Rescue crews in South Florida rushed the scene of a partial collapse at an apartment building early Thursday that prompted a massive emergency response as dozens of rescuers search for survivors in the rubble. Surfside police told Fox News that multiple agencies are at the scene and it is unclear how many people were inside the building at the time. Officials have not yet commented on how many people are hurt, but a firefighter on the scene could be heard saying there are multiple casualties. Firefighters pulled at least one boy from the debris, according to photos online. A report...
Israel’s campaign to promote the coronavirus vaccine – now focusing on young teens – is going full steam ahead, in spite of statistics presented by government officials showing that half of those recently infected with Covid-19 were fully vaccinated, Behadrey Haredim reports. Head of Public Health Services, Dr. Sharon Alray-Price, revealed the disturbing facts at a media presentation on Wednesday. According to her data, of the 891 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the last month alone, half had received both doses of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine. According to a report on Channel 12, in the months since the vaccines were rolled out, 6,765 people who received both shots have contracted coronavirus, and epidemiological tracing has revealed that an additi...
Bilaam was charged with cursing the Jewish people. He was chosen by Balak due to his unique ability to perceive the exact times when HaShem was displeased with His nation. Bilaam’s several tries proved unsuccessful. In fact his “curses” turned out to be blessings. The most famous blessing of Bilaam is: מה טבו אהליך יעקב משכנותיך ישראל How Good are Your Tents, Yaakov, Your Dwelling Places Yisrael This bracha has been incorporated into our daily prayers, and is said upon entering the Beit Knesset in the morning. There are many commentaries with regard to the meaning behind these words. Some say that it refers to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the desert and the 2 Batei Mikdash (Holy Temples). Others say that it refers to the status of the Child...
Jerusalem, Israel - President Reuven Rivlin hosted the Israeli Olympic and Paralympic delegations before their departure for the postponed Tokyo summer games. The two delegations participated in the traditional reception and photograph on Wednesday, June 23/ 13 Tammuz, at Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem, Israel.  The Olympic and Paralympic delegations, larger than in the past, including sportsmen and women, trainers and team members, Minister of Sport and Culture Chili Tropper, chair of the Israeli Olympic Committee Yigal Carmi, chair of the Israeli Paralympic Committee Dr. Shuki Dekel, and two widows of the victims of the Munich Olympic massacre, Ilana Romano, wife of Yossef Romano ז"ל and Ankie Spitzer, wife of Andre Spitzer ז"ל participated in the event with the Ambassador ...
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Baltimore, MD - June 22, 2021 - If you would have asked the growing Baltimore Jewish community 40 years ago what they thought about Summit Park, they would have responded by saying, “what/where is Summit Park”? Today, Summit Park is a neighborhood quickly growing with Orthodox households forming an amazingly tight knit community.B”H, this tremendous growth has created the need for more infrastructure and that is what led to the birth of Bais Medrash of Summit Park/Bais Dovid (BMSP). BMSP started  out with a simple Friday night minyan, and is now bursting at the seams with close to 30 people every Shabbos. This hartzig makom tefillah is the place to be for all new families moving into the Summit Park area, and beyond. One major development that has fast-tra...
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Baltimore, MD - June 5, 2021 - Starting Sunday June 6th, the following changes will be in effect for Covid testing.   1.  ALL testing will take place at STAR-K location, 122 Slade Ave. Baltimore, MD, 21208.   2.  Anyone testing for travel, school, work, camp or any other non-symptomatic reason, will be tested INSIDE Suite 101 (first door on left). If you are not feeling well or have any covid symptoms, do NOT come inside; pull into a parking space and call 443-228-6004 ext. 2. Someone will come out to your car.   3.  New testing times are as follows: Mornings: Sun: 10am-12pm M-F: 930-11:30am Evenings: S-TH: 7:00pm-8:15pm Motzoei Shabbos: 10-10:30pm All tests including rapid PCR and serology (antibodies) are available during all testing times....
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A campaign operative at the center of the 2018 North Carolina ballot fraud scandal pleaded guilty on Monday to illegally accepting Social Security benefits while concealing other money that he had earned, The Associated Press reported. Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. pleaded guilty to theft of government property and Social Security fraud and faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing hearing has been set for Aug. 23. Dowless was indicted last year after evidence revealed that he had received around $135,000 in 2017 and 2018 for his work on both state and federal campaigns, the AP reported. At the same time, he applied for Social Security benefits in 2018 and claimed to have not been working for the past few years. Dowless worked on the 2018 co...
The White House on Monday laid out a plan to share 55 million US COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, with roughly 75 percent of the doses allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program. The plan fulfills US President Joe Biden’s commitment to share 80 million US-made vaccines with countries around the world. The president sketched out his priorities for the first 25 million doses from that pledge earlier this month. Of the 55 million remaining doses, some 41 million would be shared through COVAX, the White House said, with approximately 14 million going to Latin America and the Caribbean, some 16 million to Asia, and roughly 10 million to Africa.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a phone call with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first since he took over as Israel’s top diplomat earlier this month, his office says. “The two had a warm and positive conversation and discussed the importance of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States,” according to the Foreign Ministry. Lapid thanked Pelosi for her longstanding support of Israel the two agreed to remain in touch, the statement says. Lapid has set improving Israel’s ties with the Democratic Party as one of his top goals as foreign minister after the relationship was battered during former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office.
A California man has been arrested in connection with a theft of roughly 21 tons of pistachios valued at more than $100,000, authorities said. The Tulare County Sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that 34-year-old Alberto Montemayor, of Montemayor Trucking, was arrested after a routine audit by Touchstone Pistachio Company revealed that 42,000 pounds of pistachios were missing. The company contacted authorities to investigate on June 17. The nuts, originally stored in 2,000-pound sacks, had been placed into smaller sacks and moved to a separate trailer in a nearby lot for presumed resale. Authorities returned the remaining pistachios to Touchstone.
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Balak - Through the Eyes of a Donkey

Picture the unfolding scene – as the forty-year sojourn in the Wilderness is ending and the Promised Land is within reach, the Israelites have already defeated two kings and now Balak, King of the Moab, is fully awakened to their might.  In fear, he sends Bilaam, the sorcerer, to curse the Jews.  Stealthily approaching their camp, Bilaam is prepared to do whatever it took to curse and malign the Jewish people…  


Chazal teach that deep hatred causes people to lose grasp of their most ‘basic norms of conduct.”  Here, Bilaam, the nations’ prophet, is so filled with hatred that he dispenses his own dignity and saddles his own donkey!  Motivated by his evil emotion, he moves rashly, never considering his donkey might be more perceptive than he.  Vayakam Bilaam!  Bilaam arose! 


The Torah devotes more than ten pesukim (Bamidbar 22:21-34) telling us about this donkey and her role in making clear Bilaam’s folly and wickedness.  Bilaam had taken on this “assignment” only with God’s permission, hoping to ultimately and arrogantly flout His will.  Fool!   To demonstrate the weakness of Bilaam and his Moabite escort, God dispatched an angel with a drawn sword to block his way. 


Of course, driven by his hatred and arrogance, Bilaam could not see what his “lowly” donkey could – an Angel of God blocking his way.  What an odd, comical scene!  This “prophet”, tasked to curse God’s chosen, finding himself in a shouting match with his donkey.  He curses the animal.  He beats her.  The animal moves sideways rather than forward.  This happens not once, not twice but shalosh regalim and still Bilaam continues to beat his donkey until God opens her mouth, so she can protest to her master, “What have I done to you that you struck me these three times?


“I’ve been your loyal donkey for years.  Have I ever endangered you?”


Bilaam explodes in anger.  “Because you mocked me! If only there were a sword in my hand I would have killed, you!”


Rashi mocks Bilaam and his pathetic response, picturing him humiliated by his donkey.  Here was a man who could presumably wipe out an entire nation with his voice, yet he needs a sword to deal with one poor donkey!


Ultimately, of course, God awakens Bilaam to the Angel, sword drawn, blocking his path.  The Angel chastises him for his cruelty and unfairness. 


“I have sinned,” Bilaam admits.  “For I did not know that you were standing opposite me on the road.”  Yes, despite his boasts of knowing the mind of God, he – unlike his donkey – never saw an Angel of God.  But what kind of an answer is this?  Why not just concede, “I didn’t see you? I thought my donkey got lazy”?  Sure, he grew angry but “I have sinned”?  What was his sin really – that he hadn’t seen the Angel?  Surely that wasn’t his fault, was it?


Malbim tells us that Bilaam’s sin was not that he didn’t see but that he should have seen!  Had he considered his donkey’s stubbornness rather than been driven by hatred, he would have known that an Angel was present.   “I’m sorry I didn’t get it,” isn’t enough.  Why didn’t you get it?  The Angel is as astonished as we are.  “Don’t you recognize an omen when it’s right before you?”   


Sefarim explain that a sin of omission is still a sin.  Some things in life must be known.  Not knowing or seeing certain things is the failure.  The great ba’al mussar Rav Shlomo Wolbe said it perfectly, “In life we often find ourselves in situations in which we perceive only the donkey and fail to see the angel!” 


It is on us to see the Angel! 


Pirkei Avot teaches us the difference between the disciples of Avraham and those of Bilaam.  Whereas Bilaam’s disciples possess an evil eye, an arrogant spirit and a greedy soul – characteristics which blind one to the spiritual; characteristics that prompt one to argue, to be shortsighted, to “beat one’s donkey” – Avraham’s disciples possess a benevolent eye, a humble spirit and a meek soul.  They get it where Bilaam didn’t. 


Bilaam was sure he “knew it all”.


There are so many like Bilaam these days.  Know it all’s.  They have their eyes on “the prize” – the right yeshiva, the right house, the right mate but then… things don’t work out.  So, they “double down.”  They beat “the donkey once, twice, three times”, each time harder and harder.  Yet, the more they strike the donkey, the more their “dream” job, their “perfect” home, their “ideal” wife slips away from them.


Why?  Just like Bilaam’s donkey “turning aside”, life has a way of recognizing that the path is blocked.  Just like Bilaam, we grow angry and blame others for our failings, for our inability to realize our goals, we blame circumstance and fate for our shortcomings when it is really our inability to see that has caused our failures.


But why should we not be able to realize our dreams?  For the same reason Bilaam did not realize his.  As Rashi writes, an angel of mercy was stationed in his path by God to stop him, in effect to save him from himself.


Rav Avraham Pam Zt’l teaches that we often convince ourselves that we must attain a particular goal, so we try harder and harder, redoubling our efforts with ever greater passion, frustration and anger.  And each time, more obstacles seem to sabotage our efforts.  We just don’t get it.  We need to “see” what we have ignored – an Angel of mercy God has stationed in our way to spare us from the impending disasters we cannot fathom along that path. 


We need an angel to save us from ourselves; and we need to be aware of the warning signs blinking red at the boundaries of our determined desires.  We need to know that if it doesn’t happen, it’s not meant to be.


Rav Dovid Feinstein Zt’l notes that when the donkey chastised Bilaam she said, “For you have struck me now three times (shalosh regalim)” (22:28).   Generally, when the Torah uses the word regalim the term means “legs” or “feet”.  If so, why use the term here.  Why not use the term, peamim (times, occurrences)?   Rav Dovid explains that regalim is also related to the word rageel, which means “habitual” or “regular”.   So here we understand that the donkey was complaining that her master had become so rageel, so habituated, to striking her that he no longer recognized the singularity of her behavior.  Bilaam didn’t “get it”; he didn’t comprehend that the animal’s unusual behavior was a message from God.  As the Angel tells Bilaam a few verses on, had he not finally listened to the third message, there would have been no fourth one; the Angel would have killed him.  


Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.  Bilaam’s behavior was textbook insanity!  Only by being tuned in to God’s message of mercy may we truly effectuate change; only God’s mercy frees us from the insanity of our endless desires. 


The Seforno notes that it was God who opened the donkey’s mouth and gave her the power of speech so that Bilaam might “awake” to teshuva


“Why did you hit your donkey three times” the Angel asks Bilaam.  Seforno comments that, having seen all the “signs”, Bilaam should have concluded that going out to curse the Jews was unacceptable.  The onus was on Bilaam to have seen what he didn’t see.  Like Bilaam, we are too often arrogant, greedy, needy and petty.  We intentionally blind ourselves to the Angel of mercy who stands in our path.


That is on us. 


It is our choice and obligation to open our eyes and to see. 


 

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An attempt to sabotage one of the facilities of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization failed Wednesday, according to local media reports. The ISNA news agency reported that the unspecified threat was “neutralized before it damaged the building, and the saboteurs failed to carry out their plan.” The report credited the “vigilance” of Iran’s security apparatuses in foiling the attack and said the incident was being investigated. ISNA said the building was located near Karaj City, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital of Tehran. The website of state-owned IRAN newspaper published the same report without offering the location or other details. Iranian state TV carried the report on its news ticker. Read more at Times of Israel.
For the first time in 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu has his own personal smartphone. For many years, Netanyahu was probably the only person in Israel who did not own a cell phone, but Israel Hayom reporter Yehuda Shlezinger reported on Sunday that the former Prime Minister is currently boasting a new and personal smartphone. As expected, few people know Netanyahu’s new number. Even now, he continues to receive most of the calls he has made so far through his office phone. Netanyahu does not yet have WhatsApp, but he is expected to learn the additional functions on his device in the coming days. Back in 2014, Netanyahu indirectly addressed the issue of owning a smartphone. He was preparing at the time for an interview on an American network and was heard saying to his peop...
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White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday the delta variant now accounts for roughly 20% of newly diagnosed cases in the U.S. and will become the dominant Covid strain in the nation in a matter of weeks. “It just exploded in the U.K. It went from a minor variant to now more than 90% of the isolates in the U.K.,” Fauci said on NBC’s “TODAY” show. Fauci said the variant has a doubling time of about two weeks and currently accounts for 20% of the isolates in the U.S., which are newly diagnosed infections. “So you would expect, just the doubling time, you know, in several weeks to a month or so it’s going to be quite dominant, that’s the sobering news.” The variant, which first emerged in India, has quic...
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The comeback of ordinary viruses is widely regarded as a dark underside of a season in which the coronavirus has been receding in much of the nation as vaccinations provide protection. As a result, people are shedding masks and abandoning social distancing — and resuming spreading viral droplets. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory warning that respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, has been detected with increasing frequency since March in 10 Southern states, plus Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. RSV is the most common cause of bronchial infections and pneumonia in children under age 1, with a season that typically runs roughly from November to early spring. The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that it expects...
Several dozen House Republicans led by Utah Rep. John Curtis will on Wednesday launch the Conservative Climate Caucus. Via the Washington Examiner, Curtis’ office says it will look to “educate House Republicans on climate policies and legislation consistent with conservative values.” The New York Times reports that Curtis wants to “counter what the caucus terms ‘radical progressive climate proposals'” with distinct policies. “Those ideas include limited government, free-market policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as formulated by new conservative think tanks,” the Times reports.
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Antivirus software tycoon John McAfee died by an apparent suicide in a Spanish jail cell Wednesday evening — hours after reports surfaced that he would be extradited to face federal charges in the US, according to local media. The eccentric tech entrepreneur was arrested in October and was awaiting extradition when he was found dead, police sources told the newspaper El Pais. The newspaper reported McAfee was pulled from his cell in Barcelona and police are investigating the circumstances around his death. “Everything points to suicide,” the newspaper reported, citing justice department officials in the country. A second Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, also reported McAfee had died by an apparent suicide in the jail.  Earlier on Wednesday, the Spanish High Court had...
Baltimore, MD - June 23, 2021 - Do you hear it? It starts as a low murmur. And then it grows in its excitement and energy. And then you hear it. The sound of Torah. The thunderous, explosive sound of Torah reverberating throughout TA’s batei midrashos and classrooms. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before. Why was it so special this year? The answer: Hadron Aloch There are no words to possibly do justice in describing our Hadran Aloch: A Celebration of Torah campaign. From the learning to the siyum, concert, and campaign, the energy at TA was electric! In the days leading up to the end of the school year, TA was alive with energy and the enthusiasm of talmidim, Rebbeim and parents was contagious! The Hadron Aloch: A Celebration of Torah campaign included a series ...
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, today (Wednesday, 23 June 2021), held a discussion on the spread of the coronavirus, with emphasis on the Delta variant. Participating in the discussion were the Health Minister, the head of the National Security Council, the Attorney General, the national coronavirus project director, the Health Ministry Director General, the Tourism Ministry Director General, the Airports Authority Director General, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Finance Ministry Budget Director and senior officials from – inter alia – the Health Ministry, the Population Authority and the Israel Police. Also participating were various experts including Prof. Ran Balicer, Prof. Eli Wachsman and Prof. Eran Segal. Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Bennet...
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