Haggadah Series - Part I - Teaching the Foundations of Faith

We have constant reminders in our daily tefillos and throughout the Torah that Hashem is our G-d Who took us out of Mitzrayim. There are four explanations to the fundamental question of why it is so important to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim. These concepts form the building blocks of what we are supposed to gain from the seder, and the essential principles of our faith which we give over to our children on seder night.

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Haggadah Series - Part II - Questions & Answers - Slavery & Freedom
The haggadah is written in question answer format in order for us to explain the mitzvos that we are doing on Pesach. Even if a person is alone, he is required to explain the mitzvos of the night through questions and answers. As servants of Hashem, we have the freedom to ask questions, and are told how what we do is the best thing us. This is true liberation--receiving answers to our questions, with the knowledge and understanding that the mitzvos we are doing can help us to reach our full potential.

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Haggadah Series - Part III - Identifying with the Jewish People

In the haggadah we read that every person is supposed to view themselves as if he himself left Mitzrayim. This does not require imagination; rather, we need to view ourselves as part of the chain of Klal Yisroel, part of a whole entity that was redeemed from Mitzrayim. It is a matter of our identity. Our tool for conveying this is the power of speech, as we tell over the story to our children. Through the positive power of speech, we are able to build a sense of connection and identity, and know that we are part of something greater, a nation that is bound by a covenant with Hashem that spans time. 

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Haggadah Series - Part IV - The Home and the Mikdash

Throughout the geulah process of Sefer Shemos, we are getting back to a place where Hashem's shechinah rests among us, just like it did with the Avos. However, there is a difference between the centralized mishkan, and the presence of Hashem on each and every home. On the original night of Pesach, each home served as the mishkan, with the doorposts serving as the mizbeach, We try to build this special, unique environment of Pesach, bringing people together in the home, united by the presence of Hashem and a greater goal.

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Haggadah Series - Part V - The Core Text of the Haggadah - Bikkurim
The body of the haggadah mainly consists of the concise story of Mitzrayim found in Parshas Bikkurim, rather than the more elaborate descriptions of Sefer Shemos. There are 3 elements that we discuss: a springboard for drashos (deeper explanations), our appreciation for Hashem's miracles, and the answer to the mystery of the missing 5th cup for “V'heiveisi�?. We also discuss how to celebrate the Seder without the Beis Hamikdash and Eretz Yisroel.

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New York - A pilot who died when his helicopter crashed atop a New York City skyscraper on June 10 had been flying erratically and said he did not know where he was shortly before the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a preliminary report released on Tuesday. The report said the pilot, who has been identified as Tim McCormack, 58, of Clinton Corners, New York, had asked air traffic controllers for permission to return to a heliport on East 34th Street and then changed course and altitude several times. He came within 500 feet of the heliport before reversing course and striking the 54-story AXA Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue in one of the city’s busiest areas a few blocks north of Times Square. No one in the building or on the ground was injured. ...
Springfield, IL - Illinois’ new governor delivered on a top campaign promise Tuesday by signing legislation legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, the 11th state to do so and the first to implement a comprehensive statewide cannabis marketplace designed by legislators. Legalization in Illinois also means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged, a provision minority lawmakers and interest groups demanded. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose election last year gave Democrats complete control over state government again after four years under GOP predecessor Bruce Rauner, signed the bill in Chicago amid a bevy of lawmakers and pot proponents. Under the measure, residents can...
Washington - U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American” after Tehran said the latest U.S. sanctions had scuttled any chance of diplomacy, calling White House actions “mentally retarded”. Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures, with punitive measures against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expected later this week. The moves came after Iran shot down a U.S. drone on June 20 and Trump called off a retaliatory air strike minutes before impact, saying too many people would have been killed. It would have been the first time the United States had bombed the Islamic Republic in four decades of mu...
New York -  Steve Dunleavy, a reporter and columnist for the New York Post who helped define the tabloid’s modern style, died. He was 81. The Post reported that Dunleavy died at his home on Long Island on Monday night. Steve Dunleavy was one of the greatest reporters of all time,” Post owner Rupert Murdoch said. “His passing is the end of a great era.” Dunleavy was born in Sydney, Australia, and began his journalism career at The Sun, where his father worked as a photographer. He did stints at a variety of newspapers, including the Daily Mirror and The South China Morning Post, before arriving in New York City in 1966 where he eventually joined the New York Post in 1977 shortly after Murdoch bought the tabloid. Dunleavy also helped create the television ne...
BREAKING: Melania Trump announces that her spokesperson Stephanie Grisham to be Next White House Press Secretary And Communications Director
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Orange County, NY - A Kiryas Joel paramedic was honored last night as ALS provider of the year by Orange County Department of Emergency Services, the first time a Chasidic individual has ever been selected to receive that award. Avrohom Yitzchok Flohr, a senior member of Kiryas Joel Hatzolah, was hailed for responding to 350 mutual aid calls, responding to calls from local ambulance companies located outside the village.  The decision to honor Flohr as the Advance Life Support provider of the year was made by the Orange County Emergency Medical Services council, said Frank Cassanite, deputy commissioner of Orange County EMS. “He is an excellent medic who does a great job for Orange County,” Cassanite told VIN News. “Their agency provides mutual aid services and he ...
Israel announced on Tuesday that it will cut the supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip in response to a wave of arson attacks from the Hamas enclave. At least 13 fires were started by incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip on Monday. “In the wake of the uptick of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel and arsons in the Gaza border area, it has been decided to stop transfers of fuel to the Gaza power station via the Kerem Shalom crossing beginning this morning,” said Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in a statement released on Tuesday morning. The statement came after local fire services in southern Israel fought at least 13 brush fires on Monday which were started by balloons loaded with flammables and launched into Israel...
Belgian counter-terror police have arrested a man suspected of plotting an attack against the US embassy in Brussels, federal prosecutors said Monday. The police on Saturday arrested the man following “converging signs raising fears of an attack against the US embassy,” the prosecutor’s office said. “The suspect has been detained for an alleged attempted attack within a terrorist context and preparation of a terrorist offence,” it said in a statement. The suspect, who identified only as M.G., denied the allegations. Read more at Arutz Sheva.
מעמד הנחת אבן הפינה לבנין ביהמ"ד החדש טשערנאביל בבארא פארק Hanuchas Even Hapinah for the new Chernobile Shul in Boro Park סיון תשע"ט
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.


AFTERWORD:
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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The Admor of Sadigura, Rav Yisroel Moshe Friedman, was taken to the hospital in Los Angeles yesterday to get treatment for a serious infection. The Admor, who is a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, traveled to Los Angeles a few months ago in order to receive medical treatment for an illness. Early Monday afternoon in Los Angeles he was admitted to the hospital in serious condition. Everyone is asked to please daven for Rav Yisrael Moshe ben Tzipora Feiga.
Recently, the Torah world was electrified by the news and video of the Shas Yiden public farher on the entire shas by Harav Nissan Kaplan and Harav Rephael Shmuelewitz at Yeshivas Daas Aharon. Maran Harav David Cohen, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron, suggested that yeshivos should invite the Shas Yiden avreichim geonim so that yeshiva bochrim could see true Shas Yiden and be inspired. Let the Geonim Test Them! However, Hagaon Harav Yehoshua Menachem Weiss, menahel haruchani of the Erlau Yeshiva Ketana in Bnei Brak, decided to go a step further. “The second shiur of the yeshiva had been spending many hours mastering the 120 daf of Bava Kamma. 20 of the bachurim knew the masechta both by heart and in depth. What better challenge could there be than for them to be tested by the Shas Yiden avrei...
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Baltimore, MD - June 25,  2019 - BJL wishes a hearty Mazel Tov to Avrumi & Aleeza Reches  on the birth of a son. Mazel Tov to grandparents Jeffrey & Renee Reches and David and Darlene Schwartz יה"ר שיזכו לגדל בנם לתורה, לחופה, ולמעשים טובים. אמן
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