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Daniel Lansky, A" is just so painful and surreal. A"H? Are we supposed to use that term for a 40 year old dedicated husband and father of 3 young boys? Daniel was a friend to everyone and loved by all. His and his wife's emunah and bitachon towards the end of his battle, in the most difficult of times, were supernatural. Daniel left 3 beautiful boys who need your support. Let us rally together and contribute to the Lansky Children Fund to ensure that these precious children will be provided for with whatever they need as they grow up without their father, A"H. May we all see bracha...
Baltimore, MD – Aug. 28, 2016 - It is with deep sorrow that informs the community of the petirah of Mrs. Clara Tropper, a'h, mother of Dov Tropper, Izzy Tropper, Moshe Tropper, Shimmy Tropper, Mutty Tropper, Mechla Tropper,  and Goldie Tropper. Levayah will take place at 10:00 Am, Monday, Aug. 29, at Mt Moriah cemetery 685 Fairview Ave, Fairview, NJ (Chapel on site). Shiva will be observed at the home of Dov Tropper beginning Monday. 500 C Grand St Apt 3H New York, NY. (212) 475-8595 (Moishe Tropper: 410- 935-0342) Bila HaMaves LaNetzach...
NEW YORK (JTA) — The vast majority of Florida Jews will vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the presidential election, according to a new poll. Orthodox Jews were the only Florida Jewish demographicb to support Trump. The poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, found that Clinton is beating Trump by 43 points among Florida Jews, 66 percent to 23 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein earned six and two percent of the Florida Jewish vote, respectively. Jews make up four to five percent of the overall Florida electorate. Clinton is leading Trump by a few points in Florida polls. Clinton beat Trump in almost every Florida Jewish demographic. Reform, unaffiliated and Conservative Jews all favored Clinton, as did Jews of every age g...
So much has been written already. There is little I can add to those who have brilliantly described Daniel. I was not particularly close with Daniel, but he was always friendly, sharing that big warm smile when we greeted each other. One particular memory I have of Daniel, was 20 years ago during my years as an advisor in NCSY. I will never forget the passion and confidence with which Daniel would sing at an NCSY Shabbaton. He used his koach of niggun to uplift the neshamos of many. However, my main purpose for writing is to focus on an observation I have made over the last few months, weeks and these last few days. Since the time Daniel was diagnosed about 6 months ago, our community did not hesitate to learn more, daven more, or say more tehillim. When Daniel was up for it, community me...
Tehran - The United States does not have the capability to engage Iran in a war on land, air or sea, a top Iranian Navy commander charged Saturday night boasting of his nation’s military prowess. “The US doesn’t enjoy the power to confront Iran militarily,” Iranian media quoted Revolutionary Guards Navy Admiral Ali Fadavi as stating. The remarks downplaying US power came days after an uptick in tensions between Washington and Tehran due to multiple instances of Iranian vessels encountering US warships in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz. Actions by Iranian vessels in several encounters with US warships in the Gulf this week are cause for concern and increase risks of miscalculation, the White House said on Friday. However, in a speech to volunte...
Istanbul - It is official: Turkey’s female police officers will be able to wear headscarves as part of their uniform. The ruling published by the government’s official gazette this weekend says policewomen can wear headscarves under their caps or berets on condition they be the same color as the uniform and without a pattern. The ban on wearing headscarves in public services was introduced after the 1980 coup. Turkish secularists consider the garment a symbol of religious conservatism in the officially secular state. The ruling pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party has long been urging the removal of the restriction. The headscarf ban in Turkey’s universities was lifted in 2010 and in civil services in 2013, except for the police, military and judiciary. ...
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Baltimore, MD - Aug. 28, 2016 - Today, 24 Menachem Av, is the Yahrtzeit of my late father in law,Yechezkel B'Reb Chaim Halevi, Chester Siegel, ZT'L.  I  have written several times over the years of his life. Today, I would rather focus on his times. In a short while, Feigi and I will be driving up to Lakewood for the Bar Mitzvah of one of Chester Siegel's many great grandchildren, kein yirbu. Yechezkeel Zwieback was born 13 years ago on the yahrtzeit of his great grandfather. Yechezkel is growing up in Lakewood, New jersey in an environment that simply did not exist in the United States when Yechezkel Siegel was his age. So let me reminisce a little about how it used to be in "olden days". When I first came into the Siegel family by marrying their daughter, Feigi,...
London -  Police and airline officials say two United Airlines pilots have been arrested for suspected intoxication before they were to fly 141 passengers from Scotland to the United States. United Airlines officials have confirmed Saturday’s arrest of the pilots, aged 45 and 35, at Glasgow Airport. The Police Service of Scotland says both men are expected to be arraigned Monday at a court in Paisley, a Glasgow suburb, to face charges connected to Britain’s transport safety laws. United said Saturday’s flight from Glasgow to the U.S. city of Newark, New Jersey, was delayed for 10 hours while the airline sought replacement pilots. Saturday’s arrests come barely a month after two Canadian pilots of an Air Transat plane were arrested at Glasgow Airport...
Daily Halacha
Chodesh Elul

From Rosh Hodesh Elul until after Yom Kippur  is a time of (Divine) favor.  Although, throughout the entire year,  the Holy One, blessed be He, accepts the repentance  of those who return to Him wholeheartedly,  in any case, these days (between the 1st of Elul and Yom Kippur) are more special  have been set aside for repentance,  because they are days of mercy and favor.  Because on Rosh Hodesh Elul, Moses ascended Mount Sinai  to receive the second set of stone tablets  and spent forty days there,  descending on the tenth of Tishrei,  which was then the finish of the atonement period1  From then on, these days were set aside as days of favor,  and the tenth of Tishrei as the Day of Atonement. 2  It is the custom in most places  to fast on the day preceding Rosh Hodesh Elul  and follow the order of prayer (termed) the Minor Day of Atonement  to prepare one's heart to repent.  If Rosh Hodesh Elul falls on Shabbat,  one advances (the fast) to the Thursday before it.  The Ari (lit; The Rabbi, our master, Rabbi Isaac Luria), may his memory be a blessing,3  wrote:4  ''Surely (a man) does not lie in ambush (to murder), but G-d  (who) caused this to happen, then I will provide for you (a place for you to take refuge)''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul.  To tell (us) that this month  is (like a place of refuge,) a time of favor when (G-d) accepts (our) repentance  on the sins done throughout the year.  It also alludes to (sins) committed inadvertently  that also need repentance during this month  The Rabbis5 have also noted6  ''And G-d, your Lord, will circumcise  your heart and the hearts of your descendants''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  and also7  ''I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  and also8  ''a person (sending gifts) to his friend and (giving) presents to the poor.''  the first letters (of the words spell) Elul  (The verses) allude to the three things, which are repentance  prayer, and charity,  which must be done eagerly in this month.  ''And G-d will circumcise...'' alludes to repentance;  ''I am for my Beloved...'' alludes to prayer,  which is ''a song of lovers'';  ''Sending gifts...''  alludes to charity. (KSA 128:1)
1) For the sin of the Golden Calf.
2) Moses went up to Mt Sinai for 3 consecutive 40 day periods; for the first forty days, Hashem taught him the entire Torah and gave him the first set of stone tablets, which Moses subsequently smashed when he came down the mountain and saw the Jews dancing around the Golden Calf; Moses then spent the next 40 days begging Hashem to forgive the Jewish People; the final forty days was spent receiving the second set of tablets.
3) Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), renowned as the greatest kabbalist of modern times, is commonly known as the ARI, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzhak - the G-dly Rabbi Isaac.
4) To explain the verse Exodus 21:13.
5) lit; the explainers of lists.
6) Deuteronomy 30:6
7) Song of Songs 6:3
8) Esther 9:22

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Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Defense Minister, passed away at Assaf Haroeh Medical Center. He was 81 years old. The Minister and former MK Benyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer passed away today (Sunday) at age 81. Ben-Eliezer was transferred last Friday to an intensive care unit for heart problems at Assaf Haroeh Medical Center after he was discovered with problems in his heart. Ben-Eliezer, who suffered from sickness stemming from kidney problems, was hospitalized in recent weeks in a general intensive care unit. A month and a half ago, Ben-Eliezer reported feeling unwell during dialysis treatment for his sickness. He was hospitalized in the neurological unit of the hospital and was checked for possible stroke symptoms. Fouad made Aliya as a child by himself from Iraq straight to a ...
Baltimore, MD - Aug. 28, 2016 - After an absence on the s’farim market for nearly fifty years, the Torah masterpiece Toras Michoel has been re-issued.  It was reprinted in Eretz Yisrael and is currently selling in Sfarim stores there and should be available in Chutz La’aretz within a few weeks.  Toras Michoel is a collection of sixty four Torah Novellae collected from the nearly fifty bound volumes of handwritten manuscripts, which the ‘Gaon of the Gaonim’ Rav Michoel Forshlager, ZTvK”L, left behind after his P’tirah.  He wrote all of these volumes in his home, working tirelessly for several hours a day during the last ten to fifteen years of his life.  All of these manuscripts were written and bound here in Baltimore, and this is wh...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas Aikev: Nechama – Its Meaning and Ramifications

We are now within a seven week period of the Jewish calendar which is referred to as the shiva d’nechemta – the seven (weeks) of consolation. How is this; i.e. where does this term originate?

These seven weeks follow on the heels of ‘Three Weeks’ of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. During these Three Weeks – beginning with the fast of the seventeenth of Tamuz and ending with fast of the ninth of Av – we read as haftaros (following the regular Torah reading on Sabbath day) selections from our prophets which foretell of the oncoming Destruction of Jerusalem, of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people from their Land. The Shabbos immediately preceding Tisha b’Av is known as Shabbos Chazon based upon the dire prophecy of Isaiah [1:1-27; “The vision (chazon) of Isaiah, son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem…”] which is read as the haftarah for parshas Devarim.

After these Three Weeks of sadness, semi-mourning and outright mourning on Tisha b’Av, the first Shabbos after Tisha b’Av is a Sabbath of rejoicing over the hope for comfort and consolation. R’ Eliyahu Kitov zt”l in The Book of Our Heritage writes, “It is called, Shabbos Nachamu after the prophetic portion read in the haftarah, “Nachamu, nachamu ami, yomar Elo-keichem … Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her time of exile has been fulfilled…” [Isaiah 40:1-26]. The haftarah of Shabbos Nachamu is the first of the shiva d’nechemta – the seven haftaros of consolation:  Seven prophetic passages of comfort which are read from the Book of Isaiah on the seven Sabbaths which follow Tisha b’Av. One-hundred and forty-four verses are contained in all the seven haftaros of consolation – corresponding to the one-hundred and forty-three verses of admonition which are contained in all the verses of tochacha (rebuke) written in the Torah. But, the verses of consolation exceed those of admonition by one verse [to tip the scales, so to speak].”

It seems clear from this initial look at our mesorah that the word nechama has as its most immediate and uncomplicated meaning the concept of comfort and consolation. After experiencing suffering, pain and disappointment, the human soul craves to be consoled and comforted – to find in the universal experience of loss and despair an element of hope and optimism, faith and courage; to discover the ray of light after the storm; that inspiration which gives true meaning to our lives. It is the contrast of hope against the backdrop of pain that brings the virtue of nechama into such sharp relief. This is not just a nice idea; rather, it is a core mitzvah to be menachem aveil – to comfort the bereaved and to stay by their side in their moment of grief. “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” [Ecclesiastes 7:2] because to share in another’s pain and offer actual (vs. virtual) consolation in the form your bodily presence will teach you more about the meaning of life than happiness and rejoicing … even when the latter is also l’dvar mitzvah.

However, you may recall that there is a more subtle alternate meaning to the word nechama, and, when viewed through the prism of Torah exegesis, may even vie with ‘comfort’ and ‘consolation’ for primary position. At the very end of parshas Bereishis, we are told that the Creation experiment is going poorly, the best-case scenario of Man living in harmonious union with his fellow man and with G-d broken apart and dashed upon the sharp rocky landscape of free-choice and self-interest [Genesis 6:5-8]:

G-d saw that the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always. And G-d reconsidered (v’yee’na’chem) having made man on earth, and He was pained in His heart. And G-d said, I will wipe out man whom I created from upon the face the earth – from man to animal, to creeping things, and to birds of the sky; for I have reconsidered (nee’cham’tee) My having made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of G-d.”

The English translations here do not say that G-d was ‘comforted’ or ‘consoled’ that He made Man (although the Hebrew root of the words under consideration, nun•ches•mem, is the same as that in our key word, nechama). No, saying that G-d was comforted or consoled by this unhappy turn of events would certainly not be fitting. Although the great Biblical commentator, Rashi zt”l, does mention in his commentary that the root verb used here does mean to be consoled, he nevertheless emphasizes  G-d’s reconsideration of His actions:

Va’yee’na’chem – The attitude of the Omnipresent was transformed from the attribute of Mercy to the attribute of Judgment [Bereishi Rabbah 33:3]. The question arose in His thought before him regarding what to do with man, who He had made on earth. Similarly, all instances of words from the root nun•ches•mem mean ‘reconsidering what to do’.”

So, let us deconstruct this scenario and compare it to our three weeks of mourning and tragedy, followed by the shiva d’nechemta – the seven weeks of … (should we say?) consolation:

In the Book of Genesis, we are told that G-d was “pained in His heart”:  Whereas the Creation scenario that G-d had envisioned was one of harmony and peace, the actual turn of events produced a situation “where the wickedness of Man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always.” This pain, despair and profound disappointment brings G-d to have feelings of nechama – to ‘reconsider’ what He has done and to make alternate plans accordingly.

Can we not draw a direct parallel to the tragedy that has befallen us with the loss of the Temple and our Homeland? Whereas the original scenario that both G-d and we, His people, had envisioned with the building of the Bais Hamikdash and our dwelling in the Land was one of beauty and lasting grandeur– this beautiful and idyllic situation instead turned to tragedy and despair. Instead of showing honesty, decency and kindness one to another in the midst of unparalleled opportunity, we turned away from the Torah and towards our baser actions of deceit, thievery and sinas chinam (baseless hatred).

Of course, we need to feel consoled and comforted in the face of such a great loss, hoping that we will be granted another chance to prove ourselves worthy of such Divine gifts. But, our nechama must also include a ‘reconsideration’ of those actions which led to such a painful and tragic situation – and decide what courses of action can help us make amends and restore what has been lost. Seven weeks of reconsideration and restorative thinking will certainly help to do the trick and help transform sadness into true rejoicing.


We learn a key mishnah in Pirkei Avos that the world stands upon three things: Torah study, Service (to G-d) and on Kind Deeds [Avos 1:2]. Perhaps we can use this as a platform for rethinking our actions; b’aniyus da’ati, perhaps we can ‘reconsider’ the following, deciding to realign our thoughts and actions in small ways:

Torah:  Maybe it’s possible to add five minutes of Torah study to our schedules each day. There are so many opportunities for doing this: the five minutes while waiting for davening to begin, the five minutes after davening ends; the five minutes waiting for the doctor to see us, the five minutes before or after dinner; five minutes subtracted from internet reading, five minutes at night learning Mishnah Berurah (perhaps via a telephone chavrusah). We have just finished watching videos on Tisha b’Av on the great merit of kiruv, of reaching out to those who don’t know about Torah. On a more ambitious note, perhaps we can set up chavrusah learning Torah with someone who unaware of our precious gift and heritage. Call Partners in Torah and they’ll set you up. Or simply turn to that acquaintance who doesn’t know much Torah and ask, “How would you like to learn Torah together?” Your own reward will be greater than your chavrusah’s.

Avodah: Maybe it’s possible to daven at least one Shmoneh Esrei during the week milah b’milah – word for word without rushing and without thinking about something else. How about on Shabbos kodesh, when there’s no rush – right ;-)? Maybe SE is too long for such concentration – how about one Psalm in pesukei d’zimra said with kavanah and concentration? The prayer landscape is filled with such beauty; it’s a shame to always be on the express train. Also, maybe it’s possible to take five minutes extra each day and say Tehillim (Psalms). Many of us could finish the entire Book of Psalms once a month with just a five minutes input each day. Too much trouble? Then how about one or two extras Psalms each day. David Hamelech wrote each psalm reaching out to the Jewish soul; are we listening? And maybe, after davening each day, we can take a few minutes to talk straight to Hashem, in our own words, expressing our thanks for His kindnesses to us, asking Him directly for our heartfelt desires, telling Him we’re sorry that we sometimes miss the mark.

Gemillus Chasadim: Perhaps it’s possible to pick up the phone every day and call that person you’ve been thinking about, and wondering how they’re doing? We can also take just a few moments to reach out to our parents, gransparnents, children & grandchildren and ask them how things are going and that we’re thinking about them. Perhaps we can just ignore the perceived slights and insults that others may (or may not) have directed towards us. Of course it’s hard to do (why else would we pray for Divine assistance in this area at least three times a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year – in our ‘meditation’ at the close of every SE!) – but someone who can do this is very, very close to Hashem and deserves His special attention. G-d showers love and kindness upon all of humanity constantly, even though so many are disrespectful of Him, or dismiss His existence altogether! [Think about G-d’s ‘Gevuros’ in the second bracha of SE; Ay’ze’hu gibbur? Hakoveish es yitzro! G-d’s ‘Power’ is His ability to perform acts of kindness no matter what].

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Des Moines, IA - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump offered fresh details of how he would tackle illegal immigration on Saturday, saying he would crack down on those who overstay their visas as he sought to quiet criticism from conservatives. In a campaign speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump also cited the shooting death of a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade to urge African-American voters to rally behind him, calling it an example of violence that has to be addressed. Trump, speaking on the Iowa State Fairgrounds with hay bales stacked behind him, sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the U.S. immigration system after saying earlier in the week that he was softening on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants. That stance drew fire from conser...
Amatrice, Italy - Bulldozers with huge claws and other heavy equipment rolled through Italy’s quake-devastated town of Amatrice on Sunday, pulling down dangerously overhanging ledges and clearing rubble as investigators tried to figure out if negligence in enforcing building codes added to the quake’s high death toll. Investigations will focus on a number of structures, including an elementary school in Amatrice that crumbled when the quake hit Wednesday. The school was renovated in 2012 to resist earthquakes at a cost of 700,000 euros ($785,000). Questions also surround a bell tower in Accumoli that collapsed, killing a family of four sleeping in a neighboring house, including a baby of 8 months and a 7-year-old boy. That bell tower also had been recently restored ...
Kiddush Levana Sep 04 7:35 pm - Sep 16 1:57 pm
Av 24
Much of my writing focuses on strategies to improve our health.  I also like to differentiate between what we can call either hearsay, or myths, and what science knows to be true.  When it comes to weight loss, the science is always evolving and we know more and more.  We also know what isn’t true and what won’t help.  Recently someone came in to our clinic to inquire about our weight loss program and before we got very far, he was asking me about weight loss teas, crazy diets of less than 700 calories a day, and asking about highly advertised weight loss herbs and supplements.  Obviously, none of those are avenues to real and permanent healthy weight loss.  But in order to turn around our weight gain and create a trend to lose weight, it is import...
Republican presidential nominee says he will institute a tracking system to ensure immigrants who overstay their visas are removed. U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Saturday offered new details of how he would tackle illegal immigration, saying he would crack down on those who overstay their visas. Speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, and quoted by Reuters, Trump sought to clarify his views on how to overhaul the U.S. immigration system after saying earlier in the week that he was softening on his plan to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants. That stance drew fire from conservatives who wanted him to stand fast after he won the Republican presidential nomination in large part by a hardline stance that would include building a wall along the U.S. border wit...
SimchasSimchas Simcha
Jordan - The U.S. will reach its target this week of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a year-old resettlement program, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan said Sunday, after meeting families headed to California and Virginia. The resettlement program has emerged as an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, with Republican nominee Donald Trump alleging displaced Syrians pose a potential security threat. Alice Wells, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, said Sunday that keeping Americans safe and taking in some of the world’s most vulnerable people are not mutually exclusive. “Refugees are the most thoroughly screened category of travelers to the United States, and Syrian refugees are subject to even greater scrutiny,” she said. Wells said the target of resettling...
Tehran - Iran has arrested a member of the team that negotiated a landmark nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday. The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a regular weekly news conference, calling the unidentified individual a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team,” state media reported. The deal that President Hassan Rouhani struck last year has given Iran relief from most international sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program, but it is opposed by hardliners who see it as a capitulation to the United States.
Nichum AveilimNichum Aveilim Aveilim
New York - US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson met privately last week, The New York Times reported, at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. There has been a financial standoff between Adelson and the Republican Party since May, when the businessman pledged $100 million to Trump’s campaign. Though promised, neither Adelson nor his wife Miriam have contributed to Trump, groups supporting him, or the Republican National Committee since. The New York Times noted that Adelson may still be apprehensive about which super PAC should be the vehicle of his donation, and that would account for the delay, but a source told The Guardian that Adelson had been “irked by a lot of things” regarding the Trump campaign, in...
Baltimore is lacking in Emunah and Betachon. No, it's not what your thinking. In the last 3 weeks while the rest of the Jewish world mourned one Tisha B'av, the Baltimore community has mourned 3 of them. The giant loss of Mrs. Laurie Gutman, z'l, shortly before Tisha B'av, a women who battled her illness for 6+ years and as she got physically weaker she mentally got stronger in regards to what chessed had to be done and in her Emunah and Betachon. Then the Baltimore community mourned the loss of the Bais Hamikdosh together with the rest of the Jewish world. Yesterday we mourned a 3rd time with the loss of Reb Daniel Lansky, z'l. Yes I say Reb because in the last 5 months he has taught the Baltimore community what true Emunah and Betachon is. גם כי אל...
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White Plains, NY - Hillary Clinton received her first national security briefing Saturday as the Democratic presidential nominee, meeting with intelligence officials for an overview of the major threats facing the nation around the globe. Clinton attended the briefing for more than two hours at the FBI office in White Plains, New York, near her suburban New York City home. Republican Donald Trump received his briefing earlier this month, a customary move for major party nominees but one that has been the subject of a political tussle during the campaign. Trump was campaigning on Saturday in Iowa, headlining Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The celebrity businessman was not planning to join the 42-mi...
An 18-year old Arab resident of Hevron was arrested on Saturday at a local IDF checkpoint after he aroused the suspicions of soldiers on the scene. The man was arrested and was found to have been carrying a knife on his person. Investigators say the man had intended to carry out a stabbing attack at the checkpoint as an act of vengeance for his cousin, who was killied half a year ago during a terror attack. On Friday a deployment of soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion – also known as Nahal Haredi – shot and killed a 38-year old Arab who had charged an army position near the town of Ofra in Samaria.
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