Sunday, June 30, 2019

No more the safe haven, no more the Promised Land-I see no way to put the anti-Jewish genie back in the bottle in the US. The 'Goldene Medina" - the Golden Land - as Jews used to call the USA, is no more. by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Set Meaningful Goals

Lack of meaningful goals in life can lead to sadness. If you do not find meaning in what you are doing, you are likely to feel unhappy.

To solve this, ask yourself what goals you can set that to you would be meaningful. The goals need not be major ones. Even a temporary minor goal is better than none at all.

Make a list of goals to strive for. Be as specific as possible. Vague goals are not very motivating. Write down the major areas of your life and set goals in each of these areas: spiritual goals, interpersonal goals, self-improvement goals, etc.

Love Yehuda Lave

Ethel & Ernest - Trailer

Forty years, one love, countless cups of tea… Starring Academy Award® winner Jim Broadbent, Academy Award® nominee, Brenda Blethyn in the title roles and Olivier Award winner Luke Treadaway as Raymond. The cast also includes Virginia McKenna, June Brown, Pam Ferris, Simon Day and Roger Allam, with young actor Harry Collett as young Raymond.

Based on the award-winning book by acclaimed British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, this beautifully hand-drawn, animated feature film tells the true story of Raymond's own parents – Ethel and Ernest - two ordinary Londoners living through a period of extraordinary events and immense social change.

Heart-warming, humorous and bittersweet, Ethel & Ernest is a heartfelt and affectionate tribute to an ordinary couple and an extraordinary generation. A timeless story of love and devotion. (Original Title - Ethel & Ernest) - 2016 Ethel & Ernest Productions Limited, Melusine Productions S.A., The British Film Institute, Ffilm Cymru Wales CBC

Sing us a song, you're the EMT. The FDNY's singing savior mixes CPR with rock and roll

Joseph Siciliano, The life-saving singer, who twice made the pages of the Daily News for resuscitating flatlining patients, marks his 10th anniversary as an emergency medical technician this year. But he's known as much for his voice as his vocation. (Obtained by New York Daily News)

FDNY EMT Joe Siciliano can carry a stretcher — and a tune.

The life-saving singer, who twice made the pages of the Daily News for resuscitating flatlining patients, marks his 10th anniversary as an emergency medical technician this year. But he's known as much for his voice as his vocation.

"I have people I've never met and they're like, 'You're the singing EMT guy, right?'" said Siciliano, who transferred in February from Division 1 in Manhattan to Station 46 in Elmhurst.

Siciliano, 31, arrived to find his reputation preceded him. His new lieutenant let the new guy know that he would not work a tour without first singing for the stationhouse.

"I'm the station jukebox now," he says. "Everyone's like, 'Can you do this one?'"


Siciliano's love of singing dates to his childhood, with inspiration striking — as it would for any true New Yorker — over pizza.

"There was a pizzeria by where I lived in West Hempstead called Viva Las Vegas," he recounted. "My father took me there, and I wanted to know who the guy wearing the white suit on the pizza menu was. And the guy told me 'Elvis.'"

The pizzeria owner gave the 6-year-old year-old Siciliano a video of a Presley concert that played on a loop in the restaurant. Siciliano found himself mesmerized by the King of Rock and Roll.


"I must have watched it until the tape ran out and I couldn't watch it anymore," he recalled. "That was really my intro into doing this."

Siciliano grew up listening to oldies with his parents and grandmother and naturally picked up on big-band swing and jazz, pulling inspiration from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

"I'm lucky my parents brought me up listening to that stuff, the old stuff," he recounted. "I never had any actual training."


Singing still takes a backseat to his heroic work. In 2015, he helped save the life of a man who suffered a seizure while driving along the Long Island Expressway. And in February 2018, he helped resuscitate a Houston Rockets employee who suffered a heart attack in a Lower Manhattan gym while the NBA squad was working out.

His EMS colleagues and his patients aren't Siliciano's only fans. The EMT performs in a Billy Joel/Elton John tribute band called Face to Face LI, often booking two or more gigs a weekend during the summer months.

On Memorial Day weekend 2018, the EMT was riding a Queens-bound subway when he and a fellow straphanger led the entire train car in a version of Joel's "Piano Man." The clip soon went viral, and the Siciliano legend only grew.

"I like to make friends," he explained. "I like to make people smile and I like singing."

No more the safe haven, no more the Promised Land-I see no way to put the anti-Jewish genie back in the bottle in the US. The 'Goldene Medina" - the Golden Land - as Jews used to call the USA, is no more. by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

 I spent five of the weeks between Passover and Shavuot of this year on a lecture tour of the US and Canada, as I do every year. The first tour took place in 2009, making this one the eleventh. Among those inviting me to speak are academic institutions, Jewish and non-Jewish public organizations, community centers and individuals. The topics of my lectures center around my research on the Middle East, including Israel, as well as Islam in its indigenous states and in those to which it has migrated.

The Jewish institutions inviting me to lecture run the gamut of North American Jewish culture: from liberal progressive, as in Reform temples, to Orthodox and even haredi milieus. I am invited by Jewish organizations such as IAC and asked to speak to them in Hebrew. On every tour, I meet people with diverse opinions, hear varied approaches to issues and listen to complex ideas.

In previous years, I was always asked to talk about the Middle East, the challenges facing Israel, the peace process, the "Arab Spring," Islam, ISIS and similar topics involving the region and how its problems spill over into other countries. The situation in the United States, and especially the subject of US Jewry, almost never came up in my lecture series because, in the audiences' eyes, the fact that I am an Israeli precludes my having anything to say about American Jewish affairs.

When, here and there, the topic of North American Jewry did arise, I received the incontrovertible impression that the Jews of the US and Canada feel that they live safely and securely in a Promised Land. North America was seen as such because Jews there live tranquilly in a nation devoid of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination, where they are part of every political and social circle and thus have no cause for worry.  They feel afe and secure because of the fact that the level of violence in American public space is generally low and where it is not, there is police protection for synagogues and Jewish community centers.

A Reform rabbi once made this feeling abundantly clear when he told me that "exile" is a concept, not a geographical construct. Any country in which Jews can live a secure and full life cannot be considered "exile," he said, because that word refers to a land where Jews cannot maintain their religious, cultural and physical lives in free and secure fashion.  The hidden message in his words was that Israel is more of an "exile" than is America, because of the security situation prevailing in the Jewish State and the fact that Reform rabbis do not have the freedom to lead their congregations as freely as they do in the United States.

This year, however, the atmosphere greeting me during my lecture tour was entirely different. A good many Jews of all cultural types spoke clearly and openly of their fears with regard to two things: the rise in Jew-hatred and the deteriorating security situation. (I am attempting to avoid the term "anti-Semitism" because Arabs, too, are Semites). The reasons for the rise in anti-Jewish hatred are many and varied: The Christian European legacy that emigrated to the New World; Jews identified as being movers in the establishment as well as in finance, media, politics, academia, arts and film-making; Jews involved in scandals in the movie world (e.g. Harvey Winston)  and in financial scams (Bernie Madoff); increased Islamic immigration to the US leading to political clout as seen in the election of three Muslim members of Congress for the first time in US history; identifying Jews with Israel – and more.

It is important to remember that Jews are to be found in political positions that put them in the public eye. Among the liberal Jews who surrounded President Obama were Rahm Emanuel, Dan Shapiro (then US ambassador to Israel) Jeremy Ben Ami (J Street head), Jonathan Greenblatt (currently head of the ADL) and others. Many of the Americans who opposed Obama, especially Republicans, aimed their arrows – both the airborne and more subtle ones - at those Jews. On the other hand, President Trump is surrounded by Jews as well, conservative politically and even Orthodox religiously: his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jerard Kushner, advisor Jason Greenblatt, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Michael Cohen, Steve Mnuchin (Sec. of the Treasury) and others. An anti-Trump American does not care for the Jews who are closely connected to the president.

It is worthwhile mentioning that Jews held high level positions in previous Republican administrations as well: Paul Wolfovitz was Deputy Sec. of Defense under President George W. Bush, and other Jews – Douglas Feith and Richard Perle come to mind – filled key positions in the US government. Clinton, the Democrat, put Dennis Ross, Richard Holbrooke and Martin Indyk in key positions as well. The Jews have found themselves between the Republican hammer and the Democrat anvil for a long time.

Identifying Jews with big money is a widespread phenomenon in the USA, and for many reasons: Prominent investment banks – Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, for example – were founded by Jews and still carry their names. During the 2008-2009 general financial crisis the two were in the epicenter of the period's  economic, media and public earthquake. Bernie Madoff, the Jewish "investor," lost the assets of thousands of American citizens.

Jews are the most prominent donors to American charitable causes, such as hospitals, universities and organzations that aid the needy. Jews donate to these causes because they feel a responsibility towards the American society which accepted and included them with unlimited affection.  The donors' names are up there for all to see on plaques and above the entrances to  these many institutions. The problem is that when the ordinary blue collar American who works hard to put bread on the table sees the Jewish names shining proudly on the entrances to hospitals and universities (many of which charge over $50,000 a year in tuition fees), he associates the Jews with money and so Jewish generosity acts against the donors and the group to which they belong. Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar knew what she was doing when she spoke of the connection between Jews and "Benjamins" – a term for the US $100 bill which has Benjamin Franklin's portrait printed on it.  

The roots of Jew hatred and its causes have been analyzed in myriads of articles and books. I will add only two important factors here, common to the Arab-Muslim-Eastern world and the Western-European-Christian one:

1. Two religions, Christianity and Islam, are both daughter religions of Judaism and both developed "replacement theories" according to which both consider themselves the true religions replacing the defunct Judaism whose adherents are to  be subjugated and humiliated under Christian and Muslim rule

2. Jews lived in both these cultures among the nations and since Jews are "different" by definition, there are always many who hate them. The proof that these two factors – the religious and the realistic – are the basis of Jew hatred is the fact that in three other cultures – Chinese, Japanese and Indian – who for our purposes can be seen as a control group- there is no Jew hatred because:

       a. there is no connection between the local religions and Judaism and

       b. Jews did not live among the Chinese, Japanese and Indian peoples. Jews are therefore not seen as the "other who lives among us at our expense", and therefore are not hated.

Jew-hatred immigrated to the US from Europe long ago, but today its source is Islam and it is increasing as Islamic presence in public and political spheres becomes more pronounced. The number of Muslims in the US today is on the increase, while the number of US Jews is in constant  decline. Most US Jews are liberals and over 70% vote Democrat, making them the target of those who hate the Democrats. Jews were at the center of the struggle for civil rights for Afro-Americans in the middle of the last century and can be found today in the forefront of public activisim for accepting Syrian migrants, mainly Muslims. The American Right sees this Jewish activity in a negative light and as a result their demonstrations include the slogan "Jews will not replace us."

The growing hatred towards Jews is evident in worrying reports of a dramatic rise in the number of incidents where this hatred is expressed, the most shocking being shooting sprees: One, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the Succot hoiiday this year, was the work of a murderer named Robert Bowers who broke into the Tree of Life Synagogue murdering 11 worshippers in cold blood and wounding six. The second happened this past Passover when a murderer named John Ernest broke into the Poway, California Chabad House, killed a worshipper and  wounded three others. In both cases the perpetrators cited the ant-Jewish Turner Diaries written in 1978 by an American Nazi named William Luther Pierce who also writes under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald.

Another factor casting a shadow on Jewish life in the USA is the strengthening of anti-capitalist concepts and negative opinions regarding "privileged," rich, healthy whites held by groups seen as underprivileged: people  of color, the poor and handicapped. Jews are considered privileged and therefore an inseparable part of the  "oppression and exclusion" system operated by the "privileged" against those "discriminated against" and "excluded" from the advantages available to the privileged groups.

More and more, as criticism of the policies it employs for self-defense increases, Israel is considered a burden by many American Jews. The very establishment of the Jewish State at the cost of the "unfortunate Palestinians" is in question. The challenge  to Israel's right to exist because of it being a "colonialist entity" is  prevalent in US Academic circles where for decades generations  of students have been taught to  believe  with all their hearts that Jews have no right to a national home. Jews identifying with Israel on campus are subjected to criticism and hate speech from lecturers who threaten to affect their grades negatively and from peers who threaten their safety.

It is imperative to mention the involvement of Jewish organizations In fanning the flames of this criticism as well as hatred for Israel: Jewish Voice for Peace, Peace Now, J Street, each it its own way and with its own methods. Activists in these organizations think that if only Israel would "act nicely" – according to their definitions of what that entails – to its neighbors, they – that is, the Jewish liberals  and progressives – would be accepted more easily by American society. They do not realize the simple fact that Jew-hatred has nothing to do with Israel, was not born in 1948 but is deeply rooted in western culture, just as it is in Islamic culture.

The US was the Promised Land for Jews for many years. It was a land of immigrants where they could enjoy equal rights, respect and appreciation just like the other immigrants to its shores.  It was also a safe haven - certainly in comparison with the security situation in Israel - a country where no one checks the bags of those entering a shopping center, train or bus station as they do in the Jewish State. However, the increase in Jew-hatred over the last few years has cast a pall on that feeling of security, and the murderous attacks targeting Jews in the past year have made the safe haven concept a shaky one. Many synagogues now have police protection during Sabbath and holiday prayers or during other activities that take place during the week.   

A number of Jews have established an organization called Jews Can Shoot. Their kippahs are embroidered with the words: "Norhing Says Never Again Like an Armed Jew." Printed on the lining of the kippah is a saying by the Jewish Sages: "If someone is coming to kill you, rise against him and kill him first." There are Jews who come to the synagogue with a firearm, but is that going to solve the problem of Jew-hatred? And what exactly is the armed Jew going to do if the murderer carries an automatic weapon? What is going to happen if a group armed with automatic weapons attacks a synagogue where a single guard carrying a pistol is stationed outside? Is this scenario impossible to imagine?


Never Again kippah

I became aware of the massive change in the worldview of many US Jews during my lecture tour between Passover and Shavuot. The fear of encountering Jew hatred and terror attacks became a real possibility, an all-embracing undercurrent. The result is going to be the strengthening of two opposing trends: one, that Jews who do not feel a real connection to the Jewish collective are going to see that connection as an increasingly troublesome burden which they will try to make less visible as long as they can safely integrate totally into the surrounding society and be rid of the destiny facing US Jewry. In contrast, those Jews who will not or can not hide their identity (due to their clothes, side locks, beards and faith) will surround themselves with real or virtual walls in order to protect themselves and their congregations in Jewish neighborhoods (such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn) or towns  (such as Monsey and Munroe). Others will reach the conclusion that French Jews reached over the past few years, give up life in America and move to Israel.

Israel's political system reflects the mindset of its population, with the right getting steadily stronger and the left weaker in a long term, continuous process. The political system in the United States, in contrast, is based on a kind of pendulum that sometimes grants the reins of power to Democrats like Carter, Clinton and Obama, and sometimes to the Republicans like Reagan, the Bush father and son and Trump. It is possible that after Trump – as a reaction to his way of thinking and behavior – the political pendulum will bring a radical leftist Jew like Bernie Sanders and his followers' liberal progressive agenda.That will bring the anti-Jewish feelings on the part of the American Right to new heights, but hopefully not their anti-Jewish actions.I do not see a way to return the anti-Jewish genie back to the bottle – and I am not so sure he was ever imprisoned there.

Twentieth century history teaches that the more Jews were integrated into the society in which they lived, the greater the threat they were perceived to pose to that society, therefore the greater the hatred they inspire. In pre-WWII Weimar Germany, Austria and Holland, Jews were on the highest socio-economic level, causing the Jew-hatred in those countries to be worse than that of Eastern European countries. Until recently, most American Jews felt that the US is intrinsically different than Europe, that "it can't happen here." That feeling has begun to erode.

Israel must prepare itself to absorb massive aliya from the USA. This aliya will be the result of American Jewry reaching the conclusion that just as Europe, the USA has ceased to be a secure haven for Jews. Canada is not much better. And what is happening in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, let alone Venezuela, will encourage many of the Jews in those countries to leave them and move to Israel. I believe that  massive aliya from North, Central and South America is a matter of a few years at most, and the question Israel faces is what steps to take in order to absorb these future and blessed waves of immigration successfully.

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky

See you tomorrow- bli neder

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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Friday, June 28, 2019

Jerusalem's Tomb of the Kings to reopen for 1st time since 2010, but in  a very limited way and Israeli Archaeologists Discover How Ancient Romans Pulled Off Their Monumental Architecture

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Parsha Korach-- the most important parsha in the Torah?

In the aftermath of the crisis of Korach, Hashem performs a miracle with Aharon's stick; In order to show that he was chosen to serve as the Kohen Gadol his stick bloomed overnight with flowers of an almond tree. When everything has settled, Hashem orders Moshe to put the Blooming Stick right next to Luchot Habrit in Kodesh HaKodashim, to serve as an eternal testimony to this event.

Even if we can understand why Hashem performed a miracle to prove Aharon's critics wrong, it is hard to understand why we should give this event such an historical importance. After all, this dispute seems to be a political issue involving emotions and human intrigue with no real impact to other generations. Especially when we compare it to The Luchot standing next to it, it seems very "local". The Luchot represent the Torah we received from heaven and they are the constant reminder that we were privileged and therefore obligated to always be connected to it.

In the second half of the 19th century, Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch was one of the most important leaders of German Jewry. Living in that time and place he found himself challenged strongly by new ideas influenced strongly by the Anti-Religious movements. One of the most significant battles was regrading the sanctity of the Torah and the faith that we received the Torah from above. When explaining this order, Rav Hirsch ties a direct connection between the times of Aharon and Moshe to his time and place.

Rav Hirsch teaches that the Blooming Stick and the Luchot are stored together in Kodesh HaKodashim to present us with the important idea that the Torah is in the end distant from us. As a nation we were privileged to receive the Torah from Hashem and we got the opportunity to be engaged in it. This is a privilege and an obligation that our nation has been invested in for more than three thousand years. Such a mission requires creativity and human initiatives and this might raise a problem of over-involvement. People could think that everything is to be judged by human standards and if the Torah's ideas don't meet them the Torah should be changed in order to fit to reality.

Putting the Luchot in Kodesh Hakodashim shows that even after we received the Torah we should never forget it is different from us. Yes, we humans have the ability to learn it and create with it, but it is always something heavenly, beyond the reach of our total understanding. The ideas morals and actions of the Torah should be performed in the world but they are always much loftier than the current reality.

The Blooming Stick was put right next to the Luchot to represent the same idea about the Levi'im and their role in our nation. The Levi'im were chosen to serve as the mediators between Hashem and Am Yisrael, and they serve as the enablers of spiritual growth in our nation. During the years, and especially when they succeed in their mission to connect the people to the Torah, we might think that they are not needed any more. So, in order to show our constant need of the Levi'im as mediators between us and Hashem we were ordered to put their stick in the Holiest place of all.

The reason that Korach may be the most important piece in the Torah, is this parsha is not esotaric. Korach chalanges that the Torah is not from Moshe and G-d, and G-d asks to give an unambigious sign that the Torah is from Moses and G-d. G-d opens up the earth with Moses's request and the argument should be solved, but human beings are not so simple.

Love Yehuda Lave


The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is in the country ahead of a press conference.BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF    

Nikki Haley at the Western Wall June 26 2019 . (photo credit: OREN BEN HAKON/ YISRAEL HAYOM)

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Wednesday and placed a note in it, as per the practice of making a wish at the holy site. 

Haley is in the country as a special guest of honor at a conference dealing with U.S.-Israeli relations held by the Israel Hayom newspaper.

This is Haley's first visit to Israel since she left office

Poll: Staggering Number of Americans Believe Businesses Can Bar Jews

The percent of the US population that believes small businesses should be permitted to refuse to serve Jews based on religious grounds is up to 19% this year compared to 12% in 2014, according to a poll by the Public Research Institute.

Support for denying service to Jews has roughly doubled among white evangelical Protestants (up to 24% from 12% in 2014), white mainline Protestants (up to 26% from 11%), and Catholics (up to 20% from 10%), while the religiously unaffiliated (11% vs. 11%) and nonwhite Protestants (19% vs. 14%)

Republicans (24%) are more likely than independents (16%) and Democrats (17%) to say small businesses should be allowed to refuse service to Jews.

The poll detected an increase in the willingness of Americans to refuse service to other groups, such as the LGBT community, Muslims or African-Americans.

22% of Americans say small businesses should be able to refuse to serve Muslims on religious grounds. 24% of Americans say atheists and 29% of transgender people should be refused service.

The percentage of Americans who believe that small businesses should not serve gays and lesbians was the highest, at 30%.

The organization that carried out the survey interviewed 1,100 adults by telephone, with a margin of error established at 3.5%.


Jerusalem's Tomb of the Kings to reopen for 1st time since 2010, but in a very limited way

France announces reopening of Tomb of the Kings grave site to the public, following 9-year closure for renovations.

The Tomb of the Kings, a 2,000-year-old archaeological gem in the heart of Jerusalem owned by France, is to reopen to the public for the first time since 2010, the French consulate said Wednesday.

The elaborate Roman-era tomb with stone shelves that once held sarcophagi, considered among the largest in the region, will be opened on Thursday, and the following Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the consulate's website said.

Visits will be limited to 15 people in 45-minute stretches, the ticket order page said, noting the need for "proper dress" at the Tomb of the Kings, which is a funeral site.

The graves themselves will remain closed to the public for conservation and safety reasons.

The vast site, located in east Jerusalem some 700 meters (yards) north of the Old City, is hidden behind a wall with a metal gate marked by a French flag.

It has been closed since 2010 due to renovations costing around a million euros ($1.1 million).

A spokeswoman for the French Consulate General said that in opening the site, France was implementing a decision and a commitment "made a long time ago".

Jews consider the tomb a holy burial site of ancient ancestors and demand the right to pray there.

Excavations of the site began in the 1860s, with Felicien de Saulcy of France taking on the project in 1863 and seeking to confirm it was the tomb of biblical figures King David and Solomon, giving rise to the site's name.

That theory has been ruled out, but the name has endured.

Several sarcophagi were found inside and are now in the Louvre museum in Paris, including one with an Aramaic inscription.

According to the most commonly accepted theory, it refers to Queen Helena of Adiabene, in today's Iraqi Kurdistan, and she may have built the tomb for her dynasty.

After de Saulcy's excavation, the tomb was purchased by the Pereire brothers, a Jewish banking family in Paris that would later hand the property over to France.

Israel and France had negotiated the site's status and reopening, but a French consulate spokeswoman declined to give details.

"We are reopening in accordance with the rules we set for ourselves," she told AFP.

Israel's foreign minister welcomed France's decision to open the tomb.

"(I) invite the public to visit the site, which has great significance to the Jewish people, and is further testimony to the deep and multigenerational connection of the Jewish people to its eternal capital Jerusalem," Israel Katz said in a statement.


       "And you will see it and you will remember all the Mitzvot of Hashem and you will do them" (15:39)   The Mitzvah of Sisit is a Commandment which is categorized as an 'Edut', Testimony. 

An Edut testifies to Historical events or great principles. Since we can understand the Edut more easily, therefore they are more obligatory for us to do them. Principle: "Whatever is easier to do is more obligatory".  

Some examples of Edut are: Matzah – to recall being slaves in Egypt. Sisit – to remember the Mitzvot. Mezuzah – reminds us that this is a Holy home given to us by Hashem. Teffilin – reminds us that Hashem took us out of Egypt. And that the words of Torah should be on our lips. Pesach – Yetziat Mitzrayim. Shabbat – that Hashem created the world from nothing (ex nihilo).   The verse says that when we look at the Sisit we should remember all of the (613) Mitzvot. This would necessitate the knowledge of all the Mitzvot and include a special effort to perform. The Rabbis tell us, "If a person tries to do too much at one time he will not accomplish anything". 

Therefore, when we gather the 4 Sisit every morning during the Shema prayer, lets try to think and 'remember' at least the following 4 Mitzvot which will fulfill 4 Commandments from our Torah.   1. "To gain fear/awareness of Hashem" – think that Hashem is looking at you. "Et Hashem Elokecha tira"   2. "To Love Hashem" – say, 'I Love You Hashem'. "Veahabta Et Hashem Elokecha Bechol Lebabecha"   3. "To Thank Hashem" – Thank Him for Everything. "Tob Lehodot LeHashem"   4. "To Love your fellow Jew & Jewish Nation" – Hashem created the world for Am Yisrael.    "Beni Bechori Yisrael".  

We must listen to the testimony of the Edut as they were made in order to speak to us. When you see 'Sisit', your neighbor's or your own, remind yourself of the Mitzvot.   By thinking into the Edut/Testimonies of our Torah you will produce a diamond and a collection of gems in your mind which will give you pleasure in this world and in the next world forever.    

Israeli Archaeologists Discover How Ancient Romans Pulled Off Their Monumental Architecture

Ikea didn't invent the DIY diagram: Ancient stonecutters wanted credit for their efforts just like any artist, signed their work — and also marked the stone blocks with instructions

We have long known that some of the builders in antiquity had extraordinary skills, but still don't know how certain monumental construction projects were achieved. Now at least, though, one mystery has been put to bed: How the ancient Romans achieved efficiency in their massive construction projects, whether building roads or edifices from scratch. 


Their stonemasons carved or painted small, all-but-imperceptible instructions onto the stones themselves, explain Arleta Kowalewska and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the University of Haifa's Institute of Archaeology, in the journal Tel Aviv.

Much of their work was done in Antiochia Hippos, as the Romans called the city, set upon a hill overlooking the east of the Sea of Galilee.

"Following the research at Hippos and around the region, we realized for the first time that the marks from the quarries can be dated to the massive construction of Herod the Great, and then tend to disappear," Eisenberg tells Haaretz. "They appear again only within the great Pax Romana and boom of construction in the Roman East. The cities in our region needed a large-scale quarrying effort to fulfill the need for building blocks and architectural elements for the public and for monumental construction."

Thus, Eisenberg and Kowalewska have shown that in this hilltop town, the practice of carving or painting masons' marks began in the late first century and ended in the late second century. There are other places where it began earlier and ended later.

"Now, archaeologists who lack datable material can use the marks to narrow down the date of a single architectural fragment and even a structure, using — with caution — the suggested dating frame," Eisenberg adds.

One of the basalt drums of Hippos' colonnaded street, with a masons' mark (which would have been hidden from view) Dr. Michael Eisenberg

Another block in the wall

Construction in Hippos (Sussita in Aramaic) and other towns throughout ancient Israel, Jordan and Syria and beyond was not done by laying identical, industrially manufactured bricks like we do now. Then, stone blocks had to be carved out of the bedrock individually. In Hippos, that bedrock was basalt.

And it wasn't that one set of numbskulls whipped by overseers knocked blocks out of bedrock, then another set transported them (with or without quadrupeds), then a third set mindlessly erected walls out of identically shaped stone (ashlar) blocks. Creating stone blocks and building with them was skilled work.

Section of a column as masons marked them M. Eisenberg

Evidently, report Kowalewska and Eisenberg, the stonecutters of yore craved acknowledgement. Who doesn't?

They also aspired to ensure that the builders would put the blocks and pieces exactly where they were supposed to go during construction. Both purposes were achieved with masons' marks.

Hippos' decumanus maximus - main street, with masons' marks on its basalt pavers Dr. Michael Eisenberg

Some 2,000 years later, give or take a few centuries, the marks — tiny and often concealed to begin with — are barely discernible. Finding them takes eagle eyes, technology, a flashlight and an idea of where to start looking.

In fact, the marks had gone largely unremarked until Eisenberg and the team began to partially reconstruct a Roman basilica at Antiochia Hippos.

"The penny only dropped after we had already rebuilt some of the heavy basalt drums comprising the Roman basilica's columns," Eisenberg says. "Each column had been as much as 9 meters [nearly 30 feet] tall, and was made of a pedestal, base, shaft and, finally, the capital, all made of locally quarried basalt."

The rub was, the drums of the columns all shared the same diameter but differed in height. So, the order of the drums had to have been planned back at the quarry: Each was marked to show where it should be placed within the column. "The piece marked 'IIIIA' went above 'IIIA,' and so on," Eisenberg explains.

The Hippos forum, after the rain, with a view of the Sea Of Galilee. About 20% of the basalt paving stones bear masons' marks Dr. Michael Eisenberg

Thus, the colonnaded main street of Hippos-Sussita could be reliably reconstructed — a first in the annals of local archaeology.

They didn't need to mark every single block: about one in five was enough. Some of the marks were letters; other were symbols; some were both. Back then, literacy was not to be taken for granted.

Once you set out to look for them, you discover that masons' marks existed in ancient towns built of stone blocks throughout the Levant. They peaked in the Roman period, which was indeed characterized by massive construction projects.

Mason's mark from the stables, Montfort Castle Adrian Boas

At the biblical site of Megiddo (known in Christian literature as Armageddon), masons' marks appear as small letters or even just shapes engraved on stone blocks used in the walls and streets. The stone blocks and paving stones in the main street of ancient Hippos-Sussita also bear numerous little engravings, the team tells Haaretz.

Hidden spots of Montfort Castle — a massive Crusader structure in the Upper Galilee that defended absolutely nothing — also feature stones with little carved designs.

All isn't vanity

So the masons' marks were of two fundamental types: signature and instruction. "Ancient stonemasons were as fussy about credit as any Hollywood starlet, it seems," observes Kowalewska. At least some of the markings on the stone blocks in ancient Israelite towns, and Roman cities too, seem to have been personal signatures.

Mason's mark on a basalt drum, part of the basilica colonnade Dr. Michael Eisenberg

Was this just vanity? Probably not. "Building stones start in the quarry," Kowalewska explains. Lacking modern machinery, men broke their backs extracting and preparing the stones. But knowing where to place and angle the wedge took skill, as did striking it properly to break pieces from the bedrock. "Then they had to carve usable architectural elements out of it by hand," she says. The stonecutters were, in two words, muscle-bound artistes.

The carved or daubed marks weren't necessarily the individual mark of a single person. A given team at a given quarry would have a given mark.

Mason's mark A. Kowalewska

In Kowalewska's opinion, a key reason masons "signed" their blocks was to make sure they got paid, assuming they weren't slaves, and so that no one else could steal the credit for their work.

And as the team realized at Hippos, ego and recompense aside, the marks also served as early assembly instructions — akin to the "instructions" Ikea provides with its flat-pack products, Eisenberg says.

Brought to you by the letter Heh for Herod

Looking at the gorgeous large columns that decorated the cities of Rome and Greece, they were comprised of multiple parts. Before being moved from the quarry to their destination, the pieces would be carved to fit with one another as they would sit in the final edifice. Why? Because transporting finished pieces with all the extraneous material knocked off is easier and lighter, and therefore cheaper, Kowalewska explains.

Masons in the quarry marked the pieces so the builders at the construction site would know how to assemble them. For example, under one system, each part of the column would be marked with a letter and a number — the letter symbolizing the column, the number the position within that column.

Once construction was done, the instruction marks were sometimes entirely concealed from view. For instance, marks on the column parts at the Propylaea (the monumental gateway to the Acropolis in Athens) were engraved on the covered face of the stones.

Often, the masons' marks would consist of letters. "That can establish the provenance of the workers," says Kowalewska. "Marks on King Herod's palaces and tomb are in Hebrew, indicating involvement of local stonemasons, although the buildings themselves have many Roman features."

At Hippos-Sussita, about 20 percent of the heavy basalt stone-block flooring bears masons' marks. "We managed to identify 20 different types," Kowalewska shares. "It is entirely possible that the quarriers couldn't read or write, but they did know how to make their marks."

Also, the marks can be a tool for reconstruction of buildings, providing they are preserved on many of the stones. If the marked stone has been reused, they can tell from which structure it was taken. Besides their usefulness for archaeologists, these marks also serve as a simple reminder of all the hard work undertaken by the builders of the past.

The Roman-period mausoleum at the Hippos necropolis — a grand structure with multiple stories that is presently undergoing excavation — contained dozens of magnificently designed stone parts that all bear masons' marks. "Maybe one day we will be able to reconstruct it as it really was, based on the masons' marks," Eisenberg says.

Maybe they will, if they learn not only to find the marks but to read them too.

Sussita National Park is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.


Ruth Schuster

Haaretz Correspondent


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