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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘discovered’

The Nozyk Genizah Of Warsaw: Historic Torah Fragments Discovered In Poland

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

More than seven decades after the devastation of the Jewish community of Poland, there are still new discoveries being made on a regular basis.

The genizah before examination.

The genizah before examination.

Recently a genizah of old Torah fragments called yeriot was discovered in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw. The Nozyk Synagogue was the only synagogue out of some 400 in Warsaw to survive the Shoah because the Germans decided to desecrate it by turning the beautiful, sacred place into a stable for their horses.

“We don’t know the exact origins of the genizah,” said Rabbi Moshe Bloom, rosh kollel of Nozyk, “but we can conjecture that after the Shoah the Nozyk Synagogue was returned to the Jewish community of Warsaw and it became a magnet for all things Jewish.

“Over the years, non-Jewish Poles would at times approach the synagogue, sometimes to honor lost friends, sometimes out curiosity, sometimes out of guilt. Some brought with them artifacts that they had kept hidden in their homes and felt a responsibility to return them. The Torah fragments were collected for eventual burial as prescribed by Jewish law.”

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

When I was recently in Warsaw Rabbi Bloom asked if I would be able to raise money to bury them with proper kavod and ceremony.

I wondered whether anybody had examined them.

“Why?” he asked.

Because, I told him, Torah scrolls from the pre-Shoah period had often been used for hundreds of years and therefore might have unique characteristics that are no longer in use. I asked Rabbi Bloom if I could examine the scrolls. He gave me permission to look them over and even photograph them.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

The genizah consists of about 30 fragments (there are no complete scrolls), some only one or two columns and others much larger. Some showed signs of fire or water damage, slashes from knives, and other ravages of age and war. Almost all sections of the Torah are represented in the collection, from Bereishit to the end of Devarim.

Upon examination, I found that most of the fragments were very similar to those one would find in any synagogue today. A few of them looked to be over five hundred years old due to some of the variant letter shapes and tagim (crowns) that are no longer used.

When I returned to New York I visited with Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. An expert in the laws, and lore of Torah scrolls, he helped me understand some of the history behind the strange letter forms.

He explained that tradition tells us that the form of the Torah we have today was copied by Eli HaKohen off the stones that Joshua had set up when he brought the Jews into the land of Israel after the death of Moses.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

For thousands of years these letter forms were the way all Torah scrolls were written; it was only about 400 years ago that they began to be used less and less frequently. The Chatam Sofer in his Teshuvah 265 says that Jews stopped using them after a Torah scroll from Tzefat was found without them. He explains that the special letters and tagim were used to remind people of certain lessons in the Torah but since we do not learn from Torah scrolls (other than during prayers) they should no longer be used.

There are many books that describe the different letters and tagim. Torah Sheleimah by Menachem Mendel Kasher covers many of the letter forms and lists many sources. Sefer Tagi lists different letters and reports that the letter peh with the special shape can be found 191 times, the letter lamed 26 times, and the letter ayin eight times.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

The final disposition of the Nozyk genizah is still being decided. Many of the badly damaged yeriot will be buried while some of the others will be put on display thanks to generous support from Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (www.fodz.pl). The proposed exhibit will be located in the synagogue in the town of Leczna and hopefully include the complete story of stam — the writing of Torahs, mezuzahs, and tefillin.

Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam was excited about the exhibit and is looking forward to making a special trip to Poland to examine the fragments for himself.

“It is rare enough to find a genizah,” he said. “We would be lucky to find one or two interesting items in a genizah but here they have so many it is truly a historic find.”

 

Editor’s Note: For more information, to organize a lecture, or help support the genizah project, contact Shmuel Ben Eliezer, who serves as the project’s director of research and development, at nozykgeniza@aol.com.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

Yet Another Hamas Terror Tunnel Opening in Israel Discovered

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

IDF operations in recent days along and inside the southern Gaza Strip have revealed yet another tunnel, quite spacious, that had been dug by Hamas and leads into Israel, the IDF Spokesperson’s office said in a statement Thursday.

According to the statement, the discovery of the tunnel was the result of extensive, high quality prevention and protection efforts of many different forces led by the IDF Southern Command and the Gaza Division since the end of the 2014 Israel–Gaza war, also known as Operation Protective Edge. The efforts are undertaken on a daily basis to guarantee the peace and safety of Israeli civilians in border communities.

According to the IDF, the tunnel was dug by Hamas in order to carry out terror attacks inside Israel, against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

The process of locating the tunnel was interrupted for two consecutive days by Hamas gunmen who shot at IDF forces in attempt to slow down and frustrate the search effort. The Israeli Air Force last night responded by attacking several Hamas terror targets.

The IDF views the Hamas terror activities as an affront to Israeli sovereignty and a threat against Israeli citizens, and assigns complete responsibility for these violations to Hamas. The IDF plans to proceed with its program of discovering and destroying Hamas tunnels.

David Israel

Assyrian Period Fortifications Unearthed in Ashdod

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

An archeological team headed by Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv university has announced the discovery of one of the largest construction projects in the entire Mediterranean basin: a system of fortifications from the 8th century BCE, as well as coins, weights and parts of buildings from the Hellenistic period, have all been found in the archeological dig Tel Ashdod Yam – where the harbor of the philistine city of Ashdod used to be. The site is about 3 miles south of today’s thriving Israeli city of Ashdod.

This has been the first deep and well organized dig at the site, following the only previous dig there, carried out by the late archeologist Dr. Ya’akov Caplan in 1965-68.

The more recent dig has brought to light the remains of an 8th century BCE fortification system – a mud brick wall comprised of internal and external dykes circling a wharf. The dig has also unearthed ruins of buildings from the Hellenistic period (late 4th to early 2nd centuries BCE), as well as coins and weights.

“We knew there was an important archeological site there that hasn’t been dug until now,” Dr. Fantalkin told Walla. “We concluded the pioneer year of this project, and it’s being planned for many years to come. This is the ancient harbor of the Philistine city of Ashdod, We found there a very impressive fortification system comprised of 18 ft. tall mud brick walls. This brick wall is the core of a system of dykes that are combined into a huge, horseshoe shaped fortification, protecting a man-made pier.”

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

A three dimensional photograph of the ruins from the Hellenistic period, 2nd century BCE. Photo credit: Philip Sapirstein / TAU

Dr. Fantalkin said his team was surprised by the degree of preservation of these structures, from some 2,750 years ago. They’re only now beginning to come to terms with the magnitude of what they’ve discovered.

An Assyrian governor ruled the southern Mediterranean basin in a time that was mired in power struggles and wars. Assyrian texts do describe a Philistine rebellion against Assyrian rule at the end of that period. Dr. Fantalkin believes the fortifications he discovered are related, one way or another, to the events on record.

“The Assyrians ruled firmly here from the middle of the 8th Century BCE,” he said. “It’s not clear if the fortifications were built by the Assyrians themselves or by the local who were commanded by the Assyrians.”

“Following the Philistine rebellion, the Assyrians sent down an army in 712 BCE, and the rebelling king fled to Egypt,” he continued. “The Assyrians demanded the Egyption extradite him, which they did. The entire affair is mentioned both in the Bible and in Assyrian sources. (For Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon And Ekron will be uprooted. Zephaniah 2:4) The rebellion was put down forcefully by the Assyrians and the city of Ashdod was destroyed.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/assyrian-period-fortifications-unearthed-in-ashdod/2013/08/15/

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