A Palestinian terrorist infiltrated a home in Neve Tsuf (Halamish) at around 10 PM on Friday night and stabbed four Israelis. Three were killed and one person sustained serious wounds R”L. The victims were believed to be two men – one in his 40’s and one in his 60’s, and a woman in her 40’s.   MDA paramedics said another woman in her 60’s was enroute to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Yerushalayim in moderate to serious condition, with stab wounds to her upper body. The Palestinian terrorist was shot, reportedly by a neighbor who is an IDF soldier. T...
Baltimore, MD - July 21, 2017 - HaRav HaGaon Yisrael Newman, shlita...
Baltimore, MD – July 21, 2017 - Last Shabbos was only Rabbi Yechiel Shaffer’s second Shabbos as Pikesville Jewish Congregation’s (PJC’s) new Rabbi, yet in an exclusive Baltimore Jewish Life interview, I got the feeling that he already feels very much at home in Baltimore and with his new congregation. The London native assumed the pulpit position which was initially filled by Rabbi Daniel Lerner who, after leading PJC for two years from September 2014, moved on to teach at Yeshiva University. It was a pleasure to learn about Rabbi Shaffer, his family and congregation. BJL: Rabbi Shaffer, you have quite an impressive LinkedIn “resume” which includes your stints of leading NCSY-NJ as its OU education director, your assistant rabbi pulpits in The Hampton ...
New York financier Anthony Scaramucci has been formally named White House communications director and Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been promoted to press secretary in the Trump White House’s latest shakeup. Trump says in a statement read by Sanders that he’s “grateful” for departing press secretary Sean Spicer’s “work on behalf of my administration and the American people.” He adds: “just look at his great television ratings!” Scaramucci also is addressing reporters at the White House. He calls Spicer “a true American patriot” and says he hopes Spicer “goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
Officials in Hawaii are launching a campaign to help residents plan for a nuclear missile attack from North Korea — much to the dismay of the state’s tourism industry. The Aloha State’s Emergency Management Agency is kicking off an educational campaign aimed at helping people figure out what to do if strongman Kim Jung Un decides to follow through with his threats, according to Hawaii News Now. “We need to tell the public what the state is doing,” agency chief Vern Miyagi said. “We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public; however, we have a responsibility to plan for all hazards.” The plan, which will be unveiled in full on Friday, includes Cold War-style evacuation drills for school students and announcements that say “G...
Activists from a Turkish fascist youth movement whose leader enjoys close relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul on Thursday, throwing rocks at the building and kicking its doors during a protest against Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The group threatened further protests as it marched away from the synagogue. “We can come here tomorrow just like we are standing here today,” one of its members warned. “You will not be able to get inside.” Turkey’s Chief Rabbinate expressed concern that more attacks will be forthcoming and urged the government to act, declaring in a statement: “We condemn the provocative ac...
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President Donald Trump’s legal team is evaluating potential conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The revelation comes as Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election meddling appears likely to include some of the Trump family’s business ties. Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s external legal team, told The Associated Press Thursday that the lawyers “will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue.” Two of the people with knowledge of that process say those efforts include probing the political affiliations of Mueller’s investigators and their past work history. Trump himself ...
Thanks to the new state budget, Chicago families that send children to private school will see an additional $250 deducted from their state taxes each year. Together with a new $250 tax credit for teachers, this proposal was part of a package of measures supported by Agudath Israel of Illinois. As a member of the Illinois Kids Campaign coalition, Agudath Israel of Illinois (AIOI) was a part of the coalition that lobbied this year for a package of three tax credits related to education. The proposals included an increase to the existing education expense tax credit, a new teacher tax credit, and a scholarship tax credit. The existing education expense tax credit allowed all Illinois parents, regardless of income, to receive a tax credit of up to $500 for out-of-pocket education-relat...
WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
Right off the bat, let’s get one thing straight: It’s pronounced something like “gutter,” with the stress on the first syllable and the “g” a bit harder than the one in that English word, though not as hard as the “c” in “cutter.” When it comes to Qatar’s current geopolitical situation, though, things are more complicated.     The small country, which juts out like a sore thumb from the Arabian Peninsula into the Persian Gulf, has been effectively put into cherem by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a consortium of nearby countries consisting of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is widely seen as the force that spearheaded that econo...
Parsha Hashavua
Real Rabbinic Ordination

Since the Daf Yomi has started the tractate of Sanhedrin, a fascinating incident in Jewish Halachic history might be a good way – to help appreciate the first Mishna. The first Mishna, of course, lists the number of judges in a Bais Din that is necessary for the various types of judgments.

So let us take a journey back in time.


It is the year 1538. We are in Ottoman-era Syria. Twenty-five rabbis meet in the Holy city of Tzfas. And something extraordinary is about to transpire. These Rabbis are about to ordain Rabbi Yaakov Beirab, also known as the Mahari Beirab.

Why are they about to do this?


There is a grave social problem. There are former Marranos that have arrived in Eretz Yisroel, in Tzfas. The problems of the Conversos (Marranos) are close to Rabbi Yaakov Beirav’s heart. He himself had fled oppressive Christian Spain to Fez, Morocco, as a young man.

But his former countrymen did not have the opportunities that he had. The Marranos who stayed in Spain have incurred severe violations. They are violations that carry the punishment of Karais – the soul being cut off.

The Mishna in Makkos 23a tells us that if someone who would normally incur the punishment of Karais gets whipped by a Bais Din – he is exempt from the punishment of Karais. But there is one caveat. It must be a real Bais Din, with real dayannim (see Rambam Sanhedrin 15:3). They must be Dayanim whose Smicha can trace directly back to when Moshe Rabbeinu ordained Yehoshua. There has not been such Smicha in over a thousand years.

And so, the Mahari Beirav (see his responsum #63) embarked upon an incredible plan. The details of the plan? Let us re-institute real genuine Smicha!

The idea was first proposed by the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna in Sanhedrin (1:3). Later, when he formulated his monumental Mishna Torah, he wrote (Sanhedrin 4:11):
“..And it would appear to me that if all the sages of Israel would agree to appoint and ordain judges, then these would possess the authority of the original ordained judges..”

True, the Ramban dissents on this matter, but the Mahari Beirav was well-respected and proceeded with the plan. He concluded that the halacha was in accordance with the Rambam. In a remarkable halachic discourse in the great synagogue at Tzvas, the Mahari Bierav brought proofs from the Talmud in accordance with the Rambam.

Eventually, the Mahari Beirav ordained the Maharalbach of Yerushalayim, Rav Yoseph Karo – author of the SHulchan Aruch, Rav Moshe d’Trani and Rav Yoseph Sagis. Rav Karo subsequently ordained the Alshich, who then ordained Rav Chaim Vital. [The picture above of Rav Yoseph Karo is a painting done by Ori Dvir of Israel]

The ordination was stopped by the Ottoman authorities who thought that the Mahari Beirav was planning on establishing a Jewish State. The Mahari Beirav was also opposed by the very first recipient of his Smicha – the Maharalbach himself.

The idea was revived in 2004, when Rav Elyashiv zatzal and Rav Ovadiah Yoseph zatzal agreed to the ordaining of Rav Moshe Halberstam zt”l of the Eida haChareidis. Rav Halberstam gave Smicha to Rav Dov Halevanoni, who has in turn ordained a number of others.

There are, by the way, a number of other ways to effect a tikkun kareis,

The great AriZal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria describes a ritual known as “tikkun kareis” (see Shaar Ruach HaKodesh, p. 11b).

He writes as follows: “One who is awake all night and does not sleep at all, and immerses himself in the study of Torah that entire night will exempt himself from one punishment of kareis if, Heaven forbid, he has incurred it. Each night exempts one kareis.”

Rav Chaim Vital adds more information about the exact kavanos – intentions that one must have while learning Torah for the tikkun: One must connect his neshamah to the root above, thus rectifying Adam Elyon. One other caveat he adds is to refrain from haughtiness, anger, being makpid – particular with others, and lashon ha’ra.

The Sefer Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah (Shaar HaKollel) adds more to this list. The author writes that it is proper to study a subject that is related to the sin that one has committed, and that there are some propitious times for this ritual. The two most propitious times are during Yamim Nora’im and during the weeks of Shovevim Tat.

What is “Shovevim Tat”? It is a special time when teshuvah is more effective: the weeks that we read Sh’mos, Va’eira, Bo, BeShallach, Yisro, Mishpatim, Terumah, and Tetzaveh. The names of these parashios form the acronym “Shovevim Tat,” which means “those who return.” He also adds that ideally one should perform this tikkun while standing.

Does anyone else discuss this tikkun? Do any of the standard rabbinical texts and sources reference it? Are there any any Litvishe—non-Chassidish and non-Sephardic gedolim—who discuss it?

The answer is yes. The Rif (Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi) is known for his commentary summarizing the more pertinent aspects of the Talmud for us. The problem is that he did not write such a work on the order of the Talmud known as Kodshim.

To help fill this lacuna, the Chofetz Chaim himself wrote such a work, called Likutei Halachos. In the beginning of Maseches Kerisus the Chofetz Chaim references this custom cited in the Kabbalistic texts and adds the following words: “It is certain that if a person learns the entire maseches that deals with the punishment of kareis and the ways to avoid it, it will be enormously effective in cleansing his neshamah.” He further adds that it is especially true if he knows it well.

There are 28 pages in Kerisus (and it is only one volume in the ArtScroll), so it should not be stupendously difficult to master.

The AriZal also provides a list of sins with a corresponding number of fasts that (given the proper intentions; see p. 24) will atone for those sins (also in Shaar Ruach HaKodesh). The commentators ask (see Ohr LeTzion Vol. III, Ch. 30) an interesting question: Do these fasts atone for every instance of that particular sin, or is the entire cadre of fasts listed necessary for each and every instance of violation of each sin? Or perhaps is there a sort of “all-day pass” that requires more fasts, but not the entire list for each violation?

It seems that the answer to this question is cause for debate among halachic (or kabbalistic-halachic) authorities.

The first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman of Liady, writes in chapter three of his Iggeres HaTeshuvah (found in the Tanya) that it is necessary to fast three times the amount listed in the AriZal’s list, and the entire aveirah is thus fully atoned for. Rav Yoseph Chaim in response Rav Pealim (Vol. III, No. 35) writes that one only need follow the AriZal’s formula once, and each violation of that sin in the past is atoned for (it pays to be a Sephardi). There is also an accepted practice to redeem the fasts with tzedakah. This practice is cited by the Mishnah Berurah, the GraZ, and the Kaf HaChaim (O.C. 119:15). To calculate the proper amount, one must figure out the portion cost per meal (actually probably total meals for that day) and multiply it by the numbers listed by the AriZal. He also points out that one cannot mix tikkunim; each fasting for a particular sin must be kept separate (p. 25).

The punishment of kareis is only for prohibitions one committed after the age of 20. So even though one is certainly liable for sins committed at age 13–20 (12–20 for girls), the punishment of kareis does not begin until one’s 20th birthday.

Some authorities read the Rambam as being of the opinion that liability for kareis begins at 13; they infer this from what he writes in the laws of milah, that from age 13 if one did not yet have a b’ris milah he must do so, and if he does not, he is chayav kareis. However, the Rambam clearly writes in his commentary to the seventh chapter of Sanhedrin that the period for kareis begins at age 20.

To be liable for kareis, there is no prerequisite of hasra’ah (warning). The reason is that since the punishment is meted out by Heaven, it is clearly known in the heavenly courts what the perpetrators intentions were.

In conclusion, we see that there are steps by which one can recover from a kareis-inducing violation. They involve sincere repentance, special kavanos, and all-night Torah study. Ultimately, it is worthwhile to pursue, since Hashem does not want the death or destruction of those who sin. Rather, He desires our penance and return to Torah and His ways.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

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G-d presents Moshe with his final mission before he is to be ‘gathered’ unto his people and depart this world. He is told to take vengeance for the Children of Israel by waging war against the nation Midian who incited them to immorality and idolatry, causing the deaths of 24,000 Jews in the resulting plague. We would have imagined that the nation knowing that this is their ‘last stand’ in collaboration with their beloved leader would put them to the task to get it right. Moshe too, would have certainly exerted much effort to inspire them after all their previous failures, in concluding his illustrious career with a flourish by bringing about a flawless dispatching of their responsibilities in carrying out the word of G-d to perfection. In an apparent anticlimacti...
Baltimore, MD - July 21, 2017 - Conversation in line at the Cafeteria of Deafblind Camp of Maryland using tactile sign language*: Sharon (interpreter): Look, Martin, there’s pork! Martin: Don’t tell the rabbi! Actually, I would really rather be in NY having a Kosher deli sandwich.” Steve: This camp is great but this is a little different for us… Fast forward 10 years, Sharon from Las Vegas, Martin from NY and Steve from DC just attended the 5th Deafblind Shabbaton where Deafblind Jews and interpreters gathered, thanks to that initial conversation in the camp cafeteria. “The professional level of the Shabbaton was mind-blowing,” exclaimed Sharon. 18 deafblind adults gathered from Arizona, New York, Seattle, Texas, Israel, Cleveland, Maryland, DC, Ne...
Kiddush Levana Jul 26 3:39 pm - Aug 07 10:01 am
Tammuz 28
Parshas Matos-Massei / Shabbos Mevarchim Menachem Av / Baltimore Zmanim / Eruv is UP! Baltimore, MD – July 21, 2017  Parshas:  Matos/Massei Today:    27 Tammuz      Chatzos: 1:13 PM Hadlakas Nairos: 8:10 PM Shkiah:                   8:28:40 PM Tzais HaKochavim:  9:19 PM Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av: Monday, July 24th
The fast-growing Hasidic Jewish village of Kiryas Joel has finalized an agreement with local opponents that could ease its path to expanding its borders as a more independent town. Kiryas Joel would become the town of Palm Tree only if the proposal is approved by a supermajority of county lawmakers and voters in the surrounding Hudson Valley town of Monroe. The deal is designed to reduce long-standing tensions between the densely populated village and residents of the suburban area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City. As part of the deal, the local residents’ group, United Monroe, agreed to drop its opposition to an approved 164-acre (66-hectare) expansion and support the addition of 56 more acres (22 hectares). Kiryas Joel agreed to a 10-year prohibition on sup...
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House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she has spoken with Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice more than a month ago, and “he sounded wonderful.” Pelosi began her weekly news conference on Thursday by discussing the news of Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer. She said she knows the 80-year-old Arizona senator will keep on fighting. Pelosi said she also let Scalise know of lawmakers’ prayers for his recovery, and she cautioned the Louisiana Republican not to try to return to work too soon. Pelosi also says she sought to comfort his family, “but their strength is a comfort to the rest of us.” Scalise remains in fair condition in a Washington hospital after several surgeries.
We regret to inform you of the Petira of Hagaon HaRav Shlomo Goldman ZATZAL, the Zvhiller Rebbe of Union City, (also known as the Zvhil-Sanzer Rebbe). He was Niftar after an illness. He was 70. Reb Shlomo was born in Yerushalayim, and was the son of the previous Zviller Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Mordchai Goldman. He was the son-in-law of the late Sanz-Klausenburger Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam ZATZAL. The Rebbe led the community in Union City, NJ, which was founded by his father-in-law in in 1968. The Levaya will be held on Friday at 11:00AM in Union City, and on Sunday in Eretz Yisroael, where he will be buried on Ha Hazeisim. Sadly, the Rebbe never had any children. Please learn לעילוי נשמתו for רבי שלמה בן רבי מרדכי זצ”ל.
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There was no immediate word on injuries Service on the B subway line is suspended and Q trains are being rerouted because of a rail condition in Brooklyn, the MTA said Friday. The agency initially reported the situation as a "derailment," but later referred to the issue as a "rail condition" at Brighton Beach. It's not clear what happened, but as of 9:30 a.m., the B line was shut down and southbound Q trains were running on the N line from Atlantic Avenue to Coney Island. There was no immediate word on possible injuries. Chopper 4 over the scene showed personnel in reflective vests standing in the tracks around two cars of a stalled subway train.  It comes less than a month after 34 people were injured when an A train derailed near the 125th Street station in Harlem...
The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trumpcampaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. John Dowd, one ...
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Since the Daf Yomi has started the tractate of Sanhedrin, a fascinating incident in Jewish Halachic history might be a good way – to help appreciate the first Mishna. The first Mishna, of course, lists the number of judges in a Bais Din that is necessary for the various types of judgments. So let us take a journey back in time. THE INCIDENT It is the year 1538. We are in Ottoman-era Syria. Twenty-five rabbis meet in the Holy city of Tzfas. And something extraordinary is about to transpire. These Rabbis are about to ordain Rabbi Yaakov Beirab, also known as the Mahari Beirab. Why are they about to do this? THE PROBLEM There is a grave social problem. There are former Marranos that have arrived in Eretz Yisroel, in Tzfas. The problems of the Conversos (Marranos) are close to Rabb...
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat: "The decision of Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy to place metal detectors on the Temple Mount is a courageous decision, because at this time last week two policemen were murdered at the site. This decision is a responsible one that will help to ensure that such incidents do not repeat themselves.  We will not succumb to threats and allow terror to win. Even if we face security challenges, today and in the future, this is the right decision, and we must stand with the police and support them. I commend the Jerusalem District Police Commander for his leadership in leading the decision and the Cabinet for their backing.  This is not a political matter; it is a professional, security issue. No one is challenging the status quo on the Te...
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