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This paper reports on recent progress made toward the development of a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-compatible robot-assisted surgical system for closed-bore image-guided prostatic interventions: thermal ablation, radioactive seed implants (brachytherapy), and biopsy. Each type of intervention will be performed with a different image-guided, robot-based surgical tool mounted on the same MRI-guided robot through a modular trocar. The first stage of this development addresses only laser-based focal ablation. The robot mechanical structure, modular surgical trocar, control architecture, and current stage of performance evaluation in the MRI environment are presented. The robot actuators are ultrasonic motors. A methodology of using such motors in the MRI environment is presented. The robot prototype with surgical ablation tool is undergoing tests on phantoms in the MRI bore. The tests cover MRI compatibility, image visualization, robot accuracy, and thermal mapping. To date, (i) the images are artifact- and noise-free for certain scanning pulse sequences; (ii) the robot tip positioning error is less than 1.2 mm even at positions closer than 0.3 m from the MRI isocenter; (iii) penetration toward the target is image-monitored in near-real time; and (iv) thermal ablation and temperature mapping are achieved using a laser delivered on an optical fiber and MRI, respectively.
the word diaspora (greek for “scattering”) designates the members of a nation or ethnic group who live outside their nation's original territory. Sooner or later most nations generate a diaspora, though smaller communities tend to blend into their surroundings and lose their distinctive identity. A Jewish Diaspora has existed since the Babylonian Exile, if not earlier; in fact, since early in the Common Era, a majority of world Jewry has lived outside the Land of Israel. No history of the Jews or of Judaism is complete without an examination of this ancient widespread phenomenon.
When the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, they displaced its entire population and settled the land with foreigners who had similarly been removed from their homes. The ultimate fate of these Israelite exiles has never been determined. They probably mingled with the peoples of the territories where they were settled and lost their national identity (this was the Assyrians' purpose), though some may have wandered back and merged into the surviving kingdom of the tribe of Judah.
The fate of the Babylonian exiles of 597 and 586 was different. The first set of transfers took place about ten years before the final defeat. This earlier group of exiled leaders naturally stayed in touch with their homeland, because Judah remained an independent if subjugated kingdom. In this way a pattern was created that the second, larger exile group could simply continue.
in 104 bce, the hasmonaean high priest john hyrcanus was succeeded by his son Judah Aristoboulus; after only one year, Judah himself died and was succeeded by his brother Alexander Jannaeus. One of these brothers – it is not clear which – began using the title “king of Judaea.” The kingdom lasted only a brief while – it was abolished under Roman occupation in the year 63 BCE – but these years represent a crucial interval in the history of Judaism.
The Maccabean state began insecurely. Over the 130's BCE, King Antiochus VII sat on the Seleucid throne. The last vigorous king of that dynasty, he barely missed reconquering the newly independent Judaea: Antiochus briefly reasserted royal authority over the territory but was unable to sustain his control. After that, the Jewish territory slowly expanded until finally (and briefly) the Kingdom of Judaea became a regional power in its own right, capable of influencing events throughout the region, sometimes even the royal domains of Syria and Egypt themselves.
That growth was propelled by an increasingly aggressive military policy. The Maccabean brothers, starting with Judah himself, had occasionally expelled the previous inhabitants of a border region and replaced them with Jews: the resolution installing Simon as high priest had specifically praised him and his brother Jonathan for this accomplishment.
the following sketches do not offer biography in the usual sense of the term, because they cannot be grounded in careful analysis of available source material. Rabbinic literature cannot easily be used for biography for the same reason that biblical narratives cannot easily be used as sources of history (see Chapter 1). Like biblical narratives, the stories provided in rabbinic literature receive no corroboration from any other body of material. They can be read as distillations of rabbinic memory, that is, as stories about distinguished predecessors that later rabbis preserved and told. But they must be read as stories, not archival records of historical incidents. Stories change in the retelling. Stories are preserved because later narrators find them interesting or useful or valuable, but later narrators' interests and values affect the way they are told. Surely there is historical information lurking in these narratives, but that information may less concern the people described in the stories than the later narrators who preserved them, and modern readers will not always be able to trace the path that led from the former to the latter. All this, as noted, can be said about the narratives of scripture as well.
However, with rabbinic narrative a further complication arises as well: very often different rabbinic documents, or even different passages in the same document, contain parallel versions of a single story, versions that may differ in numerous significant details or even in the basic presentation of the episode they appear to describe.
when bar kokhba's rebellion was over, judaea was once again a conquered territory under military occupation. In Roman eyes the inhabitants were defeated enemies with no rights at all, and the victors could have treated the defeated Judaeans in any fashion that they wished: mass exile, total enslavement, even (had the Romans seen any point in this) outright extermination. None of these terrible things occurred, but the situation was dire just the same. Many lives had been lost, and many Judaeans had been captured for the slave market. For the last few years of Hadrian's reign a terrible suppression of Judaism raged in the old homeland. Those who engaged in public teaching of Torah were put to death, often barbarously – the most famous martyr was the venerable sage Akiba ben Joseph – and other traditional Jewish practices were banned as well. The emperor died after a short while, in 138 CE, and his successor quickly ended the persecution, but the memory of this oppressive time lasted for generations.
As stability returned, however, the Romans prepared yet again to restore some form of Jewish self-government in the subdued territory. The Romans were probably guided by the awareness that the Jews remained numerous and were famous everywhere for their determination to follow the Laws of Moses. Such a people could not easily live under direct foreign control: no outsider could understand the Torah and its ways in the necessary depth; any outsider would eventually do something that offended them and begin a new cycle of resentment and violence.
the jewish religion (judaism) emerged out of the writings of the Hebrew Bible, but it is not actually to be found in those writings. Judaism is a religion that worships God through words – prayer, sermons, the reading of scripture, and the like – in buildings called synagogues under the leadership of learned rabbis. The Bible knows something of prayer but nothing of the rest: the Bible portrays a religion centered on a single building commonly called the Temple and led by hereditary priests who worship through actions – elaborate sacrificial rites and other ceremonies of purification and atonement. The transition from that earlier religion to one that modern people would recognize is the story line of this book.
Almost all our information about the early parts of this story comes from the pages of the Bible (see “What Is in the Bible?”). The Bible is actually not a single book; it is an anthology of materials that were written over a span of many centuries – perhaps as much as 1,000 years – in two different languages and in at least two different countries. Not surprisingly, its writings show a variety of styles and a variety of outlooks on many important questions (see Chapter 2). This diversity of content allowed later readers to find many different messages in its pages and to apply those messages to the great variety of situations that they faced.
a few centuries after the rabbis began their work, the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion. This huge transformation did not occur overnight, but nevertheless it was shocking. The Jews had been one ethno-religious group among a great many, each worshiping its own collection of divinities (of course, the Jews' “collection” was smaller than the others); now everyone worshiped the same God (in fact, they said it was the Jewish God!), and the Jews alone remained outside the new consensus. Over the fourth and fifth centuries, the evermore powerful Church put an end to all other forms of worship, the ancient religions of Greece and of imperial Rome itself among them: only Judaism remained. A religion claiming to be the very fulfillment of Judaism had swept the world, and only the Jews themselves refused to acknowledge its claims. The people of Israel had become the only non-Christian minority in a newly Christian world.
To understand the background of this development, it is necessary to look back to the beginnings of Christianity. If Christianity began as a movement among Jewish followers of Jesus, how did it become a religion in its own right, with a largely non-Jewish membership? This development, wholly unexpected from the Jews' point of view, was largely the product of one man's teaching. At its earliest beginning, the movement was fiercely opposed by a man with the biblical name Saul, by his own description a dedicated Pharisee who could not abide the teachings or the practices associated with the followers of Jesus.
the following pages present three extended passages from the Babylonian Talmud. These extracts were not placed in boxes within the text because they are too long, but they should be read in connection with the description of the Talmud to be found in Chapter 9. These texts were chosen because each represents an important feature of the talmudic enterprise: interpreting older texts, establishing the law, using narrative to explore theology. Each translation is followed by a brief commentary in italics indicating some characteristic features of the text.
mishnah: From when [may people] recite the evening Sh'ma? From the hour that the priests come in to eat of their teruma-offering, until the end of the first watch; [these are] R. Eliezer's words, but the sages say, Until midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says, Until the first light of dawn….
gemara:… The Master said: “From the hour the priests come in to eat of their teruma-offering.” Now when do priests eat teruma-offering? From the hour the stars come out. So let him [straightforwardly] teach “from the hour the stars come out”! [By teaching the law obliquely] he teaches us something extra by the way: Priests eat teruma-offering from the hour the stars come out.
And this teaches us [in turn] that [need for] an expiation-sacrifice does not disqualify [a priest from eating teruma], as it is taught: “And when the sun sets he shall be clean” (Leviticus 22:7).