THIS FIRST LEG OF THE STONE ALTAR PROJECT involves the construction of a large-scale stone altar using stones gathered from the Dead Sea bed, and employing a natural tar and sand based mortar. To learn more about this altar, please click here.

THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE HAS NOW EXPANDED its altar construction program to include the construction of an altar using an alternative type of stone and mortar. A model altar employing these particular materials and methodology has been constructed and can now be viewed at the Institute's "Treasures of the Temple" exhibition in Jerusalem's old city.

THIS MODEL IS THE WORK OF MASTER STONE MASON ASSAF KIDRON. Kidron, a resident of the Shomron, (Samaria), gathered the stones for the altar in the area of Mount Ebal, not far from Kidron's own home. Mount Ebal is first mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy:

"And it will be, when you cross the Jordan, that you shall set up these stones, [regarding] which I command you this day on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with lime. And there, you shall build an altar to the L-rd, your G-d, an altar of stones. You shall not wield any iron upon them. You shall build the altar of the L-rd, your G-d, out of whole stones. And on it, you shall offer up burnt offerings to the L-rd, your G-d. And you shall slaughter peace offerings, and you shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the L-rd, your G-d." (Deuteronomy 27:4-7)

KIDRON CHOSE STONES UNTOUCHED BY METAL IMPLEMENTS, in accordance with the biblical commandment. Unlike the stones being employed in the altar being constructed in Mitzpeh Yericho, which were taken from the Dead Sea, and are round, these stones are naturally more square-like in shape, a fact which Kidron took advantage of in placing the stones in the altar. The mortar employed by Kidron is based on a traditional natural process and does not contain cement.

THE SCALE OF THE ALTAR meets the minimum size requirements for a kosher altar.

THE ALTAR INCLUDES THE YESOD - the base structure which runs along two side of the altar, likewise a requirement for a kosher altar.

AT THE END OF THE YESOD are the two holes known in Hebrew as "shittin." These holes are used for draining the blood from the offerings, an integral part of the Divine service as conducted in the Holy Temple.

AS CAN BE SEEN, on the top of the altar, in each corner, are the four "horns," (in Hebrew, kar-note), likewise in accordance with the biblical description of the altar, (Exodus 27:1)

THE STONE ALTAR WAS CONSTRUCTED ON LOCATION and can be seen be all who visit the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. Pictured above with Rabbi Chaim Richman, Institute founder Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, and Institute director, Mordechai Prinze, are Bill and Carole Gibson, who made the long journey from Lubbock, Texas, to see with their own eyes, the new stone altar.

BASED ON THE KNOWLEDGE ACQUIRED through the construction of this small scale model, Kidron will proceed to construct a full scale altar fit for use and ready to be relocated on the Temple Mount in the precise location appointed.



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