Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Thank you G-d and Ultrasound to Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS and my visit to Nimrod's castle in Northern Israel

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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

The Torah states regarding donations made for the clothing of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest),

"And the heads of the tribes brought shoham stones (onyx) and (other) stones to be set for the ephod (an apron-like garment) and for the breastplate" (Ex. 35:27).

Why does the Torah make specific mention that the Princes of the tribes were the ones bringing the stones?

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchok) who lived 1040-1104 and is considered the leading commentator on the Torah and the Talmud) cites the words of the Sages who note that the heads of the tribes brought the last donations for the Sanctuary. The Princes said, "We will let the other people donate whatever they will donate, and we will bring whatever is missing." However, the people brought all that was needed. The heads of the tribes then asked, "What can we still do?" The only things remaining were the special stones that were needed and this is what they brought. Since they procrastinated, the Torah hints a reproof to them by spelling the name nesiim (princes) lacking one Hebrew letter yud.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that their original intention appears to be virtuous. They said that they would bring whatever was needed at the end. (The Sanctuary was built through donations - except the foundations of the pillars which came from compulsory communal funds. The Princes felt that the needs would be too great for the people to cover; they underestimated the national fervor and generosity!) This appears to be a very generous proposal on their part. However, we learn from here that since their behavior touched on the negative trait of laziness, their behavior was considered incorrect and they were censored for it.

Whenever a negative character trait could be an underlying factor for your behavior, be very careful to clarify what your true motivation is. This especially applies to the trait of laziness. It is easy to give many good-sounding reasons for not doing things. When laziness could be the real reason for your lack of action, be suspicious that your reasons are actually rationalizations by which you are trying to excuse yourself. Our lesson: Don't procrastinate in preparing It can become too late.

Love Yehuda Lave

7 spieces poster

Gaza's Past and Gaza's Present

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Scientists at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of North Carolina in the US hav..

my visit to Nimrod's castle in Northern Israel

The Nimrod Fortress is the biggest Crusade-era castle in all of Israel, a mountain-top stronghold spanning back to the 13th century. With views of much of the Golan, the Nimrod Fortress is situated on a peak neighboring Israel's highest and only snow-capped mountain, Mount Hermon. Below the fortress are the lush Banias forests with the rivers and waterfalls. The ruins of Nimrod Fortress are beautiful and well-preserved, a truly visible snapshot of history.

Nimrods Fortress and Hula Valley from North Tower. Image: Boruch Len

Within the stately ruins of the Nimrod Fortress – some 420 meters in length and 150 meters in width, a route has been mapped out, each place of interest marked with descriptive signs. From the lower western section, where most of the interesting antiquities are found, to the upper eastern section, the oldest part of the fortress, some 13 marked sites are to be seen on the route. Starting with the Northwest Tower, a short walk up from the parking lot, a collection of rooms, arches and even a small toilet room are seen. Next, after seeing the Baybars Inscription, is the Western Tower which is not yet excavated. Then, still following the route, the Southwest Tower and the Large Reservoir – a spectacular indoor reservoir pool within an arched room, are to be enjoyed. Continuing along the wall to the upper western section, the "Beautiful Tower" can be found, a round room with a great faceted pillar holding up the stone ceiling. Crossing the dry Moat, the Donjon (Keep) is next. Atop the Keep one gets the best view of both the fortress and the surrounding area, a beautiful blend of stone and foliage. Returning to the western section, the Prison Tower can be visited and when you want to "escape" you can sneak through the Secret Passage (27 meters or 88.5 feet long) which opens up in the Northwest Tower – where the route started. The full circle can take up to several hours, depending on how long one spends both examining the magnificent architecture and the incredible panoramic vista.

The Nimrod Fortress National Park, containing the fortress and the forested mountain on which it rests, covers a total of 195 dunams (49 acres). Somewhat hidden in the land and accessible either by walking down from the fortress or up from the main road, a huge pool can be found. The pool, once used for irrigation and watering the herds, measures an impressive 26 x 54 meters (85 x 177 feet) in surface area and holds the depth of 5 meters (16.5 feet).

Nimrods Fortress – Arched tunnel in Great Room. Image: Boruch Len

The Nimrod Fortress (known in Arabic as both Qal'at Subayba and Qal'at Nimrud, Cliff Fortress and Nimrod Fortress, respectively) once controlled the region's road which began in Tyre (part of modern-day Lebanon) and ran down the Mediterranean coastline, through the Hula Valley and Banias on the way to Damascus. The fortress is named after Nimrod, the great warrior from the early days in Biblical times, who was also rumoured to have built his own castle up on the mountain. Some thousands of years later when the Crusaders lost to Saladin, the nephew of Saladin, al-Aziz Othman, built up the eastern section of the fortress. Throughout the next 50 years, the fortress was enlarged and improved in three more stages. Bilik of the Mamelukes finished off the building in the year 1275 and signed his work with a glorious stone inscription which can still be seen today.

The Nimrod Fortress is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Golan and is worth a visit.

This was Monday on the 2nd day of my 16 day trip after I drove to Mount Hermon. The beauty was spectacular and hard to believe I was still in Israel. Back to Jerusalem on Tuesday before I leave for Czech on Wendesday.

Thank You, Modeh Ani (Official Music Video) by Jeremy Gimpel - ג'רמי גימפל ,מודה אנ

About The Judean Way to Start Your Day

How did the prophets of Israel start their mornings and begin their days? There's an ancient Jewish spiritual practice that realigns us and launches us into every morning.

This practice was passed down throughout the ages as an introduction to the morning prayers called "Psukei D'Zimra"- 'Passages of Song'. It is nothing less than a spiritual technology developed and maintained by Israel for centuries.

Now as we have returned to our land it is time to re-institute the practice. If you win the morning, you win the day. If you change your days, you change your life.

Excerpt from Introduction: I have spent the last four years deep in the mountains of Judea, in the place that Kind David wrote most of the Book of Psalms. I have come daily to these mountains seeking an encounter, trying to find the inspiration that David experienced when he wrote the Psalms.

Alone with my guitar, I would sing and pray his words....days after day. In this world of confusion and separation, doubts and cynicism, some of the clarity and strength I have found was discovered in moments of praise, exaltation, gratitude and worship.

The melodies that emerged in those encounters became the songs in this album. This album is the journal of experiences I had in the sacred mountains and this book is a collection of the insights, tips and tactics I've discovered while following the guidance of ancient Israel. Download the full music album and Order the EBook "The Ancient:

English Translation of Song: Thank you Living Everlasting King, for You have restored my soul in me with compassion – Your faith is abundant. (First sentence in the siddur, prayer book) And I am my prayer to You Hashem, may it be a time of favor, God, in your abundant kindness answer me with the truth of Your salvation. (Psalm 69:13) The whole world is filled with Your Glory (Isaiah 6:3). There is nothing other than Him (Deuteronomy 4:35).


An audiovisual Twitterstorm performed by our feathered fellows. Keep the birds on singing: like and share the clip.

Jewish wedding celebrated in 1500 year-old synagogue in Italy

Ultrasound to Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS

May 29, 2019 -- When David Shorr was 56, the then-mortgage consultant in Columbus, OH, noticed some changes in his memory and thinking.

Three years later, the 59-year-old searches for the words to describe it. "It wasn't sudden, but over time, I knew in my mind that something was different. I wasn't able to manage some of the stuff that I had been doing before." He speaks slowly and carefully. "I found that people were seeing what was going on with me. As that went on, it came to a head. I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's."

David Shorr and his wife, Kim, went to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment. David Shorr got medications to ease some of the symptoms. But without medicines to cure or slow the progress of the disease, their only other option was experimental treatments.

"They asked us from the beginning if we were interested in clinical trials," says Kim Shorr. This year, they found a match. But the treatment, Kim says, sounded intense.

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Researchers would shave David Shorr's head, then use ultrasoundwaves to try to open his blood-brain barrier -- that's the shield made of blood vessels that protects the brain from any germs or other threats that may be circulating in the bloodstream. The blood-brain barrier mostly keeps the brain healthy by keeping infection out. But when a disease like Alzheimer's is in the brain, that barrier can prevent helpful medicine from getting in.

Ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer's disease is the latest in the growing field of focused ultrasound. Most people think of ultrasound as a way to take fuzzy black-and-white pictures of a fetus in the womb. But with focused ultrasound, doctors use the sound waves to actively treat a condition rather than passively produce images of it. It's already an FDA-approved treatment for essential tremor and is an approved treatment for Parkinson's disease outside the United States. That's under review here as well.

The technique is also making waves in research into breast cancer, diabetes, and people with brain tumors, Lou Gehrig's disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), and mental illnesses, such as severe depression.

Vibhor Krishna , MD, right fits David Shorr with a helmet-like device used in a new clinical trial for Alzheimer's Disease at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In the photo above, Krishna and a technician review a brain scan.

"Because focused ultrasound has such a powerful combination of features -- it's an entirely unique and minimally invasive tool that can trigger a variety of responses in the body -- it has tremendous potential for treating a host of medical problems," says Richard Price, PhD, who is research director at the University of Virginia Focused Ultrasound Center. "There are probably many applications for focused ultrasound that we haven't even begun to contemplate yet."

Kim Shorr says she is hopeful using ultrasound can help her husband. "If it helps him, that would be great. And if it doesn't, then at least maybe it will help somebody someday. If it can help anyone, we would love it."

In the clinical trial, researchers want to test a few things. First, whether it is even possible to open the blood-brain barrier. Second, that doing so won't hurt the person. And finally, that the barrier will close back up later. The major risk of opening the blood-brain barrier is that it would stay open and put patients at risk of infections that could threaten their lives. In phase I clinical trials like this one, the goal is only to see if a treatment is safe. It's not expected to cure a person or improve their situation.

Shorr has now had three ultrasound sessions, and his blood-brain barrier closed on its own within hours of each. The same has been true for patients at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, where researchers were the first in the world to open the blood-brain barrier in a person with Alzheimer's disease.

If the procedure is deemed safe, researchers will move to the next phase -- to see if they can deliver medicine straight to the brain once the blood-brain barrier is open, and to see if that helps treat the disease.

But the treatment may bring about some positive benefits all on its own, without adding medication to it. "It may be that just opening the blood-brain barrier by itself may permit the body's own immune system to get into the brain and clear some of that amyloid [plaque that builds up in the brain in Alzheimer's]," says Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, a scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.

Early experiments at Sunnybrook found that the ultrasound technique alone cut brain plaque -- deposits that build up in the brain that are believed to cause memory problems -- in mice. Researchers at Sunnybrook, Ohio State, and other hospitals are now seeing if the same will be true in people.

Steadying a Shaky Hand

Rich Powley's hands started to shake when he was 57 years old. His doctor told him he had what's called essential tremor. The neurological disorder can affect any part of the body, but it often strikes the hands, especially the dominant hand. It tends to come in older age and can get worse over time.

"If a person with this condition wants to grab something, like a coffee cup, as they intensify their focus on grabbing that object, the tremor gets worse and worse," says Price.

Powley's doctor gave him medicine for the tremor, but the side effects -- nightmares, extreme drowsiness, weight loss, and always feeling cold -- were worse than the tremor, he said. Over the course of 26 years with the tremor, by the time Powley was 83 years old, he could no longer create oil paintings the way he used to. He had to hold the brush with both hands. He had to give up using axes, saws, and power tools on the 2-mile stretch of Appalachian Trail he maintains near his home in Free Union, VA. He couldn't shave or put sugar in his coffee. He wore a bib when he ate.  

"I tried not to get depressed," he says. "I tried changing the way I do things. But I had to rely on my wife for a lot of things."

Ultrasound treatments have all but eliminated the essential tremor that dogged Rich Powley for 26 years.

Then, this year, Powley's doctor at University of Virginia Health System asked him if he'd like to try focused ultrasound for the tremor in one of his hands. In this procedure, doctors use MRI to find the nerve cells in the brain causing the tremor. They then fit the patient with a customized helmet that delivers ultrasound waves to the exact spot causing the problem. The ultrasound waves heat up the tiny bit of culprit brain tissue and destroy it.

"You essentially cut the misfiring circuit and restore the patient's ability to use their hand much better," says Price.

Before the neurosurgeons started the treatment on Powley, he had to write his name and draw a spiral on paper. "While I was in the [MRI] machine," Powley explains, "they would roll me out every once in a while and give me the sheet of paper and pencil, and I would try to go around in a circle again. That would tell them how well they were doing."

For 2 hours, they rolled Powley in and out of the machine to check their work until finally everyone was satisfied. "They pulled me out, and I went through the test with the pencil and paper again, and I could write again."

Powley is back to painting and, he says, "I can eat my breakfast with a spoon, without a bib. It's just like a normal breakfast, and I am so happy."

While the procedure got rid of the tremor in Powley's right hand, it may not have the same effect on everyone. On average, people get about a 50% improvement in the use of their hands or the area that has the tremor. And like any other medical procedure, this one comes with risks. Some possible side effects include numbness or tingling in the fingers, headache, and unsteadiness. And there is a chance that the procedure can make it hard to walk or make you lose control of some body movements, such as speaking or picking things up.

Sending Up a Flare from Breast Tumors

Focused ultrasound waves may be useful in places besides the brain. Researchers at the University of Virginia are using the technology to try to trigger an immune system attack against cancer. Cancer cells have traits that allow them to trick the immune system -- the body's built-in defense system. The system recognizes the flu, colds, and other infections as a threat and attacks them. But cancer often manages to sneak by.

David Shorr has undergone three focused ultrasound treatments for his Alzheimer's disease.

New immunotherapy drugs can help the body's natural defense system recognize cancer as a threat. These drugs are working in melanoma, lung cancer, and others. But sometimes, for example in breast cancer, they may not be enough to wake the immune system up.

In experiments at the University of Virginia, when a woman starts immunotherapy for breast cancer, she also gets a specialized ultrasound treatment. Doctors use ultrasound waves to destroy a few cancer cells on the surface of the breast tumor. The inflammation can alert the immune system and trigger an attack.

"The idea with ultrasound is that the heat stress will cause the immune system to recognize the cancer cells and fight them," says Price.

This research is still getting its start, but "so far, we see some really exciting changes in how the tumor is behaving after it gets hit with the focused ultrasound," says Price.

Pushing the Boundaries of Ultrasound

Researchers don't believe they have exhausted all the possibilities when it comes to ultrasound.

In other early experiments -- not yet in people but showing good results so far in mice -- biomedical engineers at General Electric Global Research have managed to lower blood sugar by focusing ultrasound waves on nerve cells in the liver that help regulate blood sugar. Researchers at the University of Minnesota lessened inflammation and made arthritis less severe in mice by targeting ultrasound near the spleen.

"We're using the ultrasound to cause a release of [chemical substances] in the body to have a drug-like effect," says Christopher Puleo, PhD, a researcher at General Electric involved in the experiment.

The Schorrs are glad to help lay the groundwork for what might one day cure or vastly improve fatal brain diseases. "It's a lot of appointments, testing, bloodwork, MRIs and PET scans," says Kim Schorr, "but we think it's worth every bit of it. You only stand to help somebody."

Correction: An earlier version of this story failed to credit the University of Minnesota for its work in reasearching the effects of ultrasound waves on arthritis. 

See you tomorrow bli neder

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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