The annual attempts to resume the Korban Pesach received some rabbinical backing recently. Tzefas Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a prominent religious Zionism leader, has called on the public to perform the mitzvah on the eve of the Yom Tov, in about two weeks.
Speaking during a halacha shiur in Yerushalayim last week, Rabbi Eliyahu warned that Jews evading the mitzvah were risking kareis.
According to Rabbi Eliyahu, there is a halachic, legal and public possibility to offer a Korban Pesach these days. During the shiur, he quoted senior rabbinical authorities, adding that Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher – one of the founders of modern and religious Zionism – had asked the Turkish sultan to allot an area on the Har Habayis for the erection of a mizbeiach for a Korban Pesach.
Rabbi Eliyahu went on to say that the Korban Pesach could be shechted in front of the Dome of the Rock plaza, although the Bais Hamikdosh no longer exists and Klal Yisroel are defined as “tamei meis.”
In order to overcome the greatest obstacle, beyond the political problem, an mizbeiach must be erected, he said. He also called for the preparation of bigdei kohanim.
Addressing the legal aspect, Rabbi Eliyahu claimed that every person has the right to perform the commandment of his religion according to his own understanding. He added that petitions filed with the High Court of Justice against the korban were accepted only because the police were unprepared to secure the ceremony.
“It’s perfectly clear that if the public pressures its representatives in the government or in the Knesset, everything will change. If the judges have ruled that the police must secure simpler protests, why not the Korban Pesach?”
Rabbi Eliyahu rejected the claim that it was impossible to resume the mitzvah publicly. Addressing the international diplomatic ramifications, he said, “We are being threatened that any movement on our part on the Har Habayit will launch the third world war… (But) we can free our souls of the horror of the gentiles, just like we freed ourselves before Yetzias Mitzrayim.”
He rejected the internal opposition too. “Some fear the public echo of the Korban Pesach – how will the seculars view it? What will the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say? The truth is that this should not even be discussed…
“We have already been scorned for bris milah, persecuted and condemned to death for that. Today the UN’s health organization recommends that all men undergo circumcision in order to avoid illnesses.”
Rabbi Eliyahu said the Torah had predicted that some would mock the mitzvah of Korban Pesach. Such a person, he noted, is called in the Haggadah the “wicked son,” who cleans his hands and says, “This doesn’t belong to me, this blood and primitiveness. I am an enlightened person. I respect animals. I don’t slaughter them barbarically.”
Rabbi Eliyahu estimated that those who oppose this mitzvah would eventually change their mind.
In order to increase the motivation to offer a Korban Pesach, Rabbi Eliyahu noted that this is one of two “active mitzvos” (along with bris milah), and that those evading it risk supernatural punishment and “cause great damage to themselves and to the entire world.”
He added that his father, former Chief Rabbi Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, wrote that this custom may still exist these days.
“These things should make us break the spiritual barrier preventing us from thinking about offering the Korban Pesach,” Rabbi Eliyahu concluded.
He said his remarks were not lip service, but laws being learned “as a real demand and real preparation for the Korban Pesach. Although we are not used to it, and have gotten used to living without a Bais Hamikdosh, we must change our ways.”