Thursday, November 30, 2006

Former Jewish Synagogue in Nederland

Magen David appears in the stained-glass windows of the former synagogue of Deventer, Overijsse, Nederland. It was sold to a protestant congregation...
Picture is courtesy of "rogiro" who published it on Flickr.

Pomegranates In The Temple Service

This is a Pomegranate-Flower photo I took from my friend Mike's unique orchard. To me it looks like a Magen David.
The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass. This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed

How could Moses, our teacher, give expression to the above ideas of leaving Egypt not merely geographically, without denying altogether the nature forces it represents, but rather utilizing them in the future build up of the Land of Promise under the guidance of the Lord and his Torah? Was there a simple, yet instructive symbol which would show this aspiration? If there was one, how could it be applied without deceiving the people to deify and worship it?
For many years I wondered about the reason for the commandment to fix “pomegranates and shells at the priest's hem". (Gen. 34:28
The pomegranate is known as one of the seven minim, the so-called holy fruits of the country enumerated in Deut. 8:8. It is the only fruit whose image was a permanent constituent in the Temple service. Images thereof were added on the High Priest`s robe on the command of Moses:
"And they made upon the hem of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, twined; and they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates...a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the Lord commanded Moses" (Exod. 39:24-26).
While many ears could hear the tinkling of the bells, few eyes could see the colorful little pomegranates. Maybe it was for this reason that pomegranates were also put on the chapiters of the pillars named Boaz and Yakhin in Solomon's Temple, and were thus made visible to all: "And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks... to cover the bowls of the chapiters of the pillars" (2.Kings 7:42).
Folklore links the pomegranate to wisdom and plenty ("may your wisdom, or your good deeds, be as plenty as its kernels"); but only the fruit's round shape and its calyx were visible.
It was probably the calyx which made the pomegranate eligible for a permanent Temple utensil that could serve as such a symbol as mentioned above.
We may deduce this from the ivory pomegranate of the 8th Century B.C.E. now at display in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. This artifact has an impressively oversized calyx with six sepals (four still existing, two broken but well discernable). While its inscription which reads in English "Holy (to the) priests of the House of the Lord", has been exposed as recent forgery, the message of that artifact seems to remain undisputed.
The artist who designed this ivory pomegranate, was most likely inspired by the shape of the young fruit when it begins to develop right after the flower:
It is remarkable that he chose this design, and that in addition he emphasized the calyx even more. That may also be the reason for accepting it originally as authentic.
What is more, this ivory pomegranate with its six-pointed calyx is quite different from similar artifacts of that period (from the l2th to the 6th Century B.C.E.) also on display in the Museum. Canaanite ones have five- or seven-pointed calyxes and are normal-sized, while Edomite ones from Qidmit in the Northern Negev, also of the 7th - 6th Century B.C.E., hanging on an incense burner, have four sepals, and are normal sized, too.
We may conclude that it was probably the calyx which made the pomegranate eligible for a permanent place in the Sanctuary, upon the priest’s hem.
All these numbers are in accordance with nature; for indeed the number of the sepals which form the pomegranate`s flower cup can range from four to nine. Most common, however, are those with five, six, or seven sepals. Consequently, the calyx of the fruit can be also five-, six-, or seven-pointed. The fact that the calyxes of the Canaanite images have five or seven points, and the Edomite ones have four (so-far, none is known with six points), while the one in discussion, probably a Hebrew one, has six, seems rather significant. The numbers five and seven may relate to phenomena in nature, e.g. five fingers, five senses, the Druidical and the Babylonian pentagrams and what they symbolize; or the seven colors; seven tones in music; etc. The number four may just be symmetric, or simply ornamental, or may relate to the four directions of the rose.
The six-pointed calyx, however, can easily be seen as forming a symmetric hexagram, a geometric design which we know as Magen David, the Shield of David, or Star of David.
As we saw in the main chapters of the book, the hexagram is composed of two interwoven equilateral triangles which may symbolize Creation's polarities in their interaction and balance (e.g. Creator and creation; male and female; spirit and matter; heaven and earth).
So far, no remains from the First Temple were discovered. Yet, would it seem too far fetched to conclude from the above mentioned artifact of the First Temple period that there existed an affinity of the Hebrews to the six-pedaled pomegranate? An affinity which in turn may have led them to fix pomegranates of that design on the chapiters of the columns Yachin and Boaz visible to those who enteed the Temple; and then on the hem of the High Priest’s who served in the Sanctuary?
If so, the pomegranate as one of the seven minim with its six-pointed calyx could remind the people of these polarities, and draw their attention beyond the physical cosmos betokened by the pyramid and the cosmic numbers it represents.
Being a permanent Temple constituent, it could help bring the worshipper constantly to the awareness that man is the only being in which both aspects, spirit and matter, can be found from the very day the Lord breathed the neshamah, the Divine soul, into him.
Contemplating on the pomegranate with its oversized six symmetric pedals could induce the worshipper to reflect on all the polarities in and around him, and on the Lord God, the Creator of all whom he confesses in his worship, as One.

Butchers’ Sign

Yair Davidiy sent me this ORIGINAL explanation about the ORIGIN of the Star of David:
I heard today from Rabbi Moshe Rabovitz of Shaarei Hesed, Jerusalem, that Kosher Butchers in Europe for the last few hundred years always used the Magen David sign outside their establishments to announce that triangular (kosher) meat was inside.
He believes the reason is to be found in the Talmud Baitsa 28:a where it says that it was the practice for Kosher butchers to cut Kosher meat into triangular form so that it could be distinguishable if non-Kosher meat accidentally got mixed up with it.
The Magen David sign is simply two triangles superimposed on each other

I checked it out and found that
Raba the son of Rav Huna used to cut his meat into triangles… he would thus send meat to his wife with a non-Jew and she would be able to identify the meat as coming from her husband by its unusual shape.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Origami Artist -1

Picture is courtesy of artist EricGjerde from Flickr who made this amazingly complicated Star of David origami

The Sign of Man

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass.
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.
In the attempt to trace the history of our symbol, we discovered that it was known to diverse people from ancient times. We followed its history through the Middle Ages to its adoption in modern times as a specific Jewish symbol and the flag symbol of the State of Israel.
Yet, its symbolic meaning remains universal. Such polarization is fascinating wherever it occurs in nature, but above all illustrates many features characteristic of human life.
Looking at it from this angle, the symbol might have been known to Adam, the first man. As soon as he heard the Divine voice permitting him to eat from all the trees of the garden except from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil [Gen.2:16,17] ,and then heard the reproach: "Where are you?", he must have become aware of the existence of a spiritual world beyond the physical one in which he found himself, and realized that these worlds penetrate each other. In his long life, in which he would observe the heavenly bodies and see their impact on earthly life, he could well have developed the basics of statistics, mathematics, geometry, and astronomy, including the triangles.
In other words, our symbol may well have been a universal sign from the beginning; it need not be confined to the Jewish people and its state. The Israelites are but Mankind's priests, pointing out the road which will take Humanity to the Kingdom of Divine Grace and Justice on Earth, as proclaimed 3,000 years ago by King David, after whom our symbol is named.
Our six-pointed star may well turn out to be the emblem for all Humankind. It can again become the Sign of Man.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Origami Tessellation

Picture is courtesy of "Mélisande" who published it on Flickr. 
After scanning many Origami works I got the impression that making Origami Stars of David is quite common.

Harmony of the Triangles

Harmony of the Triangles HexagramThe following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass.
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.
The joining of the two triangles, whether they represent the relationship between God and Man, male and female, Israel and the nations, or religion and science, has to be harmonious - a symmetrical star.
If one of the two entities represented by a triangle insists on having only his own concept prevail and his own position acknowledged, we would have, not a star, but a single triangle resting on its base, similar to a pyramid. Such an individual's upward aspiration for a "better world" would in practice become more constricted, until the sides of the triangle intersect. As a point cannot be defined either mathematically or otherwise, likewise this point of intersection cannot be defined, but it could easily turn out to be the point of isolated fanaticism, or obsession, where misplaced enthusiasm or sheer despotism replaces insight.
The fate of such a "single-triangle" individual can be compared to that of the builders of the Tower of Babel, with its broad base yet narrow top intended to reach heaven and serve as a rallying point. Both sides of that triangle act as a shelter to screen off any influence from above. However, although this influence is not acknowledged by the adherents to this kind of thinking, it is still there, and causes the "Babylonian confusion".
If such an attitude prevails, and one could manage to impose it on others, the triangles of the hexagram would not be interwoven; instead, one triangle would impose itself on the other, repressing it and pushing it into the background.
The result would be that the individual who holds such a view, and any individuals who have been persuaded to believe it possible to abandon their own in its favor, would find themselves, first, in opposition to the Divine, and ultimately, at odds with each other - for every individual's proper place in the scheme of things is as unique and as unalterable as his fingerprints. Thus, as the "tower" rises and narrows, the individual's uniqueness would find itself increasingly constricted; tensions would arise and eventually erupt. As each person's individuality finally asserts itself, it would become clear that, all declarations of "loyalty to the cause" notwithstanding, each participant had been laboring towards his own goal... a goal different from that of any other participant. Confusion and chaos would inevitably ensue
This sign does not show harmony and peace but rather tension and imposition, which trigger revolt. Human history so far has indeed been the "history of the revolts of the oppressed against the oppressors."
Imposition and oppression are, of course, not the purpose of history, regardless of whether such oppressions emanate from political, clerical, feudal, industrial or other causes. As the Lord God does not impose upon Man, likewise Man is not meant to impose upon, or oppress, his fellows.
In view of our present subject (religion and science), this means that both sides should see themselves as servants of God and Man, of the Creator and all His Creation, with each one contributing and receiving his due, and accepting the other's role in complementary cooperation, as symbolized by the six-pointed star:
In our symmetric six-pointed star the joining of its two triangles symbolizes, and even teaches us well the Divine Principle of harmonious mutuality and complementation of the related energy fields.
True peace, whether on the personal, cultural, social or political level, will be achieved only to the degree that we can raise our awareness from the selfish to the holistic level, in which everyone plays his part in completing the whole.
Indeed, the word Shalom, peace, means completion, literally and figuratively. It derives from the root word, shalem, complete, whole. As a verb, shalem means to recompense, to pay a debt, to make whole. Thus the word conveys a universal truth: we will have peace only inasmuch as we pay what we owe to one another as well as to the Creator and the rest of His Creation.
As C.G. Jung says: "The right way, like the wrong way, must be paid for." The difference is that for the right way we pay in advance, following our insight, while for the wrong way we pay afterwards - a much higher and more painful price.
But what about the pentagram which symbolizes the sciences? Science, according to its own definition, deals with the counting, weighing and measuring of the phenomena of the created world, and with the condensing of the findings into law. Thus, we could put the pentagram into the middle field of the hexagram:
However, this would not contribute anything, as both the pentagram and the middle field of the hexagram, which expresses by its two triangles the harmonious balance of both the material and spiritual aspects of the universe, does not need any supplement; it is complete in itself.
In recent years, it became fashionable to depict the hexagram in different shapes -- triangles with unequal sides; prolonged triangles; one of the two triangles replaced by a dove resembling a triangle; giving one or two sides of a triangle the shape of a letter, and so on. While this may be eye catching, we ought to remember that symbols, including the hexagram, have specific and powerful messages that should not be tampered with.

Chanukah Cookies

Picture is courtesy of "BreeHartwig" who published it on Flickr. I guess the blue filling and the white frame of these delicious Star of David Chanukah Cookies are meant to allude to the Israeli flag colors...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dodge Emblem 1935

Dodge Emblem 1935 Hexagram

Photo is courtesy of “cameradawktor” who published it on Flickr.

The Dodge brothers Horace and John were Jewish, that's why the first Dodge emblem had a Star of David in it. This is only one of many answers to this enigma.

Hexagram on Jesus’ Minaret in Damascus

Picture of Solomon’s seal on Jesus’ Minaret in Damascus is courtesy of "D Jabi" who published it on Flickr and wrote in the caption:
Legend (and some Hadeeth) has it that on Judgment Day, Jesus will descend from the Heavens on this very spot… 

The Minaret is part of the Omayad Mosque which stands at the old city of Damascus, Syria. It was built by the Omayad Caliph al-Walid ibn Abdul Malek in 705 A.D.

The Joining of the Triangles

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass. This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version

Naturally, it is first and foremost up to us in Israel to get the two triangles - as symbols of two energy fields - joined in a harmonious star. We have to solve the problems created by the exile of the Jewish people, and those created by the separation of religion and science (including socialism as a form of political science). Our future and that of the world depends on solving this problem.
Perhaps a passage from the Jewish prayer book can indicate the way.
In the Amidah prayer we read:
"…"...השב את העבודה לדביר ביתך.
Its usual translation is:"...restore the worship to thy innermost sanctuary...".
Let us check this passage word for word:
1) ,השב hashev, rendered as restore, means bring back, return, or even refresh;
2) העבודה , ha'avodah, the worship, can be understood as describing ritual service, but can also be understood in its broader sense, as for instance in Gen.2:5, and as shown in the previous chapter on Avodah and Melakhah. This means that all our endeavors, avodah and melakhah, should be directed to, and guided by, the innermost sanctuary.
In Israel's current situation, a great part of the religious population, on the one side, is inclined to see only the performance of the ritual as avodah , while the socialists on the other hand think that only melakhah (labor, handicraft, business) will do. Consequently, they call themselves Avodah (Labor), borrowing this idea from the international labor movement.
However, both these groups are on the form-side of the "Kabbalistic Tree", and therefore clash often. Yet, this passage of the Amidah prayer could well be understood as a plea for the return of these two groups to their common source, the dvir.
3) לדביר ביתך , dvir bethekha, is the innermost of the three parts of the "House of the Lord", the Temple. Rabbi Hirsch describes it as "the Abode of the Word, from which the word of God's Law expounds to us His will."
The prayer directs us not just to the Temple as a whole, but to its innermost sanctum. For at the entrance of the dvir there is the היכל , heical, the Abode of Might. It contains the seven-branched candelabrum at the right, and the table at the left, as symbols of spiritual enlightenment and material welfare, respectively, . Graphically designed, dvir, menorah and shulhan, form a triangle resembling the triangle of Crown-Wisdom-Understanding of the Kabbalistic Tree. This shows us that the return to the dvir is accomplished not only through the Binah- or form-side symbolized by the shulhan. , altar (liter.: table).
Whether the word goes out from the dvir, or whether we direct ourselves towards the dvir, the passage is always through the היכל , heical, with both shulhan and menorah symbolizing the material and spiritual aspects. Our prayer reminds us of the equal importance of these two aspects.
The importance of bringing these two aspects together could well be expressed by the six-pointed star as it relates to avodah and melakhah. Its two triangles could stand for avodah in its mere religious-ritualistic sense, and for melakhah, respectively. Their joining in dvir would form the Star, symbolizing avodah, service, in its broader meaning. Melakhah would then be recognized as an integral part of the service of God, no less than prayer and other religious practices.
This, of course, holds true not only for the Jewish people but for all nations; for the Temple is a visible likeness of the laws and order of Creation invisible to the physical eye. Seen from this perspective, the destruction of the Temple was a disaster not only for the Jewish people but for the nations, too. It is for this reason that Prophet Isaiah, visualizing the restoration of the Temple, could say: "My house shall be called the house of prayer for all peoples"; and: "...there -- in Zion -- the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore" (Ps.133:3). Indeed, once the nations recognize the eternal truth expressed by the House of the Lord, they will focus on it and be healed. It is then and there that strife will end and the triangles will join.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Finding Wisdom in Nepal

Finding Wisdom in Nepal Hexagram
Photo is courtesy of Igor Elkanovich who published it on Webshots and wrote to me:
I think in Hindu religion Star of David means wisdom...that is why
they like to put these signs on educational buildings.
For instance see star of David on the library in a Tebetian village of
Marpha (Nepal) It is from my another trek.

Wisdom and Universe, Nepal

Wisdom and Universe, Nepal Hexagram Photo is courtesy of Igor Elkanovich who published it on Webshots
Igor wrote to me:
The picture was shot in Katmandu, Nepal at the entrance to a school in a quater Tamel. I think that in Hindu religion Star of David means wisdom and swastika means universe that is why they like to put these signs on educational buildings.

Service and Labor

Service and Labor Jewish starThe following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version

Avodah and Melakhah (Service and Labor)

The Torah indeed provides us with a solution to the aggravating separation of science and religion. We read in the Decalogue: "Six days shalt thou work ( (תעבוד and do all thy handicraft (מלאכתך, thy business, labor); but the seventh day, Shabbath ..., thou shalt do no handicraft ( ,מלאכה business, labor.("
The first part of this passage contains the positive commandment "to do" work (service) and handicraft (labor), with handicraft being seen as a part of work (עבודה , avodah); the second part, the commandment "not to do", mentions only handicraft or labor (מלאכה, melakhah), thus distinguishing it from avodah.
Avodah means work, or service (cult, in the original meaning of that word), in the broadest sense, including slave's work. On Shabbath, the day of rest, our avodah ("service") may focus on worship, reflection, praise and prayer in order to sanctify the day. However, during the six days of the week, our melakhah (labor, business, handicraft) should also be part of our avodah, as enjoined by the Decalogue. That means we should do our weekly business (melakhah) for the honor and glory of the Lord no less than we do our service (avodah) on Shabbath. For that matter, of course, no business could be done which would not contribute to His honor and glory; nor should men be enslaved by men. To make His honor our honor should be the axiom for our daily work.
It is indeed a sign of the Messiah that he rides upon a donkey, and not vice versa. This means to say, as true Adam we should neither reject matter as base, nor be enslaved by it, but use it guided by Divine Wisdom.
Moreover, accepting this exhortation of the Decalogue to see melakhah as an integral part of avodah, Divine service, would enhance the right attitude in all our business relationships: those of employer to employee, and vice versa; of businessmen among one another and towards their customers; of government officials to the public and vice versa, etc.
This concept can be seen as an integral part of the basic commandment to love one's neighbor. Of course, there are also rules and commandments which deal with specific aspects of the subject, as seeing in the other not an object to be exploited but a person of equal value; paying the proper wage or salary at the proper time; and employing proper measurements.
All this is suggested by the etymology of the word melakhah. Its root being malakh (messenger, angel), it could be literally translated angel-wards; i.e. we should do all our business as messengers acting on behalf of the Divine, that is, in the image of our maker, the Creator. While this holds true for all men, here in Israel, after the return from the long exile, we should conceive and perform melakhah even as a commandment headed by an appropriate blessing.
On the other hand, melakhah which is not part of the Divine service entails all kinds of enslavement and leads inevitably to idolatry, עבודה זרה, avodah zarah (literally service to strange entities).
The Biblical concept of melakhah does not, of course, reduce men to puppets. The Decalogue says explicitly that for six days we shall do all our business. We are free to do the business we choose: handicraft, trade, research, office work, study, sports, etc. We can do it for the sake of earning our living, for the sake of physical or intellectual training or for pleasure, as long as it remains part of our avodah.
We may also say that melakhah has to do with the outgoing faculties of man, the aspect of quantity; while avodah concerns the inner man, the aspect of quality. Imbalance or separation of these two aspects leads to tension, disease, and collapse on both the individual and national level. The outer work, including the "marriage" to our land, complements the inner service, and is a means of building up the integral man, or "true Adam".
Thus avodah and melakhah, Shabbath and week, holy and profane, are different not in essence but in form. This is hinted at by the Torah itself which relates both these aspects to our doing (making):

"ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת לעשות את שבת”
"and the children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat to do (make) the Shabbat", Exod.31:16
"ששת ימים תעבור ועשית כל מלאכתך”
"six days thou shalt work and do (make) all thy work",
and Moses our lawgiver says in his Psalm (90:17)
"ויהי נעם אדני אלהינו עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננהו"
(“…may bliss, my Master, our God, be upon us; and establish upon us the work of our hands, and the work of our hands, and the works of our hands, establish Thou it”. – The last part of that verse is correctly to be read: “and the works of our hands will establish it”, that is, will establish on earth the Sanctuary that His hands have already established for us on High – Exod. 15:17
In this Divine attitude, even such "profane" activities as work, eating and sex are elevated into the holy plane. The more they are elevated, the less "evil" or destructive they become, and the more they become beneficial, uplifting, unifying, and meaningful in the ultimate sense.
The link, or even oneness of avodah and melakhah, Divine service and daily labor, becomes transparent in other passages of the Tanakh. Let us consider some of them.
Each of the three Feasts commanded in the Torah - Pessah, Shavuoth, and Succoth - has spiritual and agricultural aspects. On Pessah, we celebrate the liberation from Egypt, but we celebrate this feast also as the spring festival. On Shavuoth (Pentecost. 50 days after Pessah is the Feast of Mathan Torah, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, as well as the feast of the wheat harvest. Both aspects are combined in the Book of Ruth (she serves as a model for all those who would embrace Judaism). Ruth receives the Torah through her famous answer to Naomi:"...your people shall be my people, and your God my God... may the Lord do so to me..."; and on Boaz' field she helps bring in the wheat harvest. Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, reminds us that during the 40 years of wandering in the desert, the people of Israel did not live in solid houses. By living a full week in booths, we "remember" this exposure to the elements, but also celebrate the gathering of the last harvest.
In the time of the Second Temple, the famous water-drawing ceremony was linked to Isaiah's word: "God is my salvation ...therefore with joy shall you draw water from the wells of salvation..." 12:2-6
Moreover, the Hebrew calendar guarantees that all its feasts coincide with the agricultural seasons. Pessah occurs when the green is ready for the first cut; Shavuoth, comes at the ingathering of the wheat (the main field fruit); and Succoth comes at the ripening and harvest of the fruits of the trees; at the middle of Hannukah begins the winter cold; tu b'shvat, the "New Year of the Trees", marks the best season for planting trees; the New Moon prayers (between the third and the tenth day of each new moon month) mark the best sowing seasons. Indeed, there could be no better proof of the bond between religion and agriculture (as a section of melakhah) than the Hebrew calendar.
Another passage of the Torah which stresses this togetherness is Leviticus 26:3. It reads: "If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments...". The Hebrew term rendered here by statutes is not torah but חוק, hoq. While the word torah means the Divine Instruction for men, hoq means the one law that governs all of creation, its spiritual as well as physical aspects. By using the word hoq, the passage instructs us to perceive the laws of nature and the Divine commandments as being part of the same order. The sanctification of the weekly Shabbath and of the Feasts is seen as natural and spiritual at the same time, and so is the sanctification of Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount.
Even the Levites could and should tend their small holdings while not on duty in the Sanctuary, as mentioned above, cf. fig. 60
The Hebrew confession : "..The Lord is One", is all-embracing. It includes the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of existence, avodah as well as melakhah.
Our sign, the Star of David, with its two interwoven triangles, is a perfect symbol of this axiom. In our present situation, however, it is rather a sign of hope than of established fact. In the nations of the world, it is, interestingly enough, replaced by other signs, mainly by the five-pointed star.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Four Stars of David

Four out of seven Stars of David on the Theodor Herzl Monument at the entrance to Herzlia, Israel
I like the palm leafs frame around Herzl - they look like rays of light...

Seven Stars of David

The translation of the Hebrew words on the road sign at the top right side of this photo is:"seven stars boulevard", and it alludes to Theodor Herzl's suggestion to put seven gold stars on the Jewish flag. These stars were meant to symbolize seven daily working hours in the altnoiland, the old new country, Israel. There's another sign above it which shows part of the name of another road- the Jewish country, which is the title of another book that Theodor Herzl wrote. Between the three and Four stars on the Monument there's a slogan: Herzlia - a legend of a city, which alludes to Theodor Herzl's famous proverb: If you have a will power it [founding the country] shouldn't be a legend...

Three Stars of David

Three out of seven Stars of David on the Theodor Herzl Monument at the entrance to Herzlia, Israel. This photo is taken from the rear side of the Monument, which doesn't look as good as the front.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The House of the Messiah -1

Stars of David, Ezra 19, Bucharim, Jerusalem. Built by Yehudayof Elisha and Israel Chefetz in 1903-1914. Planned by an Italian Architect in the Renaissance Style.

The House of the Messiah -2

Jewish star on the House of the Messiah, Palace Building in Ezra-19-Street, Bucharim neighborhood, Jerusalem.

The House of the Messiah -4

Stars of David on the Palace Building in Ezra-19-Street, Bucharim neighborhood, Jerusalem. Buily by Yehudayof Elisha and Israel Chefetz in 1903-1914 and planned by an Italian Architect in the Renaissance Style. Legend has it that Yehudayof Elisha wanted to prepare a house where the Messiah will be able to live and have guests.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nursing Agency

An interesting design of a Star of David as the logo of a Nursing Agency in Bnei Brit st. in Jerusalem. It is comprised of two Hebrew letters: Mem and Kof, which are the initials of the words Misgav (shekter) Kashish (elderly). These two words appear at the right side of the sign in big letters while the small letters under them talk about support at home and rehabilitation in the community.

Religion And The Sciences

Religion And The Sciences Jewish starThe following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version

Turning Towards The Six-Pointed Star: Religion And The Sciences

The designation of the five-pointed star as the Star of Solomon, or Solomon's Seal, should not be understood to imply that Solomon's wisdom is synonymous with the wisdom of the Chaldeans (Babylonians), just as one cannot put the Codex Hammurabi on a par with the Law of Moses.
The wisdom of the Chaldeans dealt with the laws of nature, which were considered the ruler of Mankind, while the wisdom of Solomon looked for the Truth that underlies the phenomena of nature, and thus opened itself to the Creator and His laws. The books attributed to Solomon in the Masoretic text: Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, give ample evidence of this.
The fact that Solomon's spiritual wisdom also encompassed the material realm may well be the reason why these two kinds of wisdom - Solomon's and the Chaldeans' - found graphic expression in the same sign, the pentagram.
Spirit and matter (or religion and science, to characterize these entities in modern terms) need not confront each other like two hostile camps. Confrontation arises when religion tries to present its dogmas and rites as unchanging answers to the ever-changing questions of life; or when science, on the grounds of mere observation and research, pretends to have mastered everything, and claims unlimited freedom for its own sake (similar to the artists' "l'art pour l'art"). It tries to shake off tradition and dogma as petrified fetters, and sees itself as the new light of the world. It becomes a juggernaut which in the end men must serve, and in unenlightened hands threatens to smash everything.
How true Einstein's words are: "Religion without science limps, and science without religion stinks."
After Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Israel's founding (all happening within a five-year period!), religion and science can no longer remain sublimely isolated from each other.
Until the destruction of the Second Temple, the people of Israel were confronted by pagan religions.
After the fall of the Temple, Christianity and Islam penetrated the world, like a "leaven ... hid in three measures of flour", and Israel was reduced in stature. During this period, these three religions focused, for different reasons, on their respective rituals, and thus achieved a certain security for their followers. This was necessary for their early growth, but now they must mature.
Science, and "Enlightenment" in its wake, break these rigid frames of reference, first that of Christianity, then that of Judaism, and now that of Islam, notwithstanding orthodox resistance. But science alone cannot give Mankind the inner guiding light which is indispensable for our spiritual and moral conduct.
Science, including the humanities, is based upon research and study which provide us with knowledge of the phenomenal world. By their very nature, research and study are amoral and disobliging, although they may - besides finding and describing laws of nature - to some degree be instrumental in analyzing and describing the processes and effects of prayer, compassion, love and obedience to a Higher Power. At the utmost, science may recommend such acts, but it cannot generate them. This is the task of religion.
True religion is educative, guiding mankind towards an archetypal destiny which includes a proper relationship to our Maker and to the rest of Creation. It blends information gained by the sciences with the teachings of the Prophets and Sages, and may be symbolized by our star.
Henceforth, religion will be the way of initiating Humankind into a Higher Self, enabling humanity to gain understanding of the Whole and of itself as an integral part of it, and to shoulder a corresponding responsibility. The rituals of the future, besides their intrinsic value, will further this end. Faith will no longer be understood as blind belief in incredible things, but rather as faithfulness to God's Word, given to us by his prophets for our guidance. Belief will be understood in the "be-living".
Of course, initiating someone into his Higher Self does not mean making him religious. What it does is guide him in developing values inherent in everyone since Adam.
Let us liken this to the work of a gardener in an orchard. His work is not to reduce the garden to one variety of tree, or to grow only a few towering trees. It is rather to tend all the plants so that each brings forth its peculiar beauty, fragrance and fruit, and to check the weeds (read "correct our errors").
G.W. Allport, in A Study of Values, describes six major value types which he says are found to varying degrees in all of us. They are theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, political and religious. If we put them on our six-pointed Star, each type could be represented by one of the six outer triangles, but this would be unsatisfactory, the more so as Allport equates the religious value type with ascetics, monks and mystics. It was probably the prevailing situation, which tends to exclude religion from the rest of Man's activities, which led him to this conclusion.
Why should religion be confined to ascetics, monks and mystics? Why should it constitute merely one of six value types? Doesn't it encompass more of what makes us truly human than any of the five other value types? Religion suffuses all equally. We may express this symbolically as follows:

Just as Einstein developed his unifying theories to help explain the physical universe, religions will come to a "unified world view" with the One Lord as its core, and Man as His counterpart growing up toward His likeness.
Israel today suffers from the same separation of religion and science that afflicts the rest of the world. However, Israel is not meant to duplicate what is going on in the rest of the world, but rather to heal the world by working out its problems in accordance with the Divine Torah bestowed upon it.
Coming back to our notion of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and the Rebirth of Israel occurring within a span of five years, we will more and more become aware that they mark the most ground breaking and shattering events in human history since the Flood. Symbolically, and to a great deal physically, the old world and its values turned to ashes. Religions, if they want to be taken seriously, can after Auschwitz not continue their old ways as if nothing had happened. Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) marked on the one hand the climax of materialistic science unrestrained by the ethical values of true religion; but on the other hand, the atomic explosion as such may also well mark the shattering of our old fashioned inner barriers and the break through into the higher realms of our souls. Israel's rebirth - like the famous phoenix from the ashes - stands in this turmoiled world out like a token, even testimony, of the truth and validity of the Divine prophecies and teachings which can guide us to our true Self, and thus to true peace and wellbeing of all.

Symbol For Natural Man

Picture of pentagram coin is courtesy of “gierszewski” from Flickr.
The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.

More recently, the five-pointed star has been widely used as a symbol for Natural Man, its five branches suggesting two legs, two arms and a head. As such, it was known as the Drudenfuss (Druidical sign), or Celtic Star, in Europe. In its upside-down position, with one point at the bottom, it is seen as a magic sign of evil.
Many nations took to the pentagram, showing it in their flags. These include Egypt, China, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen. It was also represented in the flag of the former Soviet Union, as the so-called Red Star. In the flag of the United States, each member-state is represented by a pentagram. Recently, the European Parliament chose a circle of 12 pentagrams as its symbol.
Intriguingly enough, these countries are also world leaders in astro-sciences and astro-techniques, as was ancient Babylon, empire of the Chaldeans.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sun Inside a Star of David

Sun inside a Star of David on the logo of Bikur-Cholim Hospital in Jerusalem. The Hebrew letters on top are taken from Malachi 3:20
[But to you that fear my name, shall] the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;

On the botton is the name of the hospital.

Star of David inside a triangle

Picture is courtesy of "Meshuge Corrida" who published it on Flickr. The Star of David is made from triangles, but this is the first design I see it INSIDE a triangle. 
The caption under the photo in Flickr reads:
A kippah from the Jewish Community "Khesed Menorah" in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Cairo Genizah

Cairo Genizah Magen DavidPhoto_T_S_K5.13 reproduced by permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library
It shows an illustartion of a child's alphabet and it comes from Cairo Genizah, Egypt; 11th century(?); 

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
showing the six-pointed star together with other typical Jewish symbols is a school writing exercise from the 10th Century B.C.E. found in the Genizah of Cairo. It shows, besides an exercise in the Hebrew alphabet, a Menorah (seven-branched candelabrum) with two six-pointed stars next to its shaft
It is unlikely that the pupil who made this drawing was guided by his own inspiration when he linked the stars to the Menorah. We may conclude that he gave expression to an attitude prevalent in his community, which saw the star on a par with the Menorah. Yet, even from such an attitude, we cannot conclude that the star was then a specific Jewish emblem, for it was also widely used by Muslims.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Pentagram In History And Today

Pentagram  Picture is courtesy of Dr. Asher Eder who shot it about 40 years ago in Capernaum, where he used to guide tourists.

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version

In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, the five-pointed star, or pentagram, was also called the Shield of David, or Star of David, while the hexagram was sometimes called "Solomon's Seal".We shall deal briefly with the pentagram symbol.
As far as we know, 6th-Century Byzantine scholars were the first to speak of the pentagram as the Shield of David, while in the Middle Ages this idea was occasionally taken up by Jews and Muslims as well.
Judging from archaeological evidence, artists were drawing pentagrams long before they started drawing hexagrams. One of the oldest known artifacts is a clay jug with a pentagram painted on it, found in Jamdad Nasr (modern-day Iraq) and dated to the 4th millenium B.C.E.
Similar designs were found in Megido, one on a seal dating from the 19th Century B.C.E., the other on a clay jug, dated 17th Century B.C.E.
One of the many other findings worth mentioning is the impression of a pentagram on a jar handle - probably an official seal (possibly royal) in the Kingdom of Judah. In its angles appear the word "Jerusalem", written in ancient Hebrew characters. Fine examples can also be found on Celtic brooches:
Another outstanding example is a pentagram carved in stone, with disks in its five angles. It can be seen in the ruins of Kfar Nahum, in the following design
Although no other known design of this type exists, the five disks in the angles of the star may well symbolize the five planets known in ancient times, pointing to the astronomical connotations of the design.
In ancient times, the pentagram was indeed the sign of those initiated into the wisdom of astronomy and astrology. Priests imbued with this knowledge calculated the calendar with its agricultural and religious seasons. It is for this reason that the ancient Babylonians were known as Chaldeans - still a byword for astrologers, for their religion was based upon such calculations.
All in all, the pentagram can be seen as a symbol for nature, i.e. the material aspect of Creation. This would be supported by the fact that the entire pentagram can be drawn without lifting pen off paper, while the interwoven hexagram depicts polarities in their balance requires that its two triangles be drawn separately. (To be sure, one could draw the hexagon first and then add the six outer triangles without lifting the pen, but that would not do justice to the meaning of the symbol). – Interestingly enough, the ancient Pythagoreans gave the name “health” to the pentagram. It was probably before this background that later on it went into magic.
True, the Jewish people in their worship of the Creator of Heaven and Earth also had to develop a calendar based on the "lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and to be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years..."(Gen.1:14), so it should not be surprising to find the figure of the pentagram with the five disks in a synagogue next to the six-pointed star (see fig.6-8); nor should it be surprising that the five-pointed star is often called Solomon's Seal4. The Tanakh says Solomon was renowned for his wisdom5 in both heavenly and earthly matters, and this could explain why the five-pointed star as a symbol of wisdom was attributed to him, and named after him. However, we should keep in mind that the termמגן , magen, shield, is used in connection with Abraham and with David, while the term חותם , hotam, seal, is used in connection with Solomon irrespective whether the pentagram or the hexagram is related to him.

Solomon, Seal of
Joseph Jacobs and M. Seligsohn wrote in the Jewish Encyclopedia the entry Solomon, Seal of.
I bring it here - I only added the headings…

A. Source: The Jewish legend
The legend that Solomon possessed a seal ring on which the name of God was engraved and by means of which he controlled the demons is related at length in Gittin 68a, b.

B. Arabic development of the Jewish legend
This legend is especially developed by Arabic writers, who declare that the ring, on which was engraved "the Most Great Name of God," and which was given to Solomon from heaven, was partly brass and partly iron. With the brass part of the ring Solomon signed his written commands to the good genii, and with the iron part he signed his commands to the evil genii, or devils. The Arabic writers declare also that Solomon received four jewels from four different angels, and that he set them in one ring, so that he could control the four elements.

C. Another legend
The legend that Asmodeus once obtained possession of the ring and threw it into the sea, and that Solomon was thus deprived of his power until he discovered the ring inside a fish (Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 86-87), also has an Arabic source (comp. D'Herbelot, "Bibliothèque Orientale," s.v. "Soliman ben Daoud"; Fabricius, "Codex Pseudepigraphicus," i. 1054; and see Solomon in Arabic Literature).

D. Josephus
The legend of a magic ring by means of which the possessor could exorcise demons was current in the first century, as is shown by Josephus' statement ("Ant." viii. 2, § 5) that one Eleazar exorcised demons in the presence of Vespasian by means of a ring, using incantations composed by Solomon Fabricius (l.c.) thinks that the legend of the ring of Solomon thrown into the sea and found afterward inside a fish is derived from the story of the ring of Polycrates, a story which is related by Herodotus (iii. 41 et seq.), Strabo (xiv. 638), and others, and which was the basis of Schiller's poem "Der Ring des Polykrates."

E. Six-pointed star
The Arabs afterward gave the name of "Solomon's seal" to the six-pointed star-like figure (see Magen, Dawid) engraved on the bottom of their drinking-cups.

F. Table of Solomon
It is related in the "Arabian Nights" (ch. xx.) that Sindbad, in his seventh voyage, presented Harun al-Rashid cup on which the "table of Solomon" was represented; and Lane thinks that this was the figure of "Solomon's seal" (note 93 to ch. xx. of his translation of the "Arabian Nights").

G. Pentacle
In Western legends, however, it is the pentacle, or "druid's foot," that represents the seal. This figure, called by Bishop Kennet the "pentangle" of Solomon, was supposed to have the power of driving away demons. Mephistopheles says to Faust that he is prevented from entering the house by the druid's foot ("Drudenfuss"), or pentagram, which guards the threshold ("Faust," in Otto Devrient's edition, part i., scene 6). The work entitled "Claviculæ Salomonis" contains treatises on all kinds of pentacles. The tradition of Solomon's seal was the basis of Büschenthal's tragedy "Der Siegelring Salomonis," specimens of which are given in "Bikkure ha-'Ittim," v. 3 et seq. (German part). A work regarding a magic signet-ring is ascribed to Solomon (see Solomon, Apocryphal Works of). See also Asmodeus; Solomon in Rabbinical Literature.

The name of the pentagram

The quotes from Aristophanes (446 B.C. – c. 386 B.C.) and fron Lucian (2nd century)
(See: Roger Herz-Fischleri in his book A Mathematical History of Division in Extreme and Mean Ratio, p. 65) prove that the word pentagram and the shape of the "triple intersecting triangle" were known by the greeks at least from the 5th century B.C. But there's no proof that they knew the word hexagram at that time. The Jewish name of the hexagram, David's Shield was known only from the 14th century and even then it was confused with the name Solomon's Seal.  

Songs Of Peace And Joy

Songs  Of  Peace  And  Joy Jewish star

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.
Peace and joy will then reign on Earth, for men will understand and share His will. And all nature, animate and inanimate, which today suffers from the follies and violence of humans whose hearts are far from God, will join in the song of joy:
"...the Lord reigneth:
the world also shall be established
that it shall not be moved:
He shall judge the people righteously.
Let the heavens rejoice,
and let the earth be glad,
let the sea roar,
and the fullness thereof.
Let the field be joyful,
and all that is therein:
then shall the trees of the wood rejoice
before the Lord..." (Ps.96:10-12)

"Sing unto the Lord a new song;
for He has done marvelous things;
His right hand, and His holy arm,
have gotten Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation
His righteousness has He openly shown
in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His grace and His faithfulness
towards the House of Israel:
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,
all the earth;
make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the Lord with the harp
and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and the sound of cornet
make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof;
the world, and they that dwell therein.
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills be joyful together
before the Lord..."

Then, also..."the Lord shall rejoice in his work"

The harmony and peace made possible by men's better insight and new understanding of the law of the Prophets, symbolized by the Star of David, will become reality. Franz Rosenzweig speaks of this star rightly as the Star of Redemption.


Yesterday, Novenber 20, 2006 the Jerusalem Post staff published a poll about the common denominator between Jews in the Diaspora and Jews in Israel.
Among the findings:
About a third of the Jews in Israel agree that the Magen David is the main symbol uniting Jews in the Diaspora and Israel.
The survey, which was carried out by Market Watch on June 6, 2006, comprised 502 interviewees, representing a national sample of the Hebrew-speaking Jewish population in Israel.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The United Nations

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass. This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
The United Nations is an attempt by world leaders to devise ways to bring about lasting peace. A monument in front of the UN headquarters in New York City expresses this hope. It bears an inscription which reads: "We shall beat our swords into plough shares".
So far, this promise has not borne fruit. In most parts of the world, people still prepare for war rather than for peace. The Communist bloc tried to create a worker's paradise by means of a militarily backed world revolution, and failed. Western powers tried to control the world by developing "clean atomic bombs" and the like. Arabs wage a "holy war" to destroy Israel and spread their present concept of Islam.
On the other hand, most of the "peace movements", motivated by a widespread fatigue and fear of war, say "no" to militarism but fail to provide a workable alternative. And no end of disarmament conferences nor grand economic schemes can change this gloomy picture, because they all forego the most essential condition for achieving the goal of peace and prosperity.
The Prophet Isaiah emphasizes the need to learn the Divine Law which will come forth from re-established Zion, and only then speaks the well-known words about beating swords into plough shares.
Let us see what he tells us in this context:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above all the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths'; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord".
Thus, peace is the fruit of that justice which is valid in the eyes of the Lord. Peace cannot be established by imposing a self-styled justice on others. In other words, we may say that a sign on the road to true peace would be the acceptance of the Tanakh as an integral part of the United Nation's constitution.
Isaiah's concluding words: "O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord", will then apply not only to the sons of Jacob, but to all the nations which, in partnership with Israel, will endeavor to walk in the light of the Lord. "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come to mind."Israel will also be renewed, as requested in one of our ancient prayers: "O cause a new light to shine upon Zion, and may we all soon be worthy to enjoy its brightness."

the Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
The acceptance of the Tanakh and learning of the ways of Jacob's God do not necessarily mean that nations will have to convert to Judaism.
Today, according to our sages1, nations are expected to abide by the "Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah", often spoken of as the Seven Noahide Laws. These are: no idolatry, blasphemy, murder, incest, stealing, eating from a living animal (or eating of blood). Laws should be made according to these strictures.
At first glance, we might think that these rules are already observed. But if they were, would not the world be in a more orderly state?
Consider the fact that idolatry is not committed merely by prostrating oneself before statues or by excessive devotion to personality cults. In Hebrew, the term "idolatry" describes any attitude by which things, ideas, persons or one's own ego become more important than the Most High. It thus embraces the worship of material objects and of the state. 'My country, right or wrong' reflects the attitudes of many nations, often to such a degree that the Divine is seen as to serve the nation instead of the nations seen in the service of the Divine. The worship of power and personality (symbolized in ancient times by Mars) still predominates.
There are numerous Christians and Muslims who want to impose on the Jews their respective creeds and practices, and this in spite of the fact that the latter are not always congruent even with their own respective Scriptures, not to speak of the Tanakh. Are the representatives of such an attitude not aware that they deify their own imagination and willful interpretations, i.e. something which the Prophet Samuel condemned as idolatry: "...behold, to obey is better than sacrifice...". (1 Sam.15:22; cf. Deuter.13:2-5, 18:18-22).
Similarly, religious fundamentalists pick certain passages of their holy scriptures that appeal to their swollen egos, and make them the fundament of their creeds and deeds. Still others promote existentialism as Man's top priority. As Jews cannot condone such idolatries, they have been accused of being stiff-necked, out-dated, legalistic, etc., etc., and have been persecuted for their faithfulness to the Covenant which the Lord God of Heavens and Earth had made with them.
Blasphemy is committed by reviling any other human being (for we are all created in God's image), or by talking impiously about God Himself. Referring to the Most High as "the God of the Old Testament" or "the God of vengeance" [in contrast to the New Testament's "God of Love"] is blasphemous; so is belittling Him as the God of the Jews, who evolved from a tribal god into an urban deity and eventually became the national God.
Although nations issue laws forbidding such crimes as murder, incest and theft, these laws do not extend beyond crimes committed by citizens against their societies. Whenever a war, a bloody coup d'etat or revolution succeed, their supporters not only go unpunished, but are raised to the stature of heroes, no matter how many people they robbed and killed. Jewish blood is spilled and counted for nothing, and those who spill it and call for the destruction of the Jewish nation are received in international gatherings as honorable gentlemen. Moreover, instigating, consenting and acquiescing to murder are as evil as the act itself. Doing it “in the name of Allah”, in the disguise of Jihad (“Holy War”), is also outright blasphemous. Anti-Semitism, with its libeling of Jews, lays the groundwork for actually killing them. The same is true in the defamation of any ethnic group. These aberrations are the results of idolatry, which causes nations to pass laws or resolutions according to their temporal convenience, or simply not to apply the laws they have passed.
In spite of strict prohibitions in Gen.9:4 and Acts 15:292, nations do not observe the "no eating of blood" rule. Blood is the soul3. By eating blood or meat with its blood, Man mixes his Divine soul with that of a creature brought forth from the earth. By doing so, he derogates his Divine heritage4, and opens himself to the animal instincts.
So far, nations have not been willing to come up to the Mountain of the Lord "to learn the ways of the God of Jacob". How could they, after they destroyed the Holy Temple and devastated the Temple Mount, using it as a refuse dump5, and after they blasphemed the Most High?
The Name of the Lord is still veiled before the eyes of the world. The "Seven Noahide Laws" are not observed, for nations lack true insight and understanding of these laws. This lack expresses itself by attitudes towards the Star of David ranging from uncertainty and suspicion to outright rejection. How can nations cherish this symbol if they do not know the Name of the Lord of the Heavens and of the Earth, and accept Him as their shield?
According to the Prophets, His Name will be revealed in the wake of Israel's resurrection6. Nations will then recognize the truth7 of the Word handed down through Moses and the Prophets. They will become aware of the Lord's existence: a new and deeper understanding will prevail. They will develop a desire "to learn the ways of the God of Jacob" and enjoy the attendant blessings. The "Seven Noahide Laws" will be heeded and enlivened by the Name: "I am the Lord".
Nations will come to respect the other commandments of the Torah, although these will not be binding on them. Once instilled with fear and love of God, nations will want to mend their ways and comply with these commandments. For instance, keeping Shabbath is both a commandment and a sign of the Covenant for the people of Israel. There is no commandment for nations to honor this day. Yet, they will come to observe it as a day of rest, out of respect for Israel, and because they will understand that it is the seventh day which has the blessing of the Lord8.
Nations will also acknowledge Israel's priestly function since the days of Abraham. Instead of pride, there will be awe; instead of hatred, love; instead of discord, consent. They will come to recognize what it means when Israel is called by the Name (שם, shem) of the Lord9.
The two disarrayed triangles, if seen as standing for Israel and the nations, will join into a harmonious six-pointed star.

Vermand, Spear Mount

Vermand, Spear Mount HexagramPicture of  Vermand, Spear Mount Hexagram is courtesy of Yair Davidiy
Interlaced star on a 4th century spear mount excavated in 1885 in Vermand cemetery, Northwest France. Exhibited in the New York Metropolitan Musuem.
Researchers think it belonged to barbarian mercenary soldiers employed by Romans.
You can read more on: The Vermand Treasure: A Testimony to the Presence of the Sarmatians in the Western Roman Empire by Deborah Schorsch
Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 21, 1986 (1986), pp. 17-40

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jerusalem: Mother Of All

Jerusalem Mother  Of  All triangleThe following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
However distant we may seem to be from unity and peace, we should not think that Yerushalayim, in the deep meaning of the word, is merely a future dream. Yerushalayim is actual and present, and everyone is confronted by it, or at least by the headlines it makes in the world press. By its very existence in both the material and heavenly planes, Yerushalayim is a cornerstone and a touchstone for the thoughts and deeds of all of us, as individuals and as nations. Moreover, it serves as the monument to a new generation characterized by understanding, harmony and peace. It is for this reason that "Zion" is not only an ethical/spiritual teaching, but also an expression of the unity of people, land and God, as revealed in the Torah.
What has been said so far with respect to the "daughter of Zion" (the people of Israel), is ultimately valid for all nations, for all are descendants of Adam.
Besides this common ancestor, men share much more in the teaching which comes forth from Yerushalayim than is usually visualized. While Christianity and Islam, whose adherents form more than half the numbers of Mankind, are generally seen as "daughter religions" of Judaism, very few people are aware of the Divine teaching's other influences on the world.
We read, for instance, that Abraham gave gifts to the seven sons he had from his second wife, and sent them to the East. Even if these gifts were only material gifts, as some scholars maintain, we can be certain that these sons carried with them the education they received in their father's house, and brought it to the countries of their destiny.
Then, King Solomon's wisdom became known so much so that "there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth...". We may safely assume that those who came to hear Solomon's wisdom conveyed to their peoples what they had picked up.
King Hiram of Tyre deserves to be mentioned specially in this context. While he was already "a lover of David all his days, he sent his servants unto Solomon" (1.Kings 5:1). They helped with their technical skills in the construction of the Temple, and on the other hand certainly learned from Solomon. One of the results was the development of what became known as the Phoenician writing. The latter had, then, its decisive impact on the Greek alphabet, as we saw already.
Another related event recorded in detail is the meeting of the Queen of Sheba with King Solomon. From the meeting, the Queen brought home not only what she'd learned from Solomon's wisdom, but, according to Ethiopian tradition, a child conceived by him. This child was to become Menelek I, founder of the Ethiopian dynasty which lasted until Hailie Selassi, the 257th descendant from Solomon.
We do not know whether Greeks, too, were among those who came to hear Solomon's wisdom but it is rather evident that some when during the period of the First Temple they got either directly acquainted with the Hebrew stile of writing, the Aleph-Beth which they transformed into their Alphabet (as hinted above in chapter 12), or whether they got this knowledge via the Phoenicians mentioned before.
Many centuries later, the dispersed tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel must have acted like another wave, spreading part of the teachings which came forth from Jerusalem. Prophet Hosea brings out this point when he compares Israel to Jezreel, God's seed, to be sown in the earth (2:24,25). It is remarkable that in the centuries following this dispersion, outstanding teachers appeared in different parts of the world. We may assume that they molded the Israelites' message into their respective national cultures, which had originated with Noah's three sons.
The famous maxim "Righteousness is the Foundation of the Throne", is not a Roman invention, as is often believed, but derives from the much earlier teachings of Kings David and Solomon.
After all these sparks, and many others, went out from Jerusalem and were scattered about the world, there ensued a turning towards Jerusalem which began with Israel's return to the Land of the Fathers in our days. This increasingly worldwide focus on Jerusalem, though often antagonistic, is part of the process of tikkun ha'olam, the restoration of the world to its Divine order.
Having once realized God's Kingdom on Earth, Jerusalem may well come to be regarded as the Temple, the Land of Israel as Jerusalem, and the rest of the Earth as Israel. Israel's role among the nations will then be similar to that of the Cohanim (priests) and the Levites among the people of Israel in the time of the Temple. That is, the nations will acknowledge and accept Israel's role as a "Kingdom of Priests" (Exodus 19:6; Is. 61:6).. While Israel is God's first born son, it will form with the other nations to be born afterwards the brotherhood of mankind under the fatherhood of the One Creator.
Modern Zionism has the same objective, for the regaining of the land is not its only goal; it has to be combined with the development of morality based upon the ethics and faith taught by the Torah. This building up of society, which Dr. Theodore Herzl set before us as a goal, is a perpetual process, the principle challenge for every generation. The idea of the early pioneers, expressed in the slogan "by building the country we build our true Selves", will be matched with the idea that "by building our Selves we build the country".
It is not that all the inhabitants of the Earth, or even of Israel, will become pure beings. Zionism is not a Utopian dream. Its thrust, expressed as faith and hope, is that the spirit of God's truth and righteousness will eventually replace the spirit of confusion, evil and destruction. Iniquity might still be apparent, but "it shall stop her mouth", and shall no longer be able to deceive.

Jerusalem at the Center of the World

Jerusalem at the Center of the World Magen DavidClover Map, drawn by Heinrich Bunting, 1585. Photo is courtesy of "pianoforte" From Flickr who shot it at Boston, Massachusetts, public library.

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem byRubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
Although the geographic connection between the "upper" and "lower" city is obvious, King David gave the link its spiritual dimension. In the time of the First and Second Temple, the Jewish people would literally ascend from the (lower) City of David to the (upper) Temple Mount, which could represent "Heavenly Jerusalem". Everything hinges on it, “earthly Jerusalem” as well as farmers and shepherds, East and West, North and South. A medieval map which shows Jerusalem at the center of the world, has much truth in it
We can well argue that Jerusalem has no other significance than the one given to it by King David.
This double nature of Jerusalem is also reflected in its Hebrew name, Yerushalayim. The ending -ayim usually indicates a dual form. However it is not really a grammatical ending; rather, it belongs to the root of the word שלם, shalem. Nevertheless, the pronunciation supports the duality. And indeed, has any other city proven capable, by its very existence, of uniting the different aspects mentioned above, foremost the earthly with heavenly?
Yet, the first part of the word Yerushalayim, yeru-, is the future plural of the verb yoreh, which can mean to shoot (an arrow), to teach, to point to, or to lay a foundation. Judging from these meanings, as well as from its turbulent history, we can hardly say that Jerusalem i s the city of peace, although its name is often so interpreted. Yerushalayim rather alludes to God's foundation, started ("shot off") to teach us peace, and pointing towards peace, the word peace being understood as not merely an absence of war, but a state of harmony between the earthly and the heavenly within and around us. Thus, the future term yeru expresses rather the hope for that peace.
The same idea is expressed by the word Zion. Its root gives origin to such words as to command, to distinguish, to erect. This means that Zion, by the command of the Most High, is a monument to His Name and Sovereignty. It also marks the spiritual focus within Man, and is an expression of his innermost spiritual longing. Thus, it is a token of the harmony and peace which result from the spiritual rebirth of which the Psalmist sings (in Ps.87):
The Lord loves the gates of Zion more
than all the dwelling places of Jacob...
But of Zion it shall be said:
'This one and that one were born in her';
for the Most High Himself will establish her.
The Lord records as He registers the peoples:
'This one was born there (Selah).

When we thus conceive Zion as the unification of the temporal with the Divine, and eventually of the nations with Israel, we may understand that no other symbol expresses this idea as accurately or as beautifully as our six-pointed star with its interwoven triangles. This symbol is justly named after King David, the founder of Zion, Messiah of the Lord).
All this may teach us that dividing Jerusalem, or dividing the country, cannot achieve peace. On the contrary.

The Bride Side of Life

The Bride Side of Life Jewish StarToday I stumbled upon an article Apostle Paul McAroy wrote on his website in 1998 about the [Christian] Meaning of the Star of David where he says that the 2 triangles represent the Bride of Christ and the 144,000 Jewish saints that have been saved. This Christian interpretation of the meaning of the Star of David goes along with Asher Eder's theory about Israel and the nations. Eder is mentioned as one of Paul McAroy's article sources.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Founders Of The Nation

The Founders Of The Nation Jewish StarThe following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
The double nature of David's struggles becomes even more obvious when we compare the term magen david with the term magen abraham5, the Shield of Abraham. True, the term magen refers in both cases to the Lord God.
The difference lies in the fact that Abraham received only the promise of the Land, and therefore had not actually been forced to fight for it (although, to be sure, he did not hesitate to engage in war in order to save Lot6), while David was forced into numerous wars in order to secure the country.
Consequently, the term magen abrahem has no corresponding graphic symbol; for God cannot be depicted by any image, not even by an abstract design. On the other hand, the Shield of David does not actually depict God, but rather the divine-human polarities in balance. In David's case, they include the land-people/God relationship.
An old Jewish tradition is worth mentioning here. King David asked why the Tanakh speaks of magen abraham, the Shield of Abraham, but does not mention the term magen david, the Shield of David? In the Divine answer, he was told that Abraham stood fast in all the temptations and trials while he, David, failed several times (as in his episode with Batsheva). Yet, while this was so, the Lord remained David's shield because of his penance.
King David's outstanding deed was the foundation of Zion - the balanced joining of the earthly and the heavenly under the sovereignty of the Creator. King David must have been aware that giving predominance to the earthly would result in mere nationalism, while overemphasizing the spiritual would pull the ground from under the people's feet.
So far, human history is indeed characterized by such ambivalence.
Throughout his life, David guarded this balance in his own person, restoring it by deep remorse and repentance whenever he disturbed it.
Being so human in all his affairs, he was at the same time extraordinary as psalmist, warrior, and statesman, so much so that in the Kabbalistic Tree, the sephirah malkuth (Kingdom) can be described by his nature.
David's aspiration to build the Sanctuary has yet another, even weightier implication. The Sanctuary is by nature the domain of the כהנים , the priests. By his readiness to hand it over to them, he relinquished in fact a big part of the power he would have had as an absolute ruler. His willingness to listen to priests and prophets is brought out several times in the Scriptures, the most known example being his acceptance of Prophet Nathan's rebuke. We may say that the Sanctuary served, besides its other functions, as a correcting agent in the nation's political system. Our graph, the hexagram, shows perfectly that this division of powers, indicated by the two triangles, results in harmony and unity if governed by the Lord God.
Although there is no historical or archeological evidence to prove that the six-pointed star was indeed David's monogram, the symbol shows the spirit of wholeness, and thus of holiness, as upheld by David.
There is one notable hint that the hexagram was known to David. The verses of seven of his Psalms are written in alphabetical order in the original Hebrew, and the themes of each reflect an order which follows a peculiar geometric pattern. The pattern of Psalm 145, perhaps most characteristic of David's thoughts, renders a perfect hexagram with a circle in its center.7
Taking all this into account, we can see now what David meant when he spoke of the Lord as his shield: a shield is immediately in front of whoever holds it. As he said (in Ps.16:8): "I have set the Lord always before me, for he is at my right [hand]. I will not be shaken."
However, David did not concentrate merely on God's protective power. The Lord was the content of David's life, so much so that he could give expression to this relationship in his songs of praise, where he describes Him by many exalting epithets, such as:

The Lord is my shepherd... (23:1);
the Lord is my fortress and refuge (18:3);
the Lord is my exaltation (59:17; 62:3);
the Lord is my strength (59:18; 62:8);
the Lord is my rock (18:3; 59:18; 62:8);
the Lord is my habitation (71:3);
the Lord is my portion (16:5; 73:26);
the Lord is my grace (144:2);
God is my exceeding joy (43:4).

This shows that the spirit of God was within and around David, guiding and protecting him like a suit of Divine armor. In this spirit, David "fought the battles of the Lord",8 and his men also kept themselves consecrated to God even when engaged in grim campaigns.9
Our symbol may also represent the founders of the nation: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. While the first six contributed jointly to the people, it was David who united all these contributions in his founding of Zion. Consequently, he is called King of Israel.
Our graph, the hexagram, can be applied to different situations of our lives. E.g. in previous chapters we read that its middle field can depict the visible world; or the tribe of Levi; and others. In the above context, we may well attribute to it the establishment of the Kingdom by David, with the six other founders symbolized by the triangles around the middle field.
The idea expressed by this design corresponds with that expressed in the "Kabbalistic Tree" (see chapter 7).

Magen David, The Shield Of David

Magen  David,  The  Shield  Of  David The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
Many see the six-pointed Star as King David's personal monogram. They point out that the name David in Hebrew is דוד , daleth-wav-daleth, which can also be read "daleth & daleth" (as the letter wav can also mean "and"). In the old-Hebrew script, used from about the 10th to the 6th Century B.C.E., daleth had the form of a small triangle, similar to the old-Greek letter delta . The combination of the two daleth into a six-pointed star could well express David's achievement in uniting the Northern tribes of Israel (Joseph) with the Southern tribes of Judah (Yehudah)under their one God; or his great aspiration to unite the earthly and the heavenly under the Lord's sovereignty.
All this is underlined by the Hebrew name of the symbol: magen david, translated as "Shield of David" or "Star of David".
Jewish tradition holds that a six-pointed star was engraved on David's battle shield, and that the six outer triangles represented the six aspects of the Lord's spirit: "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord".
An old Arab tradition, probably deriving from this, says David's battle shield itself was in the shape of a six-pointed star.
The deeper inner meaning of these traditions is that David, both in his personal and in his national struggles "set the Lord always before him", and was shielded by Him even when he failed. Correspondingly, David's weapons in securing the country included both the Divine virtues and the sword of battle.

Jerusalem / Zion

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass

This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version

Photo is courtesy of mharrsch who Photographed it at "The Holy Land Experience", Orlando, Florida and published it on Flickr.

The story of this most historic city begins in the days of Melchizedek, King of Salem, a priest of God the Most High, who according to Jewish tradition, was none other than Shem (Sem)1, one of the sons of Noah. Salem, now called Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), is the place where Abram-Abraham met Melchizedek.2
Since these remote days, Jerusalem became a focus for Abraham's descendants, and a counteragent to Babel. Yet there is more to it.
King David, following this Abrahamic tradition, confirmed Jerusalem as the city of acknowledgment and proclamation of the Lord as King over Israel and all nations.
We will better comprehend this proclamation when we realize the significance of Jerusalem’s geographical position. It is located right on top of a north-south stretching mountain range whose western slopes get good winter rain, and are fertile land for farmers, while its rather arid eastern slopes carry the shepherds with their flocks. The territory of the tribe of Yehudah comprises both parts; for, as the ruling tribe, he has also to balance the diverging interests of the farming and the shepherding societies and the respective cultures which they developed (Cain and Abel at the beginning of mankind’s history; and in our present situation, Christianity in the west and north of Jerusalem, and Islam in its east and south); and to establish peace based upon the Divine Law.
Thus, Jerusalem is indeed the apex of the Divine work of guiding and educating Mankind. The proper celebration of the Divine sovereignty on Earth is the main thrust to David's Psalms and of the teaching of the Prophets who came after him.
King Solomon, continuing his father's endeavors, built the Temple in Jerusalem as the House of the Lord, the visible dwelling place of His Name.3
Since the days of David and Solomon, Jerusalem has also been called the "City of the Sanctuary"4 or "Zion".5 These names imply that the earthly Jerusalem is the irrevocable and indissoluble base for the Heavenly Jerusalem. It is so for the benefit of all mankind.
This is strikingly transfigured in Jerusalem's topography, too. "Earthly" Jerusalem started out next to the Gihon spring at the lowest point of the whole area. It was built upon a small hill between the Kidron Valley6 and the Tyropean Valley (now nearly filled with rubble). This hill contained the "City of David", as Jerusalem was called after David's conquest.7 In fact, it is a protrusion (or ophel in Hebrew) coming forth from Mount Moriah. Geographically and geologically, Mount Moriah (also known as the Temple Mount) and the City of David form one unit, with the latter as the lower and the Temple Mount as the upper part. Figure 50a shows the topographical lines of the area; figure 50b, the walled City of David with the Temple Mount in the background, as can be seen in the 1:50 scale model outside the Holy Land Hotel (West), Jerusalem: