May 16: Biblical serpent

"I was amazed to read that the symbol used by the IDF Medical Corps is attributed to Greek mythology. I find this unlikely since there is a biblical source for the symbol."

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Biblical serpent
Sir, – I was amazed to read in the report on the new exhibition at the Tower of David Museum (“Medicine over the millennia in the Holy City,” Health & Science, May 11) that the symbol used by the IDF Medical Corps is attributed to Greek mythology. I find this unlikely since there is a biblical source for the symbol.
In Numbers 21:8, after deadly serpents attacked the Israelites in the desert, we read: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.”
Moses made this from brass and it was effective.
I have a picture of my father in the uniform of the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II. In the best Judeo-Christian tradition, on his headgear is a brass serpent on a pole.
Keep it ours
Sir, – I have heard that Israel might consider handing over David’s Tomb on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion to the Catholic Church. Several reasons compel us not to.
After 1948, Jews were not permitted access to the Old City. They flocked to Mount Zion to glimpse the Western Wall and pray at David’s Tomb. Because of winning the Six Day War, in which many Jews sacrificed their lives, we now have free access to our holy sites (except for the Temple Mount, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which accommodates Muslims on their holy days, when Jews are not permitted entry).
The Jewish people has a history of tolerance of other cultures and religions that those cultures and religions don’t necessarily share.
Under Israeli rule, Mount Zion hosts Jews, Christians of all denominations and Muslims. If David’s Tomb is given to one Christian denomination, the area’s peaceful status could change. Consider too that Catholics, in accordance with their beliefs, would add statues of saints and perhaps even convert David’s Tomb into a church. This would make it impossible for Jews to pray there.
The Israeli government should think about the consequences of giving away holy sites and land to foreigners. It would make it seem that we don’t have a right to a Jewish land because we don’t value it.
By the way, has the government thought about asking the Vatican to return our artifacts and holy manuscripts?
The good Israeli
Sir, – We often do not pause to smell the roses, and we rarely applaud goodness. But having just returned from my first trip to Israel – an awesome two-week experience, overwhelming but not surprising – I am grateful to and will never forget Udi Merioz of the Blue and White Gallery in Jerusalem’s Old City.
While shopping there I left behind my handbag containing my passport, wallet, credit cards, etc. Mr.
Merioz found the handbag.
He emailed me and telephoned my home and office numbers in Canada.
With the time difference he couldn’t leave a message with anyone, so he persisted, phoning different hotels. Security at my hotel telephoned to advise me that I had left my handbag at the gallery. I didn’t even know it was missing.
I jumped into a taxi and rushed to the Old City, finding Mr. Merioz standing outside the gallery. It was long past his closing time but he felt I would show up. His honesty, concern and diligence added to my Israeli experience – unforgettable.
Udi, I can only say thank you, but all Israel should be proud of you!
CORRECTION The article “Lipman visits recently vandalized Conservative synagogue in J’lem” (May 15) incorrectly identified the synagogue. It was Kehilat Moreshet Yisrael on Agron Street in central Jerusalem.
We apologize for the error.