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Daniel Lansky, A"H....it 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...
Washington - Mylan will start selling a cheaper version of its EpiPen after absorbing waves of criticism over a list price for the emergency allergy treatment that has grown to $608 for a two-pack, making it unaffordable for many patients. The drugmaker says it will launch in several weeks a generic EpiPen version that is identical to the branded option but will have a list price of $300 for a two-pack. It will be available in both 0.15-milligram and 0.30-milligram strengths, like the current version on the market. EpiPens are used in emergencies to treat severe allergies to insect bites and foods like nuts and eggs that can lead to anaphylactic shock. People usually keep a number of EpiPens handy at home, school or work. The syringes, prefilled with the hormone epinephrine, exp...
Washington - The FBI is urging U.S. election officials to increase computer security after it uncovered evidence that hackers have targeted two state election databases in recent weeks, according to a confidential advisory. The warning was in an Aug. 18 flash alert from the FBI’s Cyber Division. Reuters obtained a copy of the document. Yahoo News first reported the story Monday, citing unnamed law enforcement officials who said they believed foreign hackers caused the intrusions. U.S. intelligence officials have become increasingly worried that hackers sponsored by Russia or other countries may attempt to disrupt the November presidential election. Officials and cyber security experts say recent breaches at the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere in the Democratic...
Tehran - Iran’s military detected a U.S. drone entering Iranian airspace on Monday and issued a warning for it to leave, which it subsequently did, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported. “Iran’s army air defense detected and warned an American drone in the eastern airspace of the country. It was coming from Afghanistan. The drone left the area,” Tasnim quoted the Iranian military as saying. Tasnim gave no details on how the Iranian authorities had warned the unmanned drone to leave its airspace. A U.S. defense official said last week that four of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels ‘harassed’ a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran said the ships had only been carrying out their regular duties mo...
Jerusalem - The Israeli military says it has opened an investigation into a soldier who fatally shot a Palestinian in the West Bank last week. The military initially said that the man had run toward a military post before he was shot and killed Friday. Israeli media subsequently reported that the man was unarmed. The military announced the investigation on Monday but gave no further details. The Haaretz daily says the soldier is suspected of involuntary manslaughter.
Washington - A $400 million cash delivery to Iran to repay a decades-old arbitration claim may be unprecedented in recent U.S. history, according to legal experts and diplomatic historians, raising further questions about a payment timed to help free four American prisoners in Iran. The money was sent to Iran on Jan. 17, the same day Tehran agreed to release the prisoners. The Obama administration claimed for months the events were separate, but recently acknowledged the cash was used as leverage until the Americans were allowed to leave Iran. Only then, did the U.S. allow a plane with euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency loaded on pallets to take off in the other direction for Tehran. “There’s actually not anything particularly unusual about the mechanis...
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Sydney - Three Canadian cruise ship passengers were charged with drug smuggling Monday after Sydney police allegedly found 95 kilograms (209 pounds) of cocaine in their cabin luggage. The haul valued at 31 million Australian dollars ($23 million) was the largest seizure in Australia of narcotics carried by passengers of a cruise ship or airliner, Australian Border Force commander Tim Fitzgerald said. Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, were arrested Sunday after the MS Sea Princess, operated by California-based Princess Cruises, berthed in Sydney. The three did not enter pleas when they were charged in the Sydney Central Local Court with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine. They face potential life sentences if convicted. They will remain in c...
New York - A 36-year-old man is accused of assaulting a police officer and trying to grab her gun at a Staten Island hospital before another patient intervened. Authorities say the attack played out while Dante Martin was being guarded by an officer Sunday morning at Richmond University Medical Center after he had been charged with a weapons offense. Investigators say Martin threw the officer to the ground and grabbed her gun. That’s when 42-year-old Rafael Muniz says he heard the officer’s scream and grabbed Martin’s arm. Muniz says he was able to convince Martin to let go of the gun. Martin now faces charges including attempted murder, assault and attempted escape. It’s unclear if he has an attorney who could comment on the charges.
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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Washington - Donald Trump will call rival Hillary Clinton crooked, corrupt and un-presidential. But at least he won’t say she smells. During a flurry of Twitter activity Monday, the Republican nominee re-tweeted a supporter who had written, “I know of NO ONE voting for Crooked Hillary! Her rallies are held in port-o-potties & she still has room. She Smells!” Trump sent out a modified version of the message to his followers, tweeting: “Her rallies are held in (blank) & she still has room” instead. Trump also says the he thinks high crime in inner cities will drive minority voters to his candidacy. He says: “African-Americans will vote for Trump because they know I will stop the slaughter going on!” He is also going after Clinton&r...
Secaucus, NJ - A New Jersey Transit police officer is being hailed as a hero for pulling a man from train tracks in northern New Jersey last week. Authorities say Officer Victor Ortiz says he followed the man he saw exiting a train at Secaucus Junction as the man jumped onto the tracks. Ortiz says the man kneeled down onto the tracks as a train was about a half-mile away. He grabbed the man who kept saying “I just want to die,” and Ortiz eventually was able to pull him off the tracks just as the train was coming into the station. NJ Transit officials say they couldn’t be more proud of Ortiz and hope it reminds people what police officers do every day.
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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Geneva - A U.N. expert focusing on Iran has condemned the execution of 12 people there over the weekend on drug-related charges. Special rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed on Monday said executions for drug-related offenses like those on Saturday violate international law, and Iranian officials have themselves say such executions haven’t been effective in preventing drug-related crimes. Shaheed’s office noted the case of Alireza Madadpour, who was one of the 12, saying he was tried after being arrested when less than a kilogram of crystal meth was found in a raid on a house he cleaned. It said Madadpour never met his state-appointed defense lawyer and the trial lasted 20 minutes. Shaheed has cited Iran Human Rights Documentation Center figures showing 966 people were executed ...
Tehran - Iran has deployed the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system around its Fordow underground uranium enrichment facility, Iranian state media reported on Monday. Iranian state TV on Sunday aired footage of deployment of the recently delivered missile system to the nuclear site in the central Iran. “Our main priority is to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities under any circumstances,” Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) air defense force told state TV. Iran and the six major powers reached a landmark nuclear deal in 2015 aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Tehran over its disputed nuclear work. Enri...
Event
Kiddush Levana Sep 04 7:35 pm - Sep 16 1:57 pm
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Belgium - The Brussels prosecutor is dismissing reports that a bomb exploded early Monday outside Belgium’s criminal institute, describing the incident as more likely an arson attack designed to destroy criminal evidence. Officials told a news conference that five people had been detained in the vicinity of the crime lab following the incident and were being questioned by police. “It’s probably not terrorism. It’s a criminal act,” said prosecutors’ spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch. “I cannot confirm that there was any bomb.” “The location was not chosen randomly,” Van Wymersch added, saying the lab contains “sensitive information” being used in ongoing investigations. The forensic facility assists and advises ...
Gwynns Falls in Baltimore has a drug problem. WBAL-TV 11 reports that researchers found amphetamines, opioids and morphine in the water, and that kind of pollution is having an impact on the aquatic food chain. Most people wonder how drugs get into streams. Scientists believe the root of the problem is Baltimore's failing sewage system. The water at Gwynns Run at Carroll Park is contaminated with caffeine, amphetamines, opioids and morphine. Scientists working with the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies sampled six streams in the Gwynns Falls and Oregon Ridge Watersheds. "We had some evidence that in Baltimore there was some sewage getting into streams, and so we tested for pharmaceuticals," said Dr. Emma J. Rosi-Marshall, co-author of the study. Researchers built an ar...
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BALTIMORE (AP) -- Baltimore is starting to spray for the mosquitoes that could carry the West Nile and Zika virus. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr Leana Wen says the state is targeting the areas that have been determined to have high concentrations of these types of mosquitoes.  The city says it's expanding its mosquito control efforts to address growing concerns over the West Nile and Zika virus. Workers will also be inspecting properties for mosquito breeding sites and spray backyards if necessary.
The 37 Baltimore County schools still without air conditioning will be closed on Monday. See the list here. Due to the forecast calling for a heat index in the 90s Monday, Baltimore County school system officials are calling off classes as well as after-school and evening activities for the affected schools. Superintendent Dallas Dance recently discussed the system's heat policy in an interview with our Bryan Nehman.
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New York -  Donald Trump’s campaign is planning its biggest ad buy to date — upward of $10 million on commercials airing over the next week. The campaign is expects the ads to air as soon as Monday in nine swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, where the campaign has already been on the air, along with New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada. 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost eight of those nine states. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has so far been badly outspent by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and groups supporting her. Since clinching her party’s nomination in early June, Clinton has spent more than $77 million on television and radio advertising, largely targeting voters in battleground st...
New York- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced he’ll be making a speech on illegal immigration on Wednesday in Arizona, after a week of speculation that he might be softening his hard-line promise to deport 11 million people living in the United States illegally. The speech, posted in a Tweet late Sunday, was initially set for last week in Phoenix, but was pushed back as Trump and his team wrestled over the details of what he would propose. There has been debate within his campaign about immigrants who haven’t committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses. The candidate’s shifting stance hasn’t made it easy for top supporters and advisers, from his running mate on down, to defend him or explain some campaign positions. Across the...
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Los Angeles - Reports of a gunman opening fire that turned out to be false caused panicked evacuations at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday night, while flights to and from the airport saw major delays. A search through terminals brought no evidence of a gunman or shots fired, Los Angeles police spokesman Andy Neiman said. The reports were spurred by loud noises only, and police were still investigating to find the source of them, Neiman said. Airport officials said that a person wearing a Zorro costume was detained during the incident, but it wasn’t yet clear whether the person had any connection to the evacuation. The incident stirred chaos as hundreds of people rushed from terminals on to sidewalks or the tarmac. And it left a mess with three terminals shut d...
Laplace, LA -  A bus full of construction workers hit a firetruck on an elevated highway Sunday, killing two people and injuring 36, several of them seriously, Louisiana State Police said. The ladder truck from St. John the Baptist Parish, west of New Orleans, had parked across the right lane of Interstate 10 to block traffic while police investigated an earlier wreck involving a pickup truck that had skidded on the wet road, crashing into both guardrails about 6:40 a.m., Trooper Melissa Matey said. The 2002 Eldorado National party bus hit the fire truck and then rear-ended a 2012 Toyota Camry, pushing it into a flatbed trailer being towed by a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, Matey said. She said the bus then veered behind the fire truck and into the first pickup truck, a 2005 N...
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