Tag Archives: belief

The High Priest ‘Cohen Gadol’

The High priest 'Cohen Gadol'

The High priest ‘Cohen Gadol’

According to the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, ‘Cohen’ means ‘devoted, dedicated’. It was the title given to Aaron, the brother of Moses of the tribe of Levi, as well as to all his male descendants.

Those priests were devoted to the service of the Temple of Jerusalem. As members of the Hebrew clergy they carried out the sacrifices, the Blessing of the People of Israel, as well as the implementation of the Divine Law under the authority of The Cohen Gadol (High Priest).

For Yom Kippur, ‘the Day of Atonement’,  the Cohen gadol was the only one allowed to meet with God by entering the holy of holies of the Temple, adorned with chains and bells to make sure that in case of emergency, it would be possible to take him out of the holy sanctuary without breaking the law.

The robe of the High Priest ‘Cohen Gadol’ was of the color azure, lined with gold bells and pomegranates, a tiara and a scarf. On his breastplate he wore 12 precious stones – each representing one of the 12 sons of Jacob and the 12 tribes of Israel.

These stones were:

  • Ruben the ruby
  • Simeon the topaz
  • Levi the emerald
  • Judah the garnet
  • Issachar the sapphire
  • Zebulon the diamond
  • Dan the opal
  • Nephtali the turquoise
  • Gad the crystal
  • Asher The beryl
  • Joseph the onyx
  • Benjamin the jasper

Since the destruction of the Temple, the title has continued to be passed on from father to son. In Orthodox Communities, the Cohanim are subject to special rules and laws.

 

The 12 pectoral stones of the High Priest

The 12 pectoral stones of the High Priest

The Kabbala and the mystical City of Safed

 

Safed -Kabbalist drawing

Safed -Kabbalist drawing

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!

 

 

Safed - Abuhav street synagogue

Safed – Abuhav street synagogue

 

 

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Mount of Olives

The “Day of the Lord, God will stand on the Mount of Olives”, said the prophet Zechariah.

The unique view from the Mount of Olives of the old city of Jerusalem, a place of pilgrimage and reflection for the many visitors coming during the Easter holidays.

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The Byzantine monasteries and the ”Lauras”

The ''lauras'' in the Judean desert January 2015

The ”lauras” in the Judean desert January 2015

 The lauras (laurae in Latin) are a type of monastery,
consisting of a cluster of cells or caves.
They gave their name to the whole monastic ideology,
whose fascinating remains are the main
evidence of early Christian monasteries.

IIn the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Churches, a  laura is a religious institution where the monks  (from the latin word monachus: ‘single,solitary’), lived five days a week as hermits, scattered in remote populated areas. Saturday nights,  sundays and holidays were community days, on which the monks gathered under the leadership of an Abbot to sing,  take their meals together and receive instructions. They then joined their hermitage for the week charged with a food basket (cooked food, wine, etc …) This is a semi-hermit mixed monastic lifestyle.

 

Mar Saba February 2015

Mar Saba Monastery February 2015

Sabbas the Sanctified was born in 439 AD in Cappadocia he directed the great Laura Mar Saba for almost 50 years. During all these years he expanded the site to accommodate the hundreds of monks who lived in the area and built walls to protect the community.

Saint Sabbas lived about 10 years in a cave near the future site of the monastery. He found in this remote location, near a river bed the Kidron, the perfect place to gather and fully live his solitude.

 

The Kidron in the Judean desert in February 2015

The Kidron in the Judean desert in February 2015

In the time of Saint Sabbas a total of thirteen monasteries were established in the Judean desert, some of them have become famous in particular the Monasteries of Saint Martyrius and Saint Euthemius. The number of hermits went from hundreds to thousands during this period.

He influenced and reshaped the customs and lifestyle of the monks. He was the first among ‘the fathers of the desert hermit’ who formulated a set of written rules on the conduct and way of life of the monks in the Judean desert.

Saint George Monastery Wadi Qelt Judean Desert

Saint George Monastery Wadi Qelt Judean Desert