Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz are expected to be at the White House next Tuesday to discuss the “Deal of the Century.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the gift of the century on Thursday when Vice President Mike Pence invited him and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to the White House for talks next Tuesday about the long-awaited peace plan, otherwise known as the “Deal of the Century.”It is a gift for a number of reasons. First, on Tuesday, the Knesset is scheduled to hold a fateful vote on Netanyahu&rsqu...
Baltimore, MD - Jan. 23, 2020 - On the 90th anniversary of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe’s visit to Baltimore, a commemorative gathering occurred at the historic Downtown Tzemach Tzedek Shul, where a large crowd came together to learn the same Chasidic discourse he delivered- at that exact time, in that exact place. In 5690 (1930), the Previous Lubavitch Rebbe spent a year in America during which he visited several US cities. One of those cities was Baltimore, where he stayed for three weeks, from 12 Teves until 4 Shvat. The newspaper accounts of his visit noted that over three thousand people came to welcome the Rebbe at Baltimore's Mt. Royal station.  On the Yahrtzait of his ancestor the Baal Hatanya, Chof Daled Teves, the Previous Rebbe visited the...
                                         Heads of State from Europe, North America and Australia gather at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
When G-d first instructs Moshe to confront Pharaoh, he is told to tell him that “the G-d of the עברים/Hebrews, happened upon us. And now please let us go...” (שמות ג יח) Although Jews are previously identified in the Torah as עברים in the plural, and עברי in the singular, this is the first time G-d is described as the ‘G-d of the עברים/Hebrews’. In the prelude to the three plagues of דבר/Plague, ברד/Hail, and ארבה/Locusts, Moshe again is told to warn Pharaoh in the name of the ‘G-d of the Hebrews’. Elsewhere Moshe speaks of the ‘G-d of Israel’. Why in regard to these plagues is G-d associated with the Hebrews specifically? This appellation relates to the very first Hebrew, our illustrious ‘father&...
NEW YORK (AP) – If you’re spending a lot on convenience — whether in the form of grocery delivery, ride-hailing or meal delivery — your credit card wants to reward you for it, while encouraging you to spend more. Consider these recent offerings: — Chase announced in January that for a limited time, eligible cardmembers can get free memberships to DoorDash’s subscription food delivery service, DashPass, valued at $9.99 a month. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also now offers a complimentary one-year Lyft Pink subscription, which comes with several perks. — The Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard, launched in October, offers its highest rewards, 5% back, on purchases made online and through the Walmart app, which includes Walmart Grocery Pickup and ...
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Pete Buttigieg finds himself in a place that he could hardly have contemplated when he began running for president a year ago: He likely cannot finish lower than second in the Iowa caucuses if he wants to advance in the Democratic presidential nominating campaign. But less than two weeks before the first preferences of the 2020 presidential campaign are recorded, that’s the narrow path he is navigating as his strong campaign organization, competitive poll numbers and wildly successful fundraising meet a reckoning moment. Can he now meet lofty expectations, or is he relegated to the category of candidates with exceptional promise only to come up short? “I’m not sure a win is necessary, but he’s got to be in the top two, I would think, to...
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Joe Biden said definitively on Wednesday that he would not participate in any witness swap as part of the Senate impeachment trial. His remarks came as other top Senate Democrats attempted to tamp down any notion that they would agree to call Biden or his son Hunter in return for appearances by top Trump administration officials. Biden’s remarks, his most forceful attempt to signal that he wants no part of the impeachment trial in which Republicans are trying to embroil him, came after a voter here asked if he would offer to testify in return for testimony from people such as former national security adviser John Bolton or acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The former vice president said it was “not an irrational question to ask” but said that he would not engage in s...
NEW YORK (AP-The Conversation) – Is it OK for teens to drink coffee? When my daughter was around 14 years old, she began to ask if she could have a cup of coffee in the morning like Mom and Dad. As a scientist who studies the effects of caffeine – the ingredient in coffee that helps wake you up – on kids, I had more information available to me to inform my answer than most parents would. Many kids and teens consume caffeine. The main source of this chemical is soda for children under 12. Even colas have lower levels of caffeine than tea or coffee. Kids and teens can also get caffeine from many foods and drinks, including chocolate, chocolate milk and iced tea. What’s more, some over-the-counter medications that kids might take, such as Excedrin, are significant s...
Senior adviser to President Donald Trump Jared Kushner and U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz will not attend the gathering of world leaders at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on Thursday due to bad weather. The two were scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday night straight from Davos, Switzerland, where they are taking part in the annual World Economic Forum alongside President Trump, but along with U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook could not make it to the Zurich airport on time to catch the flight to Israel due to inclement weather, and therefore a decision was made to return to the United States with Trump. Israel Hayom has learned that the peace team is expected to make a visit to Israel in the near future to ...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Va'Eira - Holy Amphibians

When G-d first instructs Moshe to confront Pharaoh, he is told to tell him that “the G-d of the עברים/Hebrews, happened upon us. And now please let us go...” (שמות ג יח)

Although Jews are previously identified in the Torah as עברים in the plural, and עברי in the singular, this is the first time G-d is described as the ‘G-d of the עברים/Hebrews’.

In the prelude to the three plagues of דבר/Plague, ברד/Hail, and ארבה/Locusts, Moshe again is told to warn Pharaoh in the name of the ‘G-d of the Hebrews’.

Elsewhere Moshe speaks of the ‘G-d of Israel’. Why in regard to these plagues is G-d associated with the Hebrews specifically?

This appellation relates to the very first Hebrew, our illustrious ‘father’, אברהם העברי, Avraham the Hebrew. This connotes his having stood בעבר אחד, on ‘one side’ against the entire world who all opposed him. His descendants who hopefully follow suit, thus also earn the title עברים/ Hebrews. 

The Midrash, though, offers an alternative explanation, alleging that עברים is a contraction of the two words: עברו ים, they passed through the sea, a reference to their miraculous crossing the ים סוף, the Sea of Reeds.

Isn’t that an event that had yet to transpire? How could that be the source of this term that was used to describe the family of Yosef much earlier in Egypt?

Water symbolizes physical matter. It is not only due to the fact that water is necessary for the living organisms. Its very nature, that allows it to take on the form and shape of the vessel it is placed in, emphasizes its lack of meaningful ‘form’.

When we entered the Sea of Reeds, we entered a new realm of life where man can now remain with his feet on terra firma, anchored to our spiritual nature, without being inundated by the waters of nature, the forces of materialism. We can defy the laws of nature.

This quality was already inherent within us, a quality we inherited from Avraham Avinu who was able to withstand the powerful forces of nature, remaining ‘apart’ and unaffected from the attitudes and indulgences of a pagan world. (שם משמואל, מהר"ל)

The world couldn’t figure out what these Jews are all about. Are they one of us, they wondered, or are they different creatures?

Perhaps this is the condescending reference to the עברים who seem to connect with the societies they inhabit, yet remain apart. That was Pharaoh’s initial fear regarding the ‘fifth column’ which lived amongst them. Will they remain allied to us or will they suddenly transform into a different being?

A dear friend, a prominent physician and Talmid Chochom, father of a beautiful and inspired family, shared with me a very touching anecdote related to his personal trajectory to the meaningful life he merits to live.

Coming from a traditional, but not fully observant home, his parents sent him to a local coed Jewish Day school, renowned for its academic excellence. Hailing from a home of sophisticated professionals, he was highly motivated and excelled in school at both his Judaic and secular studies. A darling of his Rabbeim, he advanced each year in his personal observance of mitzvos. Towards the end of his junior year, his principal approached him and inquired about his summer plans. He told him that he was very much looking forward to an action-packed fun-filled summer together with friends at a coed youth program at a Kibbutz in Israel.

His principal looked him squarely in the eyes and asked him if he was an amphibian. The young man was bemused by the question but quickly understood his principal’s intimation. Here he was growing in Torah and mitzvos during his sojourn on the fertile terrain of his school, and for the next two months he’d be jumping into the dangerous waters of temptation. He contemplated for a moment and responded with a sheepish grin, “Indeed, I’m amphibious and can live happily in both worlds!”  His genuinely concerned principal warmly responded that he was in error, because an amphibian is not a creature that can live part of the year one way and the other part differently. An amphibian maintains its ability to alight to land even while it swims in deep waters.

That brief exchange transformed his entire perspective. He decided then and there to take his principal’s advice to join NCSY’s sports camp that summer.

The rest is history.

When G-d created the world, He decreed “let the waters beneath the heaven be gathered into one area, and let the dry land appear”.

Man struggled to maintain his equilibrium despite the tension that existed between the waters which held back its waves, allowing man to flourish on dry land. As long as man remained ‘apart’, the land gave forth its bounty, preventing the waves of temptation from inundating him.

But humanity failed. They indulged, descending to depravity. The waters were unleashed and flooded the planet.

And He blotted out, כל היקום, all the existence that was on the face of the ground...

Egypt represented a return to those earlier follies. G-d was ready to forge a nation that would escape from these clutches learning how to live as true amphibians, never succumbing to the tidal waves that sought to drown them. G-d would demonstrate before the world that the mighty forces of a physical world would go awry in the face of those who couldn’t maintain a healthy and safe distance, drowning in its pull.

The word used to portray man’s success in life, utilizing plant and animal life to support his vital needs and developing society and commerce is יקום, translating literally as that which gives man ‘standing’ on safe ground.

The three plagues that specifically attacked vegetative and animal life, the source of man’s sustenance, were the: Plague that devastated their livestock; Hail, which destroyed much of their crops; Locust, that decimated all the plants that were left.

The Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea...

When we, ‘עברים/Hebrews’, entered the sea it was a reenactment of creation. This time we became so elevated to be beyond the limitation of nature. We breathed as if we were on land despite being surrounded by a world lacking gaseous oxygen.

We are ‘holy’ amphibians who are capable of overcoming the powerful forces of our material existence by nourishing our lungs with the oxygen we need that can only be provided by immersing ourselves in a life of Torah and mitzvos, the gills that provide eternal life.


צבי יהודה טייכמאן 

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The brand new Bnos Devorah Raizel elementary girls school, currently under construction on Laurel Park Road, in South Fallsburg, NY, was destroyed by a fire this morning. The building was almost completed, and a chanukas habayis had been planned in the near future. The few hundred students of the school have been located in temporary trailers. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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Former Vice President Al Gore says the climate crisis is intensifying “way faster” than people realize and compared the climate emergency to historic events like 9/11. “The burden to act on the shoulders of the generation of the people alive today is a challenge to our moral imagination,” Gore said Wednesday as he delivered closing remarks at a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “This is Thermopylae. This is Agincourt. This is Dunkirk. This is the Battle of the Bulge. This is 9/11,” Gore added about the climate crisis. “We have to rise to this occasion.” Read more at The Hill.
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Less than half of Americans, some 45 percent, know that 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, while 29 percent weren’t sure or had no answer, according to a Pew Research Center study released on Wednesday ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. However, 69 percent of respondents correctly said that the Holocaust was between the years 1930 and 1950, while 63 percent of respondents correctly defined the Nazi-created ghettos as “parts of town where Jews were forced to live.” Moreover, 43 percent of participants responded that Adolf Hitler became German chancellor “by Democratic political process,” while 25 percent replied “by violently overthrowing German government.” Another 28 perc...
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TEL AVIV—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz will visit the White House next week to discuss the Trump administration’s long-delayed Middle East peace plan, Vice President Mike Pence said, jolting Israel’s elections as the administration weighs whether to release the plan before the March vote. The move comes as the White House considers moving ahead with its effort before the U.S. election season gets fully under way and as political support in Israel grows for the release of the political blueprint. Speaking alongside Mr. Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Pence said Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz accepted President Trump’s invitation. Read more at WSJ
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