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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘First Temple’

New Finds from First Temple Period at Motza

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Temple and rare cache of sacred vessels from Biblical times discovered at Tel Motza
Rare evidence of the religious practices and rituals in the early days of the Kingdom of Judah has recently been discovered at Tel Motza, to the west of Jerusalem. In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting at the Tel Motza archaeological site, prior to work being carried out on the new Highway 1 from Sha’ar HaGai to Jerusalem…According to Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.” According to the archaeologists, “Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown.”

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

…”The current excavation has revealed part of a large structure, from the early days of the monarchic period (Iron Age IIA). The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: the rays of the sun rising in the  east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure. The assemblage includes ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on a high base which were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines of two kinds: the first, small heads in human form (anthropomorphic) with a flat headdress and curling hair; the second, figurines of animals (zoomorphic) – mainly of harnessed animals…

Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

… “The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archaeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general, and in the Jerusalem region in particular, prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem.”

So, is the Biblical narrative reliable?

Visit My Right Word.

Hebrew Seal Dating Back to First Temple Period Discovered

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in its continuing archaeological excavations of the drainage channel between the City of David and the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, has uncovered a Hebrew seal dating back to the First Temple period.

The seal was discovered on the floor of the remains of a building also dating to the end of the First Temple period; a building that IAA said was the closest one to the First Temple found thus far in excavations. According to a statement released by IAA, the seal “is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name of its owner: ‘Lematanyahu Ben Ho…’ (‘למתניהו בן הו…’ meaning: ‘Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho…’). The rest of the inscription is erased.”

At an early stage of the excavations, which is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, the archaeologists involved recognized the potential for significant discoveries in the area, and thus decided that they would painstakingly sift through any soil removed from the site. This decision was vindicated, as the seal was discovered during the sifting process.

Seals were used by individuals in the First Temple period to sign letters and identify their owner, and were set in a signet ring for convenience.

Eli Shukron, the excavation director, said: “the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE.

“To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting,” he added. “This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago.”

Place Of Honor

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

I have a girlfriend I’ll call Esti who works for a kiruv organization. During the summer semester, this organization offered an experiential history program. They taught a subject for a week, and then the next week toured the places they discussed in order to experience history firsthand. If they studied the First Temple era, for example, they would then visit the City of David.

My friend chose to join the students on the tour that focused on the kabbalists in 16th century Tzfat. There, they visited the synagogue of Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Beit Yosef – later abridged to become the Shulchan Aruch.

“The holiness there was so powerful,” said Esti. “It was a very emotional experience.”

While the guide started his talk in the synagogue, Esti stood outside speaking with a student. When she entered, she took a seat on an empty bench in the back.

“What’s your name?” asked the tour guide.

She thought he was addressing someone else, so she did not answer.

“No, no, I want your name,” he said.

“Esti.”

“Okay, now everyone look where Esti’s sitting,” he said, pointing at the bench in the back of the room. “This is a very special bench. Whoever sits on that bench is blessed with a boy within the year.”

It was the 25th of Av.

At that time, Esti was 43. She had her last child five years earlier, and had already started giving away baby clothes. Exactly a year later, on the 25th of Av, the family celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of one of her sons. They also celebrated the Shalom Zachar of her new baby boy and the naming of his twin sister.

“No one told me it was a two-for-one special,” said Esti.

The pregnancy was high risk and she had to be on bed rest. At one point, she was in serious danger of losing the babies. The doctor was incredulous when her condition stabilized. He went to check with the ultrasound technician to be sure.

The secular doctor asked, “Did you pray at a tzaddik’s grave?”

Well, not exactly. But I guess it was the next best thing.

The synagogue of the tzaddik, Rabbi Yosef Caro, is located in the old city of Tzfat.

Be sure to take a back seat!

Again? Yes, Again

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

“Not again!” you may say. To which I respond, “Yes, again!” I say this as I write once again about the most heinous tragedy that could have befallen us, so even though it may not be popular – even though your reaction may be, “We heard it already” – I am nevertheless writing because I fear we have returned to business as usual.

Hashem has been sending us wakeup call after wakeup call, but we remain deaf to all of them and have yet to sound the alarm, have yet to see the hand of G-d beckoning us. This time, however, is different. This time, no one can avoid seeing that what has befallen us is so incomprehensible, it can only be interpreted as a message from the Almighty Himself.

A Jewish child is slaughtered by another Jew – in, of all places, Boro Park, a glittering stronghold of Torah.

And before we can even catch our breaths, a sage in the holy land of Israel, in an enclave of Torah, is savagely murdered – by a Jew.

Is there anyone among us who should not be trembling? Is there anyone among us whose heart should not be shattered – whose eyes should not overflow with tears? With these murders, something has changed, something that never occurred before, something that should frighten each and every one of us.

Every yeshiva child knows our First Temple was destroyed because of three cardinal sins, as a result of which we were taken into the Babylonian exile. Through the mercy of Hashem, after seventy years of exile we returned to our land and rebuilt the Temple.

The Second Temple would eventually be destroyed as well, though for an altogether different reason. While we were careful in our observance, unwarranted hatred permeated our lives. Walls of animosity, controversy and jealousy divided us. It was this fragmentation that catapulted us into the Roman exile, and it is in this exile that we still languish.

For almost two thousand years we have been suffering in this darkness. We have traversed the four corners of the world, tasted the bitter sting of the lash, experienced oppression, torture, inquisition and the Holocaust. Centuries have passed and we remain in exile. Why did G-d not redeem us as he redeemed our forefathers?

The answer to this question is painfully simple – we never repented. Stubbornly, we clung and continued to cling to our hatreds and animosities and in every generation, in every society, we found different reasons to justify it…so much so that the hatred has taken on a life of its own. We no longer see anything wrong with it and consider it a normal way of life.

But these recent heinous, unprecedented events alter our reality.

Our generation continues to stubbornly cling to the sin of unwarranted hatred that is at the root of our present exile, and we concede we are guilty of two of the cardinal sins that led to the destruction of the First Temple: immorality and idol worship (idol worship does not only connote “idols” but anything that is like an idol (money, etc.) and removes us from the true worship of G-d.

Nevertheless, we were secure in the knowledge that the third sin – murder – never penetrated our sanctuary.

Now, with the savage murders of an innocent child and a Torah sage, that illusion has been forever shattered. Overnight, we became the generation that carries on its shoulders the heavy burden of the sins that led to the destruction of our two Temples and sent us into exile. Just take a moment to think about it. It is a catastrophe that has never befallen our people. The sins that led to those destructions are now identified with us. Is that not reason enough to tremble? Is that not reason enough to examine our lives before it is too late?

The Rambam taught us that when suffering is visited upon us, we are commanded to cry out, awaken our people, sound the shofar. Everyone must be alerted to probe his or her life and commit to greater observance of Torah and mitzvos. The Rambam warned that if we regard the tragedies that befall us simply as “the way of the world” – “natural happenings” – we will be guilty of achzarius, cruelty.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand why the Rambam would choose to ascribe “cruelty” to those who view trials and tribulations as “natural happenings.” Such people may be unthinking, apathetic, blind or obtuse, but why accuse them of cruelty? The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as “mere coincidence,” we will feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways, andchange. So yes, such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortune upon ourselves and others. It would be the height of cruelty to dismiss what is occurring in the world today as mere happenstance.

As Jews, we all know (even if we do not want to admit it), that nothing on earth occurs by accident. G-d’s guiding Hand is always there. In the holy tongue, the very word “coincidence” is kara, meaning kara me Hashem – “it happened from G-d.” G-d has sent us a wakeup call so loud that even a deaf person must hear it. But somehow we manage to console ourselves with distractions and blame some mental or emotional sickness to explain away this savage brutality.

We are a generation that no longer recognizes terms such as “bad” or “sinful.” Rather, we tend to rationalize it all away with psychological jargon. At the end of the day, however, no matter what psychological illness we attribute to these heinous deeds, the tragic, shameful fact remains – they happened! And they were done by our own! Now if this is not enough of a wakeup call, what is?

In the face of all this, what are we to do? What can we do?

(To Be Continued)

Poland’s Jewish Ghosts

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky

Through July 12, 2009

The Detroit Institute of Arts

5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit

www.dia.org  

 

About 2,500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah, having predicted Nebuchadnezzar’s imminent destruction of the First Temple, composed the famous line, “Why did I leave the womb – to see toil and pain – that I may live out my days in shame?” About 500 years later, Joseph ben Matthias, also known as Josephus, observed and recorded the destruction of the Second Temple by Roman emperor Titus, claiming in Book VI of the “War of the Jews”  (chapter nine) that 1.1 million Jews were killed and 97,000 were enslaved in the siege.

 

Jeremiah was a prophet who communicated with G-d; Josephus was not. The Jewish general was something close to a historian, albeit prone to exaggeration and to various biases, including the belief that Greco-Roman culture could and should embrace Judaism. Jeremiah wrote the book on Temple mourning, while Josephus simply came up with a sequel.

 

The same could be said of the pair of photographers featured in the exhibit “Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky” at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Separated by six decades rather than half-a-century like Jeremiah and Josephus, Vishniac and Gusky both captured the destruction of Eastern European Jewry.

 

 

Roman Vishniac, Isaac Street, Kazimierz, Cracow, 1938, gelatin silver print,

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts//2009/06/24/

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