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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘TORAH’

Bringing Moshe to the Moon

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In 1971, Apollo 15 Commander David Scott left a Christian Bible on the surface of the moon. Today, a group of Israeli scientists is trying to add a Sefer Torah to the lunar holy book collection.

According to a report in New Scientist, a group called “Torah on the Moon” has contacted groups in Israel and Spain to inquire about landing scroll on the lunar surface. The groups are competing for a $30 million prize, sponsored by Google, to be awarded to the first group to land a robot on the moon.

New Scientist cited confirmation from the European Space Agency that the group has asked the ESA to create a capsule to protect the Torah scroll. The report said the container would protect the Torah from radiation and temperature changes for at least 10,000 years.

Jewish Youth Battle to Win Israel’s 2014 Annual International Bible Quiz

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The nation’s eyes are on Israel’s annual International Bible Quiz for Youth, being held today (Yom HaAtzma’ut) at The Jerusalem Theater. Sixteen finalists, boys and girls, are facing off on the stage to win the prize. The contest is broadcast live on nearly all channels, radio and television, in addition to those on Internet, across the country.

Last week 75 contestants from 33 nations met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Shai Piron.

Questions are announced by the emcee in Hebrew, but appear on the screen in English as well as in Hebrew.

Prime Minister Netanyahu traditionally presents the final round of questions to contestants who are fighting to be the winners of the competition.

At the halfway point, Jewish Agency director Natan Scharansky was asked to present an award to an outstanding student from Or Yehuda, and in his brief address spoke of the importance of strengthening Jewish identity among the youth in the Diaspora.

The contest has been an annual event since its inception. There is also an Israel Bible Quiz for Adults.

Last year’s youth winners were Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh, Israel and Yeshiva University High School student Yishai Eisenberg of New Jersey.

The prime minister’s son Avner won third place in 2010, and the contest has increased in popularity each year.

Torah Book Fetches Record $3.87 Million at Paris Auction

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

A 15th century printed book of the Torah fetched a record $3.87 million at an auction in Paris.

Three buyers attempted to outbid each other over the telephone during the sale which the Christie’s auction house organized on April 30, the news website actualitte.com reported Thursday.

Christie’s listed the buyer as “anonymous” but said the sale broke two records. According to Christie’s, the item was the world’s most expensive Hebrew-language book and fetched a higher price than any printed book known to ever have been sold in France.

The book was printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482, according to Christie’s. “The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” according to the Christie’s website.

Prior to the auction, Christie’s estimated the item’s worth at up to 1.5 million euros, or $2.08 million.

The back of the copy bears the signature of three 16th and 17th century censors, testifying to its presence in an Italian library until at least the mid-17th century, according to Christie’s.

“Over the last hundred years only two copies of this rare edition have come to auction: the first in 1970, printed on vellum and complete, the second in 1998, printed on paper and missing eight pages,” Christie’s added in a news release before the sale.

The copy sold Wednesday was printed on vellum and is complete, apart from the rear free-end paper, and is “in exceptionally fresh condition,” the auction house said.

In 2012, the Paris office of Christie’s sold a 15th century mahzor, or Jewish holiday prayer book, for $2.41 million. It was created in Florence, Italy and was richly embellished with intricate designs.

The Parchment of Rebuke That Came Home

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On a day in which the cruelties of the Nazis and the devastation of the Holocaust is uppermost of the minds of the People of Israel, there are yet numerous examples of how we are shown there are sparks of hope among the ashes.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Dean of the Migdal Ohr Institutions, was presented with one such example. The rabbi sat in his home in Migdal Ha’emek in bewilderment, re-examining the piece of Torah parchment he was given. Cut by a Nazi almost 70 years ago from a Torah scroll in an Eastern European synagogue, the sacred parchment was used by the Luftwaffe officer as a wrapping for his ID card during World War II.

How did Rabbi Grossman come into the possession of such a unique and shocking piece of history?

 Moti Dotan, the Head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council, had recently returned from a ceremony honoring of the 25th anniversary of the twin cities pact between the Regional Council and the Hanover district in Germany.

Dotan was approached at the conclusion of the event by a member of the Hanover District Council. “My father, Werner Herzig, died a few weeks ago,” said the man. “Before his death he said he wanted to share with me a secret. He told me he had fought in World War II and told me about his involvement in those awful crimes, such as his participation in the burning of a synagogue on the Russian front. ‘It’s important for me to tell you this, because today there are those who don’t believe that it happened’ he told me.”

 Dotan relates that Herzig junior gave him the ID document and parchment and asked him to locate a holy man in the Galilee and present it to him. “I thought of the holy work that Rabbi Grossman does, and that he was the most suitable person to receive the document and parchment,” says Dotan. “When I came to him to give him the document, I shared with him the story. As he held the parchment tears started to flow from his eyes,” recalls Dotan. He said that Rabbi Grossman symbolizes to him all that is good in Judaism, and will make proper use of the item.

 Rabbi Grossman held the piece of parchment and read from the text. The parchment is from the Book of Deuteronomy, in the weekly portion of “Ki Tavo.”

He read: “…and distress which your enemies will inflict upon you, in your cities… Then the Lord will bring upon you and your offspring uniquely horrible plagues, terrible and unyielding plagues, and evil and unyielding sicknesses… Also, the Lord will bring upon you every disease and plague which is not written in this Torah scroll, to destroy you. And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 28, 57-62). These verses are known as the verses of admonishment.

Rabbi Grossman is convinced that this is a “Supreme message of Divine providence. After 60 years, this document arrives in Israel, wrapped in these words of scolding, and is calling on us ‘to awaken.’ After all, the German could have cut the parchment from any of the Five Books of Moses, and he specifically cut out the section that speaks suffering, servitude and then of redemption,” he said.

Rabbi Grossman has shown the ID book and parchment to young people, and tells of the great excitement it causes. “It’s a tangible object, which you can see with your own eyes. You can see here the embodiment of evil; how after the destruction of a synagogue, this man had the audacity to enter and cut from the Torah scroll, only because he thought that the parchment was a suitable way to preserve his document.”

Rabbi Grossman has vowed to continue to visit schools and young people with the document and to share this awe-striking story with them.

Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Clarification and Update:

Wording in the title of this article has been changed from “Rabbi in Crimea Escapes with Torah Scroll” to “Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train”, to avoid any potential misunderstanding that Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc may have stolen the Torah from the Crimea war zone, or abandoned his community in its time of need.

The Torah was moved to a safer location in Simferopol, and Rabbi Lipszyc was advised by his superiors at Chabad headquarters to temporarily move his center of operations out of Crimea. The Rabbi is still working with his community via Skype, phone and email.

JewishPress.com apologizes for any misunderstanding the title may have caused if read out of context from the text of the article.

Crimea’s Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Lipszyc escaped Simferopol with his wife on the last train that left the area before the Russian sealed it off.

“The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

Lipszyc spoke told JNS.org, “For the last 22 years under the Ukrainian government, everything has been going very well. When this situation began, it turned things upside down. We were told by Chabad headquarters to get out and we barely made it out. My wife in fact got the last two tickets on a train out of Simferopol on the night before everything got sealed off by the Russians.

He said that despite the referendum that was almost unanimous for annexation by Russia, the thinks “most of the people wanted to stay with Ukraine, because that was what they were familiar with, but then when the Russians took over the media and propaganda switched the other way, within days we saw it swing towards being overwhelmingly pro-Russian.’

The situation is even worse for Americans like the rabbi, he added. “Americans were persona-non-gratis for both Ukrainians and Russians at this time. For Russians it is because of the stance the American government has taken against Russia. While on the Ukraine side they are deeply disappointed that America is not doing enough to help them.

“Oddly enough we had to leave there more because we were Americans and not because we were Jewish.”

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was anything but comfortable for Jews. Rabbi Lipszyc said that the Russian troops cordoned off the synagogue and that he and his wife moved to their house.

At his wife’s suggestion, they decided to move away as far as possible and wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask his help to get them out.

“Believe it or not, when our friend reached the military checkpoint, he explained to them that we needed to retrieve the Torah out of the synagogue, [the Russian soldier] suddenly moved out of the way and removed the barriers to let him,” according to the rabbi. “On his way out, the solider actually even apologized to him for the inconvenience, which was unheard of there! It was a miracle. We were able to move our Torahs to a safer location in Simferopol, where services were held for several weeks.””

Despite anti-Semitism, Jews are able to practice without interference. However, he noted, “We have to prepare for Passover and need to raise a lot of money to help with the extra costs. We not only need extra security, but we have taken loses during the process.

“We were getting our kosher meat from Ukraine; we had ordered and paid for it, but they [Russian forces] didn’t let it through. We also paid for the Matzos, but that didn’t get through either. We need to figure out how to all our supplies through now. We are appealing to everyone to help out the Jewish community there.”

Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org that according to international law and most Western observers, the referendum was illegitimate.

“In 1991, Crimea went to independent Ukraine because, since 1954, it was part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic which in turn was an integral part of the Soviet Union,” said Kliger. “That is why nobody really cared. As long as it was a part of the USSR, it did not really matter whether it is formally a part of Russia or Ukraine. Now Russia, using as pretext the instability created by Ukrainian revolution and imaginary ‘discrimination’ against ethnic Russians, just grabbed the opportunity to return Crimea to where, according to Russia, it historically belongs.”

New Texts Found in ‘Dead Sea Scroll’ Caves

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

A major archaeology “discovery” of previously found but unexamined Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed nine new Biblical era documents, the Live Science and Absa Mediterranean website have reported.

Archaeologist Yonatan Adler said, “‘It’s not every day that you get the chance to discover new manuscripts. It’s very exciting.”

The documents have not yet been fully examined and it is not known, so far, what is written in the texts, which were sitting in three tefillin cases that were among the Scrolls pulled out of 11 Qumran caves in the Dead Sea area in the 1950s.

Adler announced his findings at an international conference in Switzerland on Qumran and the Dead Sea region.

The texts that he found in the tefillin cases may shed more light on religious observance in the period of the Second Temple, but they are unlikely to expose major texts such as were found in the Dead Scrolls that already have been examined.

Other tefillin parchments previously have been examined, and the nine newly-found texts, if they can be deciphered, probably will confirm previous findings and the content of several verses of the Torah are written on parchments in tefillin worn by Jews around the world.

Court to Rule If Jerusalem’s ’Cinema City’ Can Violate the Sabbath

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Jerusalem’s $75 million, 19-theatre Cinema City opened on Tuesday, but the Supreme Court will decide next month if it can operate on the Sabbath, in violation of both Jewish law and the “status quo” that maintains an equilibrium and unstable peace between observant and non-observant Jews in the capital.

Multi-screen theatres are common in Israel, but not in Jerusalem. The new eight-floor complex, located across the street from the same court building that will decide its fate on the Sabbath, includes 50 cafes and shops and is expected to see up to 15 million visitors in its first year of operation.

The last thing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat needs is another reason for riots from the Haredi community, which already has enough fuel for a city-wide blaze of anger over the idea of a military draft for all Jews, including yeshiva students. The argument over the compulsory draft for all conveniently does not focus on Arabs. That is another story by itself but illustrates how Israeli politicians manage to ride the rails of populism.

Mayor Barkat has taken the safe road on the issue of Shabbat. During last year’s mayoral election race, he said the complex should remain closed on the Day of Rest. He now emphasizes that the decision is up to the court. Given the financial income to the city by thousands of tourists spending money on movies and restaurants on the Sabbath, Barkat’s heart might be in the wallet and not in the Torah.

The municipality has stated that the agreement between Cinema City’s developers and the Finance Ministry stipulated that the movie complex will not operate on the Sabbath since it is located on government property.

City Council member Merav Cohen insists that Barkat can change the terms of the agreement if he wants to and that it is not dependent on the Finance Ministry.

Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch claims that most of the city council opposes a Shabbat opening for the theatre complex. Whether or not a majority really wants it closed because of religious reasons or out of respect for the Orthodox community, they certainly would prefer Jerusalem get attention from other areas instead of Haredi riots.

The fact is that when the Jerusalem City Council decided four years ago that Cinema City would be closed on the Sabbath, only three members at the meeting objected.

National religious Rabbi Yaakov Medan of Gush Etzion has written that the cinema complex should be open for secular Israelis, with restrictions against restaurants and other commercial establishments being open. He said that Jerusalem needs secular residents, who should not feel they have to live elsewhere to avoid restrictions due to the Sabbath.

The argument is an old one. Is it religious coercion to close down movie theatres on Shabbat? Is it secular coercion to allow them to open? Does it ruin the religious character of the city, if not Israel, by allowing them to operate?

Those are interesting social, theological and philosophical questions, but the more immediate question might be if the court will take into consideration the physical safety of citizens if it allows Cinema City to open its doors and if riots follow.

Everything in Israel comes down to politics. The Haredim correctly feel they are being marginalized, although the change is long overdue. The government has cut funds for yeshivas, it wants Haredi youth to serve in the army just like everyone else – except secular draft dodgers about whom no one seems to write.

The Haredi establishment has managed to hold on to the Chief Rabbinate, but its powers are being undermined with a belated reform of kosher supervision that is aimed at  eliminating corruption and making sure that “kosher” really is ”kosher” and not just a stamp on a certificate in return for money in the pocket.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/court-to-rule-if-jerusalems-cinema-city-will-violate-the-sabbath/2014/02/25/

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