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Leah's BlogLeah’s Blog Parashat Chukat 2024

Leah’s Blog Parashat Chukat 2024

Chukat – July 2024- Leah’s Blog

The tangy scent of salt comes up from the lowest place on earth. Deep down below the lowest cliffs that face the Dead Sea lies a few places of ancient origin that have risen up from the past. Ein Gedi, an oasis of running sweet water that flows from the canyons above, today a kibbutz and field school. In its proximity many archeological monuments including sunken homes with yards revealed under the grey earth. A synagogue, coins minted with the insignias of Judean kings,  storehouse caves, pits, pools, burial caves, weapons, bath houses, barrels for brewing balms, and shards of houseware giving testimony to a flourishing economic period in this territory of Judah. Particular to the climate of Ein Gedi, perfumes and ingredients for incense were grown here. The rarest of extraordinary medical herbs were grown here in this unique setting. The balsam plant was renowned throughout the ancient world. Here was the source of the most expensive perfume, possessing miraculous curative properties. To make this one required special skills in cultivating and processing. Ein Gedi is mentioned in the book of Joshua (15-61) and has kept its original name. The book of Samuel has called it “”מצדות עיו גדי – the safe haven for King David, where he hid from Shaul. What Ein Gedi was most treasured for was the balsam that was prepared in a secret recipe that was covertly passed down to only those that were distinguished for such a job, a select few. The concoctions were so clandestinely made behind closed doors that on the mosaic of the floor of the ancient synagogue one can still read the inscription as clear as day that says: “Cursed is the man who reveals the secret”. When the Romans took over Israel, Marc Antony took Ein Gedi from Herod and presented it as a gift to Cleopatra who relished the balsam.  Rome rebranded Israel into the name “Palestine” and changed the name of Jerusalem into “Aelia Capitolina”. They decimated Ein Gedi on the way to Massada; however a small continual settlement remained there until the sixth century.

In 1949 The Alexandrioni unit of the IDF liberated Ein Gedi.

Today, the balsam is being made in Israel with the ancient recipe.

Another place nearby, Qumran- overlooking the Dead Sea. Caches of scripts and scrolls have us puzzled over what lies beneath the surface here. Perhaps vials of The Manna and the ashes of the Red heifer, the elixir of life. A woven basket, perfectly preserved in the hot dry cave nearby has us curious as to the origins of its owner. Perhaps the treasury of the Temple of Jerusalem is hidden here for safekeeping until the day comes. Six ancient date pits are found here; they were lost for centuries. Judean dates were recognized by classical writers for their large size, sweet taste, extended storage and medicinal properties. Radiocarbon dating has them from the fourth century BCE. Replanted in Kibbutz Keturah has them triving as in old days.

This land lives and breathes. All is surfacing. In Shilo, Red Heifers are kept now- at the site of our Tabernacle. The date honey pours.

Israel is at war now. Our enemies again come to try and decimate. Soldiers give their lives for us to live. Sprinkle waters of life, unearth the secrets. Can these bones live?

Incense, the antidote to death, made at the Dead Sea. Remedies for a new birth, a rebirth.

Reeking death seeks the calm perfume of balsam now, of expanding consciousness. Exploring past civilizations buried deep under rubble reveal lost civilizations. We, however  are not lost. We are home. Yes, these bones live! Something is shifting now. Rituals and scents have the power to birth. Israel wants to live again.

Shabbat shalom! Xoxoxoxoxox, Leah


  • Brandee Stacy

    Shabbat Shalom! ♥️

  • Martina

    Dear Leah, Shabbat Shalom for you and the ones you love. I pray every day for Israel. Stay strong 💪❤️🇮🇱

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