Temple Mount
Temple MountFlash 90

An Ethiopian immigrant is suing Israel's major banks – because they are denying him loans that he is seeking to build the Third Holy Temple (Beit Hamikdash).

The Temple was the spiritual center of the Jewish people for millenia; the destruction of the first two temples marked the exile of the Jewish people twice, first to Babylonia and then to Rome. The destruction of the Second Temple rendered the Temple Mount a ruin, and was later taken over by first the Christians, and then the Muslims, who built two mosques on the site of the Temple.

With the revival of the State of Israel in 1948, many Jews believe that the prophecies of the Prophets discussing the renewal of Jewish life in Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the arrival of the Messiah, are imminent.

In his lawsuit, the Ethiopian immigrant said that he arrived in the country in 1991. “We had tears in our eyes and we kissed the land when we arrived,” he said in a letter to the court. “But we later learned that the Temple was not yet built. Now G-d has revealed Himself to me and placed upon me the responsibility to rebuild the Temple. I have been collecting donations for this purpose, but I have been facing opposition to this plan from authorities.”

The banks that the immigrant has sought money from – Bank Discount, Tefahot, Leumi, and Hapoalim – have not been helpful either. “The banks are not allowing me to open accounts to receive donations, much less provide loans.” The immigrant is seeking damages in the amount of NIS 100 million ($35 million), which he said would go to the building fund.

However, the immigrant does not have enough money to file the lawsuit. Under Israeli law, anyone seeking damages in a civil suit must pay court fees of 2.5% of the amount they are seeking. The rule exists to prevent nuisance lawsuits from flooding Israeli courts.

The court can waive the fee if it is warranted, and the immigrant asked the court to do so. The court said that the suit, while justified, did not seek to correct a situation in which damages were caused to the individual. While the immigrant's sentiments are noble, “I hereby reject the request to waive the fee. At this point, we will have to be satisfied with the rebuilding of the Land of Israel, if not the Temple,” the court said.