Ukrainian soldiers discover ancient amphoras in Odesa and How Judaism views pornography and two of Ten Videos from Prague and Caesar’s favorite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. Until climate change killed it off
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 Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
How Judaism views pornography
Judaism isn't prudish, nor does it think that sex is wicked or shameful.
Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
Q. What is the Jewish view of pornography?
A. Judaism isn't prudish, nor does it think that sex is wicked or shameful.
"The Lord created all things according to His wisdom," wrote Nachmanides in his "Iggeret HaKodesh" ("Epistle of Holiness"), "and whatever He created cannot possibly be shameful or ugly."
Sex was always treated frankly though not crudely in Judaism. The Tanach abounds with references to the marital life of the Biblical characters. In days when Jewish children studied the Tanach chapter by chapter, leaving nothing out, they picked up a good knowledge of the facts of life.
The Talmud – at least one-sixth of which deals with sex and marriage – gave them some plain detail about sex, human anatomy, married life and childbirth. It was all part and parcel of their religious education, gained against a home background of marital love, happiness and harmony.
The Jewish principle is that, approached in the right way, sex can be the most enriching expression of human love and the most creative act open to humankind. Sex outside marriage is considered wrong. Sex within marriage expresses loyalty, trust and understanding, and fulfils one as a person.
"The act of sexual union is holy and pure," says Nachmanides. "When a man is in union with his wife in a spirit of holiness and purity, the Divine presence is with them."
In order to promote "a spirit of holiness and purity," the codes of Jewish law provide detailed guidance on married life. Because it is an intimate, private expression of love, intercourse is not permitted in any public place. This prohibition applies to real or simulated intercourse on stage or screen. Despite the story of Adam and Eve, one should not publicly expose one's body.
The use of aids to the establishment of a satisfactory sex relationship is not banned. The Bible refers to mandrakes as love potions, and the Talmud says that certain foods, if eaten on the eve of Shabbat, help to arouse desire.
In the words of David Mace: "The entirely positive attitude to sex which the Hebrews adopted was to me an unexpected discovery… I had not fully realised that it had its roots in an essentially 'clean' conception of the essential goodness of the sexual function… That sex can be a gift of God to be received with gratitude and enjoyed freely, is a truth too long forgotten, and sorely in need of revival."
It follows that Judaism does not refuse to countenance works of literary art simply because they deal with sex. But it insists that the theme be handled with modesty and dignity.
It says to the purveyors of pornographic material, "What are your motives? Are you promoting a responsible, mature attempt at working with a serious art form? Are you hankering after the bizarre, as with so much of contemporary art, theatre, literature and media? Are you among those who find sadistic pleasure in seeking to destroy our society? Are you in search of whimsical fun and frivolity? Or are your motives not simply those of cynical, commercial gimmickry?"
It says to the individual member of the public, "Whether society sets limits on freedom of publication or not, should you not exercise your own personal censorship and cultivate your own sense of discrimination?"
Rabbi Raymond Apple was for many years Australia's highest profile rabbi and the leading spokesman on Judaism. After serving congregations in London, Rabbi Apple was chief minister of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, for 32 years. He also held many public roles, particularly in the fields of chaplaincy, interfaith dialogue and Freemasonry, and is the recipient of several national and civic honours. Now retired, he lives in Jerusalem and blogs at http://www.oztorah.com
Ukrainian soldiers discover ancient amphoras in Odesa
Amphoras are ancient containers that were used for the storage and transportation of products, often wine.
WINE USED to be stored in amphorae in cool caves, as at Avdat in the Negev.(photo credit: DANI KRONENBERG)Advertisement
Ancient amphoras were discovered last Thursday in Odesa by Ukrainian forces while "digging defenses" to protect the city to prepare for any future Russian attacks, according to a Facebook post by the Ukrainian 126th Territorial Defense brigade.
Archaeologists cannot document the site where the 126th Territorial Defense was based because of the ongoing invasion.
Soldiers from the brigade who found the artifact wrote that it was "handed over to the staff of the Odessa Archaeological Museum," who promised to add them to the museum's collection.
The artifacts date back to the 4th or 5th century AD, the Facebook post said, while the Heritage Daily reported that they are associated with the Neolithic period as well as the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires. At the time, Odesa was known as Odessus, a Roman settlement that developed from a Greek colony, according to the Heritage Daily report.
Amphoras are ancient containers used for storage and transportation of products, according to the Daily. Amphoras can be used for both liquids and solids, but usually wine.
AMPHORAS, VESSELS for carrying wine, are seen at an underwater archaeology dig off Italy. (credit: REUTERS)
Last week, Russian forces reportedly destroyed ancient archaeological sites that included tombs dating back to the ancient Scythians, who lived between 900 to 200 BC.
2 of ten videos from Prague
Caesar's favourite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. Until climate change killed it off
perfume, tonic – even love potion – silphium was prized by the ancient Romans, but in its success lay the seeds of its own downfall
Of all the mysteries of ancient Rome, silphium is among the most intriguing. Romans loved the herb as much as we love chocolate. They used silphium as perfume, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and turned it into a condiment, called laser, that they poured on to almost every dish. It was so valuable that Julius Caesar stashed more than half a tonne in his treasury.
Yet it became extinct less than a century later, by the time of Nero, and for nearly 2,000 years people have puzzled over the cause.
Researchers now believe it was the first victim of man-made climate change – and warn that we should heed the lesson of silphium or risk losing plants that are the basis of many modern flavors.
Paul Pollaro and Paul Robertson of the University of New Hampshire say their research, published in Frontiers in Conservation Science, shows that urban growth and accompanying deforestation changed the local microclimate where silphium grew.
"You'll often see the narrative that it [became extinct] because of a mix of over-harvesting and also over-grazing – sheep were very fond of it and it made the meat more valuable," Pollaro said. "Our argument is that regardless of how much was harvested, if the climate was changing, silphium was going to go extinct anyway."
Silphium is believed to be a species of Ferula whose modern counterparts include fennel and asafoetida, a spice often used in Indian cooking. It was a bush that grew wild only in a strip of land 30 miles wide and 125 miles long in Cyrenaica, in what is now Libya.
The ancient Greeks, who colonised the north African territory in about 630BC, tried and failed for centuries to cultivate silphium. "They talked about the frustrations of trying to transplant it – 'why doesn't this stupid silphium plant grow'," Robertson said. "It had these micro-climactic requirements and they couldn't figure it out."
Administrators in Cyrene ordered limits on how much silphium could be harvested, and fenced off areas where it grew, Pollaro said. "There's evidence that they knew it was declining and they tried to preserve the plant. But all of these tactics were ultimately irrelevant, because they had changed the microclimate."
Silphium grew along the drier, sea-facing side of Libya's Jebel al-Akhdar plateau, a fertile, forested region. After harvesting, it was exported to Rome and beyond.
"It's hard to overstate how important silphium was because the Romans in particular were absolutely obsessed with it," Pollaro said. "They minted coins in ancient Libya that had silphium on the front of the coin and the god or the emperor's face on the back."
Herodotus, Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder wrote extensively about the plant and laser. Pliny extolled it as a cure for dog bites, snake venom and haemorrhoids. It could be used as a contraceptive and the plant itself was a prized vegetable.
Exports brought wealth, which meant expansion. The Greeks and the Romans, who took control of Cyrenaica about 90BC, cut down forests on the plateau to build bigger and better houses and to clear land for crops for the growing population.
Deforestation changed rainfall patterns, causing greater erosion on the hillsides where silphium grew, which Pollaro said was confirmed by excavations at Haua Fteah cave near Benghazi. Silphium's microclimate was ruined and it disappeared quite rapidly.
"In a way, silphium's value was the cause of its own decline," Pollaro said. "Without silphium, Cyrene's economy wouldn't have grown so much."
Modern climate change is having a similar impact. Asafoetida, a sap extracted from a herb that grows wild in parts of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, is widely used in India. But its footprint is shrinking due to changes in the local climate.
Professor Monique Simmonds of Kew Gardens said coffee, carrots and rice were similarly at risk. "We rely on between 10 and 12 species for most of our food," she said. Kew was collecting seeds of wild species for its millennium seed bank and this diversity was crucial, since modern varieties might prove vulnerable to changes in climate in ways that could not be foreseen.
"If we don't do the research and collection of wild species, we won't have the reserves of genetic material in banks to do crosses in the future," Simmonds added.