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Jerusalem, Israel - June 24, 2019 - The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel has three very diverse temporary exhibitions on display for summer visitors. Along with its many exhibit halls of Judaica, archeology, culture, classical art, and separate children's wing, the museum has opened a new space on the development of Peter Pan. Peter and Pan: From Ancient Greece to Neverland  The large entrance room to this exhibit is filled with ancient Greek statues and the story of Greek gods and mythology and the development of Pan. Families should know these male statues are nude sculptures. ...
EAST LANSING, Mich. — If you’re taking vitamin D supplements every day to improve your heart’s health and reduce your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease, you’re likely wasting your money, according to a new study. Researchers from Michigan State University say that both men and women who take vitamin D aren’t any more protected against heart attacks, strokes, or related heart conditions than those who don’t. The authors were surprised by their discovery since prior research pointed to a link between lower levels of vitamin D in the blood and cardiovascular disease. “We thought it would show some benefit,” admits co-author Mahmoud Barbarawi, a clinical instructor in the MSU College of Human Medicine and chief resident...
This week, the U.S.  Supreme Court is due to rule on a congressional redistricting case involving Maryland. The decision centers on the 6th Congressional District which includes most of Western Maryland and part of Montgomery County. A group of seven Republican voters from the district argued that the boundaries of the district were drawn in 2011 to favor Democrats, diluting the influence of  Republican voters and violating their constitutional rights.  Since 2013, a Democrat has been elected to represent the district. Currently, freshman Democrat David Trone represents the district. Last November, the U.S. District Court in Maryland ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the state appealed the case to the Supreme Court.  The court heard arguments in this case in M...
BALTIMORE (AP) — A U.S. judge says new evidence paints a "disturbing picture" that racial discrimination may be the motive behind the Trump administration's push to ask everyone in the country about citizenship status. Last week, U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland ruled there's enough evidence to warrant reopening a case focused on whether a proposed 2020 census question violates minorities' rights. In a court filing, Hazel wrote that new evidence "potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose" and a decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to ask the citizenship question. Voting rights activists have argued newly discovered emails show the citizenship question is intended to discriminate. The Supreme Court could render Hazel's dec...
The Baltimore Police Department is investigating multiple shootings over the weekend, four of which were fatal.  Starting at 12:50 a.m. Saturday police responded to a local area hospital for reports of a walk-in shooting victim. The victim is described as an adult man suffering from gunshot wounds to both legs.  At 1:15 a.m., police were called to the 800 block of Port Street after an unidentified man approached a crowd and began shooting.  Once on the scene, police located a 19-year-old man and 20-year-old man both suffering from gunshot wounds to the stomach. Both men were transported to area hospitals where the 19-year-old later died. While still on the scene, police were informed of three additional walk-in shooting victims at an area hospital.  The three victi...
The new economic sanctions that the United States is preparing to impose on Iran will have no “impact”, a spokesman for the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry said on Monday. “We really do not know what (the new sanctions) are and what they want to target anymore, and also do not consider them to have any impact,” Abbas Mousavi said at a press conference in Tehran. “Are there really any sanctions left that the United States has not imposed on our country recently or in the past 40 years?” he added. Read more.
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Beto O’Rourke on Monday called for Congress to enact a “war tax” any time the country goes to war, with the proceeds going to care for veterans of the conflict. The proposal came as part of a new plan by O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for president, to expand services for military veterans. The former Texas congressman repeated his call for the country to end what he called its “endless war” in Afghanistan and Iraq. O’Rourke said redirecting money from those conflicts could save at least $400 billion, half of which he said he would urge Congress to invest in veterans. If elected, O’Rourke said he would push Congress to enact a law creating a new trust fund for veterans’ health care for every war the U.S. fights. Each fund would be ...
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defends budget cuts designed to reduce the soaring deficit, telling his cabinet the Finance Ministry’s unpopular plan to slash over a billion shekels in public spending months before the September elections is “hard but necessary.” The proposal for NIS 1.1 billion in across-the-board cuts to public spending has drawn opposition from lawmakers and cabinet ministers whose ministries would be affected by the austerity measures. “Budget cuts are hard, but they are necessary,” Netanyahu says at the start of the meeting. “Nobody wants to do this. I understand the ministers whose offices will be affected by the cuts, but this is what we have to do. We have to take care of our priorities.” Read more at Times of Isr...
The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 kids were detained there and caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation. Rep. Veronica Escobar said 30 children were at the facility near El Paso as of Monday. Her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection. Attorneys who visited the station in Clint, Texas last week said older children were trying to take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first reported Thursday. Some had been detained for three weeks, and 15 children were sick with the flu. It's unclear where all the children have been moved. But Escobar said some were sent to another facility in El Paso.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia for talks on coordinating with the close ally amid mounting tensions with Iran. Pompeo is expected to meet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah with King Salman and the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, before flying for talks in the United Arab Emirates, US officials said. Both Saudi and Emirati leaders advocate a tough US approach against Iran, which last week shot down an unmanned US drone. Read more.
Parsha Hashavua
Parshat Shelach -The Panic Button

Moshe launches a reconnaissance mission and expects honest reporting. We can't possibly conquer this hotly contested country without accurate intel and without truthful information. Yet the story of "the spies" represents the lowest point in Moshe's career and of the desert saga. What was so notorious about this incident? Why did it torpedo the march toward the promised land, reroute the Jews for an additional 38 desert-years, and reshape the arc of Jewish history?

Our Chazal identified the essential failure of the spies and the mob they foment. G-d asserts that this day– the 9th of Av – the day the Jews whined needlessly (bechiyah shel chinam)- would be converted into a perennial day of tragedy. Evidently, it was the pointlessness of their whimpering which was so troubling and implicating.

Moshe had dispatched agents to gather hard facts and their discoveries did indeed warrant reassessment, precaution and the adopting of new military tactics. It also required a boosting of faith in recognition that this war would be waged supernaturally and not purely through military might and political clout. Adjustments, prayers, and safeguards would all have been appropriate in light of the new facts which surfaced.

However, these findings do not justify the wide-scale panic and fright which spooks an entire nation. Life commonly presents adversity and seemingly insurmountable challenges and the acquisition of the land Israel is no different. However, these trials demand calm reactions but not panic and dread. Repeatedly, the responses -both of the actual spies as well as the riled-up populace – are driven by fear and anxiety rather than resolute confrontation of future challenges.

At least three examples of panic-driven comments are recorded:

1. Irrational Fears: "A Land which Devours its Inhabitants"

It is one thing to fear the military might of the local chieftains. Similarly, concerns about impregnable walls and hilly landscapes are all warranted. However, it is ridiculous to assume that a particular region or a particular climate is toxic or deadly. This type of irrational fear would be foolish for anyone but is even more bizarre for a nation which had survived a year of lethal plagues in Egypt and had thrived for over a year under extreme desert conditions. Life may indeed be more rugged in this land of giants and of outsized fruit, but it is ludicrous to imagine a land actually infecting its inhabitants. In our panic our reason is distorted, our judgement clouded and we are hypnotized us into irrational beliefs.

2. Inaccurate Estimation of Others: "They viewed us as grasshoppers"!

The spies felt dwarfed by the local giants and they envisioned themselves as tiny grasshoppers. This feeling of intimidation is understandable and legitimate, but their ensuing comments aren't: "...and the locals viewed us this way [as grasshoppers] as well"!! How could the spies determine how they were being viewed by the locals? In fact, forty years later, Rachav, the woman living in the city gates, reports that the entire indigenous population was terrified by the Jewish nation who had traversed the oceans; evidently the locals were more frightened by these "grasshoppers" than the spies could ever imagine. Overwhelmed by dread, we often agonize or obsess over how we are viewed by others and this very preoccupation can itself be crippling. In this situation, the spies aren't only consumed with how they are viewed by others. They project their own fears into the mindset of these "giants" and assume that their own profiles as midgets was shared by the locals. Unhealthy panic causes us to obsess over how we are viewed and, additionally, causes us to stream our own self-image into the hearts and imaginations of others. Panic skews our perceptions and blurs our clear thinking.

3. Projection of our own flaws

Humans have a difficult time acknowledging their own flaws and faults. One 'easy' coping mechanism is to "project" these flaws onto others, thereby allowing us to face them "more easily". Though we constantly project, when we panic, the process sometimes becomes preposterous. Parshat Devarim mentions the mob's accusation of G-d : "Because G-d despises us, He emancipated us from Egypt only to slaughter us in the desert". While there could be many 'motives' for the Divine plan, it is delusional to imagine all this effort, all the liberation, miracles, see-splitting, desert protection, Torah delivery and constant pardoning, simply as Divine manipulation. How did they imagine that all this effort was driven by presumed Divine hatred? Rashi reveals the root of this absurd comment: G-d didn't hate them but, in reality, these protestors hated G-d. The dissenters were projecting their own hatred for G-d, upon G-d! This laughable projection is direct and tragic consequence of uncontrollable panic. Panic lays bare fears and flaws and we cope by projecting these shortcomings upon those closest to us.

Our parsha highlights the devastating impact of panicked behavior. Had their response been more professional and more steady, their reports would have been invaluable and the consequent adjustments would have been appropriate. Of course, panic isn't just a moral flaw or a hazard to healthy decision making. It is a fundamental deficiency of faith in G-d. Faith should never render us passive or ignorant of practical concerns. However, abject dread and panic ignores G-d's role and eliminates destiny from the equation. Pragmatism, practical measures and precautions are all synchronous with faith- panic is not and this parsha highlights the corrosive effect of panic. This panicky and pointless whining condemned this day as one of actual tears for real tragedies which would far exceed this mini-crisis.

During the summer of 2014 we experienced the tragedy of the horrific kidnapping and subsequent murder of the 3 High School boys in Gush Etzion. A well-known Rabbi accused the parents of these boys as partially guilty for this crime. Their choice to educate their children in Gush Etzion- a dangerous area – was responsible for this tragedy. You can imagine the public and justifiable outcry against this very insensitive and theologically troubling statement. I recorded a response which was entitled "Why I agree with this Rabbi's statement". I fundamentally agreed that parents have a primary responsibility to provide for the safety and security of their children. I compared the statistics of non-natural deaths of adolescent males in Gush Etzion that summer versus the number of non-natural deaths in the home district in the USA of that Rabbi. Accounting for crime, drug-related and vehicular deaths the numbers were lopsided- it was far more dangerous to live in that USA community in the summer of 2014 than it was in Gush Etzion. That Rabbi had a parental responsibility to relocate his children to the safer environment in the Gush.
Terror is primarily a psychological weapon and it must be confronted psychologically. Of course, we must always implement precautionary safety measures to insure maximal security. However, if our panic frightens us into paralysis or retreat, we have awarded terror its victory. By doing so we have also exposed glaring deficiencies in our faith.

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Palestinian media reported on Sunday evening that Israeli authorities had decided to reduce the fishing zone back to six nautical miles. This comes after five fires were started along the Gaza border, apparently following the launches of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israeli territory. Israel has used the size of the fishing zone as a means of retaliating against the launch of incendiary balloons into its territory, without great success. Read more at i24NEWS.
Gaza City - Hundreds of Palestinians protested throughout the West Bank against this week’s economic conference in Bahrain that will kick off the Trump administration’s plan for Mideast peace. Palestinians on Monday poured into the streets of West Bank cities, from Hebron to Nablus, many burning effigies of President Trump and Bahrain’s king. Protesters in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, carried a giant coffin labeled “Bahrain workshop,” and signs reading “The Deal of the Century is doomed.” Dozens of youths in the southern city of Halhul set tires ablaze and slung stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. In the Gaza Strip, protest turnout was meager. A single man dressed as the late Palestinia...
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Iranian lawmakers chanted “Death to America” during a parliament session on Sunday after a speaker accused the United States of being the “real world terrorist,” amid escalating tension with Washington following the downing of an unmanned US drone. US President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for the drone incident because it could have killed 150 people, and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran. Iran said on Saturday it would respond firmly to any threat against it. “America is the real terrorist in the world by spreading chaos in countries, giving advanced weapons to terrorist groups, causing insecurity, and still it says, ‘Come, let’s negotiate,’” the parliament’s deputy speaker, Ma...
President Donald Trump said he believes impeachment proceedings could help him retain the White House in 2020. “I think I win the election easie,” Trump told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview set to be released Sunday, when asked by the host if he thinks impeachment would be politically beneficial. Trump also said that he believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has cautioned against impeachment because she also “feels that I will win much easier.” Read more at POLITICO.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday targeting Iran’s supreme leader and his associates with financial sanctions, the latest action the U.S. has taken to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and supporting militant groups. The sanctions follow Iran’s downing of a more than $100 million U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz that has ratcheted up tensions. Trump pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes on Iran last week, but is continuing his pressure campaign. The targets of the new sanctions include senior military figures in Iran, blocking their access to any financial assets under U.S. jurisdiction. “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s inc...
There was excitement and nachas for the parents and grandparents and a sense of pride and accomplishment from the mesayemim, at Pirchei Agudas Yisroel's Annual Shas Awards Presentation, which took place Sunday, June 16th, at Agudas Yisroel of Madison in Brooklyn, New York. Thirty boys from around the country each received a peninim shas as an award for being mesayeim Shishah Sidrei Mishnah in honor of their bar mitzvah as their proud grandparents, parents and siblings looked on. Most of the mesayemim also passed tests on the entire Shishah Sidrei Mishnah! Pirchei's popular Kesser Mishnayos program encourages boys to learn and be tested on mishnayos, with the ultimate goal of being mesayeim for their bar mitzvah. Speakers included Rabbi Herschel Zolty, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Mir...
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Russia and other “rational forces” will take steps to counter new sanctions the United States is preparing to impose on Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Monday. “We consider these sanctions illegal,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was later quoted as saying in a briefing. “We have pointed to the illegitimacy of unilateral sanctions many times. All this is a reflection of a wider paradigm, which now seems to be the basis for the US foreign policy and is aimed at substituting the international law and universal mechanisms of international problem-resolution with its national legislation and unilateral steps.” Read more at i24NEWS.
Moshe launches a reconnaissance mission and expects honest reporting. We can't possibly conquer this hotly contested country without accurate intel and without truthful information. Yet the story of "the spies" represents the lowest point in Moshe's career and of the desert saga. What was so notorious about this incident? Why did it torpedo the march toward the promised land, reroute the Jews for an additional 38 desert-years, and reshape the arc of Jewish history? Our Chazal identified the essential failure of the spies and the mob they foment. G-d asserts that this day– the 9th of Av – the day the Jews whined needlessly (bechiyah shel chinam)- would be converted into a perennial day of tragedy. Evidently, it was the pointlessness of their whimpering which was so...
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ALLEGAN, Mich. — A company is issuing a voluntary nationwide recall of a baby formula powder sold exclusively at Walmart. According to a press release, Perrigo Company is voluntarily recalling 23,388 containers of the product because of the “potential presence of metal foreign matter.” The recall only includes one lot of the 35-ounce, 992-gram containers of “Parent’s Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron.” Perrigo says they issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution.” People who may have purchased the product should look on the bottom of the package for Lot Code C26EVFV and a use by date of February 26, 2021. Costumers who purchased the recalled product should stop using it and can return the p...
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