Posts on the topic of "Biblical Figures"
The legacy of King David got a big boost this week when archaeologists announced the discovery of a fortified Jewish city from the time of David 3,000 years ago.
The site, Khirbet Qeiyafa, lies about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, adjacent to the Valley of Ella where the Jews encamped when David slew Goliath. Archaeologists discovered the remains of 99 dwellings in this fortified city whose walls once stood 20 feet high.
Archaeologists are certain this was a Jewish city, given that the people who lived there obeyed the Torah prohibitions against eating pig and making graven images. Diggers found none of the idolatrous figurines common at other sites, and ― though the site contains thousands of bones of sheep, goats and cattle ― there are no pig bones, suggesting adherence to kosher regulations.
Professor Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University, who led the excavation, explained that these findings stand as proof against those who claim that David was either a mythological figure or a small-time village leader. This Jewish city 20 miles from Jerusalem constitute the best proof yet of the existence of a regional Jewish monarchy during the time of David.
Related reading: Archeology and the Bible
Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoon depicting a biblical character complaining to Moses for having “led us for 40 years in the desert to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!”
This is no longer the case. Incredibly, Israel is now on the verge of energy independence – due to three recent developments:
- the discovery of huge deposits – trillions of cubit feet – of natural gas in the Mediterranean sea off the coast of northern Israel, enough to supply all of Israel’s needs into the foreseeable future
- the discovery of onshore oil fields
- the near-completion of Better Place’s nationwide electric car infrastructure
Now here’s the really cool part.
Back in 1993, when Tovia Luskin began searching for oil, the prevailing wisdom was still stuck on that biblical cartoon. Luskin, a Russian-born geologist who is very religious, was intrigued by a passage in the Torah stating that Jacob (Israel) will “suck oil out of the flinty rock” (Deut. 32:13).
In the next chapter, Moses blesses the tribes of Menashe and Ephraim with “the best of the ancient mountains, and the sweetness of the eternal hills” (Deut. 33:15).
Using information provided by the medieval commentator Rashi, Luskin saw these verses as hinting to geological structural traps, associated with petroleum reservoirs.
So Luskin did what any smart businessman and believing Jew would do: He surveyed the tribal area allocated to Menashe and performed a geological evaluation. This led him to the spot now known as the Meged field, containing hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
“It confirmed the story in the Bible,” Luskin told the Times of Israel. “I have worked on oil fields in Australia, Indonesia and Canada, and I have never seen a structure so likely to contain oil as the Meged field.”
Luskin’s plans for the future include building a university in Israel to train engineers in oil and gas exploration and energy management. “If a solution to the energy crisis is to be found, it will be here,” Luskin says, adding that “the world needs the Jewish brain.”
Visitor Comments: 4
As Jews around the world prepare for Passover ― the celebration of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt ― Palestinians are working overtime to rewrite history by presenting Moses as "the great Muslim leader who liberated Palestine."
On Palestinian Authority television, Dr. Omar Ja'ara, a lecturer at Al-Najah University in Nablus, declared:
This outrage is the latest Palestinian effort to dismiss Jewish nationhood, a corollary to the repeated denial of any Jewish connection to the Holy Land. "The claims of historic and religious ties between Jews and Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history," reads the Palestinian National Charter (Article 18).
When archaeologists in Jerusalem discovered a small golden bell, possibly from a tunic worn by a high priest during the Second Temple period, Palestinian officials angrily said this "underlines the efforts of the occupation and the extremist Jewish groups to falsify history and plant Jewish history forged in the region." And following the release of an iPhone app that sends prayers to the Western Wall, Palestinians immediately went into protest mode, insisted that "the Wailing Wall is an integral part of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and it is exclusively Islamic… and non-Muslims have no right to it, even to the dust of the Wailing Wall." (Palestine News Network, January 4, 2011)
This deceit goes straight to the top: In the words of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Jewish people "claim that 2,000 years ago they had a Temple. I challenge the claim that this is so." (Kul Al-Arab, August 25, 2000) The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Maen Rashid Areikat, claimed that historically the Jewish presence in Israel "never was in Jerusalem, it never was on the coast, it never was in Hebron."
As detailed in my book, David & Goliath, it's all part of an ongoing deligitimization campaign ― aided by a willing media. Le Monde, the French newspaper of record, quoted PA cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo: "Looking at the situation from an archaeological standpoint, I am sure there is no temple."
Even canonized Jewish writings, accepted for millennia by billions of people worldwide, are targeted for revision. Speaking on Palestinian TV, researcher Dr. Hayel Sanduqa claimed that the well-known verse from Psalm 137, "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem," is not a Jewish source at all, but rather words uttered by a Christian Crusader, now "falsified in the name of Zionism." And when the iconic 1970s disco group Boney M played a concert in Ramallah, Palestinian organizers demanded that the band not perform one of its biggest hits, "Rivers of Babylon." Why? Because the song's chorus quotes from the Book of Psalms which ― in a brazen act of Zionist propaganda! ― refers to the Jewish yearning for the land of Israel.
Follow the steps: First, Palestinians claim that Moses was a Muslim leader and that Jews never lived in Israel. Then before you know it, standard media references to the Jewish Temple ― accepted as historical fact by every legitimate archaeologist and scholar ― is deemed debatable. London's Daily Telegraph referred to "the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built," and Time magazine identified the "Dome of the Rock, where Jews believe Solomon and Herod built the First and Second Temples." Not an indisputable fact of history; just something that "Jews believe."
Beyond the problem of factual inaccuracy, these media manipulations can actually impede the peace process. Invariably, the starting point in any negotiation is whatever is defined in common terms as "normative." With these outrageous pro-Palestinian views reinforced in the media, Palestinians sense the momentum predisposed in their favor, and harbor the illusion of bringing these demands to the negotiating table. Inevitably, Palestinians get a rude awakening every time that Israel ― secure in their 4,000-year history and connection to the land ― refuses to allow these skewed perceptions to dictate terms of an agreement.
Looking at the bright side, this is surely a good conversation starter for this year's Passover Seder.
Visitor Comments: 8
I just returned from the Bris of my first grandchild, Noson Eliyahu Tal, and would like to share some of the many thoughts running through my head.
At the conclusion of a Bris, there is a special prayer the parent recites:
"May my son's heart be as open to Your Torah as the Ulam, the great entranceway to the Holy Temple."
This reference to the Ulam is not simply a poetic expression. It is based on the Talmud (Eruvin 53a) which quotes Rabbi Yochanan as saying that "the minds of the 'earlier scholars' were as broad as the entrance of the Ulam." The Talmud then identifies these "earlier scholars" as Rebbe Akiva and Rebbe Elazar ben Shamua.
This raises a question: Why are the new parents praying for their child to reach the level of Rebbe Akiva and Rebbe Elazar ben Shamua? These were great Sages from 2,000 years ago, and in our generation nobody reaches such a level!
I believe some insight can be found in the Talmud (Sotah 12b): When Batya found baby Moses floating in the river, he refused to nurse from the Egyptian women, and would only nurse from his mother. Moses required "kosher" food, since in the future he would be speaking directly with the Almighty and needed to maintain the highest level of purity.
Today we would never expect to reach the level of Moses, just as we don't expect to reach the level of Rebbe Akiva. And yet the Code of Jewish Law (Rema―Yoreh De'ah 81:7) says that the preferance to nurse from a Jewish woman applies equally today!
From here, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky (Emes L'Yaakov 2:7) learns a principle: Every human being has unlimited potential, and we should never place any limitation on our hopes for a child's greatness!
This idea of encouraging the greatness of each individual was a hallmark of my father, after whom my new grandson is named. As an accomplished chemist, my father had attractive opportunities in the private sector, e.g. an offer from a large food company to develop ways for breakfast cereal to stay crunchier longer in milk. But he wanted to do something meaningful that would genuinely help others. So he became a university professor, where he taught not only the advanced levels, but also insisted on teaching the entry-level chemistry course. He believed that if you give someone a good foundation from the start, that will carry them through the future.
Over the years I have heard of many of my father's students who excelled, got good grades, and went on to become successful teachers in their own right. This was due in no small measure to my father's guidance, encouragement and belief in their great potential.
With children, so much of their success depends on encouragement from the parents. The Talmud (Yerushalmi―Yevamos 1:6) discusses how Rebbe Yehoshua became such a great tzaddik. When Rebbe Yehoshua was a baby, his mother set his baby carriage outside the yeshiva. This little baby was exposed to lots and lots of Torah learning and thus grew up to become the great Rebbe Yehoshua.
Yet how did this contribute to Rebbe Yehoshua's greatness? As a baby, he certainly didn't comprehend the complex rabbinic discussions in the yeshiva. Rather, what made Rebbe Yehoshua great was the influence of having a mother who was willing to sacrifice herself to bring him there every day, who showed him the importance of having strong Jewish values, and who believed that one day he could sit amongst the great ones.
It is with tremendous gratitude to the Almighty that I celebrated today my grandson's Bris. We have unlimited hopes for this gorgeous baby. May he exceed them all !
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The biggest sports story of the year is Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old Asian-American basketball player now lighting up the NBA.
Here’s a guy who – despite being a high school star – was ignored when they handed out the college scholarships.
Instead of complaining, Lin worked even harder: He was accepted to Harvard (with no scholarship), got good grades, led the Harvard basketball team to its best season ever, and set all-time Ivy League records.
Incredibly, Lin was ignored again – totally passed over in the NBA draft. (Perhaps because he doesn’t look like the stereotypical basketball player...)
What happened next is an amazing testament to human perseverance.
A few weeks ago, Lin was languishing in obscurity, playing with the D-League Erie Pennsylvania Bayhawks.
Meanwhile, all four point guards on the New York Knick’s roster were being eliminated – one by one – due to injury or incompetence. That’s when Lin was propelled into the Knick’s starting line-up and got the chance to prove himself.
And that’s when it all clicked. In his first four starts, he scored 109 points – getting off to the fastest start of any player in NBA history. (See Lin tearing apart the LA Lakers for 38 points.) Overnight, Lin electrified the league and became a superstar.
Superlatives like Lincredible and Linsanity are being tweeted at record rates, and he has become a role model for 15 million Asian-Americans and billions of Asians worldwide.
The only one who isn't talking hype is Lin himself, a spiritual and humble person who credits his success to God and his teammates.
This story – of a man widely ignored, who believed in himself and shone bright when opportunity knocked – reminds me of the biblical story of King David (1-Samuel ch. 16).
David was a humble shepherd whom nobody paid much attention to. With a ruddy complexion, he looked a bit different. He was the youngest of eight sons.
Then the big day came: God told Shmuel the prophet to go to the house of Jesse and select the most worthy of the sons to be the King of Israel.
Shmuel examined seven of the sons, one by one, but did not find the special quality he was seeking. Then, almost as an afterthought, Jesse mentioned his youngest son, David.
Shmuel immediately knew that he was to coronate King David.
We all know the end of the story: David went on to slay the mighty Goliath, establish the Jewish capital in Jerusalem, compose the timeless Book of Psalms, and lead the Jewish people to extraordinary material and spiritual wealth.
None of us know when our moment will come. It may sometimes seem that life is conspiring against us, and we may question whether we even possess the talent to succeed. The key is to continue to work on ourselves, to believe in ourselves, and to keep our eye on the ball.
Then, when the right moment comes, we will recognize it, rise to the occasion, and achieve the true greatness we were all born to possess.