Reflections from Rabbi Waxman
Still on Jerusalem Time
When I came back from Israel a week ago, I neglected to re-adjust my watch to Eastern Standard Time. Indeed, when we spoke on Saturday night with our friend Jan who is out on the West Coast, I was still on Jerusalem time. And while speaking with her we spoke of being in a Jerusalem frame of mind. And even now, several days later, I have yet to switch back. However, having to deduct 7 hours each time I look at my watch is awkward and so after a bonus week of wearing a watch on Jerusalem time it will be time to switch back. (Though If I wait until Sunday, the difference will be only 6 hours: much easier addition or subtraction. Then again, Israel switches over at to Daylight Savings Time at 2 a.m. on Friday the 28th.)
What I probably need is a watch with a secondary face set to Jerusalem time, along with a mini-compass that will point in its direction. Whether or not we set our watches to Jerusalem time, Jerusalem remains a central focus of Jewish life. We face Jerusalem in prayer. (Incidentally, if one is in Jerusalem, for example, in sections south of the Old City, such as the German Colony or Baka, one faces north—it should be a little east of north to be precise--.) At the end of Yom Kippur and our seders (coming soon), we conclude by declaring “L’shanah HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim, next year in Jerusalem.”(Sarrae takes this declaration seriously, and we have managed to be in Israel 7 times since we married 8 years ago.) So the idea of being Jerusalem focused is rooted in our tradition.
Practically this translates into being up on the news out of Jerusalem and out of Israel as a whole; that such news is not relegated to the periphery of our consciousness. It means, for example, that we have been following the so-called Haredi draft bill, which comes to the Knesset floor next week, along with the protests against it, including the 300,000-strong prayer rally held in Jerusalem on Sunday. It means that what we are aware of what is happening at the Wall, including the latest developments, wherein the government secretly has negotiated with an outside Orthodox entity to take over management of the areas south of the Kotel plaza, including the so-called Kotel Masorti, the area designated for egalitarian prayer, and which therefore has generated a lot of pushback from our Israeli counterparts. It means that we are informed of such developments as the re-development of the old Jerusalem train station, which has been transformed into public space along with shops and restaurants, similar to Faneuil Hall in Boston, as well as of the Jerusalem Marathon, which Mayor Barkat, launched a few years ago. These latter developments are part of an effort to re-imagine Jerusalem: not only as a holy city, where the ultra-Orthodox dwell, but one in which other Jews might find it comfortable to reside, as well.
Through the ease of the internet, and e-subscriptions to The Times of Israel or The Jerusalem Post, let alone Shalom TV and its re-broadcast of News from Israel, it is easy to stay informed about the large and small issues of the day that affect Israel, and often by extension us, as well. Centuries ago, the Spanish Hebrew poet Yehudah HaLevi wrote, “Ani BaMaarav, Vleebee BaMizrach, I am in the west, but my heart is in the east.” Our bodies may remain here, but our hearts and minds need to focus on Jerusalem to the east.
Chadashot MeYisrael: News From Israel
Targeting Ovarian Cancer:
A New Technique in the Offing
One of the most difficult cancers to treat is ovarian cancer. Standard delivery systems are imprecise. The chemotherapy is almost immediately ejected by the cancer cells, thereby severely damaging adjoining healthy organs, while leaving the tumor cells intact.
Professor Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Cell Research and Immunology has proposed a new strategy to tackle an aggressive form of ovarian cancer using a new nanoscale delivery system. Peer and his team—two from his lab of nannomedicine and two from the University’s department of chemistry—have devised a cluster of nanoparticles called gagomers, made of fats and coated with a kind of polysugar. When filled with chemotherapy the drugs accumulate in the tumors, producing dramatic therapeutic results.
Unlike in traditional therapies, where the tumors quickly become resistant and soon repel the drugs, this system targets the cancerous cells, with less toxicity to surrounding healthy organs. The initial study was published last month and Peer’s team saw a 25-fold increase in tumor-accumulated medication.
Impelled by the death of his mother-in-law to ovarian cancer at the age of 54, Peer offered the following reflection on his efforts: “At t the end of the day, you want to do something, natural, simple and smart. We are committed to try to combine both laboratory and therapeutic arms to create a less toxic, focused drug that combats aggressive drug-resistant cancerous cells.” The hope is that within a few years the efforts of the lab can be taken to the level of clinical trials.
A Comment on the Weekly Torah Portion
The portion of Vahkirah (Leviticus 1:-2:16) is read this Saturday, March 8th.
1:1 The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying.
Rabbi Bunim of Peshicha of Blessed Memory comments on the fact that the first word in the portion is written with a “small Alef.” Our master Moses wasn’t impressed by all of his lofty achievements, rather he remained humble of spirit. He was similar to the ordinary person who stood on a high roof, to whom it would never occur that he should be prideful because he was so high, for he knew full well that it wasn’t’ as a consequence of his height, rather that it was the roof that elevated him. So, too, our master Moses, though he knew about his exalted status, was always sure that these virtues were not innate, rather that that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, had granted them to him, and hence he did not enter the Tent of Meeting until he was called there [by God]. (Alexander Zusha Friedman, Mah’yahnah Shel Torah: Vayikrah. Rabbi Simcha Bunim Bonhart of Peshischa (Przysucha, in Poland) was born in 1765 and became one of the main leaders of Hasidism in Poland. He studied in the yeshivot of Mattersdorf and Nikolsburg before being introduced to the Hassidic world through his father-in-law. He became a disciple of Rabbi Yisroel Hopsztajn, the Maggid of Kozhnitz, and then later of Rabbi Yaakov Yitczchak of Lublin, known as the Chozeh of Lublin, the Seer of Lublin. He was also associated with Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz known as the Yid HaKadosh, the Holy Jew. After the death of the Yid HaKadosh, most of his Hasidim followed Rabbi Simcha Bunim as their rebbe. Not wanting to take up a rabbinical position, Rabbi Simcha Bunim supported himself as a pharmacist. At a later stage he became an agent for Temerl Bergson, a wealthy businesswoman who supported many of the Hasidic leaders of her time. Among Simcha Bunim’s noted disciples were Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, the Kotzker Rebbe, as well as, Rabbi Yitschok Myer of Ger, author of Chidushay HaRim, and Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izhbitz, author of May HaShiloach. He died in 1827.)