The “Kabbalah” is a familiar name, whose meaning is not always understood. It is a speculative tradition, dealing with the mysteries of God and Creation.
The Kabbalah is an interpretation of the five books of the Bible, (“Torah” in Hebrew), namely Law, or Teaching, and which make up the Pentateuch, in particular from the text of the “Vision of Ezechiel”.
It is a tradition of Judaism that appears from the time of the Second Temple. It it is based on the Revelation. A gift concerning the Nature of man, his origin and his future, this covenant is created by God and the people of Israel, chosen by Him.
Kabbalists associate word and alphabet. The 22 letters of the alphabet were engraved by and in the divine breath.
The city of Tsfat, also called Safed, is located on Mount Canaan at over 900 meters above sea level, and is the city of Kabbalah. It is one of the four Holy Cities of Israel, together with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias.
In 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella banned the practice of all religions other than Christianity, whereupon many Kabbalists and their followers fled to Safed.
It became a city renowned for its synagogues, with the names of Kabbalah scholars, some of whom lived in Safed. For example, Rabbi Isaac Louria, the Ari, who settled here in the 16th century. He developed a method how to study the Kabbalah, which is followed even today by all Kabbalists. His pupil Rabbi Joseph Karo wrote the book ” Choulhan Arouh ”, where the laws of Judaism are summarized by subject. Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz wrote the famous song with which the Shabbat begins: Leha Dodi.
To visit the Rabbi Abuhav’s Blue Synagogue is a delight. It is adorned with many symbols.
Inside a holy arch stands a sixteenth century Bible, which is taken out and read only on Yom Kippur, Shavuot and the Rosh Hashanah Holidays. The legend says, that if a person ignores this message, a misfortune will befall him within in the year.
The first letters of the three words: Kippur, Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah mean “Kasher” (kosher). It is also said, that in another holy arch, during the Ottoman period, the “Koran” was kept, a ploy that would have saved the synagogue from muslim attacks in times of tension ….
In this holy city, the mystical atmosphere is intertwined with many legends. Visitors enjoy the narrow passage in its alleys, surrounded by numerous colourful galleries of artists.
It is said that, when the Messiah will come from Meron, He will enter the Old City of Safed by “the path of the Messiah”, which has remained untouched until today.
Legend has it that the clean air of Safed allows a longevity of up to 120 years!
Berenice was born in Rome to Agrippa and Cyprus before Agrippa became king in 36 C.E. She bore the Roman name of Julia.
She was Herods’ great-great-granddaughter and only thirteen years of age at the time she married Marcus, the son of Alexander, Head of the Jewish Community in Alexandria, and nephew of Philo the philosopher.
With the death of Marcus in 44 C.E, Berenice became a widow at only sixteen. She then married Herod -her father’s oldest brother- and became Queen of Chalcis, a tiny principality in the Lebanon Mountains. She would retain this title even after her husband’s death.
Berenice had two sons by Herod: Hyrcanus and Berenicianus. She was widowed for a second time in 48 C.E, being only twenty years of age.
After Herod’s death, the Kingdom of Chalcis was given to Berenice’s older brother, Agrippa II. Together with his brother and sister, he moved into the new Kingdom’s Residence into close quarters.
Many sources indicate that Agrippa II and Berenice were often found together in official capacities. They would appear in public together, as when Agrippa gave his peace address to the people of Jerusalem just before the outbreak of the revolt against Rome.
The New Testament mentions Berenice’s presence with her brother at Paul’s trial, and in rabbinic literature, she is mentioned as the Queen alongside her brother, the King. In two sources this constant companionship is interpreted as incest.
Josephus claimed that rumors of the siblings’ inappropriate relationship led Berenice to seek a third match.She decided to marry Polemo, King of Cilicia, who had to be circumcised and undertake a Jewish lifestyle. However, this was not a successful marriage. She, later on, left Polemo and returned to her kingdom.
Berenice was present in Palestine during the outbreak of the Jewish revolt against the Romans between 66–70 C.E. Josephus Flavius described her as a solitary peacemaker, using all her strength in that difficult period of the preliminaries of the revolt. She had made a vow to be in Jerusalem at that time.As required by the vow, her hair was shorn and she walked barefoot.
She made her way to the Roman governor’s palace to ask Gessius Florus and demanded to desist from the violent activities he had undertaken against the Jewish population of Jerusalem. But her efforts were to no avail.
She finally joint venture with her brother to still the Jewish insurrection.
It was during this time that Berenice met Titus and fell in love. He was eleven years her junior.
After the revolt, Titus returned to Rome to assist his father in the government, while Berenice stayed behind in Judea.They would be reunited after four years when she and Agrippa came to Rome in 75.
She lived with Titus at the palace and reportedly acted as his wife in every aspect. This was the time she was at the height of her power and quite influential during this period.
However, being under public pressure, Titus had to restore his reputation for his people and sent her away. When he became Emperor in 79, Berenice returned to Rome but she was not welcome anymore. Titus died two years later.
Berenice was to be remembered as a ”little Cleopatra” in her aspiration to become the Empress of Rome.
The original name is ” Walled off ” Hotel. Its owner is none other than Bansky the” graffiti ” artist, who set his sights on the West Bank and especially on the separation wall of Bethlehem to make a work of art.
Oddly enough the name reminds us of another luxury hotel on the other side of the wall, the ” Waldorf Astoria Hotel”, which was built recently in Jerusalem.
Its ten rooms are decorated with Bansky arts, furnished with taste, humor, research and provocation. Very little light penetrates. The view, certainly the worst of all hotels all over the world, overlooks this famous wall of separation.
Numerous graffitis parade this wall and continue to recall the years of Intifada, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, nowadays an entrenched population that lives with a feeling of abandonment and isolation while being administered by the ” Palestinian Authority”.
Due to the seven types of fruits and grains, the main products of the land of Israel, it is mentioned in the Torah as :
“A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.
This is the first element needed to build Personality, the Spiritual and Intelligent side of a person
This provides animal feed, an important element for human existence.
A VINEYARD expresses Joy and Festivity
Life is made of moments of happiness which are celebrated by enjoying a good wine. ” The wine delights the hearts of humans ” Psalm 104-15
DATE HONEY symbolises a Good, Sweet, and Abundant life in the Land of Israel
In biblical Hebrew, the word for date palm is Tamar, a woman’s name evoking grace and elegance. The name is popular even today.
The FIG is the symbol of Celestial food
The fig tree is a Messianic tree and one of the first tree to bloom in February.
It has this peculiarity that none of its leaves are the same, like the image of Israel, or the Torah, where every biblical verse can have a different explanation.
THE POMEGRANATE is the symbole of Prosperity, Fertility and Beauty.
It has many seeds. The children of Israël should feel inclined to perform as many good deed (Mitzvoth) as the number of seeds of the pomegranate.
The OLIVE tree is the symbol of a Blessed and Happy family life.
It is also that of Longevity, Hope and of Peace … and is reputedly to live forever.
Beit She’an ” Scythopolis ” is certainly one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Israel.
It was one of the ten cities of the decapole located around the Jordan river, a strategic crossroads of 40,000 inhabitants in Roman times and destroyed in 749 CE by an earthquake, the beauty of its vestiges keeps impressing me at each of my visits :
- His theater (still used for events and shows),
- Its public hot baths (the most important found to date in Israel),
- The Cardo ” Palladius ” largely restored main alley adorned with magnificent columns,
- The ” Nymphaeum ” monumental public fountain, adorned with sculptures and water games.
- The Temple of Zeus, the King of the Gods whose crushed columns remind us of the relentless violence of this earthquake and of course many mosaics, some of which are exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,
- The magnificent reconstructed mosaic of the goddess Tyche, the Greek goddess of Good Fortune, holding the Horn of Abundance. It was stolen a few years ago, but a reconstruction was made and is exhibited on the site.
Dionysus was also the protector of Beit Shean, the God of grape harvest, vinification and wine, ritual madness and fertility.
Legend tells us that the nymph Nysa nourished him and raised him during his childhood.
The funeral of the former President of Israel Shimon Peres was held on 30 September 2016 in Jerusalem.
Many dignitaries from all over the world made a final tribute to this Great Man. Charles, the Prince of Wales, was among them.
At the end of the ceremony, which took place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Prince Charles went to visit the Russian Orthodox nuns of the St. Mary Magdalene convent on Mount of Olives, where they live in contemplation.
He brought with him a bouquet of flowers, picked from his Scottish residence’s garden, to lay on the grave of his grandmother, Alice of Greece, born Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip.
A visit of utmost importance….
But who was this Princess Alice of Greece?She was a remarkable woman.
During the Second World War, she had hidden a Jewish family in her own home. In 1994 she posthumously received, for her bravery, the title of :
“Righteous Among the Nations”
For this occasion a ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocauste Museum in Jerusalem, where the Prince Consort Philip was the guest of honor and he would
visit his mother’s grave on the Mount of Olives for the first time.
There is also a second Royal tomb to be found in crypt of the convent; that of the great-aunt of Prince Charles, the Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Princess Alice of Battenberg was born on February 25th, 1885 at Windsor Castle.
Queen Victoria, Alice’s grandmother, felt very close to the little girl and soon realises that her granddaughter suffered from congenital deafness. She was taught lips reading and was able to speack correctly. even mastering several languages.
At the age of seventeen, Princess Alice met Prince Andrew of Greece for the first time, and fell in love. The respective families marked reluctance due to Alice’s young age however the couple will be united and their marriage announced. They got married and separated a few years later but have five children together.
The princess gives birth to four girls and a boy.
In 1911, further to the murder of Alice’s stepfather and the tension due to the war in the Balkan, the Greek royal family fled into exile and settled in Lucerne in Switzerland.
Eventually the Princess would return to Athens in 1938 to remain there until the end of the World War II, helping the Red Cross and dedicating her life to the poor and the sick in field hospitals. She converted to the Orthodox religion and became increasingly mystical to the verge of insanity.
In 1949, she founded an order of orthodox nuns, which was inspired by the one created by her aunt, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, born princess of Hesse.
The princess attended the coronation of her daughter in law Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, wearing the outfit of her religious order.
In December 1967, following the “Colonels coup d’etat” in Greece, she had to leave her country again. She came to live in Buckingham Palace, near her family.
She died in London on December 5th,1969. and was buried in the chapel of Windsor Castle.
Princess Alice’s last dying wish was to be buried in Jerusalem.
In 1988, her remains were finally transferred to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, where she rests next to her aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia.