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June 2019

6/3-6/4: NextLevel Giving

6/22: NextLevel Shabbos

6/24: NextLevel Celebration
featuring Avraham Fried!


Washington - U.S. Attorney General William Barr, displaying a little-known talent, played “Scotland the Brave” on his bagpipes on Wednesday, joining in with the New York City Police Department’s famed Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society. The performance by the band, set up by U.S. attorneys in Maryland and Virginia as a surprise for Barr, occurred at a Justice Department conference in Washington. Barr, named attorney general by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in February, is a competitive bagpiper. Barr said afterward that when he learned of the pipe band’s appearance, despite the attorneys’ efforts to keep it under wraps, he decided to do them one better and join in. “I’m very proficient at, dare I say the word, spying,...
Jerusalem - Israel has used its cyber intelligence capabilities to thwart around 50 ISIS terrorist attacks in dozens of countries worldwide, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday. While Israel previously disclosed that it had provided the intelligence to thwart an ISIS plot to bomb a United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, Netanyahu revealed that the intelligence that broke the case was obtained through cyber tools. He said that while he could not give specifics, the audience could “multiply by about 50” the Sydney airline terrorist plot, and that would be the number of terrorist plots worldwide (mostly by ISIS) that Israel has helped to prevent thanks to its cyber intelligence powe...
Amsterdam - The Dutch national railway NS said in a statement on Wednesday it would offer financial compensation to survivors and families of Holocaust victims who were transported via Dutch rail to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The railway, which is owned by the government, announced the decision at a ceremony in Utrecht. The NS said it had reserved “several tens of millions of euros” for payments to affected people, including Jews and other minority groups targeted by the Nazi regime. An estimated 100,000 Dutch Jews - or 70% of the pre-war total - were deported and murdered in Nazi concentration camps. Read more at Reuters
Miami - Sixty seconds for answers, a television audience of millions and, for some candidates, a first chance to introduce themselves to voters. The back-to-back Democratic presidential debates beginning Wednesday are exercises in competitive sound bites featuring 20 candidates hoping to oust President Donald Trump in 2020. The hopefuls range widely in age, sex and backgrounds and include a former vice president, six women and a pair of mayors. The challenge: Convey their plans for the nation, throw a few elbows and sharpen what’s been a blur of a race so far for many Americans. What to watch Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo: ___ WHAT’S HER PLAN? Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s task is to harness the recent momentum surrounding her campaign to prove t...
Washington - Documents released Wednesday show the National Security Agency improperly collected phone records four months after it said it had fixed technical problems that caused another similar collection of unauthorized and inaccurate data that violated federal law. The internal documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show the NSA in October 2018 received data from a phone company in violation of limits set by Congress. The ACLU obtained the records in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The revelation of another problem with the NSA’s call records program comes as it is set to expire at the end of this year unless an increasingly critical Congress agrees to extend it. “These documents further confirm that this surveillance program is beyond redemption...
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 26 June 2019), at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, met with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera. Also attending the meeting were Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science Ministry Director General Ran Bar and additional senior officials. Attending for the Chilean side were Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Minister Andres Couve, Foreign Ministry director general Patricio Torres and additional senior officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel and Chile have a lot in common. We share values of democracy and human rights. We share a belief in market economies and both of us have done a few things to promote these values in our respective countries. We ...
Baltimore, MD - June 26, 2019 - Baltimore drivers are the worst- again. For the second straight year, Allstate ranks Baltimore drivers last out of the nation’s 200 largest cities. The ranking is based on the average number of insurance claims per driver and an Allstate app that monitors driver behavior. Drivers in Washington, D.C. are the second worst, while the best drivers hail from Brownsville, Texas.
I get all the news I need from the weather report… Paul Simon Minhag has always been foundational to our Jewish experience.  One of the great benefits of valuing minhag is that our tradition gives us a common narrative, a common reference, and a common context for our lives.  As it turns out, tradition, or convention, is just as important for our secular lives.  Today, as we sink ever deeper into angry discourse we find it is in no small measure because we are unable to agree on a common narrative, an agreed-upon truth upon which we can base our opinions and positions.  This inability to find a common “language” has been exacerbated by a flood of “fake news” that permeates our media and discourse.  Such “fake news” is a...
Baltimore, MD – June 26, 2019 - It is with sadness that informs the community of the petirah of Mrs. Sara Monir Badamkesh (Arieh), a’h, mother of Rabbi Reuven Arieh,  Dena Derech Chaim, Yaffa Mehrabi, Benham Arieh, and Yechezkeil Arieh. Shiva is being  observed through Monday morning, July 1 at 7000 Boxford Road, Baltimore, MD, 21215. Please respect the visiting hours: 7:00AM - 10:00AM and 5:00 PM-9:00PM,    Minyanim: Shacharit: 7:00 AM   Minchah/Arvit: 7:45PM Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Shelach - When It Comes To Israel G-D Tells It Like It Is

I get all the news I need from the weather report…

Paul Simon

Minhag has always been foundational to our Jewish experience.  One of the great benefits of valuing minhag is that our tradition gives us a common narrative, a common reference, and a common context for our lives. 

As it turns out, tradition, or convention, is just as important for our secular lives.  Today, as we sink ever deeper into angry discourse we find it is in no small measure because we are unable to agree on a common narrative, an agreed-upon truth upon which we can base our opinions and positions.  This inability to find a common “language” has been exacerbated by a flood of “fake news” that permeates our media and discourse.  Such “fake news” is a kind of propaganda that is based on deliberate misinformation communicated by traditional media and, in the most incendiary manner, by social media.  Its purpose is to mislead, to confuse, to overwhelm with an ultimate purpose to undermine agencies, people or entities upon which most people had trusted. 

In short, to confuse our common language and conventions.

As disturbing as “fake news” is in our lives, we need to appreciate that it is not a new phenomenon.  The propaganda machine that powered Nazi Germany was, first and foremost, a powerful and effective method of creating a false narrative, or promulgating “fake news”. 

The impulse to create “fake news” and our vulnerability to fall victim to it, predates even the evils of the last century. 

The Rambam taught that man, being a social animal, “…is to be drawn in his opinions and his actions after his friends and companions.”  That is, we are primed by our natures to believe – and be responsive to – what we hear and learn from our friends.  It is for this reason that the Rambam counsels that we, “…dwell amongst righteous and wise individuals.”  By doing so, we can keep our distance from the wicked.

We must all be careful of the company we keep, and the information we encounter.  It was true for the Rambam.  It is true now.  Ultimately, “fake news” is not a function of media but of our inherent natures, and it has plagued us through the generations of our history. 

Has there ever been a greater or more damaging example of Fake News and its awful consequences than our own experience with the twelve meraglim?  The twelve had been sent to scout the Land – despite God’s promise to our forefathers, to Moshe, and to the People themselves!  The truth was clear – the Land would be delivered to us.  Even so, fear and doubt were ever present in the people and their lack of faith created the perfect environment for Fake News to take root.  Never mind God’s promises, the people demanded the meraglim be sent to see for themselves.  God acceded to the people, hoping they might learn from their doubt. 

“Send forth men, if you please, and let them spy out the Land…”   Shelach lecha [lit. for yourself] anashim.   Rashi teaches that when the people came to Moshe, demanding that the meraglim be sent to survey the land and report back, he consulted with God who responded, “I have told them that the Land is good.  But since they question Me, I will let them test My veracity at the risk of being misled and losing their chance to enter the Land.”  

Moshe knew that God’s promise was integral to His saving the nation from Egypt’s bondage, to bring them to the Promised Land

But if Moshe was so certain, why did he take their demand to God?  Why did he “humor” their fear and doubt?  Ultimately, he did so because it was his hope and expectation that by doing so, it would become clear to them that their request was foolhardy.  Sadly, he was wrong.  And the ensuing disaster continues to plague us, as it has through the annals of Jewish history.

Sending the meraglim was not “fake news”.  As the Baal Akeidah notes (without using the term) the “fake news” was in their “editorializing” their report.  Efes ki az ha’am – “But all this is for naught, because the nation there is too strong.” Bamidbar 13:28 

But had they really “overstepped”?  The Shloh asks, “Hadn’t Moshe asked them to report whether ‘…is it strong or weak. few or numerous...good or bad… open or fortified...”?  Don’t such questions indeed invite, demand “editorial” comment?

In most situations, when we ask for a factual, objective report, that is what we should get.  But when it comes to the Land of Israel, “objective and factual” fall short.  It was thus in the days of the mergalim and it is true today.  Facts aren’t enough.  Neither are the approaches of the nations of the world.   Fake news about the Jewish state has a long history.  One pernicious lie suggests that Israel, not Arab terrorists, was behind the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. In 2011, the ADL wrote, “In the ten years since the...attacks...conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks have become an entrenched propaganda industry.”

Polls note that most respondents in majority-Muslim nations believe that Israel was responsible for the attack. Fewer than a third believe that Arab terrorists conducted the assault, and the number of people inclined to believe conspiracy theories, often blaming Jews and Israel, continues to grow. 

Moshe was under no illusion about the mergalim and the report they would make.  That there were fortified cities in the Land, or descendants of Amalek in the south or any number of other threats and dangers would not have surprised him.  He knew that these facts did not and could not change the truth of God’s promise.  He believed, and he trusted that the people would believe too.  He believed that the mergalim who wanted to go and see the Land for themselves would return with words of strength and encouragement.  After all, they had seen with their own eyes the redemption from Egypt; they had experienced themselves the many miracles God delivered to Am Yisrael.  How could they return without an affirmation of God’s promise?

Facts were facts.  They espied facts and forgot God’s promise; they concluded disaster.  The consequences of their failure of faith that our connection to Israel should never be evaluated by the same limited considerations as any other entity continues to plague us to our own days. 

In other facets of life, data suffices.  But when it comes to the Land of Israel all we need to know is that without God we could not possess so much as a sliver of the Land – not then, not now.  Natural law does not govern Israel; no derech ha’teva there.  God governs Israel.  Period.  In Devarim (11:12), the Torah states it as a given, “the Land upon which Hashem your God seeks its welfare constantly; His Eyes are upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.”  

Israel is unique.  It is governed by God’s rules not man’s. 

Moshe believed.  He did not need reports, data, information, editorials and UN Security Council analyses.  He did not need the mergalim or their report.  All that was simply background noise. 

Rabbi Frand reminds us of the prophecy in Jeremiah where God instructs the prophet to go and buy a field in the Land of Israel and record the deed. (Jeremiah 32:9-10) Buy land?  When the land was being destroyed?  Foolishness! 

Foolishness in Boro Park, or Flatbush, or Edgeware, or France but not in Israel.  No matter how bleak the situation in the short term, God says we will return, we will rebuild, we will renew.  We will flourish!

So yes, Jeremiah, go and buy a field and record the deed, because He will return and bring us back to His land!  Ignore the “fake news” that it can’t be done.  If God promises, it will come to pass.

No place else in the world is there the promise that, “Hashem your God seeks their welfare constantly.”  Eretz Yisrael is different; it is unique.  Any “news report” to the contrary is “fake news.”

So why do the people fall for “fake news”?  We return to Rambam’s insight.  Man “…is to be drawn in his opinions and his actions after his friends and companions.”  The simple fact is that the public is not well-equipped to separate quality information from false information.  This is particularly true for young people.  It is true now.  It was true then.  The people did not have the tools to discern between the words of God and Moshe and the mergalim

“Fake news”

How do we separate fiction from fact?  Most people think they can tell the difference.  But like the people hearing the report of the mergalim, they cannot.   Worse, people tend to believe “information” that supports their preconceived ideas.  They retreat to their news source “echo chamber”, which simply amplifies the things they already believe.  As a result, not only are positions hardened but traditional media – conventional wisdom and the common narrative – becomes distrusted. 

Our institutions are being eroded at their foundations.  Just as in times past, “fake news” is essential to this destructive process.   We will continue to be punished by the consequences of “fake news” if we continue to embrace it.

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Washington - U.S. President Donald Trump, without offering evidence, directly accused former Special Counsel Robert Mueller of committing a crime on Wednesday, saying Mueller had illegally “terminated” FBI communications as part of his Russia investigation. The Justice Department and a Mueller spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. “Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated all of the emails. ... Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network, referring to two former Federal Bureau of Investigation employees who exchanged disparaging messages about the president. Trump made the remark...
Former prime minister Ehud Barak announces he’ll challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the September elections. Barak is launching his party with a tirade against Netanyahu and the corruption cases against him. “Netanyahu has reached the end [of his career[,” says Barak, claiming even the prime minister’s associates are well aware of this. “The Netanyahu regime must be felled, not saved,” he says. Read more at Times of Israel.
SimchasSimchas Simcha
Israel has used cyber-intelligence to help foil “major” terror attacks planned by the Islamic State terror group and others in “dozens” of countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cybersecurity conference on Wednesday in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu said at the conference that Israel had, for example, helped foil an IS attack on an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, and alerted Australian officials, helping thwart an explosion in the air. Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates. “That plane from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was going to be exploded in midair,” he said. “We found out through our cyber activities, we found out that ISIS was going to do this and so we alerted the Australian police and they stopped this, b...
The Kever Malachim, a 2,000-year-old archaeological gem in the heart of Yerushalayim owned by France, is set to reopen to the public for the first time since 2010, the French consulate said Wednesday. The elaborate Roman-era tomb with stone shelves that once held sarcophagi, considered among the largest in the region, will be opened on Thursday, and the following Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the consulate’s website said. Visits will be limited to 15 people in 45-minute stretches, the ticket order page said, noting the need for “proper dress” at the Kever Malachim, which underwent over a million dollars in renovations in the past ten years. Read more at i24NEWS.
Nichum AveilimNichum Aveilim Aveilim
Parkland shooting survivor-turned-gun control activist David Hogg said Tuesday that he’s been the target of seven assassination attempts since the mass shooting at his high school last year thrust him and his classmates to the forefront of the gun debate. “In the past year, there have been seven assassination attempts,” Mr. Hogg, 19, told The Washington Post. “Honestly, I realize that it’s horrible that I have to live through this, and it is traumatizing. “But you eventually become desensitized to it,” he continued. “Like, oh, your house got SWAT-ted. You got a call from the police saying someone said that everyone in your family had been killed and that you are being held hostage for $100,000. Right? That becomes part of daily life. It&rsq...
President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Tuesday to retired Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia for heroism during the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War, making him the first living Iraq veteran to receive the nation’s highest military honor for valor. In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, the president bestowed the award on Sgt. Bellavia, 43, for saving the lives of a squad of soldiers during brutal house-to-house fighting during the second battle of Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004. “It’s a very special day for you and for all of us — the nation, actually,” Mr. Trump said to applause from Sgt. Bellavia’s former unit members, family and others in recognizing his bravery during the war. He is the sixth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for com...
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Dow futures perked up Wednesday, signaling a higher open after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a trade deal between the U.S. and China was “90%” complete. In an interview on CNBC, Mnuchin said he was hopeful President Donald Trump’s upcoming meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping would kick-start stalled talks. Though he declined to speculate on whether a trade deal would be reached by year’s end, Mnuchin said an agreement was “about 90 percent of the way there.” “I think there’s a path to complete this.” he added. The markets reacted accordingly, with the Dow Jones industrial average pointing to a 100 point gain at open. Trump and Xi will meet at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, this weekend – their first face-t...
At Oberlin, victim status gives you privilege to shoplift The outcome of a lawsuit against a liberal arts college in northern Ohio highlights how little cultural elites have learned from Donald Trump's shocking 2016 victory. A jury awarded $11 million in compensatory damages and $33 million in punitive damages (almost certain to be reduced to no more than $22 million) to Gibson's Bakery in its suit against Oberlin College. The case was heard in Lorain County, a heavily unionized former Democratic stronghold, which Barack Obama carried comfortably twice. The obvious revulsion of the jury for Oberlin College may be a favorable omen for Trump's reelection bid. The events leading Gibson's Bakery and its owners to file suit against Oberlin College and Vice President Dr. M...
Classifieds Classifieds
Dubai - As Iran prepares to surpass limits set by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, each step it takes narrows the time the country’s leaders would need to have enough highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb — if they chose to build one. The United Nations says Iran has so far respected the deal’s terms. But by Thursday, Iran says it will have over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium in its possession, which would mean it had broken out of the atomic accord. European countries that are still a part of the nuclear accord face a July 7 deadline imposed by Tehran to offer a better deal and long-promised relief from U.S. sanctions, or Iran will also begin enriching its uranium closer to weapons-grade levels. Breaking the stockpile limit by itself d...
Parkland, FL - Two additional deputies have been fired as a result of an internal affairs investigation into the agency’s response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people, the Broward County sheriff said Wednesday. At a brief news conference, Sheriff Gregory Tony said deputies Edward Eason and Josh Stambaugh were fired Tuesday for their inaction following the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting. He did not provide details but said a lengthy report would be released later. “In essence, it was neglect of duty. We lost 17 people,” Tony said. Two other deputies were fired earlier this month for neglect of duty. One of those was school resource officer Scot Peterson, who was also arrested for child neglect, culpable negligence and perju...
Chesed Chesed
President Reuven Rivlin welcomed President of Chile Sebastián Piñera to Beit HaNasi today, Wednesday, June 26 / 23 Sivan. President Piñera, who is visiting Israel, was received in an official red carpet ceremony during which the two national anthems were played. The presidents reviewed an IDF honor guard and then made joint statements to the press At the beginning of his Hebrew remarks, with Spanish translation for guests, President Rivlin welcomed President Piñera on his second visit to Israel, noting the historic connection between the State of Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people since the days of King David. As you know, the sovereign State of Israel allows, develops and cares for freedom of worship...
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