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NISUCH HAMAYIM: THE WATER LIBATION CEREMONY REENACTMENT
Article and Photo Courtesy: The Temple Institute
This past Thursday, the fourth of the intermediate days of the Sukkot festival, The Temple Institute led what has become in recent years an annual event: the reenactment of the Nisuch Hamayim – the Water Libation Ceremony, which took place every day of the Sukkot holiday in the Holy Temple.
Reenacting the Temple ceremony, (described below), modern day kohanim (direct descendants of the kohanic line of Aharon, Israel’s first Kohen Gadol,(High Priest), led a gathering of over one thousand attendees from the meeting point in the outer courtyard of the Davidson Center alongside the southern wall of the Temple Mount, through the winding paths of the City of David below, and down to the Shiloach spring at the lower end of the City of David. There one of the kohanim was given the task of filling a golden flask with the pure waters of the Shiloah spring, just as had been done in Temple days.
Following this, the officiating kohanim then led the gathering back up to the original meeting point at the Davidson Center, where a model altar, menorah, showbread table and copper laver, all essential vessels of the Holy Temple, were waiting for the completion of the ceremony.
Under the direction of Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute, the kohanim, all students of the Temple Institute’s Nezer HaKodesh Institute for Kohanic Studies), performed the Water Libation Ceremony, which once took place in the inner courtyard of the Holy Temple, before the enthusiastic crowd.
Following the completion of the ceremony, a Simchat Beit HaShoeva celebration was held. This tradition has been maintained since the time of the Holy Temple, when the Nisuch HaMayim ceremony would be followed by a festive party full of song and dance, which would continue throughout the night until the following morning, when the Water Libation Ceremony would take place again.
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