Good News Friday – Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed edition

It’s Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed tonight, the intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot, so I want to provide you with a slightly more inspiring edition than my usual Good News Friday posts.

My first item is from a couple of weeks ago but it is so heart-warming nonetheless. The link is in Hebrew, but here is a short summary:

Around 17,000 youngsters took part in a ceremony marking the completion of study of the Hilchot Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam. In a ceremony within the celebration, a new Sefer Torah was dedicated in memory of the soldier Erez Orbach Hy’d from Alon Shvut who was murdered in a car-ramming attack on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem in January 2017. Erez used to study the Rambam daily during his student years in the Neveh Shmuel High School in Efrat, the Hesder Yeshiva in Maalot, and in the IDF. His family took part in the ceremony as well as the Sefardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and others.

The dedication of the Torah scroll in memory of Erez Orbach Hy’d

במהלך המעמד נערך אירוע הכנסת ספר תורה לזכר החייל ארז אורבך הי”ד מאלון שבות שנרצח בפיגוע דריסה בטיילת ארמון הנציב בירושלים בחודש טבת תשע”ז (ינואר 2017). ארז למד מידי יום את הרמב”ם היומי בתחנות חייו בישיבה התיכונית נווה שמואל באפרת, בישיבת ההסדר במעלות ובצבא. ברמב”ם היומי החליטו להכניס ספר תורה לזכרו. באירוע השתתפו בני משפחתו, הרב שלמה משה עמאר – הראשון לציון והרב הראשי הספרדי של ירושלים, הרב ד”ר אברהם ליפשיץ – ראש החמ”ד והרב אברהם גיסר – יו”ר מועצת החמ”ד.

What a beautiful and moving idea! And I am proud to say that two of my granddaughters, Noa and Hodaya, were amongst those 17,000 (!!) youngsters. Kol hakavod to every one of them who took part. May all our children continue in the path of Torah and good deeds.

Amongst those amazing youngsters who completed the Rambam was 14 year old Noa Aryeh. Noa is an exceptionally inspiring girl because she has overcome a huge handicap. She suffers from CP and yet persisted in her studies and completed the study cycle. Because of her courage and her strength, the Religious Education Authority (Hemed) decided to honour her at the ceremony and called her to the stage to receive a special prize.

Again, the link is in Hebrew but here is a short excerpt translated into English:

This is Noa Aryeh, a 14-year-old girl, a resident of the village of Revava in Samaria, who is a ninth grader at the Zvia Ulpan in the settlement where she lives. Noa, a charming girl, was born at a weight of 500 grams. As a result, she suffers from cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, epilepsy and complex learning disabilities.

Noa Aryeh, awarded a prize in the study of the Rambam (YouTube screenshot)

Orit, Noa’s mother, relates how she managed to reach the honorable status and receive the respect she received: “At the beginning of seventh grade at the Ulpana, Noa learned about the daily study of Hilchot Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam.  This is a lesson which takes place during the morning recess and is given by the Rabbi of the Ulpana to the students who are interested in extra Torah studies.  In spite of Noa’s difficulties, she invested in her daily studies until her success at the end of her studies, and when asked what gives her the strength to persevere in learning and give up the break, she noted two main things: – belonging to our people, knowing that Jews from all over the world are learning the same thing together, and the second thing – the desire to give the Jewish people its Torah learning and to return to the people of Israel for everything it receives from it. “

There is a lovely video about Noa at the link, unfortunately only in Hebrew.

What an incredible, amazing and courageous young woman! And I am delighted to say that she is a good friend of my granddaughter Noa (who is also a good friend of Ayala Shapira, the victim of the firebomb attack). My granddaughter obviously knows how to pick the best girls for her friends!

May Noa Aryeh (and my Noa too) go on to ever greater things in spite of her challenges. Mazal tov to her on her well-deserved award!

And one last item before I close: yet another incredible archaeological discovery near the Kotel in Jerusalem – a rare Second Temple pillar was discovered underneath the Kotel plaza!

Dov Rabinowitz, Director of Education at the Western Wall, said the rare pillar had been discovered as part of an 1,800-year-old Roman wall.

“We found a stone that was more ancient than the wall. They reused it for the wall,” he explained. “It’s the first pillar, the top, the head of the pillar, from the time of the Second Temple.” He noted the intricate carving and design on the stone.

The pillar believed to come from the Second Temple. (Abra Forman/Breaking Israel News)

“These are pillars from the Temple Mount itself, that were reused over here.”

During a decade-long project to expand public facilities at the Western Wall, or Kotel, one of Jerusalem’s largest tourist attractions, workers drilled from the floor of the plaza, at ground level, down through 33 feet of Jerusalem history to the bedrock below.The unique project enabled workers to stabilize and construct a building over an active archaeological site. Over the course of the work, several valuable ancient artifacts were uncovered, the most exciting of which may have come from the Temple Mount when the Temple was still standing.

t is very rare to find artifacts from the Temple Mount, which was destroyed for the last time 2,000 years ago. The first-ever physical evidence of the site was found by the Temple Mount Sifting Project in 2016, when over 600 colored stone tile floor fragments from the courtyard of the Second Temple were reconstructed by archaeologists.

It is also very rare to find such artifacts because of the ongoing destruction of everything Jewish at the site by the Moslem Waqf in an act that would be condemned worldwide as criminal if the victims were not Jews.  This is what makes this such an incredible find. And with such perfect timing for the Jewish High Holidays and Sukkot.

Kol hakavod to all the archeologists and researchers who made the discovery and preserved it for posterity, continuing Jewish history at the center of our religion and nationhood.

And with these inspiring thoughts I wish you all Shabbat shalom and Mo’adim Le’simcha!

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