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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Second Temple’

PA Archaeological Thief Caught Red-Handed Digging Up Artifacts

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Israel’s Antiquities Authority IAA) has caught a Palestinian Authority Arab thief red-handed while digging up ancient artifacts in the Jerusalem Hills.

The IAA’s theft-prevention unit told Tazpit News Agency that the robber, from the village of Hussan in Gush Etzion, was caught trying to dig up and steal artifacts at the “Bohan Ruins.”

Earlier the same day, an inspector of the Nature Reserves Authority and the IAA chased away a gang of robbers from the “Toora Ruins” in the Nahal Soreq area, west of Jerusalem. Artifacts from the Second Temple-era of Herod and Hashmonean times are located there, and the thieves caused extensive and irreversible damage to the sites by reckless digging.

Information acquired by the theft detention unit enabled officials to set up a lookout and spot the gang while it was hiding in nearby bush.

During the day, the gang had proceeded on foot to the Bohan Ruins, the location of a village from the Byzantine period and where a church stood as its center. The gang, which had brought along sleeping bags and food, then worked under the cover of dark and at one point reached only a few feet from the theft-prevention unit.

One of the robbers was caught red-handed looking for artifacts with an advanced tool for locating metal objects, particularly ancient coins. The suspect was remanded in a Jerusalem court, and prosecutors are preparing indictments,

Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of theft-prevention unit, said, “The gang, in its greed for money, caused damage to a large number of archaeological sites in the Jerusalem Hills, including destruction of pieces of our historic puzzle. The Jerusalem Hills, and Nahal Soreq in particular, are rich in archaeological artifacts that are evidence of varied cultures and the history of Israel, and two of these sites were damaged over the weekend,”

IAA spokesmen also told Tazpit News Agency, that the Antiquities Authority is investing resources to protect the inheritance of the Land of Israel and emphasized that digging in archaeological sites without permission is a serious crime that can land culprits In prison or up to five years.

The IAA said it hopes that the arrest will help put an end to the latest wave of thievery of Israel’s ancient history.

Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Evidence of Siege in Jerusalem

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Archaeological excavations near the Western Wall have unearthed three complete cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that are the first pieces of evidence of the Jewish famine during the revolt during the siege of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is digging up history in excavations of the drainage channel that runs from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall.

“This is the first time we are able to connect archaeological finds with the famine that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the Great Revolt,” said excavation director Eli Shukrun.

The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp, discovered inside a small cistern in a drainage channel, indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus,” he explained.

In his book “The Jewish War,” Josephus describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in its wake the dire hunger that prevailed in the blockaded city.

In his dramatic description of the famine in Jerusalem he tells about the Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of their fellow Jews in the city. Josephus said that the Jews concealed the food they possessed for fear it would be stolen by the rebels, and they ate in hidden places in their homes.

“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it…. Nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them,” Josephus wrote.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of the their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid…”

The artifacts will be on display in a study conference on the City of David next Thursday.

BBC Yanked Israeli Film on Jewish Exodus from Jerusalem (video)

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

An Israeli-born filmmaker has charged that the British Broadcasting Corp. pulled his documentary on the Jewish exodus from Jerusalem in 70 A.D., displaying “a mixture of incompetence, political naïveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure.”

Ilan Ziv wrote on a blog that the BBC showed “a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates.”

The documentary “Exile: A Myth Unearthed” theorizes that many Jews did not leave Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple, and that many modern-day Palestinians may be in part descended from those Jews.

The BBC had been scheduled to show the documentary, cut and renamed “Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story,” late last week before it was taken off the schedule at the last minute.

The film was screened for a week at the Jewish Film Festival in Toronto, was shown on Canadian TV and is scheduled to be shown in France and Switzerland.

The BBC told The London Guardian that it dropped the film because it did “not fit editorially” with the tone of the season, which has a theme exploring the history of archaeology.

Simon Plosker of the HonestReporting media watchdog group wrote in his blog that the BBC may have been “more concerned at upsetting anti-Israel elements by showing a film with such a heavy concentration on Jewish history in the Land of Israel.”

Below are two videos. The first is a trailer of the film from the Canadian National Film Board, and the second is a report form JN1 on the BBC‘s action.

Exile – A Myth Unearthed by Ilan Ziv, National Film Board of Canada


A Rare Second Temple Period Mikveh Discovered in Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists have discovered a rare ritual bath (mikveh) dating from the late  Second Temple period, thanks to a planned road in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood three miles west of the Old City in Jerusalem. “Numerous ritual baths have been excavated in Jerusalem in recent years, but the water supply system that we exposed in this excavation is unique and unusual, said  IAA excavation director Benyamin Storchan. The mikveh consists of an underground chamber entered by way of steps. The mikveh received the rainwater from three collecting basins that were hewn on the roof of the bath, and the pure water was conveyed inside the chamber through channels. The ritual baths known until now usually consist of a closed cavity that was supplied with rainwater conveyed from a small rock-cut pool located nearby. The complex that was exposed in the latest discovery is a more sophisticated and intricate system. The bath was apparently associated with a settlement in a picturesque valley outside of the Old City in  the Second Temple period. Presumably, due to the rainfall regime and arid conditions of the region, the inhabitants sought special techniques that would make it possible to store every drop of water. The mikveh conforms to all of the Jewish laws, such as collecting the water in it naturally without human contact, and ensuring that the water does not seep into the earth which is why the bath was treated with a special kind of plaster”. The neighborhood community has expressed great interest in the conservation of the mikveh, according to  Jerusalem district archaeologist Amit Re’em .The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Moriah Company, which is building the new road, are working to make the treasure a site for the benefit of the residents and visitors”, he added. After the mikveh went out of use, the site served as a quarry and the channels filled up with earth. During the 20th century, the immersion chamber was cleaned, a round opening was breached in its ceiling and it was used as a cistern but never discovered as an ancient mikveh until now.

Mashiach Now!

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Only an infant expects his desires to be gratified immediately. He wants his bottle now! He wants his rattle now! If he doesn’t get it, he screams, he hollers, he cries. Sometimes, when a child gets to be an adult, he still wants everything handed to him on a silver platter now, without having to do any work. For instance, some big babies demand Peace Now! To get their way, they are willing to do the most self-destructive things, like surrendering their homeland to the enemy and give them guns which end up killing Jews.

There are also people who want Mashiach Now! While the wish for Mashiach’s coming is a very praiseworthy thing, these people don’t realize that Mashiach’s coming is a process that evolves over time. These people want everything to be finished at the start. They say that when Mashiach comes and does all the work of rebuilding the Land of Israel, and gathers all of the exiled Jews to Israel, and fights the wars of Hashem, and rebuilds the Beit HaMikdash, then they will come on aliyah. First, everything has to be perfect. First, the Mashiach has to do all the work. If not, come hell or high water, they’re staying right where they are in Brooklyn, Boston, and Beverly Hills.

The Talmud speaks of “Tzaddikim who do not believe” (Sotah 48B). Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook explained that there were people at the time of the Second Temple who complained about the situation in their days, when a small portion of the Jews returned from exile, yet didn’t achieve the greatness of the past and the exalted level of the First Temple because the majority, including the community leaders, preferred to remain in Babylon with their businesses and wealth (Kuzari, Ch.2). In their eyes, the Second Temple was an affront. They would weep and express reservation and scorn, declaring, “This is the Temple? How pathetic.” The Prophets rebuked them for their attitude, asking, “Who has despised the day of small things?” The Talmud answers: “The small-minded among them who didn’t have faith in the Almighty” (Sotah 48B). You are disbelievers, the Prophets told them. The Lord is returning His children to Israel, it is He Himself who has re-established the Holy Temple, and yet you complain?

In our time too, Rabbi Kook taught, there are “tzaddikim” who criticize the Almighty for the way that He is returning the Jewish People to Zion. In their eyes, it isn’t glatt kosher enough for them. There are those who even say that what is happening now is the work of the Satan. Somehow they forget that everything that happens is from the Holy One Blessed Be He. Is it the Satan who has gathered millions of Jews from all over the world to Israel? Is it the Satan who has made the Land of Israel blossom and bloom after having lain fallow for two thousand years? Is it the Satan who has restored Jewish sovereignty over vast stretches of The Holy Land, and brought about miraculous victories in war, rebuilt Jerusalem, and made Israel the Torah center of the entire Jewish world? And still these people complain. They want everything perfect now! They want everything complete without having to lend a hand in the work and get their shoes dirty.

It is true that babies dirty their diapers, and teenagers do all kinds of stupid things that they shouldn’t do, and yes, even adults make mistakes. But is this a reason to throw the baby into the trash can, or kick the teenager out of the house, or burn an adult at the stake? Yes, there are problems in Israel; yes, not everything is perfect with the government; yes, the Supreme Court still has a goyisha cop; yes, not everyone is religious. But what about all the incredible good things? There’s more Torah being learned in Israel than everywhere else in the world. And in just a handful of decades, Israel has become one of the leading nations in just about every field you can name, from agriculture to computer technology. Just because we haven’t yet reached our ultimate Torah ideal, is this a reason to throw out the baby and kick the teenager out of the house?

“Pure for God” Seal Found in Temple Mount Excavation

Monday, December 26th, 2011

A rare seal certifying the ritual purity of an item to be used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of excavations under the Robinson’s Arch right next to the Temple Mount.

The find of the Aramaic inscription, “Pure for God”, occurred during an extensive sifting of soil removed from layers which were once part of a paved Herodian street serving as a main Jerusalem thoroughfare.  The soil dates to the first century CE (late Second Temple period), just prior to – or maybe even during – the Maccabean rebellion celebrated during the holiday of Hanukkah.

The item is stamped with an Aramaic inscription consisting of two lines – in the upper line “דכא” (pure) and below it “ליה” (to God) – and is probably the kind of seal referred to in the Mishnah as a “seal (Tractate Shekalim 5:1-5), according to excavation directors and archaeologists Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period”, Shukron and Reich said.

Jerusalem District Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch drew a connection between the find and Hanukkah. “It is written in the Gemara (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Shabbat 2:21) that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is, the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”, Baruch noted.

Other items discovered in the excavation included oil lamps, ceramic cooking pots and Hasmonean coins dating to kings Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus.

The findings were presented Sunday at a press conference attended by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar at Ir David (the City of David).

1948 and the Triumph Of the Naysayers

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

In 1939, when Reb Sholom Halberstam, brother-in-law of the saintly Bobover Rebbe Shlomo Halberstam, and some other Jews were fleeing from the approaching German armies, they came to a Polish town where the sexton of the synagogue, upon hearing their story, told them to stop running because the arrival of the Messiah was imminent.

To prove it, he took out the book of Daniel and showed them the commentary by Yosef Ben David Ibn Yachya (1494-1534) on Daniel chapter 8, verse 14.

As the Ibn Yachya interpreted Daniel’s vision, the end of the Jews’ exile would come in the Jewish year 5700 – or 1940 C.E. – plus or minus a few years. Coming from the Ibn Yachya, a recognized Torah scholar and contemporary of the Bais Yosef and the Abarbanel, this cannot be taken lightly.

Here is the fateful prophecy of Daniel, according to the Ibn Yachya:

At the end of 5,700 [years] since creation, approximately, a little earlier or a little later, will come the end of the galut with the help of Hashem. [This is so] in order that the Bnei Yisrael should be able to sit securely on their land in the 300 years that will be left before the world will be destroyed as our sages tell us.

What major event took place in 1940, plus or minus a few years? Is it possible the Ibn Yachya was referring to what happened in 1948? Could it be that, according to the Ibn Yachya, Daniel was predicting the creation of Medinat Yisrael?

Maybe we can garner some insight into what the Ibn Yachya was saying by taking a look at his introduction to this prediction. He writes: “The pekida [a glimpse of how the final Redemption will unfold, based on God’s assessment of whether a generation merits it] in the days of King Koresh [on whose orders the Second Temple was built] was incomplete, and it was in accordance with their not being ready to accept it. [It was incomplete] because the gedolim [the elite, the leaders] did not want to leave the exile. Only the reikim [those devoid of Torah, the uneducated, the uncommitted] went up with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.”

Why does the Ibn Yachya tell us what happened during the time of the Second Temple? Why does he elaborate on the refusal of the Jews to leave the galut? Why is this relevant to his prediction of the end of our exile?

Scholars of the Ibn Yachya’s stature (Reb Yosef Karo personally handled his burial) did not utter words lightly. So we have to treat his words like that of a rishon (a member of the first generation of Torah scholars after the gaonic period).

Perhaps the Ibn Yachya posited the Second Temple scenario as one we should not follow. What he seems to be saying is, Let us not repeat the same mistake the Jews committed during the time of Ezra. Let us not have a repetition of only “reikim” going up to Eretz Yisrael and the “gedolim” remaining behind. Let us not have a repetition of an incomplete pekida. (Only 42,360 Jews followed Ezra to Eretz Yisrael, according to Nehemiah 7:66.)

It seems clear the Ibn Yachya was telling us that the Prophet Daniel foresaw a pekida that would occur in or close to 1948. But he also foresaw the non-response, the apathy – even hostility – on the part of some of our leaders to the pekida. Daniel foresaw that just as in the time of Ezra, only the reikim would respond to the 1948 pekida.

I urge all Jews (especially bnei Torah) to look up for themselves the Ibn Yachya’s uplifting and prophetic words. They can be found in the book of Daniel (8:14) in the Orim Gedolim edition of Mikraot Gedolot.

It should be noted that there have been numerous prophecies made about the end of the exile – by, among many others, the Ramban, Saadya Gaon, Abarbanel, Ralbag (footnotes to Igeres Teiman by Rambam), Malbim, and the Rebbe of Komarna – but, unfortunately, none materialized. None, that is, except for the prophecy of Ibn Yachya.

* * * * *


A brief review of recent history would help at this point.

As early as the 1890s, the Chofetz Chaim, according to his son, Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaCohen Poupko, felt the time was “that of the footsteps of the Messiah, and that Jews should prepare to return to the Land of Israel and reinstitute the study of those Torah subjects particularly applicable to life in the Land of Israel.”

And while the Chofetz Chaim thought the Balfour Declaration of 1917 did not go far enough, he viewed it, wrote his son, as “a heavenly sign regarding the forthcoming redemption of Israel.”

A generation later, the initial response to the 1948 pekida was overwhelmingly positive in Torah circles.

My menahel at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, the great Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, burst out in song and dance when he heard of the UN’s decision to establish a Jewish state.

One of his closest disciples told me that Reb Shraga Feivel made a Shehechyanu with the full name of Hashem (b’shem umalchus) when Israel was created. Unfortunately, Reb Shraga Feivel passed away prematurely. I am convinced that had he been blessed with additional years, he would have fought with all his might not to squander the 1948 pekida.

My rebbe in Torah Vodaath, Rav Gedalia Schorr, upon hearing the news of Israel’s birth, called an assembly of all the students and forthrightly stated that we were in the time of the aschalta d’geulah (beginning of the Redemption).

My rosh yeshiva, the beloved Torah authority Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, also viewed the 1948 pekida in positive terms. He writes in his Emes L’Yaakov (3rd edition) that “Hashem orchestrated the establishment of the State of Israel – in view of the enormous despair that set in among the survivors of the Shoah and in view of the hopeless situation of Russian Jewry – in order to strengthen the Jewish identity and to maintain the bond between the diaspora and the Jewish people.”

Reb Zalman Sorotzkin saw the establishment of the state as a beginning of the Redemption. In the introduction to his Oznaim LaTorah, he thanks Hashem for saving him and his family from the ravages of the Holocaust and for granting them the great zechus to come to Eretz Yisrael to witness the “beginning of the rebuilding of the land and, hopefully, to witness its completion.”

There were many other Torah scholars who responded positively to the 1948 pekida. To mention just a few:

Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch, rosh yeshiva of Telz, played a leading role in Agudath Israel of America and was a member of the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah. He actively supported the State of Israel and was enthralled by the ingathering of the exiles and the great expansion of Torah in Eretz Yisrael made possible by its founding.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, author of Michtav M’Eliyahu, writing about the 1948 pekida, declared that “we see an immense act of kindness of Hashem; from the loss of six million of our brothers, to the settlement of our people in our holy land. Woe…to those who will come to the Day of Judgment while remaining blind to this reality.”

Reb Yizchok Meir Levin, member of the Agudah World Presidium and son-in-law of the Gerer Rebbe, responded positively to the 1948 pekida by actively supporting the state. A signatory to Israel’s Declaration of Independence, he was elected to the first Knesset and was minister of social welfare in the first Israeli government.

The three Vizhnitzer rebbes who survived the Holocaust all settled in Israel. They refused even to consider the possibility of living outside the Jewish homeland. Leaders of many other chassidic dynasties moved to the new state, fulfilling their lifelong dreams. The rebbes of Sochotchov and Mozhidz were openly sympathetic to the medina. The rebbes of Ger were outspoken advocates of settling the land.

* * * * *


So what happened to all the enthusiasm, the widespread and emotional outpouring of support, for the newborn Jewish state?

Unfortunately, there were many naysayers. Their voices drowned out the kol demamah daka, the hushed heavenly voices, of the Reb Mendlowitzes, the Rav Schorrs, the Rav Desslers, the Rav Kaminetzkys, the Rav Blochs, the Rav Levins, the Rav Sorotzkins. Eventually, the joyful reaction to the 1948 pekida was snuffed out by the naysayers’ juggernaut.

The naysayers were, to quote Rav Dessler, “blind to this reality” of the 1948 pekida. They were blind to the vision of those gedolim who looked beyond the four cubits of their galut and preferred to live in a reborn Eretz Yisrael – the only land where, according the Ramban, Torah can be observed fully and properly.

The naysayers were blind to the miraculous phenomenon of the ingathering of the exiles.

For centuries Jews had been praying three times every day: “Raise the banner to gather our exiles from the four corners of the earth to our land.” After the 1948 pekida, this prayer was answered on an almost daily basis as hundreds of thousands of Jews from every point on the globe streamed home.

The naysayers were blind to the Ramban (commentary on Song of Songs, 8:13); to the Radak (Psalms 146:3); and to the Vilna Gaon (Kol Hator 1:3), all of whom said the redemption would come with the permission of the nations of the world. The historic decision by the United Nations in November 1947 was, of course, followed five months later by the 1948 pekida – the birth of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

The naysayers were also blind to the emergence of the phenomenon called the ba’al teshuvah movement and the catalytic role played by the emergence of the State of Israel. When in recent times had there been such an eruption of teshuvah, of returning to Jewish roots, as occurred in the years following the 1948 pekida?

And the naysayers were blind and oblivious to the enormous explosion of Torah study, Torah research, and Torah institutions brought about by the 1948 pekida. Behold the unbelievable spread of Torah learning in Israel: the multiplicity of Torah publications and Torah publishing houses; the plethora of yeshivot; the profusion of kollelim and seminaries; the myriad of chesed institutions.

This “irreligious state” the naysayers complain about is the prime repository of Torah knowledge in the world today and is home to the greatest assemblage of Torah giants on earth, whose opinions are accepted by Jews worldwide.

There has not been so much Torah in Eretz Yisrael since the destruction of the Second Temple, but the naysayers remain in total denial.

* * * * *


A simple question to the naysayers: Is the modern State of Israel any less religious than those states that existed in the days of Achav or Menashe or Yerovom ben Nevot? To put the question in more sweeping terms, is the modern State of Israel any less religious than were the Jewish states under most of the kings of Israel and Judah? The Gemara (Sanhedrin 102, 2) says that during the reign of King Achav there wasn’t a single lawn in all of Israel that did not have an idol on it. And yet his armies were victorious in battle.

And let’s not mince words: Is it not primarily the fault of we ourselves – we frum Jews – that the government of Israel is not religious? Was there ever a mass frum aliya to Eretz Yisrael? Did we answer the call in the state’s formative years, after Europe had slaughtered Jews in the millions and vomited out those who survived, and when the gates of Israel were wide open and the land was crying out for its children to come home? To ask the question is to answer it.

What about prior to World War II, in the twenties and thirties? Or before that? We know quite well who answered the call of the land as it roused itself from its 2,000-year slumber: Hashomer Hatzair and Gordonia, socialists and communists, agnostics and atheists. They were the Jews who answered the call. We did not. Perhaps we had valid reasons, or reasons that seemed valid at the time, but that doesn’t change the facts on the ground. We are in the minority, and to the victor belong the spoils.

Secular and left-oriented political parties have never forced their way into the Knesset or the government. They were voted in. They had their supporters. We did not.

This was the situation we found ourselves in at the time of the 1948 pekida: Hashem was entreating, beseeching and cajoling us to enter His abode. The gates of Eretz Yisrael were wide open. (Was it mere coincidence that the first Jewish state in two millennia came into being at about the same time air travel was becoming faster, safer, and more convenient?)

The motherland was crying out for her children to return home: “Come live in our beautiful land. Come see with your own eyes the great potential for Torah and mitzvot. Come out from among your persecutors and killers. Come take part in rebuilding the palace of the King.”

What was our answer? Just as in the days of Ezra – and exactly as the Ibn Yachya warned us against – our answer was a shrug of the shoulders or, worse, a denial that God had anything to do with the return of Jewish sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael for the first time in 2,000 years.

If Torah has flourished in Israel to the extent it has, just imagine what would be if hundreds of thousands more Orthodox Jews had gone home after the founding of the state.

Again quoting Rav Dessler: “Woe…to those who will come to the Day of Judgment while remaining blind to this reality” of Israel.

Bezalel Fixler, a survivor of the Transnistria death camp and a musmach of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, is a writer whose work appears in Dos Yiddishe Vort, The Algemeiner Journal, and The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/1948-and-the-triumph-of-the-naysayers/2010/06/02/

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