Caves of Refuge Discovered

A survey of caves in Israel has turned up 500 “caves of refuge”: places where Jews hid during the The First Jewish-Roman War (66-73AD). Most astonishing has been the discovery of 5 mikva’ot (ritual baths) in absurdly inaccessible caves on the Galilean cliffs of Arbel. The presence of mikva’ot indicate that members of the priestly class (kohanim) were among those hiding from the Romans.

“These people saw it as an imperative to build a mikveh in their shelter, in a cave on a steep cliff,” he said….

To reach this particular cave, the two researchers had to scale a cliff “with our fingernails,” as Shivtiel put it.

“The preparation of mikvaot in these refuge caves, sites that are difficult to access and are not meant for routine living but for times of distress, teach us the deep religious need for facilities for ritual purity,” said Shivtiel. “The preparation of mikvehs in these places is not amazing just because of the physical difficulty in digging them, but because in doing so one needs to cope with all the specifics of Jewish law that a mikveh demands, primarily a source of flowing water and an immersion area that has a specific volume.”

The mikveh builders at Arbel assured supplies of natural water by either building the ritual baths directly under still-dripping stalactites or by digging tunnels from the mikvehs to outside the rock wall, so that runoff from rainwater could accumulate.

Other findings that they and others have uncovered in the Arbel region show that these cave dwellers lived at subsistance level and in crowded conditions. They had water, food and light, as evidenced by the water-storage pits, niches for candles, and remnants of cooking pots and pitchers, but no more than that.

Shivtiel, who consulted with rabbis to identify the mikvehs, said they were distinguished from other water cisterns by three things: steps heading into the bath, a water supply from a natural source and enough water to immerse one’s entire body.

“Preparing a mikveh is beyond what is needed to sustain life,” Shivtiel said. “The Jewish group most likely to see it as an integral part of their lives would be a group that was part of the mishmarot kehuna [priests who did shifts at the Temple].”

Previous research has shown that when the priests found refuge in the Galilee after the destruction of the Second Temple, at least one group moved to Arbel.

Read the whole thing.

Aquinas & More on Boycotting Chinese Products

In a post on the shameful betrayal of Chen Guangcheng at the hands of the US government, the Catholic retailer Aquinas & More reiterates why they don’t carry products made in China:

Since Aquinas and More opened we have had a policy that we don’t buy or sell any products from China. We have posted many times over the years explaining why.

Some of our vendors have tried to convince us that this policy isn’t really wise and have offered many excuses why their stuff is “okay” to purchase including:

  • We inspect the factories and the workers are treated well
  • Our products may convert the factory workers
  • Costs are too high everywhere else in the world to produce these products so it’s better that we do it here to save a dime, a quarter, a dollar, ten dollars, etc. so people can still afford to buy them

The problem with all of this is that China is evil. The administration has a national policy of forcefully killing babies. They imprison Christians including priests and bishops without cause. Every cent we give them just makes the government stronger.

The current case of Chen Guangcheng is a prime example of how evil regimes operate, especially when supposedly good ones take the side of evil.

Read the rest, and good for them. It’s their business, and it can’t be easy to take this kind of moral stand. I’m ashamed at the way the State Department has handled the Chen case. If you don’t think the wild spending sprees of the past 12 years don’t have real-world consequences, then how do you explain Chen? We’ve become lackeys to our Chinese debt-masters, afraid to even defend an obviously just man against a tyrannical and murderous police state. The craven behavior of the administration in this case has been sickening.

10 Bullets [A Week of Time Wasters]

This week I’m posting five days worth of insidious browser-based time-wasters: little games that will make that coffee break vanish faster than a bottle of whiskey at an Irish wake.

10 Bullets doesn’t need a whole lot of setup. Your have rows of ships passing by overhead, a fixed gun battery firing straight up, and 10 shots. The interesting part is that each ship you hit will launch its own barrage of shots that can take out other ships. The first ship you hit will shoot two bullets on its horizontal axis. Any ships hit by those shots will launch 4 bullets on their horizontal and vertical axes. Any ships hit by those shots will launch 8 bullets, and so on and so forth. A well-timed shot will clear waves of approaching enemies for a long, long time before you need to shoot again. It’s all about time and patience. 10 Bullets does a lot with minimal graphics and only a single button control. The question is, Do you have the patience to wait for the perfect shot? Play it at