The weeks are rolling around faster than ever, and tonight, besides being Shabbat, we also mark Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the 1st of the month of Nissan, the “month of Spring” in which Pesach (Passover) falls.
It is therefore fitting to note, as the first item in this week’s Good News Friday installment, a fascinating item in the Times of Israel (via Reality) about a satellite image showing the Red Sea as … well, red!
A newly released satellite image of Egypt’s Nile river shows the river colored deep red, bringing to mind the biblical first plague in which the waters of the great river turned to blood.
But, this time at least, it is not the wrath of god that is responsible for the river’s crimson hue: The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-3A satellite, which took the picture, uses a radiometer to measure infrared energy.
The red Red Sea
The heat radiated by vegetation around the river is therefore responsible for the red color.
The satellite, launched in February, is designed to monitor environmental changes. It is the third of more than a dozen “eyes in the sky” that make up the Copernicus program, which the ESA describes as the most sophisticated Earth observation system ever launched.
I’m glad for all of us (Egyptians included) that the red of the Red Sea does not signify blood, but it is a fascinating trick of technology and nature all the same. And perfect timing for Pesach!
Still on the theme of Pesach, when the Bet Hamikdash, the Temple, played such a big part in the rituals, what perfect timing for the Antiquities Authority to announce the discovery of Second Temple era tools in Magdala, aka Migdal, in the Galilee. Here is the Jerusalem Post report with accompanying photos from Arutz Sheva:
The excavation of a 2,000-yearold Jewish settlement and synagogue from the Second Temple period in Magdala, located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, recently revealed rare and well-preserved antiquities, including a bronze incense shovel and jug.
First Century Synagogue at Magdala
The dig, overseen by the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the construction of a building there, took place in an area considered to be the crossroads of Jewish and Christian history for its historical and religious significance for both Jews and Christians.
Magdala was once a large Jewish settlement in the early Roman period. Its Greek name, “Taricheae,” means “place where fish are salted,” possibly alluding to the main source of income of the city’s inhabitants two millennia ago.
“It is mentioned in Jewish sources and, at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, it served as Josephus’s main military base in his war against the Romans in the Galilee,” the IAA said in a statement.
Moreover, evidence of Magdala’s existence is also found in historical Christian sources where Christian tradition states it was the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle of the apostles of Jesus.
The mahta is believed to have been a sacred implement, much like the rest of the items that were utilized in the Temple, where it was mainly used for transferring embers from place to place, the IAA said.
The incense shovel, Mahta
Indeed, incense shovels frequently appear in Jewish art as one of the religious articles associated with the Temple, and they have been depicted on mosaic floors of synagogues alongside the menora, lulav and etrog.
Dina Avshalom-Gorni, the chief archeologist on behalf of the IAA, said the incense shovel that was found is one of only 10 others that are known in the country from the Second Temple period.
“From early research in the world, it was thought that the incense shovel was only used for ritual purposes; care for the embers and incense that were burnt in ritual ceremonies,” she said. “Over the years, after incense shovels were also discovered in a non-cult context, [it was determined that] apparently they were also used as tools for daily tasks.”
The jug discovered in Magdala
Avshalom-Gorni said the bronze incense shovel and jug were exposed lying next to each other on the floor in one of the rooms of a storehouse located adjacent to the dock of the large Jewish settlement.
During the dig at Magdala, Jewish ritual baths (mikvaot), streets, a marketplace and industrial facilities – as well as a synagogue, whose walls were decorated with colored plaster, along with mosaic floors along the pavement – were also revealed.
In the middle of the synagogue’s main hall, a stone was uncovered, well-known as the Magdala Stone, depicting the Second Temple of Jerusalem, within a carved seven-branched menora on one of its sides.
The Magdala Stone
The synagogue, the IAA said, dates back to the early first century CE, Second Temple Period, and Jesus’s Public Ministry around the Galilee. It is now one of the seven oldest synagogues from this period uncovered in the country.
Watch the video about these fascinating discoveries:
What a fantastic discovery! Besides the pure historical importance of this find, once again, Israel’s archeological discoveries go to prove, as if we really needed to prove it any more, the unbroken link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
Kol hakavod to all the archeologists and volunteer diggers who took part in this amazing project.
Moving back to the modern day, here is how Israel takes lemons and makes lemonade: In this latest intifada, the number of stabbing incidents has risen exponentially, with all the dangers involved. But now, Israeli students have developed a new chest-tube insertion device that can save the lives of stabbing victims 15 times faster than before.
Israelis are known to be extremely resourceful and creative, overcoming challenges with remarkable ingenuity.
A collapsed lung has become a common medical challenge over the past several months as a result of the current wave of Palestinian terror, where knife attacks are the most common form of violence.
Students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem developed a new chest-tube insertion device that dramatically shortens the time needed to save stabbing victims’ lives.
Watch this video and learn about this amazing Israeli medical innovation!
Once again, a huge kol hakavod to Hebrew U’s brilliant students and teachers who never fail to find more and better ways to save human lives.
On a related subject, Israeli and American researchers have discovered a blood test for early screening of Alzheimer’s:
In order to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, medical professionals must conduct a long series of tests to assess a patient’s memory impairment, cognitive skills, functional abilities, and behavioral changes. The process also includes costly brain imagining scans and, in some cases, invasive cerebral spinal fluid tests to rule out other diseases.
Now, a new discovery by a team of Israeli and American researchers seeks to effectively screen and diagnose Alzheimer’s using a blood test. The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, proposes a new biomarker for cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease: The activity-dependent neuro-protective protein (ADNP), whose levels can be easily monitored in routine blood tests. The study also found that higher ADNP levels tested in the blood correlate with higher IQ in healthy older adults. The researchers now plan to move forward into clinical trials in order to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.
The research was led by Tel Aviv University‘s Prof. Illana Gozes, and spearheaded by Dr. Gad Marshall, Dr. Aaron Schultz, and Prof. Reisa Sperling of Harvard University, along with Prof. Judith Aharon-Peretz of Rambam Medical Center and the Technion Institute of Technology.
“Early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients”
“This study has provided the basis to detect this biomarker in routine, non-invasive blood tests, and it is known that early intervention is invaluable to Alzheimer’s patients,” Gozes said in a statement. “We are now planning to take these preliminary findings forward into clinical trials — to create a pre-Alzheimer’s test that will help to tailor potential preventative treatments.”
Alzheimer’s is such a terrible disease that anything that can lead to early diagnosis and eventually a cure is to be blessed. Kol hakavod to all the doctors and researchers involved in this vital subject, and may they – and we – enjoy the fruits of their success.
And to conclude this week’s post, since Israel’s hi-tech and medical advances are such a mainstay of my Good News Friday posts, here is a video (via Chaim) which illustrates how tiny Israel – which until a few short years ago was hardly more than a struggling Third World country dependent on foreign aid – now punches so far above its weight that it is often the first to offer humanitarian aid in disaster areas around the world.
Watch this video: Superman’s got nothing on Israel! – and be proud of our glorious little country!
And with this I wish you all Shabbat shalom and Chodesh tov!