Monday, September 21, 2009

Things You Can Find in Your Backyard

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi was a disciple of Rebbi. Rebbi was the editor of the Msihna and of the last generation of the Tanaim, the scholars of the mishnaic era, and Yehoshua was of the first generation of Amoraim, the scholars of the Gemara; this means he lived in the third century. He is kown to have taught at the academy of Lod; late in life he moved north and taught at Tiberias.

Among his teachings is the poignant observation - given the horrible destruction of the previous two centuries - that empires come and go but the Jews are always here.

A few months ago Mitch Pilcer found him in his backyard.

If you're familiar with the bed&breakfast scene in Israel, you've probably come across Mitch and his Zippori Village cottages. If you're not, it's never too late to start. I warmly recommend. He's something of a character, is Mitch, all the more reason to drop by for a visit. He's been building his guest cottages for years, piece by piece, and while digging the foundations for an addition he stumbled across the burial cave of one Yehushua ben Levy.

Maariv has the story, which is as complex as you'd expect. The Haredi say it can't be since Yehoshua was one of ten righteous Jews who have over the centuries been transported straight to heaven and have no graves (the most famous was Elijah). The professors claim they've already identified the grave of Yehoshua his wife and his daughter, about 10 miles to the west of Zippori, so this fellow must have been merely a namesake. The archeology establishment says Mitch had no right to go digging on his own in such an unauthorized way, and how dare he; they've hauled him before the courts. Mitch himself says now he's going to have to pave a parking lot for all the awe-struck visitors, and this is going to be bad for business since he caters to people seeking nature and serenity.

Pretty awesome, if you stop to think about it.

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