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Baltimore, MD - June 18, 2019 - Unfortunately with multiple incidents taking place at houses of worship across the Country, shul security is of primary importance to our community. The Baltimore Shomrim Safety Patrol in consultation with security experts is in the process of offering a security initiative for our local institutions. The initiative utilizes new state of the art interactive communications technology to enhance security and law enforcement response. More information will be forthcoming. Should your shul be interested in participating or learning more, kindly have your security di...
Orlando, FL - President Donald Trump officially opened his 2020 campaign Tuesday with a speech exaggerating what he’s done for the economy. From his rally in Orlando, Florida: TRUMP: “It’s soaring to incredible new heights. Perhaps the greatest economy we’ve had in the history of our country.” THE FACTS: The economy is not one of the best in the country’s history. The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. That growth was the highest in just four years for the first quarter. In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, a level it has not yet reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth even reached 7.2 percent in 1984. While the economy has shown strength, it grew 2.9% in 2018 &...
Orlando, FL - President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign on Tuesday by presenting himself as the same political insurgent who shook up the Washington establishment four years ago and who is now a victim of an attempted ouster by Democrats. At a packed rally at an arena in Orlando, Florida, Trump made clear he would run for re-election as an outsider, just as he did in 2016. Whether he can pull it off remains far from certain as Trump has been in office now for 2-1/2 years. He revisited campaign themes from four years ago, decrying illegal immigration, the news media and his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. “Together we stared down a broken political establishment and we restored government by and for the people,” Trump said. “As lo...
Baltimore, MD – June 18, 2019 - It is with sadness that informs the community of the petirah of Mrs. Estelle Itzkowitz, a’h, mother of  Mr. Marvin Itzkowitz. Shiva will be observed at 6729 Greenspring Av., Baltimore, MD, 21209 Shacharis: 6:30 AM Mincha/Maariv: 8:20 PM Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...  
Baltimore, MD, June 19, 2019 — The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 traditional rabbis in matters of public policy, today condemned Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for trivializing the Holocaust, falsely denying that she did so, and failing to apologize. "'Never Again' will Jews allow anti-Jewish slurs to go unchallenged, even if they are uttered by media darlings," said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Eastern Regional Vice President of the CJV. In comments on Instagram Monday evening, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that detention centers are "concentration camps" and said she only wants to talk to those "concerned enough with humanity... that 'Never Again' means something." Defending herself on Twitter, she alternately denied comparing detention cent...
San Francisco - Alphabet Inc’s Google announced on Tuesday it would set aside $750 million in land and $250 million in financing to spur developers in the San Francisco Bay Area to build at least 20,000 homes and rehabilitate other housing over the next decade. Google, which told Reuters it has 45,000 employees in the region, has been the target of local activists who for several years have said the company’s growth and high salaries have contributed to rising rents and housing shortages. They have called on Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies to invest in affordable housing and rethink expansions. Google said housing had reached a “crisis point” in the Bay Area but declined to comment on whether its announcement in a blog post on Tuesday was a response...
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Baltimore City Police officials are investigating a photo found posted on social media of what appears to be an officer asleep in his patrol car. The photo was shared to police on Monday after it was found circulating on Instagram, police say.  The photo shows the officer in a black Baltimore police patrol car, who appears to be sleeping.  "We are looking into the circumstances of the picture. What we have seen raises serious concerns about public safety, officer health and wellness, and officer performance," police spokesperson Matt Jablow told WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5.  Officials have yet to comment on when or where this incident took place.
Sacramento, CA - California public health officials would have more oversight of doctors and schools with high numbers of medical exemptions for vaccinations under a legislative compromise announced Tuesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the bill’s author disclosed the deal aimed at cracking down on fraudulent exemptions issued by sympathetic doctors. The updated measure by Sen. Richard Pan removes a provision that would have required health officials to approve every exemption requested. Under the amended bill, health officials would take a more targeted approach, concentrating on doctors who write five or more exemptions each year and schools with a vaccination rate below 95 percent. Newsom, a Democrat, said he supports immunizations but has expressed doubts about giving state official...
Washington - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday rejected reparations for slavery in part because it would be hard to know whom to pay. The Kentucky Republican spoke to reporters on the eve of a rare House hearing on what compensation, if any, the U.S. might owe for the economic and other damage done by slavery. The session Wednesday before a Democratic-led subcommittee is Congress’ first on the issue in years. Asked about reparations, McConnell responded: “I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea.” “We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elected an African American p...
Dallas - Waiting outside a federal courthouse, photographer Tom Fox took in Dallas’ 8 a.m. bustle. People dressed for work got out of cars. A homeless man danced on a street pole. But when what initially sounded like a truck backfiring clarified into gunshots, the routine assignment for a veteran journalist morphed in a moment. As shots echoed off the tall buildings, an armed officer dashed past The Dallas Morning News photographer. A man came around the corner half a block away and Fox pulled out his long lens — focusing in on green military-style garb, a mask and a belt full of ammunition. The gun barrel swung around. Fox squeezed off a last frame. And he ran for cover behind a column in the building’s façade. “I was just praying in that corner that he w...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Behaalotecha -Which Voice is Your True Voice

 Rabbi Safran’s recently published volume: ”Something Old, Something New – Pearls from the Torah” available on Amazon: Something Old, Something New: Pearls from the Torah: Rabbi Eliyahu Safran: 9781602803152: Books

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
'Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

  - “Who Are You”, The Who

 Picture the moment as Moshe descended Har Sinai with the Tablets – God’s handiwork and the greatest gift imaginable to the People – when, just at that most auspicious moment in the annals of human history when Moshe was to deliver the Tablets, Joshua realizes that something is terribly, terribly wrong.  “Joshua heard the sound of the people shouting and he said to Moshe, ‘The sound (kol) of battle is in the camp!’”  With a heavy heart, Joshua continued, “…not a sound (kol) shouting strength, nor a sound (kol) shouting weakness, but a sound (kol) of distress do I hear.” (Shemot 32:16-18)

The Midrash Kohelet Rabbah describes Moshe’s reaction to Joshua’s warning.  Moshe was not, as we might suspect, alarmed by Joshua’s words so much as annoyed by them.  The midrash has him chastising Joshua, “Joshua, you will be charged with leading over 600,000.  Do you not know how to distinguish between one kol and another?”  By this rebuke, the midrash makes plain that it is one of the most basic functions of a successful leader to understand his followers; to be able to discern what they want and need, what is on their minds.  The successful leader must know what his followers are really saying even when their words suggest exactly the opposite!  For the leader, the difference between success and failure often lies in being able to hear the nuance between one kol and another.

 In a doctor’s examination room, a good doctor will speak – and listen – to his patient.  This conversation occurs throughout the exam even as he is peering in his patient’s throat, looking in his patient’s ears, testing his reflexes or when he is drawing blood.  The good doctor will ask general questions about his patient’s life and how things are going.  After the physical exam, when the patient dresses and comes into the doctor’s office, they might speak some more. 

At the end of the visit, the patient gets up and gets ready to leave.  Then, just as he reaches for the door, he turns and says, “Um… one more thing…” 

Ah!  The good doctor is expecting this.  It is the “doorknob question”!  He knows his patient will wait until just before he is leaving the office to ask what’s really on his mind, the “one more thing” that he’s wanted to talk about since before making the appointment.

This is also the case when a psychologist sees a new patient. The “thing itself” is almost never what the patient comes in to talk about.  A therapist listens as her patient expresses concern about a current dysfunction in her relationships.  “I try to please my spouse…” or parents or children or co-workers and yet, she finds herself dissatisfied with her relationships. 

The patient has come in with problems with current relationships, but the responsibility of the good therapist is to know the issue is less the immediate issues than something deeper.  The good therapist helps her patient to understand patterns that took shape in childhood.  For example, the child who grew up with a parent who has borderline personality disorder might feel compelled to please others since she learned to please her volatile parent to lessen the risk of being targeted.  Having internalized the need to please in childhood, she continues the pattern as an adult, and finding herself constantly being stepped on in relationships.  By reaching back and understanding deeply rooted patterns, therapy can help the patient address the current issues.

So, the patient comes to the therapist asking for one thing but needing to understand something else.  The good therapist listens to what her patient says but hears another thing and, in hearing that other thing, helps solve what the patient understood to be the reason for coming to therapy in the first place.

Even in his or her distress, the patient, wants to control “the face” he presents.  The good doctor, the good therapist, the good leader listens to the genuine kol and does not become distracted by the kol put forth as a mask or shield.

The good leader digs deeper to find the truth.

 Rabbi Yissocher Frand has spoken to the same insights that HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, the great pikeach, has shared regarding the need to look deep in order to discern the truth.  He cites several examples in Torah where, without the determined eyes of the leader, we would never arrive at the truth residing beneath an artificially-constructed surface.  He notes how the Meraglim were reluctantly sent to survey the land promised to our avot.  Now, the land has been promised by God.  It is the focus and point of our redemption from Mitzrayim.  If God has promised the land, why send Meraglim?  What can they “see” that God has not already seen?  Nevertheless, Moshe relents and off they go, only to return with their fearful report – those who reside in the land are “stronger than we are”!  The land is unconquerable.  It is beyond our ability to conquer… 

How could that which God has promised, be beyond those who He has promised it to?  And yet, these Meraglim baldly report their lies.  What could possibly motivate this report?  As the Zohar reveals, their report reveals not the truth of the land but of their own human weakness.  The Meraglim ­– all Nesi’im, prominent leaders – are motivated not by what they see but what they fear – the loss of their own positions, prestige, prominence.  Rather than own up to their ego-driven motivations, they concoct a story to try and accomplish their desired outcome.  The real story is no different than psychologists and psychiatrists encounter day in and day out – stories that don’t “add up”, that are driven by fear and desire rather than truth. 

The task is to “hear” the truth rather than be distracted by the stories (kol) made up to distract, confuse, and mislead in the service of ego, fear and desire.

Rav Yaakov makes clear that our tradition understands that everyone has subconscious feelings that drive our behavior, feelings we are often not aware of.  It takes perception, intelligence and insight to recognize what is really going on and why we make the decisions we make.  It requires the wisdom of Chazal and the sensitivity of chachamim to cut through the chaff, to discern what motivations roil the soul beneath the well-constructed voice we present to the world. 

Certainly, this is true of the Misonenim in our parasha – “The people took to seeking complaints (k’misonenim). It was evil in the ears of Hashem.” This followed by the, asafsuf asher b’kirbo – the rabble that was among them.”  These people did not simply complain.  They sought to turn back time and return the people to Mitzrayim where, in their telling, all had been wonderful.  There had been food – fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic!  And in the desert?  Only “manna”. 

“Moshe heard the people weeping – l’mishpechosav – in their family groups at the entrance of his tent.”  Rashi tells us that groups of families gathered together to bemoan their sorry state of affairs.  No cucumbers!  No onions!   But immediately after this simple explanation, Rashi adds, “ve’Raboseinu amru – our Sages said…”  No, they weren’t complaining just about onions!  This was deeper.  It was about “…al iskei mishpachos, al arayos ha’neesaros la’em…”  The telling word here is l’mishpechosav – families.  The real reason for their complaints and bickering is the restrictions set by family laws, family laws that at Sinai regulated permissible relationships.  Their incessant complaints are not about fried onions but women; about not being allowed to do anything I want with any woman I desire! 

Our Sages want to have us understand that there is much more to what we hear than just a complaint about missing onions.  They want us to understand the real story!  They want us to understand the real person beneath the mask!

I know a woman who constantly demeans her spouse.  She complains that he is insensitive, unappreciative, irresponsible, unhelpful…  Her complaints seem endless.  To hear her describe her husband is to hear her describe a monster.  And yet, anyone who knows her husband cannot recognize in him the man she describes. 

Her voice (kol) describes one “reality”, the reality she constructs for the world.  But deep down, her description turns out not to be about her husband but herself!  Her true voice (kol) tells us a far different story!

It is the task of the chochom and the therapist to hear this true voice and to get at the real story.

What is my responsibility here?  It is not just to see “below the surface” in order to gauge the truth of another’s experience.  More importantly, it is to find ways to guard against speaking in a false voice and creating a misleading mask.  It is to present the truth of my own experience!

How can any of us be sure that our public personas honestly reflect our better selves?  Perhaps the easiest way is to create a personal system of checks and balances where someone we know and trust (and who knows and trusts us!) is always close enough to alert us when we present a false voice.  We each need a chaver, a confidante, a rebbe, a husband or wife, an honest person who has our trust to speak truth to us, who challenges us, who can and will say (and to whom we will listen), “That is not your authentic kol.”  We each need someone who will ask us, who are you? and help us become that person we long to be, who we deserve to be; the person God would have us be.

Special thanks to my son and daughter in law, Zev and Dr. Rachel Safran, fine therapists, for their thoughtful insights and input.

Rabbi Safran’s recently published volume: ”Something Old, Something New – Pearls from the Torah” available on Amazon: Something Old, Something New: Pearls from the Torah: Rabbi Eliyahu Safran: 9781602803152: Books


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Orlando, FL - The hometown paper of the Florida city where Donald Trump is making his reelection announcement says it won’t endorse the president. The Orlando Sentinel said in an editorial Tuesday that some readers may wonder how the publication can eliminate a candidate before anyone knows who his opponent will be, so far in advance. The Sentinel answers that it’s “because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.” The publication says it has had enough of “the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.” The chair of the local Republican Party didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Washington - Joe Biden touted fundraising figures on Monday that suggest he has taken in at least $19 million this quarter, a sum that — if true — would top what all of his leading rivals raised during the last period. With nearly two weeks to go before the end of the second quarter, the former vice president told attendees at a New York fundraiser that he’s accepted contributions from 360,000 donors, who gave an average of $55 apiece. The math suggests Biden collected about $19.8 million. Multiple people in Biden’s campaign declined to confirm on Tuesday how much he has raised since entering the race in April. But the figure is sure to draw notice from rival campaigns, who are preparing for next week’s debates while furiously trying to raise money before t...
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Baltimore, MD – June 18, 2019 - Last night just before 11pm, Baltimore County Police were dispatched to 2801 Smith Ave, Shoppers, for a call of an armed robbery. The suspect pointed a handgun at Shoppers’ unarmed security guard inside the store and announced a robbery. The security guard yelled out to everyone in the store to head toward the rear of the store which most did, many escaping out on to Woodcourt Road just behind the shopping center. The security guard exited as well. The suspect forced a female employee to open a register. Once she opened the register, she fled to the back of the store. The suspect then removed an undisclosed amount of money from the register and fled the scene. Police are reviewing evidence in this active investigation Anyone with info of this...
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled peace plan was a “conspiracy” the Palestinians would “thwart.” The Trump administration’s initiative is set to kick off next week with an economic workshop in Bahrain focused on investment in the Palestinian territories, which the Palestinians are refusing to take part in. According to the Israeli news site Mako, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, “The position of the president and the Palestinian leadership, which is centered on Jerusalem, the prisoners, and Palestinian identity, will thwart all the conspiracies, workshops, and meetings.” Rudeineh appeared to denounce the presence of representatives of Arab countries at the...
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Dancing at the 10th Siyum HaShas: The Sights and Sounds of Worldwide Simcha and Achdus, Cycle After Cycle  It is not every day that you have tens of thousands of yidden - from Modern Orthodox to chassidim in their full levush, from the elderly to young children - holding hands and dancing with palpable simcha. Some twenty-two years ago, as The Agudah celebrated the 10th Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi, that was the incredible sight. In Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum and scores of satellite locations worldwide, Klal Yisroel celebrated what was by far the largest scale Siyum HaShas ever. The lively dancing that erupted after the Hadran was recited was seen on the dais as well. Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva of all backgrounds, including many of the preeminent Gedolei Hador, danced i...
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is viewed skeptically back in her Queens and Bronx 14th Congressional District, according to a new door-to-door survey. The poll found that she has a low 21% favorability rating, that just 11% believe she has their best interests in mind, and that only 13% would vote to reelect her. The survey of registered voters was conducted by the political action committee targeting her with a Federal Election Commission complaint, Stop The AOC PAC. Read more at WASHINGTON EXAMINER.
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Israel on Tuesday partially reopened fishing zones to Gaza Strip fishermen, a week after imposing a naval blockade due to the continued scourge of arson balloons targeting Israeli agricultural lands. The local Fishermen Committee announced that at 10:00 am an area up to 10 nautical miles would be opened off of the Gaza coast. In the northern Gaza Strip, the coast would only be opened to 6 nautical miles, keeping with Israeli policy to impose stricter restrictions near the shared border with Israel. Read more at i24NEWS.
 Rabbi Safran’s recently published volume: ”Something Old, Something New – Pearls from the Torah” available on Amazon: Something Old, Something New: Pearls from the Torah: Rabbi Eliyahu Safran: 9781602803152: Books Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?) I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?) Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?) 'Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)   - “Who Are You”, The Who  Picture the moment as Moshe descended Har Sinai with the Tablets – God’s handiwork and the greatest gift imaginable to the People – when, just at that most auspicious moment in the annals of human history when Moshe was to deliver the Table...
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Brooklyn/Williamsburg, NY - June 18, 2019 - On Friday, June 14 Bedford Center hosted an exciting Safety Fair in the front of their building to educate and prepare children for summer safety. Bedford Center takes child safety very seriously and spared no effort to bring a high level of awareness and entertainment to the children of Williamsburg. Amongst the featured presenters were members of Hatzalah, Shomrim and the FDNY.  All were focused on engaging the children and educating them about safety concerns. The event was attended by thousands of children, who all listened in rapt fascination as one important topic after another was broached amidst an environment of child friendly entertainment activities. אדר ב' תשע"ט ...
THE FOLLOWING IS VIA YWN This past Monday, YWN received two letters from the Beis Din in Manchester, England notifying consumers that a hechsher of the Gough Deli in Manchester was being removed effective immediately. It was due to allegations of non-Kosher meat seen in the establishment. On Tuesday morning, shock spread through the community when word spread that the owner of the establishment was found dead. Police are investigating the circumstances. The letter received by was signed by Dayan Yehudah Asher Steiner. The letter was verified by YWN to be authentic. The halachic rulings included in the letter stated that all products purchased in the deli in the past bearing the MK Hechsher are still considered to be kosher. It also stated that all products carrying a Liverpool Kas...
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