The Magdala Stone

Magdala StoneThe Jews of Rome and the authorities of the Vatican seem to have decided that if so many people believe that the Vatican has the Menorah in its possession, they might as well capitalize on this “urban myth,” as it has been described by Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. They decided to put together a joint exhibition, with part of it in the Jewish Museum of Rome, near the Great Synagogue, and the other part in the Vatican Museum in Vatican City. This reminds me of a meeting I attended years ago at the Vatican Museum, where the then director jokingly pointed to a modern Israeli chanukiyah and said, “See, we have the Menorah!” The myth will never die, but the decision to hold this exhibit, aptly entitled “Menorah: Cult, History and Myth,” has certainly been a wonderful result of its longevity.

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Remembering Louis H. Feldman


Louis FeldmanOn 27 Adar, March 25, the world’s greatest expert on the writings of the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, left this world at the age of 90. Professor Louis Feldman, a”h, taught Classics at Yeshiva University for over 60 years. If you would have asked him what his greatest accomplishment was, he would have pointed to his many students who occupied positions as professors, rabbis, and roshei yeshivah. Indeed, he was privileged to teach generations of those who went on to serve as rabbinic and intellectual leaders of the Jewish community.

Professor Feldman would not have bragged about his amazing contribution to scholarship and its importance for Judaic Studies and ancient literature and history.

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Unearthing the Shiloach Inscriptions

Hezekiah's Tunnel SiloamWhat’s the connection between a mishnah in Pesachim and Israel’s recent rapprochement with Turkey? What does a recent finding of an inscription in Yerushalayim from the times of Chizkiyahu Hamelech tell us about the Assyrian invasion of Eretz Yehudah in 701 BCE?

The mishnah in Pesachim (4:9) tells us about six things that Chizkiyahu did, three of which the Chachamim approved and three of which they did not. Among those that they did not approve is the fact that he “closed off the waters of the Upper Gichon.” This event is described directly in Divrei Hayamim Beis (32:30). There we learn that “It was Chizkiyahu who stopped up the spring of water of the Upper Gichon, leading it downward west of the City of Dovid.”

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