Monday, 13 February 2012

Neot Ketuvim

      Ne’ot Ketuvim is a beautiful park dedicated to the botany of the bible. 600 species of plants mentioned in the Bible were imported and made to grow here; quite a task being that water is VERY scarce in Israel. Today our JC crew spent a beautiful, sunny, 70 degree afternoon experiencing the life of the Bible. I say “experiencing” because on a typical field trip we simply keep our earphones plugged in. Today-we got to be shepherds, cooks, botanists, and scribes!

            The shepherd. King David, Abraham, and Moses had this occupation, and Christ is referred to as the “Great shepherd”. So naturally how do we learn about that? Herd sheep of course!! The best way is to walk behind while gently guiding them in the right direction. Combine the most well-trained sheep in the country with a 2:1 people/animal ratio-it went great. However a typical shepherd cared for a flock of ~200 on his lonesome. A rewarding life, but a hard one.

            Hyssop. “…they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth,” John 19:29. Jesus is on the cross at this point, and I always wondered what on earth that was. Hyssop is a plant with a strong herby scent. After it dries for a few weeks, you crush it up until it looks like Texas sand (translation: an unattractive color and hard haha). It is used to treat skin conditions, especially leprosy. Today bags of hyssop, or zatar in Arabic, are sold everywhere as a spice. We pour olive oil onto a pita, then sprinkle it on top. Tasty!
Crushing the hyssop leaves

            Scribes. No, this isn’t nature filled, but rich in culture and tradition? Oh yeah. A Jewish scribe sat writing beautiful Hebrew letters using a quill for us while a translater spoke about the art of copying the Torah. Completing one Torah takes about one year and so is VERY expensive. When synagogues do get one, a huge celebration takes place. Only paper from kosher animals hides’ can be used, the scribe must be clean when writing torah, and when you mess up, the word is cut out but not thrown away. Any writing which uses the name of God or is spiritually related can never be thrown away, even the “trash”! Instead it goes into a book cemetery. At the Western Wall thousands of prayers are stuffed in-between the rocks, and a special group comes in to put them all in bags and bury them! Every detail about the Torah has significance. Each page has 42 lines, because Moses was on Mt. Sinai 40 days + 2 for travel time. The beginning letter of the book opens toward the left (remember Hebrew is read from l à r) to signify the beginning of everything begins here. Tibia hit the nail on the head when he sang “Tradition!”  

A Jewish scribe reading a scroll over 200 years old!

He wrote Welcome in Hebrew for me!! Notice how straight the letters are without any lines. The rosin is from an almond tree. It is used to make ink so it sticks on the page.

1 comment:

  1. How exciting to experience all the traditions!! I love reading your blog and you have an email coming soon:) Love you Danners!