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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘eyes’

Weizmann Institute Keeps Israeli Eyes on Jupiter’s Orbiter

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

On July 4, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will be entering orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System. Its extended trip – more than 2 billion kilometers over nearly five years – will be over, but its work will just be beginning. Following some intricate maneuvers, the spacecraft will go into a unique 14-day orbit that will allow it to get as close as 4000 km above the cloud tops of the planet – much closer than any mission ever before flown.

When Juno enters orbit, the Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Yohai Kaspi will be ready. “For the first time,” he explains, “we will have an opportunity to study the flows beneath the thick clouds we see covering Jupiter.” Kaspi, who is part of the Juno Science team, and Institute staff scientist Dr. Eli Galanti, will be at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, along with the other scientists and engineers on the Juno team, to witness the event. Juno is already within the gravitational sphere of Jupiter, and the team will be holding their breath as the speeding spacecraft aligns itself into a stable orbit and begins sending data. The research team has planned an eccentric circuit for the ship, so that it can swing in closely to observe and measure and then circle farther out to preserve its orbit.

Juno's long route to Jupiter

Juno’s long route to Jupiter

Among the many questions Kaspi, Galanti and their colleagues would like to answer is this: How deep are the weather patterns we observe on Jupiter’s surface? These patterns are gas flows that appear as ordered stripes on the planet’s outer surface, and because there is no solid ground to disrupt them, they may extend very deep into the interior.  Adding the third dimension to our understanding of these patterns could help to answer any number of other questions, including how do these patterns form, whether the outer layers rotate in sync with the inner ones, how thick is the famous Great Red Spot, and whether the planet has a solid inner core, which is key for understanding how planets form.

Kaspi, who has been with the Juno project nearly a decade, has used the interval to work out the tools for analyzing measurements that will be taken of the planet’s gravity. Since weather – the movement of mass around the planet – creates slight variations in the planet’s gravity at different points, Kaspi and his team will use the data from Juno’s measurements of the gravitational fields to “reverse calculate” the wind patterns that modified them.

In this way, he will help scientists “peer for the first time beneath the thick cloud layer” of Jupiter. Kaspi has already applied these tools to calculating the depth of weather patterns on Uranus and Neptune, showing that the high winds on these planets are confined to a relatively shallow upper layer, as well as to analyzing measurements of Jupiter and Saturn obtained from Earth-bound telescopes. But the Juno mission will provide the first opportunity to measure the differences in Jupiter’s gravitational fields precisely and accurately, and thus develop a clearer picture of the planet’s interior and atmospheric dynamics.

Dr. Yohai Kaspi’s research is supported by the Helen Kimmel Center for Planetary Science.


Eyes To See

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

It is true you cannot tell a book by its cover. Appearances sometimes deceive. And sometimes it is our ability to comprehend that limits our vision.

We pass by a young man hobbled by a physical deformity and presume his limitations extend to his imagination, intellect, and dreams. We see a tall, powerfully built lad and we bestow upon him the presumption of courage and inner strength. We see a teenager in a hoodie…

We judge, we presume, we anticipate, and we react… based on what? A cursory glance at the surface?

How ironic that we Jews, who have been so unfairly judged, are often guilty of seeing only the surface. We judge so much around us by the chitzoniyus – by the externals before us and the blinders within us.

Parshat Shelach begins and ends with seeing. The meraglim (spies) instructed to scout the land, are specifically told u’reisem es ha’aretz – “and you shall look at the land.” The parshah concludes with the mitzvah of tzitzis. U’reisem oso­ – “and you shall look at the tzitzis.”

The Meraglim were without tzitzis? The mitzvah of tzitzis is instructive; it teaches the Jew how to look and see. On the surface, tzitzis are little more than hanging strings – or they are a constant reminder of God’s Commandments.

The tzitzis do not change. How they are viewed, how they are seen, does.

In all this, we must then ask, what does it mean to see, to really see?

Rabbi Soloveitchik, in commenting on this parshah (in Darosh Darash Yosef), asks why the meraglim were sent to begin with. God had already promised that the land would be conquered. What more did the Children of Israel need to know? In answering, he turned to the halacha that “One may not marry a woman until he has seen her.”

When Eliezer returned from his mission to find a wife for Isaac, the Torah tells us he “brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah” in order for Yitzchak to actually see her.

So too the Children of Israel and the land of Israel.

As Rav Soloveitchik notes, “Marriage is more than a mutual commitment of two partners. It is a sharing of pleasures and anxieties, of moments of happiness and stress. All this is included in the category of “seeing.” The bride and groom need to see each other, not just get the shadchan’s perspective or Google the person’s name.

This is the reason, as Rabbi Soloveitchik notes, that the verb latur (to see, to discover) is used rather than leragel (to spy). Moshe sent the meraglim to the land not to conduct military reconnaissance but to discover the uniqueness of the land.

Just as betrothed groom and bride must see one another before marriage – to begin that process of discovery, to begin the ability to see, really see, one another – Moshe agreed to send the spies into the land despite God’s promise. He wanted the people to know the land, to recognize it intimately, in an all-encompassing and detailed way. He wanted them to fall in love with it; he wanted them to feel a connection, to share with it a sense of unity.

When we see “to discover” rather than “to spy,” we open ourselves up to the wonder and beauty before us. That is why, in a world where so many people criticize Israel, a visit to the land results in a lifelong understanding of and infatuation with it. Whether non-Jewish political or religious leaders or Jewish young people on Birthright, these visitors return home with a lifelong love for Israel and its heritage.

My dear friend Bernie Hammer once told me that his father, a talmid of the famed pre-World War II Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin, told him, “What must we remember each year when we read Parshat Shelach? Nisht tzu reiden shlechts oif Eretz Yisrael” – not to speak ill about Israel.

What a valuable lesson, one often lost on our generation that has been chosen by God to actually see the rebuilding of the land. But, like ten of the meraglim, they see but cannot comprehend.

The Talmud in Menachos comments on the techeles, the blue thread in the tzitzis. The techeles is like the sea, and the sea looks like the sky, and the sky calls to mind the Kiseh haKavod – the Divine Throne. To call to mind the Divine Throne is to call to mind all of God’s commandments. Imagine! All of God’s commandments from a single blue thread amidst the other tzitzis strings.

The techeles doesn’t change. Only how you look at it changes. Is it merely a blue thread that contrasts and highlights the white threads? Or is it a direct connection to the sea, the sky, the Heavenly Throne, and God’s commandments?

The meraglim too were told to go and see…but to see what? The land promised to our Avot, the land promised to a people born into slavery only to be redeemed by the Hand of God. What else could they have seen but a land blessed by God Himself? Yet ten of the twelve saw only the chitzoniyus, only the external.

They saw much to frighten them. Big people, strong people. Giants! They saw fortified cities. Those ten saw the giants and the danger but none of God’s providence. They were blind to the holiness all around them.

Has anything changed, even today? How many refuse to see all that is holy on every street corner of Eretz Yisrael? How many speak only of a secular state, of a non-religious government, of a depraved, Western culture?

They see with the eyes of the ten spies.

Jews, where are your tzitzis? Ureiesem es ha’aretz!

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Young Kohanim Reenact Shavuot Offering with Eyes on Temple Mount

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

On Monday afternoon, the new group of “Pirkhei Cohanim” (young priests) participated in the Temple Institute’s annual Shavuot reenactment at a festive event on Jerusalem’s Hass Promenade overlooking the Temple Mount. The children, dressed in specially made priestly garments, enthusiastically practiced the First Fruits ritual, which is central to the Shavuot service. Afterwards, adult Cohanim from the Temple Institute’s Nezer Hakodesh School for Kohanim, demonstrated the full Shavuot service including the First Fruits and Twin Loaves offering.

It is a positive commandment to bring an offering of the first fruits of one’s field, specifically, from the seven species of the Land of Israel, and to present them to a priest in the Holy Temple, as the Torah states: “You shall bring your first fruits to the House of the Lord your God… ” (Ex. 23:19)

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

Photo Credit: The Temple Institute

The first fruit offerings are brought in large woven baskets and the offerings are waved before the altar, extending the basket in four directions: outwards, drawing it back towards oneself, raising it and lowering it. This is done while both the pilgrim and the Kohen (Temple priest) hold the basket.

Like all offerings made in the Holy Temple, the first fruit offering is accompanied by the blasting of silver trumpets by the Levites. The pilgrim’s declaration of gratitude to God and the presenting to God of the first fruits of their labor is naturally accompanied by festive song and dance.

In addition to the first fruit offering of the seven species, another offering was brought to the Holy Temple on Shavuot from the first of the harvest: The “twin loaves,” two loaves of wheat bread baked from newly harvested wheat. This special offering, the only leaven ever brought to the Temple, was also “waved” before the presence of God and thus elevated… and these breads represented the blessing of God’s influence and blessing on man’s earthly, physical needs throughout the year. These two breads were waved on the eastern side of the altar by a Cohen, together with an offering of two sheep for the festival.

Intensive research and experimentation into the proper preparation of the twin loaves culminated in the baking of the twin loaves used for the day’s reenactment.

The event was part of the Temple Institute’s ongoing efforts to prepare for the Third Holy Temple. Having already researched all relevant halakhic information and recreated more than 60 sacred vessels for use in the Temple, the Institute is now focusing on training kohanim in rituals that have not be practiced for over 2,000 years.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute commented: “The world has never been so ready for the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Today’s event was yet another sign of the spiritual awakening that is growing stronger every day in the Land of Israel and around the world, as more and more people, young and old, are joining the effort to rekindle the flame of the Holy Temple and make concrete steps toward the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our day. Having recreated over 60 sacred vessels and published dozens of books on the topic, the Temple Institute is now proud to be training a new generation of kohanim in the ways of their ancestors.”

David Israel

Sight unto the Nations: Technion Works to Let the Blind See

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Technion University researchers have announced they are developing a new process that might be able to restore vision to the blind by using a special projector that works around the damaged retina.

In an article in Nature Communications this week, the researchers explained they have developed a light-sensitive protein that is injected into the eyes of the cell and that images are then placed back on a special projector, based on a new science called Optogenetics.

The research team, headed by Prof. Shai Shoham, emphasized that there still is a long way to go before the process can b e perfected and marketed, but added it is a first step towards restoring sight for eyes damaged by some diseases.

Artificial stimulation of surviving nerve cells offers a potential strategy for overcoming situations when photoreception is disrupted, as in outer-retinal degenerative diseases,” according to the team.

“We provide the first demonstration of holographic photo-stimulation strategies for bionic vision restoration,” they wrote.

Prof. Shoham explained that the protein allows the absorption of sight into the cells in the eye and is inserted into the cells to make them sensitive to light.

Technically, the blind cannot see with their eyes but can view images through a projector, just like a computer can be made to function even though a mouse or keyboard is inoperative.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sight-unto-the-nations-technion-works-to-let-the-blind-see/2013/02/28/

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