ספירת העומר : 34 - היום ארבעה ושלשים יום שהם ארבעה שבועות וששה ימים לעומר
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Baltimore's Kehillas Ohr Yisrael: A Vibrant Community Under Dynamic Torah Leadership (Videos & Photos) Baby Formula Plant Could Be Open Within Two Weeks, FDA Commissioner Says Shin Bet Uncovers Iranian Effort To Lure Israelis Abroad For Kidnappings This Shabbos is the Preakness: Beware of Rowdy Individuals Driving Through the Community Let Michigan Kids Learn: Rabbi Ari Weisenfeld Participates in Roundtable with Former Vice President Mike Pence and Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Parshas Behar: Bitachon Rabbi Shmuel Silber - Parsha Perspectives: Behar - Do No Harm Lag BaOmer Around Baltimore 5782/2022 (Video & Photos) Mazel Tov to Leiby Yudin & Racheli Gross on their engagement Mazel Tov to Meir Shimanovich and Rachel Burk on their engagement Mazel Tov to Reuven Chaim Markowitz and Leah Liebman on their engagement Lag Ba'Omer Community Celebration at Suburban Orthodox (Video & Photo Essay) Watch: Rabbi Shmuel Silber - Lag BaOmer: Living in the Present - In Memory of the 45 Kedoshim of Meron (Video) BJL Traffic Alert: Detour at Marnat & Sanzo OK Kosher Certification Kashrus Advisory on Misuse of OK Symbol in Relation to Ketogenic Dietary Claims KOF-K Kashrus Alert: Bread Alone Bakery Maryland To Spend Nearly $200 Million Supporting Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs Mazel Tov to Binyomin Spivack and Ariella Blackman on their Engagement BDE: Mrs. Gail Horwitz, a’h [Updated as of Thursday, May 19, @ 12:29PM] Listen to the Torah Sparks Podcast: Humble Haughtiness (Behar) [Audio & Video]
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Baltimore, MD - May 19, 2022 - In just three short years, Kehillas Ohr Yisrael has developed into what its leadership had hoped for. It has become a beacon of Torah. It has become a close-knit family full of simcha. It has become the pulse of their neighborhood. Below is an interview with their Rav, Rabbi Duvi Rubin:Q: Rabbi Rubin, can you tell us a little about yourself? Are you a native of Baltimore?  RR: I actually grew up in Toronto and came here to learn in Ner Yisrael almost 13 years ago and haven’t left since! Baruch Hashem, my wife (who I schlepped down here from New Y...
Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert M. Califf told lawmakers Thursday that his agency has been working “tirelessly” to increase supplies of baby formula nationally and that he expects an Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan that made much of the country’s formula to be operating again within two weeks. But Califf, speaking before a House appropriations subcommittee, called the food supply fragile and urged Congress to authorize more funding to expand staffing and inspections to stave off additional supply chain crises. “We could be one natural disaster or cyberattack from being here again,” he said. The FDA has been criticized for moving too slowly to investigate a whistleblower complaint last year at the Abbott facility, which was inspected and s...
The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence agency announced the uncovering of an Iranian plot to lure Israeli academics and businesspeople abroad for kidnapping and attack purposes. Using a host of deceptive online tactics, Iranian intelligence elements also targeted former members of the Israeli defense establishment, turning to them as they pretended to be academics, journalists, businesspeople and philanthropists, according to the Shin Bet. The Iranians used the authentic identities of foreign individuals who were not aware of what was being done using their identities. Using “relevant cover stories,” the Iranian intelligence operatives sought to gather information on their targets and lure them abroad for kidnapping or attack purposes, said the agency. The Shin ...
Baltimore, MD - May 19, 2022 - This Shabbos, May 21, is the annual running of the Preakness. In past years, following the race, there have been some rowdy individuals driving through our neighborhoods on their way home from the event. Most of this activity takes place on Park Heights and Greenspring Avenues, especially during the late afternoon/early evening hours. Although police will be out on patrol on Shabbos, pedestrians who will be on the main roads should be extra vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially while crossing streets. Please also remind your children to be extra cautious when playing or walking near major thoroughfares.
Rabbi Ari Weisenfeld, Agudath Israel’s associate national director of state relations, joined former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this week at an education roundtable with Michigan parents and school leaders to discuss the proposed Student Opportunity Scholarship Act. The $500 million program would allow eligible Michigan students to receive up to $8,000 per child to cover education expenses such as tuition, tutoring, textbooks, various therapies, and transportation costs.   Vice President Pence and Secretary DeVos spoke about the importance of putting parents in charge of their children's education. At the roundtable, several parents shared their stories about the lengths they had to go to find the best educational setting f...
Regarding Shemittah, the Torah states that perhaps we will be fearful and ask “what will I eat?”. Hashem then reassures us and says that we will have the same amount of food as before and even more (25: 20-22).  This is quite unusual; usually, the Torah does not address our fears that may arise from the performance of a mitzvah. Instead, the Torah usually only details the mitzvah, and it is our job to strengthen our emunah, bitachon, etc. and to follow it.  As but a small example of many, the Torah does not address any natural worries a person can have regarding the logistic difficulties of eating kosher, the difficulties of honoring elderly parents, etc. Instead, the Torah simply commands us to do so, and we do; as we promised, na’aseh v’nishmah. ...
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“And you shall not wrong, one man his fellow Jew, and you shall fear God, for I am the Lord, your God (Vayikra 25:17).” The Torah is replete with laws that govern our inter-personal conduct. We are taught how to treat each person and the property of the other. We are obligated to help another in need and to be sensitive to the challenges and difficulties of our fellow Jew. So, what is the Torah coming to teach us in the above quoted verse? We are commanded to help and aid when another is in need. Is it necessary to tell us that we “shall not wrong” another? What is being added here that has not been conveyed in the commandments that precede and follow these words? The Talmud (Bava Metziah 58b) explains that this verse comes to warn us against a very specific trans...
Baltimore, MD - May 19, 2022 - Lag BaOmer around Baltimore was livelier than ever., b"H. BJL thanks all those who sent in pictures and videos to be included below.
Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2022 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Leiby Yudin & Racheli Gross on their engagement.   יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן!
Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2022 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Meir Shimanovich and Rachel Burk on their engagement.   Mazel to Mrs. Eileen Burk  יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן!
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Behar - The Numbers Don't Lie: Balance & Symmetry

There is perhaps no greater cultural image of Jewish life than the “fiddler on the roof”.  In him, we see ourselves seeking to find the balance between the beauty and grace of our tradition with the challenges and seductions of the world around us. 


The truth is, we all seek balance in our lives.  As we rush around, negotiating the competing demands of our home lives, our professional lives, our communal lives and the nearly invisible lives we lead in cities and towns we try to “balance” it all.  Otherwise, like that fiddler, we run the risk of toppling off.  To where, I couldn’t say.  But the sensation of falling off is real just the same.


If you ever doubt the importance of balance, just glance in the windows of the many gyms and exercise studios that exist throughout the country.  You will see people working desperately to do what?  Strengthen their cores!  Why?  That balances them and minimizes the risk of injury!


There was a time when the ancients – not Jewish – who envisioned the universe to be made up of a series of concentric circles or nestled spheres.  When those circles were in perfect balance, they created a symphony of beautiful sound, called the music of the spheres.


Balance is essential to our psyches, to our emotional health, our physical selves and our communal selves.  Balance, like harmony, is dynamic.  It is not a static state.  Finding balance or harmony requires our constant attention. 


As challenging as it may be to constantly seek balance, we can be sure that creation structurally tends toward balance.  How?  Numbers.


Numbers have power and significance.  While all numbers are important some have greater significance, often due to their properties as primes, or their role in anchoring our numbering system.  The number one is unique.  By definition singular, it is the identity number.  “Who Knows One?” goes the Pesach song.  “One is our G-d Who is in the Heavens and on Earth.”  The number two defines the concept of evenness.  Three, an ideal balance, whether in geometry or the world.  Ten is the basis for our numbering system. 


These numbers resonate in our consciousness and our world, but no number has the power and significance of the number seven.  It is the perfect number.  More than that, it is Judaism’s most sacred number.  Seven is completeness and wholesomeness.  My revered uncle, Rabbi Alexandre Safran Z’L , concludes his prolific discussion of “Jewish Time /Sabbath Time” in his Israel in Time & Space by noting that, the number seven thus “joins for all eternity the Creator and His Creation, God and His people; and the hyphen uniting them, is the holy Shabbat.”  For, as we know, the Sabbath is the seventh day.  Shemitah, the seventh year.  Yovel, the culmination of seven cycles of seven years. 


Rabbi Shraga Simmons underscores the power of seven when he considers Shavuot. He finds “Shavuot” – literally, “weeks” – to be a curious name for the holiday.  While the name does highlight the seven-week period between Pesach and Shavuot in which we count each day (and week) in anticipation and preparation for re-living the Sinai revelation, he remains troubled by the name.  “Why not call the holiday ‘Torah,’ or ‘Sinai,’ ‘Commandments,’ or ‘Tablets’?”


He asks a good question.


He writes, “Time contains many different entities. Nearly all of them are related to natural phenomena. Days, nights, months, seasons and years are all directly determined, in some way, by the constellations. There is one exception – the week. The formulation of a week seems to be totally arbitrary. Who needs it? Let one day just follow the previous one.  Why seven days?


“The concept of a week and its constitution of 7 days is one that is strictly God-invented and human-adopted. While we may argue about creation – how, when, by whom, why – the world has consensually agreed to the concept of a week.”  


The significance of “seven” is woven throughout our lives and experience.  The seven branches of the Temple Menorah.  The sprinkling of blood seven times in the Temple.  The seven days of shiva.  The seven days of celebration for chatan and kalah.  Seven aliyot.  Seven mitzvoth required on Sukkot.  Seven major days of celebration in Jewish calendar.  Seven days of nidah… and on and on. 


Seven completes a cycle fully and wholly.  Brit Milah, which lifts the newborn son from a mere physical existence into meaningful, goal-oriented Jewish life, takes place on the eighth day.  As Rav Hirsch explains, eight days because the “young being must pass through a full period of seven days as a creature perfect in body; and only on the eighth day must the seal of Israel be impressed upon him.”


Rav Kook finds in Shemitah and Yovel a completeness of life’s spiritual qualities.  Too soon, the fruit is not ripened.  Too late, it is overripe and rotted.  At its time…  Without the fullness of “seven” there is an emptiness, an unripens, still awaiting its time.  “Quality of life can be improved through the affording of a breathing space from the bustle of everyday affairs… What the Sabbath achieves regarding the individual, the Shemitah achieves with regard to the nation as a whole.”  Shemitah and Yovel are not mere mechanisms of ensuring equality, freedom from poverty and slavery.  More importantly, they are a means of attaining a fullness and wholeness, of attaining holiness complete. 


In Nitzavim, the Parasha read on Shabbat Shuva or the Shabbat prior to Rosh Hashanah, the word shuv, “to turn or, to return” occurs seven times in various forms,  all underlining the theme of repentance, of teshuva (itself, a form of shuv).  This speaks to the deep relationship between the number seven, connoting completeness, to teshuva, repenting and returning. 


The Torah source of teshuva, “You shall then return to G-d your Lord, and will obey Him,” is one of these seven verses.


Because God’s creation tilts toward balance and man has free will, the choice of attaining wholeness and completion or remaining incomplete, the Rambam writes, he “should strive to repent” of all sins, as well as investigate and repent of any evil disposition. “Great is repentance, for it brings man near, back to the Divine Presence.”


Teshuva turns back to completion, to a state of wholeness and completeness.  To perform teshuva is to arrive at one’s full potential and real self.  Without teshuva, one’s life is lived as a series of discrete moments, with good and evil, success and failure intimately related.  Without teshuva, the week is seven days, not a grand march toward the glory of Shabbat. 


Seven.


Marriage is nothing but a physical partnership without the fulfillment of the sheva (seven) brachot ideals.  Faith, without the completeness of the seven mitzvoth enunciated in the Shema, an empty proclamation.  Agriculture is backbreaking labor without the peace and tranquility of the Shemitah year.


Seven.


Even before the great brit between God and the Jews, before the Ten Commandments, before the mitzvot were enumerated, there were seven foundational laws that defined behavior and the correct balance in life and spirit.  These were the Noachide Laws. 


These, we transgress at our peril.  Why?  Because these are the laws that  are the pillars upon which all else rests.  One can build a house a thousand feet tall and it will withstand any storm so long as it has a solid foundation.  But even a single-story home will fall to the merest breeze if its foundation is not strong.  The seven Noachide laws form the foundation upon which meaningful and significant human life rests. 


The costs of ignoring them were plain at the time of Noah.  And yet, in our own time we are ignoring them as well!  Consciously, deliberately and with eyes wide open!


Who could have imagined a time when national headlines would report about bathrooms!  But they do.  Perhaps most people would like to remain unaware of the “bathroom wars” in North Carolina; perhaps most people would prefer to simply shrug when they are challenged as counter to Biblical values.


What does it matter?


What does it matter than the Supreme Court has proclaimed same-sex marriage the law of the land?


What does it matter that the White House has essentially proclaimed transgender bathrooms to be the civil rights issue of our times?


What does it matter?


What does it matter if a foolish fiddler – who shouldn’t be up on a roof anyway! – topples off?  What does it matter if there are four days this week and eleven next?


It matters because balance matters and no amount of pilates will strengthen your core enough to provide balance when the foundation cracks.  We rely on balance to live lives of meaning and significance.  We each build our own homes but we rely on a communal foundation for our houses and homes to stand.


One can make any argument he pleases to suggest otherwise but the numbers don’t lie.  Five cannot be seven.  Fourteen cannot be ten.


And one can never be any other than Our God in Heaven and on Earth





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Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2022 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Reuven Chaim Markowitz and Leah Liebman on their engagement.   Mazel to Mr. and Mrs. Yitzchok Markowitz.  יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן!
Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2022 - Lag Ba'Omer has always been a special day, but ever since last year Lag Ba'Omer has become ever more meaningful in the lives of Klal Yisroel. This year in Baltimore multiple kehillos joined together in unity, celebrating the simcha of the Yom Tov while also paying tribute to the 45 kedoshim who lost their lives in the horrific Meron tragedy last year. Hosted by Suburban Orthodox, Rabbi Shmuel Silber was joined by Rabbi Menachem Goldberger, Rabbi Yisrael Motzen, Rabbi Daniel Rose and Rabbi Yechiel Shaffer, and their congregations. Together they shared divrei Torah and nigunei hisorirus, capturing the essence of a day of celebration and a collective yahrtzeit. May the divrei Torah, the nigunei regesh and brachos serve as a z’chus for the...
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ov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced a plan to spend up to $198 million in federal funding to support Maryland’s small businesses. The funding will be distributed to three state agencies—the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland Department of Commerce and Maryland Technology Development Corporation—which will in turn invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs. In a statement, the governor touted Maryland’s efforts to provide economic relief, keep business flowing and protect people’s jobs throughout the pandemic. “(Maryland has) one of the most aggressive plans in the country to get these resources out the door utilizing our very successful lending and investment programs to help our small businesses, particularly those...
Baltimore, MD – May 19, 2022 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Binyomin Spivack (Waterbury) and Ariella Blackman (Baltimore) on their engagement.   Mazel to parents Aaron and Shoshana Blackman of Baltimore and Loren and Irene Spivack of Waterbury Connecticut  יה"ר שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. אמן!
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 I was hoping to never be able to release this song as we would already be in Yerushalayim Habenuyah, but after a year of both personal and communal loss, I decided to share this song with others.When is my heartfelt tefillah for the RBS"O to have rachmanus on his beloved children and allow us to be united through the ultimate redemption. Please join me in beseeching our Heavenly Father to bring an end to our galus b'karov!!  The  horrific murder of 11 kedoshim at the  Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh  was a startling reminder to the American Jewish community of our vulnerability in the medina shel chesed. To most this was an eye opening experience, a stark reminder that we are still in galus. Sadly these types of events are nothing new, as Klal Yisrael ha...
Baltimore, MD - May 17, 2022 - Bikur Cholim is happy to inform the community that it has free Rapid Antigen Test kits available.  There has recently been an uptick in our community so in order to keep others safe and receive early treatment, you can self test at home for free.  You need not have symptoms to receive the tests - you can keep enough tests on hand should the need arise.  To arrange a pickup or drop off of tests (no limit on amount), please email vaccines@baltimorebikurcholim.org or call Chana Dena at 443 253 4436.   
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