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Friday, April 30, 2004

Open Democracy 

It's amazing to see just how open American democracy is. Because of campaign finance laws requiring every donor to list their name and address, you can tell how much any given American has given to any presidential campaign this year. Unbelievable. To catch the mood of our Jewish brethren (and sistren) in the US, I typed in "Cohen". It seems that Dean and Lieberman did OK among them -- but Kerry was waaay out in front. Bush was a long, long way behind.

You can even get ctiy maps of who is giving to who. Here is a map of Manhattan, showing which buildings are the biggest Democrat contributors, and which are the biggest Republican givers. No anonymity on the web.

It also shows that, contrary to popular belief in our leftist-dominated pundit-class, that Kerry is the overwhelming choice of the "fat cats", and Bush's support is heavily blue-collar.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A New Competition 

I have started a new competition. Our very first one at kiwijewpundit. Well, it's not really a competition because there is no prize. Anyway, here is the deal - I propose a competition whereby you email us the strangest place that you have dovened (to all the gentiles reading our blog, translation: prayed). I will be the first one to contribute to this list. The strangest place that I, Comrade, have dovened is... at the kotel!
The link to the list is on the sidebar, or you can click here
I look forward to hearing your amusing musings everyone.
Goodnight!

The Return of the Yo-Wahab 

Hurrah - the Modem is working! First post coming through....
This required some serious divine intervention right here... good job I had by chance the right driver for W2K as well....
Sweet....

A reminder of the gentle aspects of life, how many people know the secret side of the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist Satmar Chassidim?

Sometimes I think we are too quick to judge from outward appearances.
In other news - a bunch of Turks and Americans are off to find Noah's Ark! You know the story it's been going around since 1957, some weird boat-shaped object up on the slopes of Mt. Ararat - well good luck to them - the Biblical account says Noah's ARk is actually the shape of a box - it would have needed a miracle to stay afloat (not to mention being too small animal for all the animals in the world - even just those known at the time)

Actyally it seems they've already been beaten. This guy reckons he's already found the ark, and that the Biblical account is just a volumetric measurement of an actual boat. Well gezundheit is all I can say.
Oh and here's another bunch of crackpots, that have some big ancient boat somewhere. And of course for every idiot with an ark story, there's a bunch of bigger idiots out there to discuss it.

Oh and the face of the late Jewish mystic, the Baba Sali OB"M recently appeared on someone's wall. There are mysterious forces at work in the world today.

The news today amuses me 

An excerpt from the New Zealand Herald: "UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who has called for Israel to dismantle a nuclear arsenal it has never admitted possessing, is expected to visit the country this summer."


I can't help asking the question - what exactly does the UN want to achieve with this? They know that Israel won't dismantle her weapons (what weapons? There are no weapons! It's only carpet I tell you!). And furthermore, I must ask - why would Israel dismantle her weapons? Somehow I think that the Israelis are a little more intelligent than to virtually commit suicide because the UN says so. Hmmm.


One more little tid-bit from the NZ news: "Paul Holmes has been ticked off by Prime Minister Helen Clark for calling junior minister Tariana Turia a bag of lard on his radio show"
A bag of lard? How funny is that?!?! Although it is quite insensitve. Well, while I may not agree with Holmes' tendency to publicly humiliate people, I would hesitate to say that his criticism was well placed...


Rabbi trading cards? 

Well, I see Judaism is moving ever faster into the modern world... Check out the latest craze. Welll actually it's been around for a while apparently. You can now collect your favourite Rabbis posing for mug shots or in the act of some mitzvah or other. Apparently there is even a photo of a Rabbi chasing the
mother bird away from the nest. Find out more:
The cards first came out in 1988, and 16 years later, Shugarman has sold more than 2.5 million cards in five continents through his nonprofit, Torah Personalities Inc.
http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/articles/2004/04/26/news/world/scards0426.txt

Evil Windows 

Gidday all!
Firstly - my apologies for posting very large posts without realising it. It seems that preview = publish here as Habib pointed out. Also very few posts have been coming through from this part of time, mainly because my modem has been acting up. Windows has refused to detect it, and instead insists I find the frivers for the PCI Communications Controller. Well - now I think I have the answer
****
Posted by yan on January 18, 2002 at 12:31:45:

In Reply to: PCI Simple Communications Controller for Win2k posted by Mike on August 02, 2001 at 12:11:43:

I know its months since the original post, but I had exactly the same problem and have found a solution. It turns out the 'PCI simple communication controller' _IS_ your modem.

The reason for the stupid name is that it is an ACL modem, and so gets its plug and play name assigned by the mobo manufacturer, not the chipset manufacturer.

Good luck!

yan
******

Thanks yan, whoever you are, and let me just say this - I bet this doesn't happen on a Mac. But then again, Mac is a lot more expensive, and I got this machine secondhand so what do I care. And also I can't be seen to publicly support Mac, as everyone knows Windows is the true machine for any faithful centre-rightist. Only rabid Lefties use Mac, and we know that they must be wrong, because Bill Gates says so.
All right, so if this works, you will be seeing a lot more posts in the future, but don't hold your breath.



Apologies and more from that wonderful blood libel 

Apologies for posting that last post twice - it seems that when you press the "preview" button here, it publishes it even before you press the "publish" button. Never mind.

Secondly, as a sideline to Habib's blood libel spiel, I thought I would give you all a taste of my literary prowess and publish a poem that I wrote last night which has something to do with the blood libels. It was for a creative writing class and it was meant to be about Easter. As a Jew, I couldn't help myself... (btw, the spacing isn't like it's meant to be - html is kind of weird like that. If you want the properly laid out version, email and I can email it back)

AParently
A hymn for last Easter, and this one, and the next one and…


The little Christian boy doesn’t
live
next door anymore.

We used him in our matzah.

Mother caught him with her
tail
Father gored him with his
horns
And then my sister picked his eyes out
with her beak.

The matzah was white, not red (like
we thought it would be) because
little Christian boys are pure.

Pity we got caught, really. They said we
would “burn in hell” because of it.
We did – burn in hell, that is – but we weren’t dead yet.

They also said something about killing God’s son.
We must’ve, if that was our punishment.
Although I think it was probably just tetanus that killed him
– what with those rusty nails and all. (bloody Romans,
always doing things so cheaply!)
Then again, maybe it was just malnutrition. That
matzah can do awful things to your stomach,

especially with the blood of all those Christian boys in it.

Two Subjects: (i) musical musings (ii) BLOODY STUDENTS! 

Today's post is a bit of a mishmash: a couple of thoughts I've had recently on the nature of music and a bit of a ranting session against silly people.

Firstly - the music. Yo-Wahab told me a while ago that it has been proven that people are more depressed in winter. Apparently the suicide rate increases over the winter time. It's quite a morbid thought, but it does have something to do with what I am about to say. For those of you reading this in the northern hemisphere, New Zealand is now entering the winter time. Yes, winter. In May. Anyway, personally I don't feel more depressed during the winter, but it definitely has an air of melancholy and solitude about it. I think that's a good thing. I love winter. I think that's perhaps because that melancholic feeling often stimulates creativity. Hence I introduce two thoughts I have had in the past week about music.

These thoughts stem from a concert I went to last week. A friend of mine is a composition student at university, and he organised a concert of his and his colleagues' work. These were very contemporary pieces, ranging from the ridiculous "how can you call that music - it's just a load of arse" kind to the more "I really liked that piece even though it was bizarre".

Musical Thought Number 1

One of the pieces at this concert was about the composer's friend who apparently summoned Beethoven from the dead at a seance. The room is darkened and pre-recorded electronic and piano music begins from behind a screen. After the music has begun, a cloaked figure emerges from behind the screen, sits at the piano on the stage and stays seated, ready to play but never beginning, simply being while the music is playing. For anyone who is thinking this, let me reinforce something - this is not like John Cage's 4'33''. It is different in the fact that there is sound and there is pre-thought-through composed music. But this piece did get me thinking about the relationship between audience and performer.

One of the pieces earlier in the evening was played by live musicians behind a screen. That is, there was no apparent performer. This was highly disturbing. Not for any real reason, but I just felt uneasy when no performer was present - even though the music was being played live. On the other hand, in the piece described above, I had no such uneasy feeling, even though the performer did not play anything and there were no live musicians per say. It seems to me that any audience requires a performer to be present - it is the "act" of being present that makes the performance real and exhilarating. This is true even when we are at home listening to a recording - I usually find myself imagining the performance, imagining the performer and how he/she would be acting. It is this humanness that makes the music real.

Musical Thought Number 2

The second thought that came up from that evening was that of the relationship between speech and music. Several of the pieces that were performed during the evening used vocal parts as well as instrumental parts. Some even used speech with no pre-composed melody or harmony - simply speech interacting with the background music and telling a story.

But does speech need a melodic or harmonic background in order to be considered music? Does it need to interact with something other than itself? I guarantee that even while you are reading this, your "head-voice" will be inflecting up and down, creating different tones depending on what you are reading: a list, a quotation, a question. Did your head-voice go down at the end of that last sentence? Did your voice go up at the end of that last question?

It would seem that human speech is already endowed with an inherent tonality - a musicality, so to speak. I feel like this is something that not many people have explored - the idea of speech itself being music. What would be unmusical about a composition which was simply, say, a poem on a page. The performer would read the lines with certain inflections and make it musical by the virtue of his/her reading it. I think this is something that contemporary music should address. Maybe I'll do it. Yeah.

Ranting Against Silly People

This is a sticker I saw at university yesterday. Someone had made it and stuck it to a set of traffic lights. I promptly removed it and took it home and photographed it. There is only one thing to be said about this: BLOODY STUDENTS! (And no, I'm not making fun of John Banks when I say that, but I actually mean to evoke my anger at stupid university students)


Perhaps the National party are a little silly, especially when it comes to Don Brash's policies on Maori issues at the moment which, I might add, are nothing less than state-condoned-racism (yes, I know that Habib and Yo-Wahab disagree with me here, but they are wrong). However, I don't quite understand how Helen Clarke's take on the Iraq war is peaceful? How is sending a bunch of troops to Iraq to "help to rebuild infrastructure" promoting peace when (and they actually did this) they go and hide in their base after the bombings in Basra last week, leaving the Americans to clean up the mess? How is the promotion of the Palestinian cause - i.e. supporting of terrorism - peaceful? I know I'm a lefty, but I'm not stupid, and this is one of those cases where it I am reminded of how embarrassing it can be when stupid people also class themselves as lefties.

Good night all, and may your daily experiences continue to enrich your lives. Don't forget to email us your comments, and if there are good ones we can post them up. On ya!


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

This matzah tastes funny 

About the blood libel...

Al Manar TV (operated by Hezbollah, now available in Australia through the TARBS subscription TV network), broadcast a series called "al-Shatat" (the Diaspora), based on a set of anti-semitic canards.

One lovely episode, broadcast during Ramadan, shows how those evil Jews use blood to make their matzah.

This video, and other gems of Middle East television, can be found on the Memri website.

(Caution: very graphic depictions of fictional religious practices).

We Gots Comments!! 

You may now record your inexpressible gratitude for our enlightening and edifying posts.

Thanks to Haloscan.

Give me your explosive belt, or your, um... life! 

It seems the Palestinians search for ways to become ever more depraved. And somehow, they keep on succeeding. Warning: this article is not satire.

Robbers die trying to hold up suicide bomber

(Thanks to Amish Tech Support)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Competition is Over 

The UN is the most corrupt organisation on the planet.

Remember when the UN General Assembly, under the leadership of a secretary general who was a Nazi war criminal and relying on the votes of communist, fascist, and theocratic dictatorships, declared Zionism a form of racism?

And how UN peacekeepers were trading women as sex slaves in the former Yugoslavia?

And how the Durban anti-racism conference turned into a maelstrom of genocidal anti-semitism and absurd anti-western propaganda?

Well, this scandal beats them all.

Mark Steyn puts the "Oil for Fraud" scandal, involving the rather impressive sum of $46 billion, into good perspective in the Telegraph. Saddam built his palaces, armed his army, and let his people starve. Politicians got rich off oil money derived from a murdering dictator, while denouncing those who would overthrow him as oil-hungry.

$46 billion. This makes Halliburton, and even BNZ, pale into insignificance (where's Winston when you need him?)

When is this disgusting organisation going to be consigned to its rightful place in the dustbin of history?

The True Meaning of Yom HaShoah 

Recently, we commemorated Yom Hashoah (Holocaust memorial Day). There are the universal lessons, of the horrors of genocidal hatred, and ideology run amok. There is also a specific lesson for Jews: that although we pursue peace, we must never allow ourselves to be defenceless again. This is an email from a friend of a friend, who is serving in the Israeli army, and has discovered this meaning in a new way:


Shalom Shalom,

This past week was my first Yom HaShoa in the army. Because we were spending the week in the field, the actual cememoration ceremony was held of few days early on Saturday night. Up until the ceremony I was feeling worn down. My company and I were coming down from a period of guard duty on the base that covered two shabbatot [sabbaths] and one chag [festival]. Ahead of us was a physically challenging week of learning how to fight open field combat in groups of ten. As the ceremony started I was more focused on getting some sleep then remembering the Shoa.

The first part of the ceremony was a fifteen minute clip from Schindler's List depicting the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto. The images of brutality and emotion broke straight through the glaze of ambivalence I'd been feeling. As I looked around the room at Israeli soldiers who trace their origin to countries all around the word, I felt a profound sense of sadness for what had been lost in the Shoa, but also pride for what has been built here, something that I now feel a part of.

After the movie a few poems and prayers were read, than the commander of the company rose to speak. He spoke of military operations like Entebbe, Magic Carpet and Solomon, of the Israeli response to the killing of its athletes in Munich, and of the current situation. His main point was that because of the State of Israel and the IDF not only were Jews assured a homeland and a place of refuge, but it is also known that Jewish blood is not cheap. While his speech was laced with the cliches of an army officer it still got to me.

As I left the ceremony, I felt a renewed sense of energy and purpose. I had been reminded of the necessity of the State of Israel and the need for people like me to defend her.

On Yom HaShoa itself, all exercises were halted for the one minute siren that sounds in commemoration. Because we were far away from any major city, the siren itself was a faint wail, almost like an after thought. After the siren the commander of my platoon gathered everyone together to apologize that we had to spend Yom HaShoa in training. He explained that we had a schedule to keep to and it was necessary to continue. As I returned to practicing how to storm a hill, I realized that training to defend the Jewish State is probably one of the more important ways to commemorate the Shoa.


Be Well,
Charlie

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Palestinian PR Machine Conquers Europe 

How is it that Europeans who used to be so voluble in their admiration of Israel, now question whether the Jewish state has a right to exist? Why is it that Dutch and Belgians and Norwegians who a generation ago used to volunteer on kibbutzim now boycott Israeli products, and try to cut off cultural and academic contacts with Israel?

Much of this is due to the trendy nature of the Palestinian cause, and certain cultural currents flowing through Europe. But perhaps it is not all. Joshua Livestro argues that part of the fault rests on Israel for desparing of convincing Europeans of their right to live in peace and security, giving up on Europe as a "lost continent". Livestro sees it as crucial that Israel reverses this.

Pro-Israel voices must be heard. If not, not only is Israel's future isolated, but Europe will bear the responsibility for again condoning the mass murder of Jews.

An Insight into Hollywood Minds 

Hello all! Indeed, this is my first post on this most wonderful of wonder blogs - kiwijewpundit. I shall endeavour to sound much cleverer than Habib and Yo-Wahab. However, this probably won't work as we are all equals. You could tell I was about to say that by my nickname. No, I'm not communist. Yes, I am a lefty. And rightly so. But anyway, I hate politics, so let's get on to what my post is really about today.

Today I purchased a delightful CD - John Zorn's Film Works XI. This is John Zorn's soundtrack to the documentary "Secret Lives" which is about Jewish children saved from the Nazis by non-Jews. The music, like much of his film music, but unlike his usual compositions, is lyrical and melodic. The (Ashkenazi) Jewish-style themes pour through in huge amounts, but Zorn orchestrates these so brilliantly that I actually enjoy them!

Anyway, the main point of this post is as follows: in the liner notes, there is a wonderful quote from Zorn which I think is completely true - not only for film makers, but artists in general:

"There's something special about documentary filmmakers. For some reason, they are the nicest, sweetest people in the film industry. Perhaps it's because they know how to subjugate their egos to the subject at hand..."

Although I am a silly arty farty person at heart, I think it should be noted how self-indulgent artists have become of late. Thanks Zorn for showing us that it is merely their egos and not their elevated intellect...

Blood Libel 2004 

The blood libel was a fabrication used to smear Jews and whip up anti-semitism in the Middle Ages, and is long gone, right?

I wish. In the Middle East, these silly accusations are commonplace (Syrian Defence Minister Mustafa Tlas published a book on the topic recently, and some people who write for Saudi newspapers have interesting ideas about what goes into Purim cookies ).

But this is not limited to the Middle East. Veteran "journalist" Robert Fisk spat the dummy at an Irish tv-panel guest who correctly compared Fisk's false claims of a massacre at Jenin to blood libels. Like the blood libels of old, the Jenin "massacre" was a story created out of whole cloth in order to promote an image of Jews as blood-thirsty murderers, and to incite anti-semitism. On this clip, Fisk loses the plot, and threatens the host into "disassociating" the show from the comments. The truth about Jenin, here is a clip that puts to rest any possible doubt about what happened.

But it's nice to see Fisk make an idiot out of himself.

(Thanks to Damian Penny).

The Historicity of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron 

A bit heavy for a first post - but here goes.

VaYechi
The Cave of Machpelah
David Kahn

This weeks portion opens with our Patriarch Jacob's request to Joseph that
he be buried in Cana'an next to his forebears. Later we read how Joseph
fulfills this request -- "And [Jacob's] son's carried him to the land
of Cana'an and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which
Abraham purchased with the field for a possession of a burying-place from
Efron the Hittite before Mamre" (1). Abraham's purchase is well documented
in the Bible (2); so much so that our sages say it is one of three places
that clearly belongs to the Jewish people (3). In the city of Hebron
there is a centuries-old massive building, made from large Herodian-style
stones, purportedly on the site of the cave of Machpelah. This article
hopes to shed some light on the authenticity of this claim by examining
early eyewitness accounts and more recent archeological finds. The
substantiation of our claim to the cave of Machpelah is very important;
our sages compared it with the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments (4).

Scholars differ as to who built the building on the site. Rabbi Ishtori
HaParchi (Kaftor VaFerach) mentions a tradition that the huge stones
were taken from the site of the Temple at the time of King Solomon (5).
Many historians claim that the building was built by Herod, due to the
fact that the stones bear a striking resemblance to the stones of the
walls surrounding the Temple Mount (i.e. Western Wall) presumably built
by him (6). B.Z. Luria argues that Herod built the Temple itself, of
which no stones remain, but not the walls surrounding the Temple Mount.
In addition, the historians of Herod's time do not attribute such a
building to him, although many other buildings are mentioned. Luria
asserts that other walls built with the same style stone (i.e. the
palace of Hyrkanus ben Joseph of Beit Tuvia in modern-day Jordan;
approx. 8 km west of Amman) predate Herod by at least 150 years (7) and
posits that the building was built by Edomites around the beginning of
the second century BCE (8).

These scholars concede that the building existed at the time of Herod.
A difficulty then arises when we read Josephus' description of the
Patriarchs' tombs -- "Their tombstones can be seen in this city until
today. They are made of beautiful marble..."(9) -- without any mention
of the magnificent wall surrounding them. J. Braslavi offers as possible
explanations that Josephus himself never visited Hebron and based his
description on others; or that he forgot to write about it; or that a
scribe copying the manuscript inadvertently omitted it (10). Much more
difficult is the story in the Talmud concerning Rabbi Banaah who went to
mark the graves of the Patriarchs as a warning to Kohanim and others to
avoid coming too close and thereby becoming ritually impure (11). As R.
Banaah was of the later Tanaaim, over 200 years after Herod, of what
need was there to mark the graves when they were already clearly marked
by the present building surrounding them? R. Ishtori HaParchi solves the
problem by emending one letter in the text (me'ayein instead of
metzayein); he went to inspect the graves, not mark them (12). Rabbi
Isaac Alfasi (RIF) writes that R. Banaah experienced the story recounted
in a dream (13) and all dreams have inaccuracies (14).

The earliest written description of a building on the site is by an
anonymous traveler from Phlaknetinus (570 CE) who describes a basilica
with four rows of columns or gates. There were two separate entrances
for Jews and Christians.(15)

Caves do exist under the building and we have many reports of people
who have entered them. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela (1171) reports "A man
went down steps with a lit candle in his hand; he went down into one
cave, where there was nothing, then a second, until he came to a third
and behold there were six graves." Rabbi Pesachya of Regensburg visited
ten years later and reported that the second cave was locked with heavy
iron. Thirty years later (1210) Rabbi Shmuel ben R. Shimshon states that
there were three tombstones in the lower cave. Dovid HaReuveni (1523)
and R. Gershon ben R. Eliezer (1624) entered the upper cave and were
blocked from the lower cave by an iron gate. Other rabbis of the 18th
and 19th centuries reported seeing entrances into the upper caves.(16)

The Italian architect Armet Pierotti described his entrances into the
caves. The first was on November 8, 1856. He entered through an
underground passageway in the Mosque of Jeulie and saw a cave filled
with wooden caskets. He also noticed other natural openings that
connected the interior of the cave. The second, on August 25, 1859, is
described dramatically. "I saw how they rolled back a carpet and
afterwards opened with a key an iron lattice and the Sheikh went down
steps 70 cm. wide chiseled out of bedrock." Pierotti tried to sneak in
with the entourage but was discovered and only managed to reach the
fifth step before being beaten and removed. He claimed to have bent down
and seen tombstones in the northern part of the cave and to have
discerned a rock wall on the southern side near the steps that connect
the upper cave with the lower cave.(17)

At the end of November 1917, when General Allenby discovered that
Hebron was not being defended by the Turks, he sent a light force,
headed by Colonel R. Meinertzahgen, to organize an administrative
apparatus there. The Colonel's search for leaders of the community led
him to the Cave of Machpelah, which he found deserted. At one point,
behind the symbolic monument of Abraham's tomb, he discerned a door
slightly ajar at the base of one of the walls. The door was 4 feet (1.2
m) high; inside, the floor was bedrock and slanted downward at a 45
degree angle. At the bottom was a room about 7 yards across. The rock
floor was more or less straight with a few cracks in it. The walls,
which did not appear to be too straight, were covered with a thick layer
of dust and smoke. The impression was one of dirt and neglect. At one
end of the room he saw a cement or stone rectangle about 2x1 meters,
flanked by four engraved metal pillars, two on each side.

The archeologist L.H. Vincent has difficulties with Pierotti's account
above. At a later date, his associate, E.J.H. Mackay, asked
Meinertzahgen to show him the door through which he entered the cave,
but they found it sealed. Vincent himself describes two entrances to the
caves underneath -- one sealed off near the symbolic monument of Isaac's
tomb, the other in the same room at the opposite wall, which separates
that room from Abraham's tomb mentioned above. Vincent managed to
measure the depth of this second cave -- 4.25 meters. There was a
strong wind blowing in the cave and a low doorway on the western side of
the southern wall. Two steps were carved out of the bedrock in the
doorway. This fits the description of other ancient Jewish subterranean
burial places. (18)

It should be pointed out that for over 700 years, Moslem control of the
site severely limited Jewish or Christian access to the building. Jews
were only allowed to enter the southeast entrance and to climb until the
seventh step. A hole in the wall at that spot continues into the
building and is opposite one of the entrances to the caves below.

After the Six Day War, General Moshe Dayan sent a thin girl named
Michal into the second cave described by Vincent. She measured it with
footsteps and took pictures. Dayan publicized this when he was Minister
of Defense in 1976. (19) It as also brought in his book, "Chayai Im
HaTanach". The entrance leads to a 3x3 m room, which contained Moslem
artifacts. On one side is a tunnel which connects underneath the sealed
entrance described by Vincent. At the end of the tunnel are 16 steps,
which lead to another sealed entrance. In the middle of the tunnel is
another entrance, sealed by stones.

In 1985, archeologist Dr. Zev Yevin, described in an article more
details concerning this second cave. In a recent interview given to
Nachrichten aus Israel (News from Israel), a German news agency, Yevin,
former Deputy Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, explained
that in 1980 he enterethe cave with others to determine whether or not
damage had been caused there. The facts surrounding this entrance were
kept secret for political reasons. They opened a floor plate in the
cave and lowered themselves into an oval chamber (3 m diameter) from
which a passage led to a second smaller oval room (2 m diameter). The
chambers are similar to other burial chambers common at the time of
Abraham 4000 years ago. In the larger room they found pieces of a lamp
and a clay jug from the Crusader period; this would seem to confirm the
report of the Arab traveler Ali El-Harawi that Christian monks entered
the caves in 1119, found bones and washed them with wine. In the smaller
chamber they found clay shards from the 8th-9th centuries BCE (first
Temple period). In the upper cave they found Latin script containing the
names Jacob and Abraham.(20)

From all of the above the following conclusions can be reached. The
outer walls of the building considered today to be on the site of the
cave of Machpelah are probably over two thousand years old. There are
caves under the building which descend more than one level. (21) The
cave seems to have been in use at the time of the first Temple. As far
as can be determined, recorded history has continuously considered this
site to be the traditional burial place of the Patriarchs.

Rabbi David Kahn, JCT Alumnus, is a computer programmer and was Ram in
the JCT one-year program for English speaking students from overseas.

Notes
(1) Bereishit (50:13)
(2) Bereishit (23:1-20)
(3) Bereishit Rabah (79:7)
(4) Bereishit Rabah(58:8) see Matnot Kehuna there
(5) Kaftor VaFerach (Chapter 11)[Lunz (p.300); Edelmann(p.48)]
(6) BT Succah (51b)
(7) Josephus, Antiquities (12,11)
(8) Sefer Hevron ed. Oded Avishar [Katav 1970 (p. 273-276)]
(9) Josephus, Wars of the Jews IV (9,7)
(10) See 8 above (p.286)
(11) BT Bava Batra (58a)
(12) See 5 above. This answer is supported by the end of the story there
that states "He went in, looked ('ayein), and came out".
(13)She-alot UTeshuvot HaRif I (313)
(14) BT Berachot (55a)
(15)Hebron, LeHaram El-Khalh, L.H. Vincent, E.J.H. Mackay, F.M. Abel,
Editions Ernest Leroux Paris, 1923 (p.157)
(16) Igarot Verishmei Bikur (Sha'ar IV)
(17) Machpela, Armet Pierotti(p. 95)
(18) See 8 (p. 277-284) and 15 above
(19) Kadmoniyot, Shana Tet, Choveret 4 [36], 1976 (pg.129-131)
(20) Ha-Uma (The Nation - quarterly) "Cave of Machpelah and the Monument
upon it", Z. Yevin, No. 127 - Spring 1997. The article contains a
detailed map. Confirmed by oral communication.
(21) See 11 above concerning the double caves of Machpelah

--
Dvar Torah Umada
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