Active Ingredient in Cannabis Protects Aging Brain Cells and Ancient Hebrew Amulet Discovered at Joshua’s Altar in Samaria By Aryeh Savir and Panama where you can see the sunrise on the Pacific and Set on the Atlantic and Rabbi Berel Wein of how masses will fall for crazy ideas --Parsha Ki Tisa
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 sin of the Golden Calf remains one of the great mysteries in the story of the Jewish people throughout the ages. Flooded with miracles on all sides, unbelievably redeemed from Egyptian bondage, and being sustained daily in a desert, the Jewish people somehow revert to idolatry and paganism. As illogical as this is, it is, nevertheless, not as surprising as later generations may assess the events.
Human beings are not only influenced, but, to a greater extent, are limited and bound by the norms of the general society in which they exist. How can millions of North Koreans weep at the death of someone who was a tyrant and a murderer over them? Yet that is exactly what happened when the two previous Kingdoms finally passed from this earth.
It is exceedingly difficult to maintain one's individual beliefs, no matter how correct and logical they may be, in the face of contrary opinion held by the majority general society.
There was a phrase in Yiddish that translates as "the general society is malleable and foolish". Even the most outlandish of ideas – such as paganism itself – somehow will gain traction, even amongst intelligent people, if it is somehow the prevailing attitude that permeates the general society. In a world of belief and sacrifice for paganism, it is not that difficult to understand that this should affect the Jewish people as well, in spite of their own personal and national history of monotheism, miracles, and Godly deliverance.
The Talmud records that one of the great rabbis of the time saw the wicked king Achov in one of his dreams. The Rabbi asked the tyrant for his help in answering a question in Jewish law, over which the rabbis of the study hall were struggling. The king answered promptly and correctly, as to what the law is according to Jewish tradition. The rabbi in wonderment asked the king that if he is such a scholar, how could he follow idolatry and allow it to be rampant in the Jewish kingdom that he ruled? Achov answered: "If you would have lived in my generation, you would have picked up the hem of your robe in order to run more quickly to serve that false idol."
We look back at so many false idols and beliefs that litter the landscape of human history, and especially those of Western civilization. We wonder how people could have been so naïve and foolish and so wrong about such basic matters of faith and perspective? Yet we ourselves live in a society dominated by what we realize to be false ideas, bad policies and the foolish denial of facts and realities, let alone the obvious lessons of history and tradition. We know, for instance, that cancel culture is wrong, evil, and counterproductive to the human spirit and belief. Nevertheless, we are all careful not to say and certainly not to publish what we know to be true, because of our trepidation that we will somehow be canceled because of it.
To be a Jew requires great moral strength and fortitude. We have not always been able to swim against the current tide, and, tragically, we always pay a price for that failing.
Rabbi Berel Wein
From what Rabbi Berel Wein says above is it any wonder that so many people from the truckers to the flat earth theorists (and I am ashamed to say that I have a good friend who is a Torah scholar who believes in the flat earth nonsense) are anti-vaxors or wait and seeors?
I was and still am against economic shutdowns that do nothing except put the world out of business and useless masks that interfere with my ability to breathe, but I am 100% behind the vaccine that has saved so many people from dying. The vast majority of Doctors saw that there were few side effects versus the number of lives the vaccine saved, so have told us to take it.
We as Rabbis are supposed to push common sense to save our health, but there was so much frustration with a year of shutdowns, that people lost faith in what the government had to say and retreated to conspiracy theories to not protect their own health.
Let us hope that we can learn from Parsha Ki Tasa to regain our Common Sense.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
The Portion of Ki Tisa
The Sin of the Golden Calf
Not even forty days had passed since the Torah was given to the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai when they committed one of the gravest sins in the recorded history of our people.
Moses is due to descend Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the Ten Commandments after being atop the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
The people anxiously await his return, but their patience wears thin. In the prolonged absence of their leader, they turn to Aaron and demand that he form an alternative in the shape of a golden calf.
The people donate their jewelry for the "cause". Moses returns, sees what is happening and smashes the tablets. "They will be disgraced before their enemies" (Exodus 32;25), says Moses. The nations will say: "You proclaim daily that here is one G-d and then you make a golden calf!!"
As a response to the people's "generosity" in donating their jewelry to make the golden calf, we see in the portion of Naso that it was the leaders of the twelve tribes who took the initiative to be the first to donate the sacrifices for the dedication of the altar (Numbers 6;2).
In two verses in our portion and in the portion of Naso we see the foot of the "kuf" reach close to its roof (there are even some Sifrei Torah where they actually touch) like a "final" reversed letter "pei". This is an allusion to the stifling of the nations "mouths" who were denouncing the Children of Israel.
Active Ingredient in Cannabis Protects Aging Brain Cells
Summary: Cannabinol, an active ingredient in cannabis, can help protect brain cells from oxidative damage and preserve mitochondrial function.
Source: Salk Institute
Decades of research on medical cannabis has focused on the compounds THC and CBD in clinical applications. But less is known about the therapeutic properties of cannabinol (CBN). Now, a new study by Salk scientists shows how CBN can protect nerve cells from oxidative damage, a major pathway to cell death.
The findings, published online in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, suggest CBN has the potential for treating age-related neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's.
"We've found that cannabinol protects neurons from oxidative stress and cell death, two of the major contributors to Alzheimer's," says senior author Pamela Maher, a research professor and head of Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory. "This discovery could one day lead to the development of new therapeutics for treating this disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson's disease."
Derived from the cannabis plant, CBN is molecularly similar to THC, but is not psychoactive. It's also less heavily regulated by the FDA. Previous research by Maher's lab found that CBN had neuroprotective properties, but it wasn't clear how it worked. Now, this new study explains the mechanism through which CBN protects brain cells from damage and death.
Maher's team looked at the process of oxytosis, also called ferroptosis, which is thought to occur in the aging brain. Growing evidence suggests that oxytosis may be a cause of Alzheimer's disease. Oxytosis can be triggered by the gradual loss of an antioxidant called glutathione, causing neural cell damage and death via lipid oxidation. In the study, the scientists treated nerve cells with CBN, and then introduced an agent to stimulate oxidative damage.
They further found that the CBN worked by protecting mitochondria, the cell's powerhouses, within the neurons. In damaged cells, oxidation caused the mitochondria to curl up like donuts—a change that's also been seen in aging cells taken from the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Treating cells with CBN prevented the mitochondria from curling up and kept them functioning well.
To confirm the interaction between CBN and mitochondria, researchers then replicated the experiment in nerve cells that had the mitochondria removed. In these cells, CBN no longer demonstrated its protective effect.
"We were able to directly show that maintenance of mitochondrial function was specifically required for the protective effects of the compound," Maher said.
In another key finding, researchers showed that CBN did not activate cannabinoid receptors, which are required for cannabinoids to produce a psychoactive response. Thus, CBN therapeutics would work without causing the individual to become "high."
"CBN is not a controlled substance like THC, the psychotropic compound in cannabis, and evidence has shown that CBN is safe in animals and humans. And because CBN works independently of cannabinoid receptors, CBN could also work in a wide variety of cells with ample therapeutic potential," says first author Zhibin Liang, a postdoctoral fellow in the Maher lab.
In addition to Alzheimer's, the findings have implications for other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, which is also linked to glutathione loss. "Mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in changes in various tissues, not just in the brain and aging, so the fact that this compound is able to maintain mitochondrial function suggests it could have more benefits beyond the context of Alzheimer's disease," Maher said.
Maher adds that the study shows the need for further research into CBN and other lesser-studied cannabinoids. As a next step, Maher's team is working to see if they can reproduce their results in a preclinical mouse model.
Other authors on the study are David Soriano-Castell, Devin Kepchia, Antonio Currais and David Schubert from Salk; and Brendan Duggan from the University of California San Diego.
Funding: This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at the Salk Institute, an Innovation Award from the Salk Institute, the Shiley Foundation, the Bundy Foundation and the University of California San Diego.
photo Credit: Roi Hadi / Samaria Spokesperson's Office
An ancient amulet made of lead and written in ancient Hebrew was found among the remains of the excavation carried out at the archeological site on Mount Ebal in Samaria, where the biblical-era altar of Joshua bin Nun is located.
The amulet is inscribed with the letter Alef and a mark reminiscent of a lotus flower.
The Book of Joshua describes how the Israelite General who commanded the conquest of Canaan, built an altar on Mount Ebal, acting on instructions from Moses after the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River.
Haifa University archaeologist Adam Zertal, who passed away in 2015, identified the remains of an altar found at the site as the one described in the Bible, where Joshua distributed the land among the tribes.
Zertal's research showed the area to be a unique ritual site for offering sacrifices. The dating of the altar to the period of the Israelites' entry into the land, the similarity between the excavated structure and the altar described in the Bible, and the fact that only kosher animal bones were found at the site, led the researchers to conclude that this is the altar Joshua built on Mount Ebal.
Researcher Zvi Konigsberg, who assisted Zertal in the excavations between 1982 and 1988, described how "after the excavation, we left many piles of dirt we had dug up, and given that the piles may contain valuable finds, a group of Prof. Zertal's friends moved them to a safe place where they could be inspected. Many years later, the technology for properly sifting the dirt was developed."
One of the items discovered was the tiny amulet, measuring only 2×2 centimeters. The amulet is "opaque as an oyster," implying that it used to contain something inside. The lead expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority tried to open it but gave up after it began to crumble at the edges. The researchers then found a lab in Prague that performs sophisticated photographs that allow for the construction of a three-dimensional model. The results showed many grooves in the amulet, one of them resembling a bull's head, known in ancient times as an "Alef," the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
"Another mark found on the amulet resembles a lotus flower, a significant image in ancient Egypt," according to Konigsberg.
Konigsberg revealed that a thorough examination of the plasterboards discovered inside the altar will be carried out in the coming days. He explained that during Joshua's conquest, plaster was used only in places of worship. "It would be fascinating to examine the boards with technologies that were not yet available to us at the time of the excavations, such as sophisticated infrared devices, which may reveal writing, which is mentioned in the Bible regarding Joshua's altar," Konigsberg said.
Joshua's altar is the only currently known remnant from the period of the Israelite conquest of Canaan. Prof. Zertal believed that this was the altar around which the covenant ceremony mentioned in the Book of Joshua took place.
Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said that the new find "proves again the deep and inseparable connection between the Jewish people and Samaria and the Land of Israel in general."
In 2010, Prof. Zertal headed the excavations at El-Ahwat, which he identified as the Biblical Harosheth Haggoyim, a fortress described in the Book of Judges as the cavalry base of General Sisera, the commander of King Yavin's army (Judges 4).
"The discovery of Joshua's altar by the late archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal is one of the most significant discoveries in the history of archeology in the Land of Israel," Dagan asserted, noting that "unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority, together with partners from Europe and the extreme left, is trying to erase the history of the Jewish people in Samaria every day. Only recently there was another damage inflicted on the site of Joshua's Altar. The government must take full responsibility for these historic and important sites in Samaria, preserve and develop them," Dagan said.
Because of this little wiggle called the Isthmus of Panama, where the "tail" of Central America joins the northern part of South America:
That cool-looking sinusoidal bend means that over a comparatively small area, the Pacific Ocean is actually to the EAST of the Atlantic Ocean. It's the only place on earth where two continents connect with a bend like that.