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HOW CAN WE SAY "SHEHECHEYANU" AT THIS TIME?


By RABBI DR. RAYMOND APPLE


How can we begin Pesach this year with the "Shehecheyanu" blessing? Things are gloomy and it's hard to rejoice. But if we accentuate the positive, our debits have not overwhelmed our credits. There are three things that "Shehecheyanu" tells us:

1. "[G-d] has kept us in life".
His greatest gift is life. We can smell the fresh air, enjoy the trees and flowers, know how blessed we are in those we love. We rejoice in His (and our) miracles, not least the medical profession who watch over us on [G-d]'s behalf.  Sometimes like Jonah we want to give up on everything, but we wake up the next morning and know that there are  wonderful things to enjoy and good deeds to do.

2. "[G-d] has preserved us".
Life is sometimes dangerous. Thank [G-d] we generally get through the day safe. We will surmount this time too.

3. "[G-d] has enabled us to reach this season" - even with its limitations and challenges. And though some may have to pay a heavy price, almost all of us will get through the crisis and see the new age.

Chag Same'ach!

THE LITTLE THINGS

"Kitniyot", "the little things", are excluded from the Ashkenazi diet on Pesach because they are thought to resemble the grains which we call chametz.

In a broader sense, the observance of Pesach and indeed the whole of Judaism requires close attention to the little things. The Torah devotes many chapters to little things, insisting that it can never be enough to assert broad principles without the detailed bricks that make up the whole edifice.

The Talmud makes this clear when it speaks of carrying out the search for chametz by the light of a candle (Pes. 7b/8a), enabling us to find the littlest pieces of chametz. On Pesach little pieces can make a difference. On Shabbat little actions can have an effect. In kashrut, small things matter. In the spiritual and ethical life, little deeds cannot be ignored.

EGYPT & MITZRAYIM

"Mitzrayim" is the Hebrew word for Egypt. It derives from "metzar", a word we know well from Hallel where Psalm 118:5 says "min ha-metzar karati [G-d]", "Out of the straits I called to the Lord".

The root denotes distress or constriction; its opposite, found in the same verse of Hallel, is "merchavyah", "enlargement". A person in distress feels hemmed in and calls upon [G-d] to give him room.

Why "Mitzrayim" has a dual plural ending recogniZes two zones – upper and lower Egypt. The original Mitzrayim was the second son of Cham who settled in Egypt and gave his name to the country.

Spiritually "Mitzrayim" denotes someone who is hemmed in because of the forces of evil which prevent him from exerting his personality and expressing his real self.

THE TALE OF REB BER

Reb Ber was an old man from White Russia who came to shule every day humming tunes from the davening and repeating the Yiddish for "While you are alive you have to live".

Now we know what he meant: you might not know the exit date, but you have to keep going. That's this Pesach.  We don't know when the crisis will end (it will). In the meantime we have to say "Baruch HaShem" - thank you, [G-d], for the things we did not always appreciate in the past... [G-d], while we are alive we are going to live, we will sing, we will think, we will read, we will talk to You. Thank you, [G-d], for the brains, talents and devotion of the medical profession and all the other heroes that look after us in so many ways. Thank you, [G-d], that You are there to love us and help us through. Thank you, [G-d], and have a "Chag Same'ach"!

THE PESACH OF THE FUTURE

The Haggadah reminds us that, inspired by the Pesach of the past, there will be another Pesach redemption some time in the future. Tradition has it that Ezekiel 37, the passage about the dry bones, will be activated on Pesach. The sages discussed whether this will literally come true. Some rabbis said that the vision did come true in the past, in Ezekiel’s own days, with the dead rising from their graves, donning tefillin, getting married and having children (Sanh. 92b). Similarly, the future redemption will see the dead resuming life and its earthly activities. A foretaste of this future redemption has actually happened in our own time, with the curse of death in the Holocaust followed by the blessing of life in Israel.

This thought explains why Rav Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog and the author Shai Agnon inserted in the prayer they composed for the State of Israel the belief that Israel is "reshit tz’michat ge’ulatenu", "The beginning of the flowering of our redemption".

THE COMING OF ELIJAH

The prophet Elijah figures on Seder night more than does Moses. There is only one – incidental – mention of Moses in the Haggadah. The reason why the compilers of the Seder service left Moses out and deliberately downgraded him was to show that the redemption of Egypt was brought about by [G-d], "not a serach, not an angel, not a messenger".

Like Moses, Elijah does not personally appear in the Haggadah, but over time Jewish life has developed a major link between the Seder and Elijah. Elijah has become one of the favorite heroes of Judaism. Tradition says that he will visit each Jewish home on this important evening, partly in order to solve the ancient exegetical problem of whether we should have four or five cups of wine (Exodus 6 has five verbs of redemption; shouldn’t we therefore have five cups?). More importantly, his arrival will be the advance notice that Mashi’ach is on his way.

As foretold at the end of the Book of Malachi, which is the haftarah for "Shabbat HaGadol", Elijah will announce "the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord". Paralleling the Egyptian redemption, the future redemption will come on Pesach.


-- Rabbi Raymond Apple, Jerusalem, Israel

                      12-18 Nisan, 5780   UPDATED: NEXT EDITION 06/08/20  April 6-12, 2020 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--634th Web Ed.\

HAPPY SHAVUOT: BEGINS SUNDOWN 05/28/2020


                                                                                               

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NEWSOM ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER TO EXPAND

TELEHEALTH SERVICES


SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order to expand protections to medical providers as they amplify the use of video chats and similar applications to provide routine and non-emergency medical appointments in an effort to minimize patient exposure to COVID-19. Local Telehealth services can be reached at:


Email: pio@ceooem.lacounty.gov
Phone: (424) 241-3775


The order relaxes certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, so they can provide telehealth services without the risk of being penalized. This action is similar to the federal HHS Office for Civil Rights waiver issued on March 17, 2020 regarding federal privacy and security laws.

“This order provides flexibility to our medical and health providers so that they are able to provide continuity of health services to people across the state, and will allow providers to assess a greater number of patients while limiting the risk of exposure and infection of other persons from in-person consultations,” said Governor Newsom.

Gov. Newsom continues to encourage people to practice safe physical distancing and to comply with stay-at-home orders to bend the COVID-19 curve.  A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here, and the text of the order can be found here.

Learn more about the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts here. Visit covid19.ca.gov for critical steps Californians can take to stay healthy, and resources available to those impacted by the outbreak.

Order allows health care providers to use video chats and applications to provide health services without risk of penalty.  Order aligns with federal Health and Human Services guidelines and waivers issued in response to COVID-19.

 

GOVERNOR ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT CONSUMERS
FROM PRICE GOUGING
 


SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order expanding consumer protection against price gouging as California continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order generally prohibits sellers of any kind from increasing prices on food, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and certain other items by more than 10 percent. The order also gives additional tools to the California Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office, among others, to take action against price gougers.

“This crisis has impacted every Californian and our normal way of life, and we are ensuring that all consumers are able to purchase what they need, at a fair price,” said Governor Newsom.

A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here, and the text of the order can be found here.

Learn more about the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts here. Visit covid19.ca.gov for critical steps Californians can take to stay healthy, and resources available to those impacted by the outbreak.


CA GETS MAJOR FINANCIAL RELIEF PACKAGE: 90-DAY MORTGAGE PAYMENT RELIEF DURING COVID-19 CRISIS


SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced that financial institutions will provide major financial relief for millions of Californians suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,” Gov. Newsom said. “These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I thank each of the financial institutions that will provide this relief to millions of Californians who have been hurt financially from COVID-19.”

Gov. Newsom secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to protect homeowners and consumers.

Under the Governor’s proposal, Californians who are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for the following relief upon contacting their financial institution:  90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments

Financial institutions will offer, consistent with applicable guidelines, mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, those institutions will: Provide borrowers a streamlined process to request a forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation; Confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program; and Provide borrowers the opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.

No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief

Financial institutions will not report derogatory tradelines (e.g., late payments) to credit reporting agencies, consistent with applicable guidelines, for borrowers taking advantage of COVID-19-related relief.

Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions. For at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.

Relief from Fees and Charges

For at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund at least the following for customers who have requested assistance:

    Mortgage-related late fees; and
    Other fees, including early CD withdrawals (subject to applicable federal regulations).

Loans held by a financial institution may be serviced by another company.

Please note that financial institutions and their servicers are experiencing high volumes of inquiries.