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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Parshat Balak’

Rare Discovery of 3,500-Year-Old Donkey in Israel

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Archaeologists north of Be’er Sheva have discovered the skeleton of a  3,500-year-old donkey, complete with a copper bridle in its mouth and saddle bags on its back.

The rare find led Israeli researchers to conclude that the donkey, estimated to be only four years at the time of its death, was sacrificed as part of a Bronze Age ritual at a time when donkeys enjoyed a respected status.

Donkeys are frequently mentioned in the Bible, with the most famous one being the “talking mule” of the non-Jew Balaam, who was paid by King Balak to curse Israel but ended up blessing the People of Israel as they stood on the edge of the desert before entering the Promised Land.

Donkeys were the beast of burden, were used on trade routes and were so important during the founding of ancient Egypt that skeletons of donkeys have been found in graves of pharaohs.

The skeleton that was found at an archaeological site near Kiryat Gat, located approximately 15 miles north of Be’er Sheva and 50 miles or so southeast of Tel Aviv, indicates that the young donkey was spared hard labor.

Guy Bar-Oz of the University of Haifa, who headed the research team at the Tel Haror site, said that donkey was laid on its left side, with its limbs neatly bent. It probably was sacrificed, and the copper bridle bit probably was symbolic because the animal’s teeth showed that the bit was not used.

“The absence of any sign of bit wear on the lower premolars indicates that the animal was not ridden or driven with a bit for prolonged periods of time,” the researchers write in a paper published online this week in the online journal PLoS ONE. “Moreover, the young donkey was still in the process of shedding its teeth and permanent teeth were just erupting. Based on its age, the Haror donkey would probably have been too young to be a trained draught animal.”

The bit is  the only one from the Bronze Age to have been found in the mouth of hoofed mammals.

A sign that the donkey had been sacrificed in a rite was a pile of bones from sheep and goats that were found near the donkey’s carcass.

“The Tel Haror interment represents the only known example of a donkey within a ritual context that was symbolically harnessed with a horse bit and bearing saddlebags, and, thus, sheds important light on both the functional and symbolic role of equids in the Ancient Near East,” the research team wrote on PLosOne.

“The location, grouping, dimensions and symmetrical placement of the fittings, leads us to suggest that they represent the remains of fasteners for saddlebags that was composed of decayed organic material, such as leather,” they added.

Title: Geulah B’Rachamim

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Title: Geulah B’Rachamim

Author: Pinchas Winston

Publisher: Thirtysix.org

 

 

        Geulah B’Rachamim contains 60 easily absorbed lessons about the significance of Jewish life on holy soil. Its purpose is to help Jews fulfill the mitzvot of anticipating and yearning for Geulah (Redemption).

 

       The overriding message presented in Geulah B’Rachamim is this: Geulah will come peacefully and pleasantly with world Jewry’s genuine desire for it.

 

      This goal can be expressed in many ways; one of the most important being a Jew’s personal longing to be in the Holy Land, and most certainly with actual residence there. But if we persist in staying in host Diaspora countries, where the Shechinah is in ever-decreasing supply, geulah might arrive, we have learned from experience, not so pleasantly.

 

    The author puts Jewish history in concise perspective: four/fifths (about 12 million) of enslaved Egyptian Jews didn’t leave with Moshe Rabbeinu. They died because they weren’t willing to leave the newfound comforts of Egypt – now that their captors had been destroyed – for a spiritual life. Six million Jews died in the Shoah in spite of their high level of Torah learning, convinced that Jewish life in Europe would last far longer than it did. It came instead to a horrific end, begging the question “Did we stay too long again?”

 

    When every leisurely stroll – or even a cough – in the Holy Land earns a heavenly reward, the significance of Parshat Balak and aliyah take on dramatic meaning. As the author rhetorically asks readers, “Should we not be mindful of how long we’ve lived in a particular place in the Diaspora? Do we really have a choice, when staying too long always means losing everything which we worked so hard to build up?”

 

     These delightful thoughts from Torah and related commentaries are among those included in this 198-page paperback sefer:  “Once Mashiach comes, and evil has been completely eradicated, then the light of God can increase daily for everyone and the pleasure of receiving it will be tremendous Sadness, depression and all unfortunate states of mind will never exist again.”

 

     “As with many important things in life, context counts for a lot when it comes to appreciating current events Hence the Torah tells us “Remember the days of old, understand the many generations that have passed. Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders will say it to you (Devarim 32:7)” (p. 36).

 

    Read what the Abarbanel predicted about life in Israel as the “righteous shoot of redemption” (p. 199) and kvell while planning your aliyah.

 

    This book holds more gems of Jewish thought about the commandment to reside in Israel.  

 

    Learn more about Geulah B’Rachamim at www.thirtysix.org. 

 

    

     Yocheved Golani is the author of highly acclaimed “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry if I Need To: ALife Book for Helping You to Dry Your Tears andCope with a Medical Challenge” (Booklocker Publishing). 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-geulah-brachamim/2008/08/13/

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