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Tzom Gedaliah (nidcheh) Sunday, Sept 24 , 2017 - Fast Begins: 5:30 AM...Fast Ends: 7:40 PM (45)
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Baltimore, MD - Sept. 20, 2017 - Baltimore community members Rabbi Dr. Moshe Lasson and Rabbi Yossie Ryback are in need of a kidney and they are reaching out to our community for help. On Tuesday evening, September 26 at 8:00 P.M. Bikur Cholim and Renewal will host a Kidney Donation Awareness Event at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion.  This event is free and open to the entire community.  Many of us know someone who has successfully received a kidney transplant and may have wondered what is involved in becoming a donor.  During Tuesday’s event this topic will be discussed. ...
 Wal-Mart Stores Inc is testing a service to stock groceries directly to customers’ refrigerators as it seeks to take on e-commerce giant Amazon.com. The delivery of groceries and meal kits is emerging as the next frontier of competition among retailers. The world's biggest brick-and-mortar retailer said on Friday it is partnering with August Home, a provider of smart locks and home accessories, to test the service with certain customers in the Silicon Valley. (bit.ly/2ffqqvT) The grocery business is set to be upended through Amazon’s acquisition of upmarket grocer Whole Foods last month and the online retailer is also entrenching itself more deeply in the restaurants business. Amazon Restaurants on Friday teamed up with online food ordering company Olo whose netw...
Jerusalem, September 24, 2017 - ZAKA volunteers in Mexico, under the command of Marcus Cain, have recovered the body of Haim Ashkenazi, z”l, from the rubble of the office building in which he was working during the time of the earthquake.  The ZAKA Mexico volunteers have been working continuously together with the Mexican Jewish rescue and recovery organization Cadena since Tuesday (Sept 19), including throughout Rosh Hashana and Shabbat, in accordance with the rulings of Chief Rabbi of Mexico, Rabbi Shlomo Tawil. ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein: “Immediately after Shabbat went out in Mexico (early morning Israel time), we received an update from our team in Mexico that they had recovered the body of the missing Jewish man. The ZAKA team, which...
Baltimore, MD – Sept. 23, 2017 - It is with deep regret that BaltimoreJewishLife.com informs the community of the petirah of Mrs. Cecile Berman, z’l, mother of Pinchas Berman and Jeff Berman. The Levayah will take place tomorrow morning, Sunday, Sept. 24, at 10:00 AM at Bnos Yisroel, 6300 Park  Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215. Kevurah will be in Springfield, Pa. Shiva will take place through Friday afternoon  at 5821 Narcissus Ave. Shachris  at 6:15 am and Mincha/Maariv at 6:30 pm.   Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
Uber will lose its license to operate in London because it may be endangering public safety and security, the local regulator said Friday, in a severe blow to a company already facing big questions over its corporate culture. The company, which has been beset by a litany of scandals over its management style was told it was not “fit and proper” to keep operating in London, where it has 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers. The regulator, Transport for London, said it “considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.” It cited instances in which Uber failed to report serious criminal offences as well as its pench...
The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election. The notification came roughly a year after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia. The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The AP contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. The others confirming were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tex...
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The next version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban could include new, more tailored restrictions on travelers from additional countries. The Department of Homeland Security has recommended the president impose the new, targeted restrictions on foreign nationals from countries it says refuse to share sufficient information with the U.S. or haven’t taken necessary security precautions. The restrictions could vary by country, officials said. Trump’s ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority nations, which sparked protests and a flurry of lawsuits, was set to expire Sunday, 90 days after it took effect. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke “has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening ...
Sen. John McCain declared his opposition Friday to the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” dealing a likely death blow to the legislation and, perhaps, to the Republican Party’s years of vows to kill the program. It was the second time in three months the 81-year-old McCain emerged as the destroyer of his party’s signature promise to voters. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said of the bill, co-written by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hu...
Prospects are good for a public shaming in the Equifax data breach, but it’s unlikely Congress will institute sweeping new regulations after hackers accessed the personal information of an estimated 143 million Americans. Since early this year, President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress have strived to curb government’s influence on businesses, arguing that regulations stifle economic growth. Lawmakers have repealed more than a dozen Obama-era rules and the House voted in June to roll back much of Dodd-Frank, the landmark banking law created after the 2008 economic crisis that was designed to prevent future meltdowns. Several bills unveiled after Equifax are so far missing a key ingredient for success: Republican co-sponsors. And most important, there is hi...
Parsha Hashavua
Rosh HaShanah 5778 - Happy, Healthy Sweet New Year

One of the practices that seems to get considerable attention on Rosh HaShanah is the eating of the simanim on Rosh HaShanah. There are, of course, varying customs. Some only eat an apple dipped in honey. Conversely, many Sefardim have the custom to eat far more simanim than the average Ashkenazi is accustomed to.


The practice is already discussed in the gemara. The gemara (Kerisus 5b) initially lists a number of different practices which seem very much like superstitions although they appear to be permitted. They include trying to grow a chicken in one's house before embarking on a business venture as the fattening of the chicken is a harbinger of success. The final suggestion of the gemara pertains to someone who is about to embark on a journey and would like to know whether they will return successfully. They are instructed to enter a deserted house and see if they observe converging shadows. However, the gemara concludes that one should not do this because the test might not prove successful and even though it is necessarily a bad omen, he will be distraught and his emotional state might affect his mazal.


After all that, Abaye states, "Now that we have said that omens are significant, one should make a habit of eating gourds, dates, etc. on Rosh HaShanah." The conventional understanding seems to be that Abaye is basing his statement on the various suggestions given in the gemara relating to good "signs."  However, there is a difficulty with this approach. The procedures discussed in the gemara involve observing the outcome of a certain event and that outcome would then be an indication of what lies ahead. On Rosh HaShanah, we are merely creating the omens on our own. (It is possible, though, that Abaye is referring to the gemara's initial statement that kings should always be anointed by a spring so that his kingdom will spread.)


Rather, I believe Abaye may well have been basing his statement on the very last point made in the gemara, that one should not rely on the sign of the shadows since it is possible that his own troubled state could contribute to his bad mazal. From here we see that one's state of mind can directly affect his own welfare and the events that befall him. Therefore, Abaye suggests eating these specific foods - not because the eating of the foods will in and of itself be a good omen, but rather, that the eating of these foods with positive signs will put one in a more positive state of mind at the onset of the new year and that will in turn positively influence his mazal.


The Meiri (Horayos 12a) explains the concept of simanim on Rosh HaShanah in a similar vein. I have made a scan of the Meiri available here.


So, as we will probably all say tonight, may we all have a happy, healthy sweet new year.




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Syria’s foreign minister told world leaders Saturday that victory against terrorists in his war-ravaged nation “is now within reach” while North Korea’s foreign minister said U.S. President Donald Trump’s insult to his country makes an attack against the U.S. mainland inevitable. Global conflicts, threats and challenges dominated the fifth day of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting, including an impassioned appeal for help from the prime minister of Dominica who said his hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island nation is in “the front line of the war on climate change.” Syria’s Walid al-Moualem said his country is “marching steadily” toward the goal of rooting out terrorism. He pointed to “the libe...
In a show of American military might to North Korea, U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew on Saturday to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea by any such American aircraft this century. The Pentagon said the mission in international airspace showed how seriously President Donald Trump takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior.” “This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Defense Department spokesman Dana White said in a statement. “North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the...
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A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, killing at least one person, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge, and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes that together have killed more than 400 people. The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7. It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at least 96 people. The government of Oaxaca state reported that some homes collapsed and one woman died when a wall of her home fell on her in the to...
In response to the Iranian firing of a ballistic missile on Shabbos, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by explaining Iran is testing Israel’s response. Lieberman was quoted telling Yisrael Hayom that this is part of Iran’s ongoing effort to become a world power. Iran on Shabbos tested a mid-range ballistic missile capable of carrying four warheads and traveling 1,250 miles, placing both Israel and US military bases in Saudi Arabia in range.
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on motzei Shabbos, spoke by telephone with Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Peled and with the commander of the Israeli aid mission, Col. Dudi Mizrachi, who updated the Prime Minister on the Israeli mission’s search and rescue operations which it is carrying out as part of the main search and rescue efforts. Prime Minister Netanyahu told them: “Happy New Year to you. What you are doing is a mitzvah. You are shining Israel’s light in the world, a big light. It is important from a humanitarian standpoint and also to show the world the true Israel. You are making the State of Israel very proud. Be blessed and return home safely! Happy New Year and may you be inscribed for good.”
Israel Air Force fighter planes on Friday night reportedly struck out against a Hizbullah target in Syria, near a Damascus airport, hitting a weapons storage house. According to Syrian media reports, Israeli planes were responsible for the strike, which resulted in major fires in the area. As is the norm, Israeli officials and the IDF spokesman did not respond to the allegations.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un lobbed a string of insults at President Donald Trump on Friday, calling him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and hinting at a frightening new weapon test. It was the first time for a North Korean leader to issue such a direct statement against a U.S. president, dramatically escalating the war of words between the former wartime foes and raising the international nuclear standoff to a new level. Trump responded by tweeting that Kim is “obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.” In a lengthy statement carried by state media, Kim said Trump would “pay dearly” for his recent threat to destroy North Korea. He also called Trump “deranged” and “a rogue and a gangster fond of p...
Kiev - Two Jewish pilgrims were injured by an explosion in the city of Uman some 180 kilometers south of Kyiv, Ukraine’s National Police said on Sept. 21. The blast happened at approximately at 6 a.m. local time at a garage near a crowd of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims who had come to the city to pray at the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a spiritual leader of Hasidic Judaism. A 13-year old teenager identified as an Israeli citizen sustained a cut to his left hand. He was given first aid at the scene. Another male Israeli national sustained a minor injury to his thigh, but he refused medical assistance. The two Israelis were among tens of thousands of other pilgrims currently on an annual pilgrimage Uman during the Jewish New Year to pray at Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s grave. Th...
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It’s easy to feel disheartened, even despondent, as Rosh Hashanah approaches, at the realization that some of the things we did teshuvah for last year are things we need to repent for again this year. Harav ShlomoYosef Zevin, zt”l, notes in his seferL’Torah Ul’moadim that the ben sorer umoreh, the “wayward son,” is punished not for what he has done — stolen from his parents and acted gluttonously —but rather for what the Torah teaches us he will one day do: become a violent bandit. Yet, Rav Zevin points out, we find Hashem refusing to allow the evil that will be wrought by descendants of Yishmael to affect His mercy on the boy himself, abandoned in the desert. Yishmael is judged only baasher hu sham, &ldqu...
Hosting a Los Angeles event with the son of Bahrain's king, two prominent U.S. rabbis let something slip to those in attendance: the ruler of the island nation thinks the longtime boycott of Israel by Arab countries should end. The rabbis' revelation of the king's opinion shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, however. Arab nations slowly have inched closer to Israel in recent years, in part because both sides remain incredibly suspicious of Iran's intentions as the wars in Iraq and Syria wind down. Bahrain may prove to be the test case for other Gulf Arab nations about coming out of the closet about their mutual interests. It also allows the kingdom, still silent about the rabbis' comments, to draw attention away from its internal crackdown on dissent, w...
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