Third Temple Culture: The Ethos of The Hilltop Youth

A vigorous new worldview that moves beyond the State of Israel

“We are post-zionist, yes; but also adamantly halachic.”

The Hilltop Youth are not the same young fellows you read about in the mainstream media.

There, you’ll find endless stories about dropouts, vandals and ‘messianic zealots’.

And in the burgeoning academic literature, too, where every manner of anthropologist, sociologist and criminologist is tripping over himself to develop a convincing typology for the group, or to formulate some original model the better to render them, like Eliot’s butterfly, “sprawled and wriggling on a pin” – the target is missed altogether.

In the case of the journalists, it’s mostly laziness. 

If you’re a secular reporter, what, after all, is your motivation to get ‘inside’ and really understand the heart of a movement that will eventually upend the course of modern Jewish history?

And besides, in contemporary journalism an agenda has to be pushed, so it’s easier to just stigmatize (or demonize) the group in order to advance your career, rather than run up against some woke editor who’ll consign you to proofreading the social page if you don’t conform.

As for the ‘academics’, it’s too often the case that papers are written in order to make policy proposals for politicians and law enforcement (alongside making a name for themselves as good students of these very bad Jews).

Ultimately, that means finding vulnerabilities in the group that can be exploited by well-meaning government types who just want to make the ‘problem’ go away.

In short, almost no one writing today about the Hilltop Youth is doing so in an honest, intelligent manner, or with a view toward knowing what truly animates them.

Very simply, the Hilltop Youth possess a single-minded yearning for the Third Temple – a desire so consuming and uncompromising that it has de facto created a separate and exclusive Hilltop culture – not only distinct from the shallow, mainstream zeitgeist of the Israeli sh’fela, but also from the spirit of those ‘settlers’ in whose midst they dwell.

Now, that’s a lot to parse, I know, so let’s try to unpack it.

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Hilltop Bullet Points

We’ll start with this: the Hilltop Youth is not ‘Israeli’, in the normative cultural sense of the term.  They possess Israeli citizenship, yes, but…

  • They care nothing for the politics that enlivens the average Israeli. 

  • They care less for TzaHaL, over which most of the country still fawns.

  • High tech is the least of their ambitions.

  • And as for a life of ease – in the most vulgar, western understanding of the phrase (gadgets and holidays) – it’s nothing they pine for.

  • All of which places them in an entirely different galaxy from the average citizen of the so-called Jewish State.

Rather, the weltanschauung of the Hilltop Youth group is one of pure spirit.

Know, too, that there’s no organization here.

This is an entirely generational mindset that was absorbed via a number of disparate historical processes and phenomena that began in 1967. 

It includes, among others – Rabbi Kahane, Oslo, Gush Katif, the broader settlement enterprise (and especially its conflict with the Minhal Ezrachi), Israeli judicial overreach, increasing police malfeasance, and a wholesale rejection of the statist politics of their elders.

Throw in an overwhelming love of the Land and People of Israel and you come up with a product that the state and its institutions truly regard as a mortal threat to their existence.

And they’re right.

But for the wrong reasons.

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A New Vision

The dream of the Hilltop Youth is to lead a life of mesirut nefesh for the sake of the Land of Israel and the Jewish remnant that believes, as they do, that nothing short of the messianic vision of the prophets will suffice for them – or for G-d.

And so, in an unceasing effort to occupy the space that’s bound by their convictions, they have moved into that ‘place’ that is wholly Third Temple.

That is, they have dispensed with anything that does not comport with life as it is meant to be lived in Temple times, and have filled their days exclusively with the necessities of learning about and preparing for the temple sacrifice ritual as explained in the Mishna.

All else is superfluous.

Life is led as if the Temple might appear tomorrow, and the group will simply walk undisturbed into that new reality without so much as a blink.

What that means…

1.      It means that animals and crops are raised in a natural, organic manner for both sustenance and sacrifice.

2.      That the Israeli state as a political concept (and reality) is rejected in favor of a King and Sanhedrin that are now in their emergent stages.

3.      That the state, moreover, is considered to be the single biggest roadblock on the road to a Third Temple reality.

4.      That a complete repudiation of, and disengagement from the institutions and processes of the State of Israel — and all those who work for and support them — is therefore a categorical necessity.

5.      That economically, the abiding focus is on agriculture, artisanry and crafts that will eventually contribute to a full Third Temple existence – to the exclusion of all other occupations.

6.      Submission to an overall ‘primitivism’ (they’ve certainly been called worse), that considers trapping, gathering, preserving, spinning, dyeing, and excelling at all the fiber, metal- and wood-working arts as activities of the highest value — to be learned, taught and thoroughly promoted.

Third Temple Economy

The group is now engaged in developing a Third Temple economic infrastructure that is Torah and agriculture based.  The laws of shmittah and yovel are studied and implemented with great stricture.

The group sees guilds and apprentice-style learning groups emerging for crafts and tradesmen, along with

A barter system with designated weights and measures, and set locations for the effective commercial transfer of goods, based on the original Mishnaic Monday/Thursday market-day protocol.

A group of learned and trustworthy rabbis without any state affiliation – itinerant teachers of sorts – is now active across Yehuda and Shomron, visiting the various hilltops to teach the relevant laws of agriculture and trade and to ensure they’re adhered to.

Sympathetic legal experts have also been engaged to coach the group and instruct them in the methods of Erev Rav state trickery – and how to defend themselves against it.

This is Hitnatkut — Complete Disengagement

Willful and With Purpose

So much unlike the last one…

This de-coupling will form the underpinning of a new Jewish sensibility, a genuine Third Temple reality that will arise in the highlands between Hebron and Shechem in the years ahead.

And then spread beyond.

May you be zoche to find yourself among those who would partake of it.

Dean Maughvet

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In our next issue we discuss the parasitic nature of the Erev Rav, and why Third Temple Culture (the Hilltop Youth) represents a fatal elixir for those whose lives are entirely dependent upon regular draughts of Jewish blood.