Thursday, 5 March 2009



'Desert kites' were key to survival 5,000 years ago


University of Haifa researchers have just unlocked a key piece of the mystery of ancient desert survival, as part of their research on "desert kites" in the Negev and Arava regions.

'Desert Kites,' so called because of their appearance to pilots in the early 1900s, were constructed as hunting aids, according to a recent study.Photo: Courtesy

The kites - so called because of their kite-like appearance to British pilots flying over the area in the early 1900s - resemble walls stretching over hundreds of meters of desert, meeting at angles with rounded trenches at the intersections.

The study, headed by zooarcheologist Dr. Guy Bar-Oz, archeologist Dr. Daniel Nadel and landscape ecologist Dr. Dan Malkinson, found that these structures were made by ancient desert people over 5,000 years ago as mass hunting apparatuses.

A number of such kites have been identified in Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Sinai. The archeological community has surmised that they were used for hunting purposes or as cattle pens.

Now, after surveying 11 kites and conducting digs at four different kite locations - from Givat Barnea in the North to Eilat in the South - and utilizing cutting edge measuring devices, two radiometric methods of dating, and aerial and ground photography, the team has concluded that the kites were constructed specifically to direct wild animals along the walls and convey them toward the trenches, where they could be hunted with ease.

"When standing in one of these kites, it is astounding to see how it fits into the landscape and how the wild animals' migration routes would converge into the hidden kite," said Bar-Oz. "The prehistoric people living in this desert environment were highly capable of enduring it. They knew how to hunt and survive."

According to data gathered at the sites, the kite "branches" spanned over 200 meters in length, some even surpassing a few kilometers. The walls of these branches were quite broad in both height and depth, leading researchers to conclude that kites were used to hunt large hoofed animals, such as rams and wild asses. Some kites were constructed with elevated stages that probably served to conceal the large trenches below and heighten the leaping wall.

These findings are significant in classifying desert kites, as well as shedding light on the capabilities and strategies of our ancient predecessors. As kites were located exclusively at crossroads of migration routes, "there is no doubt that this reflects that the prehistoric inhabitants of the desert had a lot of knowledge: They knew the cattle migration routes very well and knew where to place each of the traps most efficiently," said Nadel.

"We were not taken by surprise by the technological ability; humans in that period were very similar to us in their capabilities. But nevertheless these were immense efforts," he said. "Some of the kites are spread across hundreds of meters, and the construction blocks of some of the traps are very large and heavy. We are definitely talking about wide-scope construction in a region that is challenging for survival."

from : The Jerusalem Post ( Health & Sci-Tech )


By Gabrielle Birkner

If you can’t go shopping on Tel Aviv Dizengoff Street, Coolil (as in Cool Israel) may be the next best thing.

The recently launched Web site features the wares of 10 Israeli jewelry and leather goods designers. There are tote bags by Efika, clutches by Daniella Lehavi, and etched silver and gold necklaces by Augusta. Many of the labels have had little or no prior exposure stateside.

Jewish-themed gifts on Coolil range from leather-bound books of tehilim, bracelets inscribed with the Shema prayer, and various Hamsa and Star of David necklaces. Diaper bags by Heidi and plush toys by Manuella are also available on the site.

Coolil is the brainchild of Israeli Eran Shor. When Shor moved to New York three years ago, he found himself receiving frequent compliments about the clothing and accessories he had brought with him from Israel. So he made it his mission to bring Israeli designs to the American market — and Coolil was born.



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: TETZAVEH Exodus 27:20-30:10Special additional Torah reading: Parshat Zachor, Deuteronomy 25:17-19Haftara: I Samuel 15:1-34


In last week's parshah of TERUMAH, the Torah taught us the form and shape of the House of G-d with all its vessels. In this week's parshah of TETZAVEH, we receive instructions about the daily activities that are to take place in that House. The central core of the parshah is taken up with detailed instructions about the making of the garments of those who are to be the ministering attendants in the House -- Aaron and his sons, the priests -- and about the sacrifices that were to be offered during their seven-day initiation.

It may help us to grasp the overall structure of TETZAVEH by again using the "sandwich" idea. In this case, the top and bottom of the "sandwich" would be the opening and closing sections of the parshah, which give instructions about the "daily life" in the House. TETZAVEH starts by introducing in its two opening verses (Ex. 27;20-21) the daily lighting of the Menorah candelabrum in the House using the choicest oil -- this opening section would be one side of the "sandwich". Then at the end of TETZAVEH (Ex. 29:38-45; 30:1-10) we come to the other side of the "sandwich". This consists of the sections dealing with the daily animal sacrifices, meal, oil and wine offerings on the outside Altar, the pleasing fragrance (the incense burned in the House on the golden Incense Altar) and finally (returning to the parshah's opening theme), the daily lighting of the Menorah.

In the middle of this "sandwich" are two considerably lengthier sections. The first gives instructions in fine detail for the making of the garments of those who are to minister in the House -- Aaron and his sons, the priests. The second gives the detailed instructions for what was to be a one-time event in the Wilderness: the 7-day initiation of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood that was to lead up to the permanent induction of the Sanctuary on 1st Nissan. (Because of the central importance of this day in the Torah, we will be returning several times in later parshahs to the description of its events - in PEKUDEY at the end of Exodus as well as in several parshahs in Leviticus and Numbers.)

* * *


A basic assumption underlies all sections of our present parshah of TETZAVEH, from beginning to end. The assumption is that the attendants conducting the daily life of the House, about whose daily activities, garments and induction-day we read in such detail, are to be none other than Aaron and his sons.

Throughout our parshah, the entire focus is upon Aaron and his sons, their activities, garments and induction. Indeed it is a fact that the actual name of Moses does not appear anywhere in our parshah from beginning to end, though he is addressed directly in its opening words, VE-ATAH TETZAVEH, "And YOU shall command..." and moreover, he was to be the central actor in the priests' induction. [It is said that one reason why Moses' actual name was left out of this week's parshah is because Moses was later to pray -- in next week's parshah Ex. 32:33 -- "blot me out from Your book.". However, that prayer had already been answered before it was said, since G-d "blotted out" Moses name by not writing it anywhere in this week's parshah!]

Addressing now the central assumption -- that it is to be Aaron and his sons who will play the role of ministers in the House of the dwelling of the Holy Presence:

It must be understood that EIN MUKDAM O ME-UCHAR BATORAH: "There is no 'before' and 'after' in the Torah". The reason for the appointment of Aaron and his sons and none other to be the priests ministering in the House does not become apparent in the Torah narrative until next week's parshah of KI TISA, with the account of the sin of the Golden Calf. Yet even before the reason became manifest, their appointment was already conceived in the mind and will of G-d prior to that event, as we see from this week's parshah of TETZAVEH.

The first-born of the Children of Israel were originally offered an opportunity to become the ones who would serve as the priests. Indeed at the Giving of the Torah, it was the first-born -- the "lads" (Ex. 24:5) -- of the Children of Israel who officiated at the sacrifices, as we read in MISHPATIM. However, with the sin of the Golden Calf (told next week in KI TISA), the first-born of the Children of Israel failed the crucial test. From that time on, the Priesthood was given to Aaron and his descendants as an hereditary gift for all time.

* * *


In an era when public office in virtually all "advanced" countries is theoretically open to all citizens, the role of an hereditary priesthood, which is at the very center of the Torah's system of penitence -- the Sanctuary and Temple rituals -- calls for some explanation.

Much of Genesis is taken up with disputes about who is to serve in the role of the "priest". Cain struggled with Abel. Ishmael fought against Isaac. Esau fought against Jacob. Reuven was the first-born, but Levi took the initiative, Judah, fourth in line, became the leader, while it was the righteous Joseph (against whom all the brothers struggled) who received a firstborn's double portion of two-tribes. And then Ephraim took priority over firstborn Menashe.

In Exodus: Levy's second son, Kehat, took priority over Levy's firstborn, Gershon. Amram was indeed Kehat's firstborn, yet while the priesthood went to Amram's older son, Aaron, the latter was secondary in prophecy to his younger brother, Moses. The firstborn of the Children of Israel had a brief taste of the priesthood at the time of the Giving of the Torah, 50 days after having been saved from the plague that killed all the Egyptian firstborn. However the Israelite firstborn were displaced from their "birth-right" -- hereditary priesthood forever -- owing to the sin of the Golden Calf.

This raises the question of the nature of the priesthood in Judaism, which is relevant to our parshah of TETZAVEH, all of which is devoted to the daily duties of the priests, their garments and their induction service.

It is true that the tribe of Levi (who did not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf), and the Kohanim are in many respects separate hereditary castes. Nevertheless, it remains the case that the ideal social structure of the Israelites as envisaged in the Torah is remarkably free of the social hierarchies and inequalities that characterize even the most "democratic" societies.

In particular, Israelite society is envisaged as one that should be free of any kind of extensive hierarchical network of full-time religious functionaries who act as intermediaries between the people and G-d, and whose service before their passive congregants takes the place of the individual's personal relationship with G-d.

This is true, notwithstanding the fact that only the Kohanim (male descendants of Aaron), and members of the tribe of Levy could actually serve in the Temple, and only the Kohanim could perform certain vital ritual functions (such as purification from leprosy). Nevertheless, the Temple itself had a relatively small number of permanent priestly officials who were responsible for the maintenance of the House. The actual sacrificial services in the House were conducted by different priests every day. Each of the 24 contingents of priests into which the Kohanim were divided served for two weeks out of the year and on festivals, spending the rest of their time teaching Torah among the people in the localities where they lived. The only outstanding exception to this rule, besides the small core of permanent Temple staff, was the High Priest, who spent all his time in Jerusalem, most of it in the Temple itself.

It is certainly correct that the Kohanim were an hereditary priestly caste, who received TERUMAH, the first gift from everyone's crops, as well as portions of meat, wool and various other gifts. This is what they lived off. The purpose of providing the members of this caste with their material needs was to enable them to devote themselves to a higher-than-average level of devotion (as expressed in eating of Terumah and sacrificial portions in ritual purity) and to the study of the Torah. It was the Kohanim who were expected to be able to play the role of the Torah judges (see Deuteronomy 19:17) in cases of disputes. They were also to play the central role in the "diagnosis" and "purification" of leprosy and other maladies (Leviticus Ch. 13ff.)

Nevertheless, it remains true that despite their exclusive role in the Temple sacrificial services and in the purification from leprosy, the Kohanim were not religious intermediaries who in some sense REPLACED the personal connection of the individual with G-d.

The Children of Israel were envisaged as a nation of free, independent small land-owners, each farming his own and sitting under his vine and fig-tree. Only in dire circumstances would one be sold as a slave to another (as instituted in MISHPATIM). Even one who fell into slavery would eventually go free at the end of seven years or in the Jubilee year. In the seventh year, all debts were to be cancelled. Those who had sold their land would get it back in the Jubilee year. The vision was not of a country where most of the wealth is permanently concentrated in the hands of a small elite.

Just as all of the Children of Israel heard the First Commandment, so they were all commanded to serve the One G-d, each through his own prayers and acts of service. The Torah commands that all of the Children of Israel must be holy (Leviticus 19:2). Everyone must strive to go in G-d's ways. Becoming a Nazirite is considered an excess -- the Nazirite must bring a sin-offering! There are no monks in Judaism.

Outside of the Temple itself, Israelite life was intended to be free of an elite of religious functionaries. Although the Kohen and Levy are honored by being called first and second to the public Torah reading, the actual synagogue and its services are run by its members, the majority of them Israelites. The service can only take place if a quorum of 10 Israelites is present. There is no need for an official rabbi as long as somebody present -- any Israelite -- knows how to lead the service and read from the Torah. The "functionaries" in Israelite society are the "captains of tens", "captains of fifties", "captains of hundreds" and "captains of thousands". These must be "men of valor, G-d-fearing, men of truth, hating gain" (Ex. 18:21) -- but they do not have to be Kohanim. In the Torah vision of the Israelite state, membership of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the state, is not to depend on heredity or wealth but only on Torah wisdom and personal sanctity.

What then is the role of the hereditary Kohanim, whose Temple service, garments and induction are the subject of our parshah of TETZAVEH?

The key concept necessary to understand the role of the Kohen, particularly that of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), is the concept of KAPARAH -- atonement. This and related concepts recur several times in our parshah. The purpose of the precious stones that were attached to the High Priest's shoulders and bore the names of the tribes of Israel was that they should be "remembered" by G-d with favor. The wearing of the TZITZ, the head-plate inscribed "Holy to HaShem", was to secure atonement for impurity. The closing verse of our parshah speaks of how the High Priest must annually sprinkle the golden Incense Altar with the blood of the Day of Atonement sin-offering in order to bring about KAPARAH -- atonement.

The institution of the priesthood was not intended to replace individual attachment to G-d on the part of each person through his own devotions. While the Kohanim are charged with maintaining the Holy Temple as the central focus of Israelite and indeed world religious life (for "My House is the House of Prayer for all the Nations), their role in the devotional life of the individual is of significance primarily when the individual, independent "citizen" TURNS ASIDE from the path and falls into sin. He is then unable to help himself. If he is liable to bring a sacrifice, he needs a Kohen to offer it for him. If he has what he thinks is a leprous patch on his skin (a sign of a personal deficiency), he needs a Kohen to make the determination and a Kohen to purify him.

The Kohen can play his role as functionary in the Temple services and bringer of ATONEMENT only through standing aside from the rest of the people and demanding more of himself. The Kohanim were distinguished by their unique genetic inheritance as direct male descendants of Aaron, and they protected this inheritance by adhering to higher levels of personal sanctity (such as that a Kohen may not marry a divorcee, etc.).

The rich, colorful ritual garments of the High Priest embody this concept of separateness, sanctity and atonement. So too, the induction of the priests during their Seven Days of Initiation was characterized by separation, sanctity and the atonement accomplished through the offering of the ox sin offering (atoning for the sin of the Golden Calf) and the eating of peace offerings.

Atonement depends upon the priestly garments and the priests' consumption of sacrificial portions. The original sin of Adam -- of which the sin of the Golden Calf was a "repetition" -- came about through eating. After Adam and Eve sinned, G-d gave them CLOTHES in order to cover over their nakedness and begin the process of atonement. The priests continue this process of atonement through wearing their unique garments while eating their portion of the sinner's sacrifice.

The hereditary inheritance of the priesthood -- Temple SERVICE -- by the sons of Aaron is justified by the fact that Aaron joined himself to the Torah inheritance through his choice of a wife to mother his sons. For "Aaron took Elisheva the daughter of Aminadav, sister of Nachshon as his wife, and she bore him Nadav and Avihu, Elazar and Itamar" (Ex. 6:23). Elisheva's father, Aminadav, was the Prince of Judah, the tribe to whom Jacob entrusted with guardianship of the Torah, while her brother Nachshon was the first to jump into the Red Sea. Torah knowledge is indispensable for the proper functioning of the priesthood. Without Torah, the priest is helpless -- an ignoramus priest needs a Torah scholar to teach him how to make the correct determination in cases of leprosy.

Through the merit of our Torah study, may we see the Holy Temple rebuilt quickly in our times!!!

Shabbat Shalom!!! Happy Purim!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500
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Israel Matzav: Car swarm watch in Jabalya#links#links

Israel Matzav: Car swarm watch in Jabalya#links#links

Israel Matzav: Congress demands probe into Freeman's Saudi ties#links#links

Israel Matzav: Congress demands probe into Freeman's Saudi ties#links#links

Israel Matzav: More money = more terror?#links#links

Israel Matzav: More money = more terror?#links#links

Israel Matzav: Gaza: 'Each man booby-trapped his own home'#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Gaza: 'Each man booby-trapped his own home'#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Nothing left to 'negotiate' with Iran#links#links

Israel Matzav: Nothing left to 'negotiate' with Iran#links#links

Israel Matzav: No chance for 2 states#links#links

Israel Matzav: No chance for 2 states#links#links

Israel Matzav: Fat, old terrorist gets engaged (married?)#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Fat, old terrorist gets engaged (married?)#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Iranian 'moderate' raises clenched fist to Obama and calls Israel a 'cancerous tumor'#links#links

Israel Matzav: Iranian 'moderate' raises clenched fist to Obama and calls Israel a 'cancerous tumor'#links#links

Israel Matzav: A website you will want to check out#links#links

Israel Matzav: A website you will want to check out#links#links


The BBC has a story about an Israeli admiral who was sighted in a den of iniquity. Not admirable, indeed, but is it newsworthy? Personally, I doubt this needs to be in the Israeli press. But the BBC? I mean, if it were the British Deputy Undersecretary of Fisheries and Salt-Mining from the Tory party, I can see why it would get into the Sun. If it were the very top American General, it would perhaps get into the National Enquirer. But the BBC? Can you see them reporting on the sexual escapades of, say, the French Minister of Finance, assuming they know his name? The top admiral in the Russian Navy? What's going on?

Then we've got this one, also at the BBC today, on the traumatized children of Gaza. I asked the BBC's search engine of it could tell me about anyone traumatized in Israel, and it had to go all the way back to August 2001, where it quoted a British woman whose Israeli grandson was traumatized - says the grandmother, mind you, not the reporter - after both his parents and some of his siblings were shot, and I quote:

It is not yet known why they were attacked but Israeli radio were reporting they were the victims of a "terrorist cell".

So I asked for trauma in Somalia, and got a story from 2005 about Somali refugees in the UK who are having a hard time. Trauma in Sri Lanka (there's this real brutal war going on there, with lots of civilians in the middle): to be fair to the BBC, they did have a recent story on that. Trauma in Georgia? One item which just barely makes the grade.
taken from: Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Until about ten days ago we were having the driest winter in decades, if not since measuring began late in the 19th century. You might chalk this up to global warming, I suppose, if it weren't for Europe having a rather cool winter, and North America being buried under snow down into Mexico or somewhere. About ten days ago, at the tail end of winter, it started raining seriously, and it now looks like the winter of 2009 won't be a record-breaking catastrophe, merely a decidedly dry year. Bad, not awful.

In which context, someone at Y-net went to look at the subject of water we supply to our neighbors. (In Hebrew). This is a toxic topic, on which most people know very little though many think they know lots. Remember, for example, how until 2005 the "accepted wisdom" was that those evil Israeli settlements in Gaza were drinking 25% of the local water? This, at a time when Israel was piping water in for the Palestinians, while a Palestinian inability to construct better pipelines was limiting the quantities Israel was prepared to supply. As they say: Lies, damn lies, and accepted wisdom about Israel.

I'm not going to do justice to the topic in a blog post. But the figures in the Y-net news item are interesting. Israel's treaty with Jordan stipulates that Israel must give Jordan 35 mcm (million cubic meters) of water annually. In addition, Israel may pump water out of the Yarmouk river upwards into the Sea of Galilee, but the Jordanians may request 20 mcm of that water for itself since it borders on the Yarmouk. In reality, Israel supplies those 20 mcm even in years such as 2005 and 2007 in which there was little rainfall and the Syrians, further up the Yarmouk, essentially pumped it dry. Meaning Israel supplies Jordan with the extra 20 mcm at its own expense, or from its own (dwindling) reserves.

Israel and Jordan are at peace, so maybe this makes sense (and maybe not). The policy of supplying water to the Palestinians is stranger, given the rather tortured relationships which, whatever they are, are not peace. Until a final-status agreement is reached, Israel must supply the Palestinians with 28.5 mcm water annually, 5 mcm of them to Gaza. In reality, Israel has been supplying the Palestinians with 65 mcm (some of it through authorizing new Palestinian well-drilling from the common underground reservoirs).
In total, Israel's contracts mandate it to supply 80 mcm to its neighbors, but in reality it supplies 120 mcm. In 2009 there is a projected 80 mcm shortfall of water for Israel itself, which of course raises the question if perhaps we should revert to the letter of the treaties and stop the gestures, and save half of our own shortfall.

If we do so, prepare yourself for the reports on the new Israeli crime against humanity of drying up Palestinian faucets.
taken from : Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Save Women Now. The Upcoming London and Washington, D.C. Rallies Mean Muslim Women.

I stopped marching or rallying a long time ago. Chalk it up to older age and common sense. Sadly, I have not celebrated International Womans’ Day for years now because I can no longer march with people who use womens’ rights to argue for “anti-racism” i.e. who carry signs and chant anti-American and anti-Israel slogans. You know who I mean: The anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-globalism crowd. In their view, Islamic/Islamist values deserve to exist globally; the values of the Western Enlightenment had better keep atoning for its many alleged sins and crimes.

However, this March 7-8th, two International Womans’ Day rallies promise to be different. I wish I could “dance at two weddings.” One rally will take place in Washington D.C., the other in London. Neither march is owned by any political party or by any existing ideology. Both are daring to focus on the enormous and profound oppression of Muslim women, both in Muslim countries and in the West.

The Washington, D.C. rally has just come to my enthusiastic attention. A group which calls itself Responsible for Equality And Liberty, (R.E.A.L.), will be holding a rally at 1pm on March 8th, to Save Women Now. The rally will take place in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool which is alongside Maryland Avenue SW, which connects to Third Street SW.

The group is asking people to “show your solidarity in calling for our representatives and international world bodies to recognize and act against the ideology of Islamic supremacism that is threatening women today.” The group plans to “address the global challenge of women oppressed and killed in the name of Islamic supremacism. They call for “national and international action against Islamic supremacism” to Save Women Now, and to defy those who believe that mutilation, oppression, and murder of women is an Islamic supremacist “right.”

There is also a petition which you may sign: “Save Women Now” which demands that U.S. government and United Nations representatives recognize the ideology of Islamic supremacism as a source of oppression and violence to women in America and around the world.

For more information you may email Jeffrey Imm at

Maryam Namazie, in London, has called for a rally in Trafalgar Square in the late afternoon of March 7th, to be followed by a public meeting in Conway Hall. Namazie describes the rally as an “anti-racist London rally against Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and in defense of citizenship and universal rights.” She has also launched a petition drive which now has nearly 10,000 signatures. (I love her clever “anti-racist” language. If you say its “anti-racist,” no matter what it is, you might actually buy some time in which people can listen to a real womans’ rights agenda). Namazie writes:

“For more background on One Law for All, the nature of Sharia councils and tribunals and on whether it is Islamophobic to oppose Sharia law, see the latest interview with Maryam Namazie and Bahram Soroush on Fariborz Pooya’s Secular TV. You can also see what a Sharia judge really means for people and women in particular by watching a recent BBC TV Big Questions programme in which she participated.

Namazie and her group may be contacted at:
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