Monday, November 26, 2018

Narrowing Windows in Lego®

The windows of the Sanctuary Building in the First and Second Temples were built backwards — they were wide on the outside and narrow on the inside. In this post I show what that might look like in Lego®.

Monday, November 19, 2018

LEGO® Model of the Minor Sanhedrin Courthouse

Now that I finished revising the minor sanhedrin courthouse I used Bricklink Studio to put together a Lego® version as well. Even though the Lego® version is just for fun, it did bring to light an important Kessef Mishnah in Hilchos Sanhedrin that sheds light on the seating arrangement of the court.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Meet the Maker: Jbrick Comes to Baltimore!

It's not that often that I get to see Lego® and the Beis Hamikdash come together (outside of my own house, that is). Last week Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore was honored to host Yitzy Kasowitz of Jbrick and his Second Temple Lego® model. I stopped in to meet Mr. Kasowitz and see his impressive model for myself.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Supernatural Protection

The Temple was a place where miracles occurred on a daily basis. Although the physical structure of the Temple was taken from us, the supernatural essence of the Temple can still be accessed today.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Updates to the Sanhedrin Courthouses

In the last post I explained that something was not quite right about how I depicted the judicial scribes of the Temple's sanhedrin courthouses. Here are two updated images.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Standing Up for the Write Thing

I was revisiting my computer models of the Temple's sanhedrin courthouses when I came across a point that required further investigation. The Mishnah tells us that the sanhedrin had two court stenographers, on either side of the judges, who would record the proceedings. I included this detail in my model but I made what turned out to be an erroneous assumption about what these stenography stations looked like.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

LEGO® Model of the Chamber of Receipts, the website that hosts one of the best online Lego® marketplaces, recently released a new version of its building software. One of the features I like the best is a built-in photorealistic rendering engine that is sure to add some pizazz to your Instagram feed. I decided to give it a try on my Lego® version of the Chamber of Receipts.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Recoloring the Arch of Titus

Nearly every single statue, relief, or carving that we have from the ancient world appears in the natural color of the material used to produce it. Over the past 20 to 30 years scientists have used advanced instruments to detect tiny bits of pigment still discernible on the surface of these artifacts, leading to the realization that the ancient world was much more colorful than previously thought.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Glittering Golden Gift

This post contains the answer to last week's puzzle, a description of a handsome gift given to the Temple by a monarch, and some creative use of Lego® flexible tubing, all wrapped up in one.

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Beis Hamikdash Shape Puzzle

Stop question What object in the Beis Hamikdash was shaped like an octagon, made out of gold, and displayed prominently for all to see?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Lego® Shofar Box

The last post discussed the thirteen shofaros, or donation boxes, distributed throughout the Azarah for the collection of coins from the public. Here is a Lego® version built in minifig scale using only five pieces.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don't Blow It

We are taught that the ram's horn, or shofar, we blow on Rosh Hashanah has tremendous mystical powers. In the Beis Hamikdash they took advantage of a simpler and more practical aspect of a shofar: it makes a great anti-theft device.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Set of Three Mikdash Models in LEGO®

After building a simple Lego model of the Second Temple (more about that here) I decided to put together a set of all three Temples at the same scale. Although the First and Second Temples were quite similar, there were a number of differences between them, some of which can be seen in the models below.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Need for the True Blue?

It is widely known that techeiles (the blue dye) comes from a sea creature called the chilazon. Many hundreds of these animals had to be harvested from the bottom of the ocean in order to produce even a small quantity of techeiles, and the process of extracting and preparing this dye entailed using strong chemicals under carefully controlled conditions. This painstaking and complicated procedure made the price of techeiles exorbitant, and according to Rambam it may not have been necessary.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Power of the True Blue

The last four posts about techeiles were taken from a paper I wrote in college titled The Search for the True Blue. In that paper (Part 4) I had made an educated guess as to why kala ilan (a plant derivative) was not a substitute for true techeiles (from a mollusk). Just recently I read a more formal account of why this is so.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 4

Modern Production
Elsner's breakthrough was the cause of great excitement among those Jewish scholars involved in this field. As a result, the past fifteen years have seen a wealth of publications, both religious and scientific, on the implications of this newly-found tekhelet. Even so, tekhelet remained confined to the realm of the theoretical for many years. That changed in 1993 when a trio of individuals established the P’Til Tekhelet Foundation to provide the blue dye to the general public.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 3

The Science of Tekhelet
Since the publishing of Rabbi Herzog's findings the chemical pathway for the production of the dye precursors in mollusks has been elucidated.10 Inside the hypobranchial gland of the animal the colorless waste product indole is modified for eventual excretion. This pathway produces a number of molecules, depending on the species, which serve as precursors to the purple dye (Figure 4).

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 2

Jewish Scholars and Their Search for Tekhelet
There have been but two serious attempts to rediscover the authentic Biblical dye of tekhelet. The first came in the mid-1800s by Rabbi G.H. Leiner. Unaware of all the above history, Rabbi Leiner conducted his own search for the marine animal described in the Talmud, a search which lead him to the great aquarium in Naples.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Search for the True Blue — Part 1

Inspired by an interesting discussion I had over Shavuos, I am reprinting a paper I wrote for a college chemistry class (circa 1997) on the history and rediscovery of techeiles (tekhelet).

In recent years, Jewish scholars have taken advantage of modern analytical techniques to reexamine the ancient art of dyeing. The impetus behind this contemporary investigation is the possible revival of a certain practice of the Jewish religion which has been hidden for over 1300 years.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Coral Choral Service of the Temple

Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758) 4 King Solomon asked Hiram, King of the Phoenician region of Tyre, to provide almog wood for use in the construction of the First Temple. This material was precious and rare, it grew underwater, and was actually not wood at all.