יום חמישי י"ח בתשרי תש"פ 17/10/2019
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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In Jewish Sites

A Trip Through History -Chapter 3

In addition to the ancient pool that was discovered, there is also evidence of sluice gates used to close the entrance to the pool, situated under the stairs of the pool.

David Katz 14/10/2009 10:00
 To read past chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2

The design of the stairs leading to the pool reveal the construction methods used in the era of the Second Temple. The eastern staircase is based on a layer of plastered Cameroon, characteristic of that era. The stairs leading down to the pool are comprised of two layers: paving stones atop a layer of plaster.

Between the stairs and the cliff at the southern edge of Ir David, archaeologists have unearthed a pool from the period of the Second Temple. In the upper center of the northern staircase of this pool, a smaller pool was uncovered, through which the water flowed on its way into the larger pool. A sophisticated drainage system was built into this area, parts of which are from the era of the Second Temple.

Towards the north-eastern corner of the pool, a portion of a large concourse dating back to the Second Temple era was exposed. It connects the newly discovered street with the pool. The path to the plaza is via a covered passageway, of which a number of the pillars have been preserved. One of the pillars is engraved with an ancient inscription. The plaza is paved with imposing stone flags, similar to those used on the road that passes from the west of the Kotel. Amongst the paving stones one can see a drainage opening, in the form of a clover-shaped flower.

Could this be the “Shiluach Pool” about which the prophet Nechemiah wrote (3:16) - “And the walls of the pool of Shiluach to the garden of the king until the steps that descend from Ir David”…?

It would be appropriate to explain here the concept “Bulah”. It is a small piece of burnt mud, less than a centimeter in size which served as a seal for the thread tied around packages and letters. With this the receiver would know if the letter or document had been tampered with or opened en route. He would break the ‘Bulah’ before opening the letter. In this ancient archaeological site which was only recently discovered, many such seals were found. On one of the seals an ancient Hebrew script spells out the words: “Yehochal ben Shalmayah ben Shvi.”

We are now standing in the ‘Visitors Square’. Opposite us is the southern wall of the Temple Mount; on the right is the Mount of Olives, further towards the right is the Silwan Village built on the slopes of the Mount of Olives; and lower down, under the Arab houses and above the burial plot of Rabeinu Ovadiah Bartenura (famous for his extensive commentary on the Mishnayos), one can detect scores of ancient burial caves from around the era of the First Temple. There are hundreds of such caves on the hills surrounding the Arab villages. In one of the caves discovered over 130 years ago, an inscription was found written in ancient Hebrew script: “This is [the burial site of] Yehu in charge of the house, there lies within no silver or gold, only his bones and the bones of the maidservant with him. Cursed is the one who opens this [grave].”

Who is this Yehu, ‘in charge of the house’? The assumption is that it must be one of the king’s ministers, a high-ranking official in charge of the royal house. Perhaps this is the person who bears the name ‘Shavna’; as one of the verses in Yeshaya hints – (22:15-16) “So says Hashem G-d of the hosts, go and come to… Shavna who is appointed over the house…”

Under Ir David, we descend the slopes of the mountain in the direction of the Kidron River. The winding riverbed, which today is completely dry, marks the border between Ir David and the Mount of Olives. There below lies the source for the Shiluach spring and for the Gichon spring, and the tunnels connecting the springs to the pools.

(To be continued next week)