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During weekly protest near town of Modiin Illit, Arab protester sends small child towards IDF soldiers, tells them to shoot his son. For nearly a decade, residents of the villages of Nilin and Bilin, located near the haredi town of Modiin Illit, have held fiery, often violent demonstrations against the construction of the security fence every Friday. The demonstrations, which often include stone-throwings, draw anarchists and opponents of the Jewish state from around the world. While provocations against soldiers and Border Police are common, this Friday, one Arab participant attempte...
Rabbi Bentzion Yaakov Wosner, Av Beis Din Shevet Halevi Monsey-Beit Shemesh, has come out with a second letter in support of the Crown Heights Eruv, laying down the Halachic basis for its validity, and going so far as to claim that “it’s impossible that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was opposed to the construction of an Eruv in Crown Heights, and that anyone who says so is being deceitful.” A few weeks after the completion of the Crown Heights Eruv, during which several Rabbonim – including the members of the Crown Heights Beis Din, headed by Rabbi Avrohom Osdoboa, and Rosh Kollel Rabbi Yosef Heller – came out in fierce opposition to it, Rabbi Wosner released a letter in support of the authenticity of the Eruv and in defense of those who use it....
Washington -  President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation passed by Congress two weeks ago will require most food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone that indicates whether the food contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The Agriculture Department has two years to write the rules, which will pre-empt a Vermont law that kicked in earlier this month. Congressional passage came over the strong objections of Vermont’s congressional delegation. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch argued that the measure falls short, especially compared with the tougher labeling requirements in their st...
Gaza Strip - Earth movers dig into sand dunes on land where once Jewish settlements stood — prime real estate that the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas group hopes will ease its worsening financial crisis. Hamas has begun handing out plots of the land to 40,000 civil servants loyal to the Islamic militant group, to make up for millions of dollars in salaries it owes them for the past two years. The land giveaway is the latest sign that Hamas is struggling financially after almost a decade of uncontested power in the coastal strip. Gazans grumble about lack of jobs, constant electricity shortages and a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has confined the territory’s 1.8 million people to the tiny strip. The World Bank says unemployment is 38 percent. Since 2014...
"We recently called HATZALAH because my husband collapsed and we didn't know what to do. They responded within 6 minutes and took such good care of him," Mrs Kaplan, our family friend, told me‎.  Who in our community has not been helped by HATZALAH? I remember when my little brother hit his head on a doorknob and couldn't move. We had to call HATZALAH and they took such good care of him. They even gave him a stuffed animal to help him feel calm! HATZALAH EMTs are always ready to run and administer medical care at a moments notice. This summer there are new HATZALAH members who don't have their own AED. As my brother who just took Project Ezra's CPR ‎class tells me, an AED is an Automatic External Defibrillator that helps jump-start the heart in case of a h...
New York -  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a 6- percentage-point lead over Republican rival Donald Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll with new wording that was released on Friday, the day after she formally accepted her party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 election. Nearly 41 percent of likely voters favor Clinton, 35 percent favor Trump, and 25 percent picked “Other,” according to the new July 25-29 online poll of 1,043 likely voters, which overlapped with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The poll has a credibility interval of 4 percentage points. The presidential tracking poll reflects a slight change of wording from previous surveys, replacing the “Neither/Other” option given to respondents with...
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Brooklyn, NY - A bride-to-be says New York City police officers staged a phony traffic stop for her fiance, who wanted an unusual setting for his proposal. Sorah Oppen tells the New York Post she was riding in boyfriend Yehuda Coriat’s car Wednesday afternoon in the Far Rockaway neighborhood when they were pulled over and told they were suspected of transporting weapons and drugs. A friend’s video shows officers standing by as the couple opened the trunk, which had balloons and flowers. Then Coriat proposed. Oppen says the officers weren’t on duty and staged the scene as a favor after one of the couple’s friends asked. The New York Police Department didn’t immediately have information Friday night on whether the officers were off-duty and what polic...
Brussels - A man in Belgium has been charged with attempting to commit “terrorist murders” and participating in a terror group and his brother has been released without charge, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced Saturday. The prosecutor’s office said a 33-year-old man identified only as Nourredine H. and his brother Hamza H. were taken in for questioning on suspicion of plotting a terror attack following police searches Friday evening of seven houses in the city of Liege and the Mons region. Belgian prosecutors said late Saturday that Nourredine H. was charged and his brother was freed. Officials said no further information would be released. The police searches were carried out at the request of a magistrate specializing in terrorism investigation...
Daily Halacha
Asara B'Teves

(On) the 10th of Tevet  Nebuchadnetzer, the King of Babylon, reached Jerusalem,  and laid siege (to the) ramparts, which lead on to the destruction. (KSA 121:3)

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PA chairman meets Kerry and French counterpart in Paris, says any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe. Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said that any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe and under international supervision. Abbas made the comments after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris, reported the AFP news agency. Abbas also held talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the prospects of achieving a two-state solution, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said, describing both discussions as "very constructive". "We need a timeline for the negotiations, we need a timeline for the implementation, and we need an international framewor...
Washington - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says opponent Hillary Clinton and other Democrats “are trying to rig” the fall debates by scheduling two of the events opposite NFL games. The football league has complained to him about the debate schedule in a letter, the billionaire says. The NFL and the Commission on Presidential Debates on Saturday rejected both of Trump’s assertions. A spokesman for the NFL said the football league didn’t send such a letter to Trump. The independent, nonpartisan commission said that no political party or campaign was consulted when the dates were selected last year. In an interview for ABC’s Sunday show “This Week,” Trump was asked if he would accept the commission’s debate schedule....
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Pinchas - Finding One’s Unique Purpose

“Hee’n’nee no’sain lo es bree’see shalom ’  v Behold – I give hime My covenant of peace"  Numbers 25:12

Rabbi Yaacov Haber shlit”a, writes regarding this week’s parshah that the lesson of Pinchas is to find our moment, to find our unique purpose in life – and not be afraid to act upon the discovery, letting nothing hold us back. When we achieve this lofty goal, like Pinchas, we will be blessed with a covenant of deep peace for us and for our children.

There is an irony to the ‘covenant of peace’ which Pinchas received, since it was achieved through an act of extreme violence. What is the take-home message the Torah is trying to impress upon us with this episode? Certainly, we are not encouraged to take up weapons of violence and show our dedication to G-d and his Torah through brute force and physical might! Even for Pinchas, a soul of the purest character and refined action, there is a hint of criticism in the written text, since the letter ‘vav’ in the word ‘shalom’ is written with a crack in it.

Rather, should we not focus on how we must each find our own unique way to become a ka’na’ee – extremely zealous and steadfast in our attachment to G-d, Torah and mitzvos? When you find out who you truly are and channel that energy into a deep relationship with G-d, then He will grant us our own covenant of peace.


Sara Yoheved Rigler wrote an article for about “The Secret Life of Gershon Burd”. Gershon Burd was born in Odessa in 1973. Three years later his parents immigrated to Chicago. Proud but non-observant Jews, they were not equipped to give their only son and two daughters a Jewish education. Greg (as he was known) went to public school, played on his high school football team, became a lifeguard, and got a B.A. in business from the Indiana University.

Greg was 25 years old and working in his father’s insurance agency when his mother invited him to come with her to a Torah class at Rabbi Daniel Deutsch’s Chicago Torah Network. Greg loved the class, and made an appointment to speak to Rabbi Deutsch privately. He brought with him a list of one hundred questions.

Three months later Greg flew to Israel to learn Torah at Ohr Sameach. He told his parents, “I’m in preschool; I don’t know anything about Judaism.” Ten months later he returned to Chicago, saying, “I’m in kindergarten; I have to learn more.” Every year, he returned to Jerusalem, and  every year his refrain was, “I’m in first grade; I’m in second grade” etc.

At the age of 30, Greg (now Gershon) married Batya Fefer, 28. She, too, came from a Russian family. Raised in Toronto, Batya was a lawyer working for Toronto’s top corporate tax firm when she decided that there had to be more to life. Her spiritual search took her to Nepal, where she climbed Mt. Annapurna, to India, where she met the Dalai Lama, and to a dozen other countries. Back in Toronto, a friend told her about a free Birthright trip that would take her to Israel. Batya decided that that was a good way to get halfway back to India. However, once in Israel, she started learning about Judaism at EYAHT (Aish HaTorah’s women’s division); she became observant, and in 2003 married Gershon Burd. They settled in the Old City.

To celebrate his 40th birthday, Gerson arranged for him and his wife to have an overnight getaway at Tel Aviv’s Sheraton Hotel; he told Batya that he paid for the mini-vacation with ‘credit card points’. Friends agreed to watch their five children. Gershon’s favorite recreation was swimming in the ocean. He and Batya deposited their things in their hotel room and went to the beach. Taking one look at the muddy water, Batya opted to sit on the shore. Gershon, an expert swimmer and trained lifeguard, plunged into the waves. Minutes later, a rock or large piece of debris struck him in the back of the neck. Knocked unconscious, he was under water for 15 minutes before Batya, desperately scanning the sea with her eyes, saw her husband’s body float up toward the beach.

It was during shiva that the secret life of Gershon Burd began to be revealed.

On the second day of the shiva, a woman Batya knew from the kehillah appeared in the Burd home. As Batya recounts, “She looked at me with funny expression and said, ‘I’m going to tell you something you don’t know. No one in the world knows this except me and your husband.’” The woman paused, as if reluctant to divulge her secret. “For nine years, I was the front for your husband’s tzedaka [charity] fund.” Batya was dumbfounded, “What tzedaka fund?” The woman continued: “Your husband came to me with money every month and a list of names. I would call the people and they would come to me to pick up the money. They never knew who it came from.”

The proprietor of a stationery store in the Old City told Batya the he was the front for her husband’s ‘helium balloon gemach’! Everyone in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City knew that a certain stationery store would give a free helium balloon to every child on his or her birthday; two free helium balloons for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah! Since most of the children in the Old City come from large, low-income families, a helium balloon is a real glee-producer. The Burd children themselves were among those who were recipients of this delightful prize. No one knew who was sponsoring the free balloons. Paying a shiva call, the store owner revealed to Batya that Gershon had been paying for the helium balloons; at the end of every month, he would slip into the store and surreptitiously pay for that month’s balloons.

One of his study partners recalled how Gershon would purposely choose a seat in the yeshiva across from the entrance so he could smile at people as they walked in. He was affable and gentle; everyone considered Gershon a nice guy. But no one realized just how ‘nice’ he was.

Rabbi Nissim Tagger (the head of Yeshivas Bircas HaTorah, where Gershon was both learning and working as administrator) recalled that once Gershon had approached him, asking the Rosh Yeshiva to accept as a student a young man named David, whom Gershon intuited had tremendous potential. Rabbi Tagger had seen David, with his long, curled peyot and hippie-ish dress. “He doesn’t fit in at all with our Yeshivah,” Rabbi Tagger refused. “He looks like that, but it’s not who he really is,” Gershon begged. “Will he pay tuition?” Rabbi Tagger queried. “No,” Gershon answered simply. “He has no money.” “I have no scholarships available,” replied Rabbi Tagger.

The next day, Gershon returned to Rabbi Tagger and said, “David’s parents decided to pay for most of his tuition, and he’ll do odd jobs to pay for the rest.” With misgivings, Rabbi Tagger decided to give David a two-week trial period. Three years later, David is an accomplished Torah scholar at the yeshiva. Only after Gershon’s death did Rabbi Tagger find out that David’s parents had not paid a penny. It was Gershon who paid David’s tuition. “He lied to me straight to my face,” Rabbi Tagger said at the shiva house, holding back his tears.

Another friend of Gerson’s related the following story: The wife of one of the students of the yeshiva had not seen her parents back in America for several years. When she received news that her mother was ill, she wanted to fly back, but she didn’t have enough money for airfare. Hearing about it, Gershon told the woman about a credit card company that was offering a fantastic deal. If she signed up for the credit card and paid just $50, she would receive enough miles to get a free round-trip ticket. Gershon even showed her the promotion on his laptop, and offered to sign her up, explaining that he too would get miles for referring her. The woman happily gave Gershon the information to sign her up, got her ticket, and flew to America to be with her mother. She never knew that Gershon had made up the whole promotion, even devising the graphic of the ad. Gershon himself paid for her ticket.

Once Gershon decided that a struggling family in the community really needed to take their children for a fun day at “Kef-Tzuba,” an attraction with giant blow-up trampolines, castles, etc. The family lacked the funds for such an outing, so Gershon got them a free coupon. They never knew that Gershon had paid for their admission and had fabricated the professional-looking coupon.

When Gershon became aware of couples who were experiencing marital friction, he would surreptitiously pay for therapy sessions for them, with neither the couple nor the therapist aware of who was paying.

Gershon also created a project entitled “Western Wall Prayers,” (with Batya in charge). This is a service where people all over the world can pay to have someone go to the Kotel and pray for them for 40 consecutive days. Not only have hundreds of people had their prayers answered through this age-old custom, but also money raised through the project supports many families of Torah scholars in the Old City.

Why did Gershon go to such lengths to hide his charitable acts? Batya explained, “He really believed that if the giver gets something from their acts of chesed, it diminishes the act. If someone knows what you did, then it means you got something from it. The mitzvah is much more powerful if you get nothing … in this world. The real reward is waiting in the Next World.”

Rebbetzin Rigler summarizes her article by reminding us that hiddenness is a sacred value in Judaism. Chazal teach us that the world is sustained in every generation by the merit of thirty-six hidden tzaddikim. The zealousness of Pinchas was a very public act; but up until that very public act, the fire and purpose within him was a very private affair. We see from the story of Gershon (and Batya) Burd, being a zealot can be done quietly, with steadfast purpose over the course of a lifetime, however long that may be.

Gershon’s red carpet to Olam Haba is lined with helium balloons, fake coupons, fictional credit card promotions, an anonymous charity fund, undercover tuition payments, surreptitiously sponsored marriage counseling sessions, and how many other hidden acts of chesed that we will never know of. How will our path to the World of Truth look after our short sojourn here of who knows how long?

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Hillary Clinton’s top surrogates are taking aim at rival Donald Trump for criticizing the bereaved mother of a Muslim Army captain, a comment that sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday. Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine expressed shock that the GOP nominee would attack Ghazala Khan for not speaking during her husband’s address to the Democratic convention. “He was kind of trying to turn that into some kind of ridicule,” Kaine said after a campaign event in Pittsburgh. “It just demonstrates again kind of a temperamental unfitness. If you don’t have any sense of empathy than that, then I’m not sure you can learn it.” Former President Bill Clinton, who joined Kaine and his wife at the event, agreed: “I c...
In their struggle for the upper hand on national security, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are emphasizing strikingly different themes – he as the bold and cunningly unpredictable strongman who will eliminate terrorism; she as the calm, conventional commander in chief who will manage all manner of crises. Terrorism is Trump’s national security touchstone, and the Islamic State group is his target. He promises to wipe it out, and quickly. Clinton accuses him of fearmongering and of denigrating the U.S. military as gutted and worn out. She presents herself as the anti-Trump.  “America’s strength doesn’t come from lashing out,” she said in accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday. “Strength relies on smarts, judgment, cool resolve, and th...
Kiddush Levana Aug 06 6:51 am - Aug 18 1:13 am
Tammuz 25
Justice Minister Shaked denies rumors she is planning to bolt Jewish Home for Likud. 'Bennett and I will enlarge party as much as possible.' Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked denied rumors she is considering a departure from the Jewish Home party due to growing tensions between herself and Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Speaking on Israel’s “Meet the Press”, Shaked responded to questions regarding the conflict within the cabinet during the 2014 Gaza conflict, and claims a split between her and Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett could lead her to abandon the party. “That’s complete nonsense that a couple of Likud activists are spreading,” the Justice Minister said. “Bennett and I are working together to enlarge our party as muc...
A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas on Saturday, and there did not appear to be any survivors, authorities said.  Authorities would not confirm the exact number of deaths, but Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said the balloon was carrying at least 16 people and the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that it didn't look like anyone survived.  If 16 people were killed, it would be the one of the worst such disasters, possibly the worst in U.S. history. The deadliest such disaster happened in February 2013, when a balloon flying over Luxor, Egypt, caught fire and plunged 1,000 feet to the ground, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourist...
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Britain’s “most famous child prodigy” is now living a low-key life as an orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, the UK’s Daily Mail revealed on Friday. According to the report, mathematician Ruth Lawrence — who made history when, at the age of 10, she won a place at Oxford University, becoming the youngest person ever to be accepted — works as a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is the mother of four children. The Daily Mail‘s report comes amidst a national television contest seeking to crown the “brainiest child” in all of Britain.  Lawrence’s father, Harry, told the newspaper that his daughter is “bringing up four children side-by-side with being a profoundly loved teacher at the uni...
Washington - His status as a presidential nominee barely a week old, Donald Trump is already tasked with assembling a complex transition team capable of hiring thousands of high-level government officials and crafting a detailed policy agenda should he win the presidency. It’s a herculean task that will test the limits of Trump in particular, a political outsider who, thus far, has struggled to attract experienced talent to his presidential campaign. Experienced officials warn that the safety and economic security of the nation depends on both White House contenders aggressively preparing for the transition to a new presidency in the coming weeks, even as they intensify their political operations for the three-month sprint to Election Day. The New York billionaire has shru...
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Oswiecim, Poland - Pope Francis says human “cruelty did not end in Auschwitz” and that similar atrocities are being inflicted in war zones across the world today, citing prisoners who are kept in inhuman conditions and tortured. Francis visited the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Friday, expressing his sorrow there in contemplative silence and prayer. Only hours later did he finally speak out about his feelings as he addressed pilgrims from a window of the archbishop’s residence in Krakow. He said: “How much pain? How much cruelty? Is it possible that we humans created in God’s image are capable of doing these things? ...Cruelty did not end in Auschwitz, in Birkenau.” The pope continued: “Many prisoners are tortured just...
Colorado Springs, CO - Donald Trump is claiming that Bernie Sanders “sold his soul to the devil” in deciding to support Hillary Clinton for president. Trump, speaking Friday at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said that Sanders “folded” when he abandoned his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. “He wanted to go home, he wanted to go to sleep,” Trump said. He then noted that Sanders’ “people are angry” and praised their efforts to disrupt the Democratic National Convention.
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New York - Donald Trump pulled off the upset — at least in television popularity. The Nielsen company estimated that 29.8 million people watched Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night on the commercial networks. That fell short of the 32.2 million people who watched Trump speak to the Republicans a week before. That came despite the Democrats reaching more people than the Republicans on each of the first three days of their respective conventions.
Lakewood, NJ -  A housing community on the Jersey shore comprised of mostly Orthodox Jews has sharply limited the time men and women can swim together, angering some homeowners. The board at A Country Place in Lakewood decided men and women can swim together from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday. There is also open swimming on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. But swimming is restricted by gender the rest of the time in observance of Jewish law that prohibits men and women from bathing together. Of the 91 hours the pool is open each week, 73 percent is confined to single-sex swimming. Resident Steve Lusardi, 69, told the Asbury Park Press ( ) he was fined $50 for swimming with his wife, Diane, 70, last month after the open swim time expired. Lusar...
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