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There is a Jewish Bukharin custom to consider a black Raven going next to you a sign of bad luck (someone in the family will be the opposite of life rh"l).

Is this a non-Jewish superstition?
Or a real Jewish thing?

Sources please.

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3 Answers 3

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In Sanhedrin 65b:

תנו רבנן מנחש זה האומר פתו נפלה מפיו מקלו נפלה מידו בנו קורא לו מאחריו עורב קורא לו צבי הפסיקו בדרך נחש מימינו ושועל משמאלו

The Sages taught: The enchanter mentioned in the verse (Deuteronomy 18:10) is one who relies on superstitious signs, e.g., one who says: If one’s bread fell from his mouth, that is a bad sign for him; or: If one’s staff fell from his hand, it is a bad sign; or: If one’s son calls him from behind, it is a sign that he should return from his journey; or: If a raven calls to him, or if a deer blocks him on the way, or if a snake is to his right, or if a fox is to his left, all of these are bad signs. An enchanter is one who relies on these as bad signs and consequently changes his course of action.

It seems that considering ravens calling to him a bad omen, or specific animals accompanying him a bad omen is considered forbidden superstition. The specific combination of a black raven going next to him isn't listed, but it seems like a fairly straightforward application.

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In a similar vein to @joshwaxman's answer - it is worth noting the Gemara in Shabbos 67b

הָאוֹמֵר לְעוֹרֵב ״צְרַח״, וּלְעוֹרֶבְתָּא ״שְׁרִיקִי וְהַחֲזִירִי לִי זְנָבִיךְ לְטוֹבָה״ — יֵשׁ בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם דַּרְכֵי הָאֱמוֹרִי

One who says to the raven "scream", and to the female raven "Whistle and turn your tail to me for the best" - these (i.e. such actions) are considered the way of the Emorite.

Rav Adin Steinsaltz zt"l helps fill in the gaps by explaining that this scenario begins with the person hearing the raven calling, "וחושש מפני סימן רע" - "and he is worried that this it is because of a bad omen".

So it is fair to assume from this, that the raven and considering them bad omens, is the type of thing that comes under the banner of דרכי אמורי* and is resultantly forbidden.


*Refer to Rashi on Vayikra 18:3 and Tosefta Shabbos 7

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This website does not seem to have a problem with thinking that a raven can be a sign for those on a sufficiently high madregah to understand what the sign is.

https://www.kipa.co.il/%D7%A9%D7%90%D7%9C-%D7%90%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%91/%D7%9E%D7%94-%D7%9E%D7%A1%D7%9E%D7%9C-%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%91-%D7%91%D7%99%D7%94%D7%93%D7%95%D7%AA/

על פי חלק מהכתבים הפנימיים עורב מבטא צדדים פחות חיוביים במציאות. אך מאידך מצינו שמילא תפקיד של קודש אצל נח ואליהו, ולכן זה לא חד מימדי. על כל פנים, לגבייך אין שום ערך במידע הזה לטובה או לרעה, אינך במדריגה כזו שאת יכולה להבין סימני כאלה מאת ד' כשלמה המלך והאר"י. העורב לא מבטא עבורך דבר, מלבד העובדה שחש בנוח לידך אולי בשל חום הגוף וכדומה. איתנו ד' מדבר דרך התורה. התחזקי ביראת השם, והכל ימשיך להאיר לך פנים.

Approximate translation:

According to some kabbalistic sources, the raven signifies a partial cessation of existence. On the other hand, we find that the raven can also be associated with positive deeds for example with Noach and Eliyahu. Nevertheless, regarding your question, I would say there is no significance with a raven approaching you because you are not on the level of King Shlomo or the Ari to be able to understand what the significance is in these matters...

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  • +1 Kipa is a Dati Leumi news site with a שו"ת section, so it's more like that particular rabbi doesn't have a problem with that understanding.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jan 2, 2022 at 4:53

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