Thank goodness it’s Friday again and time for another Good News Friday installment.
My first item is quite astounding: archeologists have managed to recreate the floor of the Bet Hamidkash, the Holy Temple, by piecing together fragments of floor tiles that were dumped by the Waqf during their illegal and outrageous excavations on the Temple Mount:
Hundreds of lavish stone floor tiles believed to have decorated the Second Temple in Jerusalem have been identified in rubble removed from the Temple Mount, archaeologists announced Tuesday.
The bits and pieces of 2,000-year-old marble flooring were found in fill removed from the contested holy site in the late 1990s when the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the institution overseeing the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Mount, carried out excavations as part of the construction of a subterranean mosque in an area known as Solomon’s Stables.
Since operations began in 2004 to recover artifacts from the tens of thousands of tons of dirt dumped outside the Old City, the Temple Mount Sifting Project has found some 600 colored stone floor tile fragments that the organization’s director contends came from the temple built by King Herod.
“This represents the first time that archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex,” Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, said.
Of the 600 floor tile fragments, “more than 100… definitively dated to the Herodian Second Temple period” because of their style, the organization said in a statement.
If their provenance is confirmed, the floor tiles would be among a small handful of artifacts definitively from the Second Temple, including the Temple Warning Stone and the trumpeting place inscription, both at the Israel Museum.
Arutz Sheva adds fascinating historical details:
Recently a researcher from the sifting project, Franki Schneider, an expert on decorative ancient floors, succeeded in reconstructing some of the magnificent examples of tiles from the Temple Mount courtyards.
Schneider, who began her work at Emek Tzurim as a volunteer 9 years ago, has a background in mathematics and Jewish studies and used her broad professional knowledge to make a precise reconstruction of the tiles.
She says that “This type of flooring was called Sectilia, which means ‘Act of cutting’ and was extremely prestigious, being preferred to the regular mosaic floors.”
Schneider says that she has discovered seven potential patterns of floor tiles which decorated the Temple Mount. She says that these floorings were probably set by foreign artisans sent by the Roman caesar Augustus to his friend Herod, who rebuilt the Temple Mount in the first century B.C.E.
The patterns include interlaced squares, triangles, stars and other shapes which have been meticulously cut in a way that they correspond perfectly to one another so that “even the blade of a knife would not fit between them,” says Schneider.
Tzachi Devira, the joint director of the sifting project, says that no previous research had focused on the types of floorings which existed on the Temple Mount.
The concept of floorings being done through the Sectilia method first emerged in a publication by Asaf Avraham, an archeologist who today supervises the national park surrounding the walls of Jerusalem and the Emek Tzurim national park via the Parks Authority.
Assaf based his ideas on Josephus’s depiction of the courtyard as “tiled with stones of various different colors” (Wars of the Jews, 5:2).The Talmudic tradition also tells of stones on Temple Mount built of different types of colored marble (Sukkah 51b; Bava Batra 4a).
Our outrage at the Waqf’s deliberate destruction of Jewish history notwithstanding, this discovery is almost miraculous, because despite the disgraceful way it was carelessly excavated and dumped, the stones were found, matched together, and then formed into a beautiful pattern. We can easily imagine that fabulous flooring in such a grand setting.
Kol hakavod to all the excavators and researchers from the Temple Mount Sifting Project who recreated this marvellous piece.
If only we should merit to see the Temple rebuilt in our days!
My next item is also connected to Judaism, but in a more updated form. Chabad of Tel Aviv decided to go for a Tefillin-wrapping record in Israel’s most secular city – and the results were very surprising!
On a sweltering August day in Tel Aviv, a group of dedicated young men from around the world set out to challenge conventional thought—and perhaps make history in the process. They were going to record themselves wrapping tefillin with as many Jewish men as possible in a single day and send the results to the Guinness World Records.
Their reason was simple.
Just a day earlier, an ad hoc poll of the local population had answered a resounding “No” to the question: “Is Tel Aviv a holy city?”
For Rabbi Eli Naiditch of Chabad on the Coast—the Tel Aviv Chabad House he established with his wife, Shterna Sara, barely 12 months ago—the gauntlet had been thrown. Together with a group of yeshivah students and members of his congregation, including cameraman and poll initiator Daniel Schechter, they set up tefillin booths at four well-trafficked locations in the city: the Azrieli Center and shopping mall, HaShalom train station, Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel) and the Tayelet promenade along the beach.
They began at 9 a.m. and went straight until 7 p.m., with only a quick lunch break in between. The results were an astounding 262 pairs of tefillin wrapped in a little less than 10 hours. From businessmen on their morning commute to beachgoers, tourists and everyone in between, the experience proved as moving as it was positive. At one point, four men put tefillin on for the very first time in their lives.
At another location, a grandfather and father recited the priestly blessing to their children while donning tefillin. A video of the event recorded by Schechter—and making its rounds on social media—has already gone viral.
Watch this great video:
In the meantime, record or not, he says it’s just the tip of the iceberg: “This is the greatest proof that Tel Aviv is absolutely a holy city, filled with holy people.”
As for Guinness, “that is one record that I’d love to see broken over and over.”
This whole item has brought a huge smile to my face. What a wonderful idea! And the people of Tel Aviv are simply great! As Chabad say, they underestimate themselves. Kol hakavod to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Naiditch and all their volunteers on bringing holiness to Tel Aviv, and for showing how Judaism is so “user-friendly”.
Changing pace now and theme now, a couple of weeks ago, a group of Israeli students won 2nd prize at an international robotics competition (via Reality):
A group of Israeli high school students came in second place at an international robotics competition in Shanghai, China, facing off against dozens entrants from all over the world.
The students also were granted an “Inspiration Award” in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition (FRC), which had 57 teams from Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China, according to the Friends of Israel Sci-Tech Schools.
In the competition, which concluded on August 14, students had to build robots to complete various tasks, such as balancing on a beam and scoring balls into goals.
The team consisted of 29 students from a science and technology high school in the northern city of Binyamina.
“It was a great honor for us to participate in this event,” said Segev Huly, one of the students on the Israeli team. “We see our participation and win as a big step towards promoting the field of robotics in China, and placing Israel as one of the world’s leading powers in technology.”
Kol hakavod to all those inspiring and clever students! You have made your country and your families proud, and we are proud of you! May you all continue from strength to strength with success in your future studies.
The cover of the October, 2016 issue of The Wine Spectator magazine is all over Israeli wines!
The biggest, most pleasant surprise was a feature on the delicious wines of Judea and Samaria:
Israel’s Judean Hills: Ancient Traditions, New Wines: Learn more about the history of wine in Jewish life, the keys to kosher winemaking and what makes Israel’s Judean Hills region distinctive as Eli Ben-Zaken, owner and winemaker of Domaine du Castel, joins managing editor Kim Marcus.
The feature talks about the rich history of Jewish winemaking in Judea and Samaria! In other words it doesn’t deny the strong Jewish ties to the land, as well as the importance of Jewish winemaking in history of the region.
This really is fantastic news! Both the positive descriptions of the wines and the very fact that the magazine gave such positive coverage of Israeli wines, even from areas which many consider “illegal”, gives a great lift to our hearts.
The Elder of Ziyon helpfully plotted a graph of prices vs. quality and and found little correlation between price and quality. Which means you can go out and buy the best wine for Shabbat! 🙂
With this very cheering thought in mind, I toast a Lechaim to all of you with a glass of good Israeli wine, and wish you all Shabbat Shalom!