Saturday, July 24, 2010

Today is the Sabbath.  Seems like we just had it.  But I was gone for a few days.  That made the week go by fast. I see on the internet and hear on TV about the Heat Wave that you are having.  Today was very pleasant in Jerusalem.  Today it was 84 degrees and the low this evening will be 62.  And that is with a breeze. There were even clouds.  I hadn't seen a cloud since the middle of June.  People this evening were wearing jackets and sweaters.  It's really not the cold. 

Today I walked the Old City Wall.  I had done one part the last time I was here.  This time I went the other way.  You get a different perspective when you look down into the Old City rather than always looking ahead of you.  I ended up at the Western or Wailing Wall.  I thought there would be more Jewish people there since it was the Sabbath.  It was pretty empty.  They must come at the end of Sabbath for their prayers. It's interesting to see how calm and mellow people are on the Sabbath.  But come Sunday it's back to the races.  Everyone for themselves.  It's such a contrast.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I made it to Sinai. Wow what a spiritual experience. I have my pictures on Picasa again. Here is a link to them.

A little background on where I went. St. Catherine's Monastery is the site of the Burning Bush where God spoke to Moses and told him to free the Israelites from slavery by the Egyptians. And during the Exodus from the Egptians gave us the 10 Commandments on top of Mt. Sinai.

The Monastery is located right at the foot of Mount Sinai. St. Catherine's Monastery is more than the burning bush or the Mount. It was built in the 4th century, it is one of the world's oldest monasteries and houses the second largest (after the Vatican) collection of codices and manuscripts, most of which are written in Greek, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, or Syriac. This is the smallest Diocese in the world and also one of the oldest continuous Christian Churches. The main church of the complex, was completed in 551 by Justinian, a Roman Emperor. It is now a Greek Orthodox Church and Monastery. I was not allowed to take pictures inside, so you will not be able to see any interior shots. In the year 628, Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks. It consists of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war. They still have the letter from Muhammad. And because of that, there is also a Mosque inside the walls. This helped it from being destroyed by different conquerors. Even Napoleon was here after he captured Egypt and assisted the Monks in their need with many gifts. The Ossuary or Skull House contains the skulls of 1400 years' worth of monks who have lived, prayed and died here. They are buried for two years and because of the desert there are only bones left after that. And they are taken into the house. Moses' Well is also here. This is where Moses met his wife for the first time and after the Exodus brought the Israelites here because there was water. It’s no longer used for drinking water but it is still used to water the Burning bush and other vegetation on the property. The roots of the plants stretch to the well. And this is also at the base of the Mt Sinai where people lost faith in God, created an idol to worship instead and then repented and followed the one God again.

After touring the Monastery and Museum, I climbed Mt. Sinai. 3.1 miles up and 3.1 miles down. I took the two different ways. Going up a steep path and then 750 steps straight up. Then I went down 3,750 Steps of Penitence. They are really not steps, but well places stones and boulders. What a spiritual journey. I can see why God picked this place to speak to his people again. It is breathtaking at the top. The top still gets covered by clouds.

So ends another adventure. Hope you enjoy the pictures. When you get to the page hit the slideshow and then F11 for full screen. You can change the time each picture is on the screen and also go backwards and forwards.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today I went to the Holy Cross Monastery.  It is a Greek Orthodox Church built over where they say the tree grew that was used for the Crucifixion of Christ.  It's an interesting story.  The Holy Tree, according to the tradition and the local paintings in the Monastery, was based on a triplet seeding (olive + cypress + cedar) that the Abraham gave to Lot. The reason Lot got the tree follows alond with this coming Sunday's Readings.  After the destruction of Sodom & Gommorah, there was only Lot and his daughters around.  They got Lot drunk and had relations with him to have children because all the men had died.  When he sobered up he was very sorry for what he had done.  He went to Abraham and asked for forgiveness.  That's when he was given the three branches to be planted.  If they grew, it would be a sign that he was forgiven of his sin. So, Lot planted the trees together at this site and watered it with waters he fetched from the Jordan river. The trees grew together and became one.  The tree was later used to create the Holy Cross on which Jesus was crucified. A room inside the Monastery marks the site of the tree.  To keep with this theme, I went to the Botanical Garden which was close by. The first picture is with Lot and the tree.  The second is the site where they say the tree grew.  If you click on the picture you can see the engravings of the trees and other events.

I'm going to Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine's Monastery tomorrow.  They are in Egypt.  So I will be away from internet access for awhile.  I'll resume my Blog when I get back later this week.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One of the items that I wanted to do while in Israel is to go to Mt. Sinai where Moses received the 10 Commandments and also the Monastery of St. Catherine.  The Monastery has been in existence since the 400's, 1600 years ago.  While here, I have discovered that it is difficult to go there from Israel.  Other countries it is a lot easier.  Israel still considers this a hostile and dangerous country so the country does not allow them entrance there.  Which is very strange since Moses gave them the Law, which is their entire religion. You can't rent a car and drive across the border.  You can't even rent a car and drive in parts of Israel, because it is a Palestinian Territory.  To make matters even more complicated, there is only one crossing that US Citizens can cross without a special visa.  And because there are many peopel crossing there, there isn't any transportation on the other side.  Anyways, I finally found a way to hopefully get there.  It's a little complicated but I think it will work.  That's basically what I did today.  Since I have gotten so much work done on my project, I'm going to reward myself with a trip.  I did go to Ben Yehuda Street today and did  some walking.  Have to stay in shape to climb Mt Sinai, etc.  The picture is the entrance to the pedestrian mall.