In preparation for the Third Temple, the nascent Sanhedrin and the United Temple Movement (UTM) under the auspices of the Mount Zion Association annually prepares olive oil that is ritually pure and ready for use in the Temple, but this year, the olives were harvested from a special orchard, intended to send a special light into the world that adheres to a prophecy with current-day political ramifications.
The oil-making is part of an ongoing effort by the Mount Zion Association to recreate Temple rituals and become familiar with them in every detail, so they can be reinstated without delay, should the need arise in the near future. But making this olive oil is also an effort to bring about prophecy as written in the Bible.
On Sunday, volunteers will harvest olives for Temple oil in the orchards of Amona, a Jewish community in the Biblical region assigned to the tribe of Benjamin.
Chephar-ammonah, Ophni, and Geba—12 towns, with their villages. Joshua 18:24
Amona was established in 1995 but a long legal battle initiated by the anti-Israel nongovernmental organization Peace Now culminated in 3,000 Jews being forcibly evicted from their homes. Amona was destroyed in several stages, the final evictions being carried out in January of 2017.
While the homes were destroyed, trees planted by the Jewish farmers were left standing. The Sanhedrin and UTM will go out to those orchards and harvest the olives to process for use in the Temple. Knesset Member Rabbi Yehudah Glick is expected to participate.
Rabbi Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the nascent Sanhedrin, explained that planting trees is one method of proving ownership of land, described in the Book of Jeremiah.
“When the Jews went into exile in Babylonia, they planted trees and wrote deeds to the property so that they would have proof of ownership when they returned from exile,” explained Rabbi Weiss. “As long as our trees are there, as long as we harvest them, we are showing our claim to the land.
“The Jews have returned, we have proved our ownership, and despite what the haters of Israel believe, Jewish communities in Israel cannot be destroyed ever again,” Rabbi Weiss said, citing the Prophet Amos.
I will restore My people Yisrael. They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine; They shall till gardens and eat their fruits. And I will plant them upon their soil, Nevermore to be uprooted From the soil I have given them —said Hashem your God. Amos 9:14-15
Rabbi Weiss explained that though the process, including the destruction of Jewish communities, is painful, it has a higher spiritual purpose, embodied in the lighting of the Temple menorah.
“God presses Israel just like we press the olives,” Rabbi Weiss said. “It appears the olive is destroyed, but what is actually happening is the bitterness is being removed and the oil, the sweetness, is being saved and purified to send light into the world.”
Normally, olive oil is made by crushing the olives and then pressing them. As per the Biblical commandment, olive oil for use in the menorah is made by smashing the olives by hand and then allowing the oil to drip for several days.
You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly. Exodus 27:20
This produces a very small quantity of oil, only about two percent of the volume of the olives as compared to 20 percent by pressing. But the method described in the Bible produces oil that is vastly superior to that produced by any other method. The UTM prepared about 450 pounds of olives, producing 25 quarts of oil. The husks are then pressed and the oil can be consumed or used for adding to grain offerings.
As much as possible, the ritual purity of the olives is preserved. As soon as the olives are pounded, they become open to impurity. They are therefore processed in an area open to the sky and the workers wear surgical masks, as saliva can transfer impurity. The hammers are made of plastic and the surface is marble, materials that cannot receive ritual impurity.
Burning the oil in the Temple was considered a sacrifice in every respect, and does not require an actual Temple building to house it. The Biblical commandment could be fulfilled today by placing the Menorah on the Temple Mount, filling it with the oil that has been prepared, and having it lit by a Kohen (a Jewish man from the priestly caste). The oil is ready and the menorah is on display in the Old City of Jerusalem, waiting to be moved to the Temple Mount and used for its designated purpose.