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
NIKKI HALEY VISITS WESTERN WALL IN JERUSALEM
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.
AS HEARD FROM RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER Z'TL
"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.