Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pre-Sukkos Thoughts - The Sukkah and the Egel

Although I would normally blog on the R' Frand shiur from this evening, there was no live R' Frand shiur this evening on TCN and there were problems with the feed or the Rav who was substituting for R' Frand. Rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on This vort was uploaded in 2009 and links Sukkos and the Egel. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

R' Mansour began by quoting the Vilna Gaon who explained the meaning of the Atta Bechartanu which is said in the Shalosh Regalim Shemoneh Esreh. The beginning of this portion of Shemoneh Esreh - has three statements - Atta Bechartanu - You have chosen us, Ahavta Osanu - You love us and V'Ratzisa Banu - you have been appeased by us, or forgave us. The Vilna Gaon explains that the first phrase - corresponds to Pesach, the second phrase correlates to Shavuous and the third is related to Sukkos.

R' Mansour observed that the Atta Bechartanu as connected to Pesach is obvious - Hashem chose us and took us out of Egypt. The second phrase - Ahavra Osanu as connected to Shavuous is also obvious - if you love someone you give them a gift and on Shavuous we received the Torah. But what is the connection between V'Ratzisa Banu to Sukkos?

R' Mansour then gave an introduction to the concept of Sukkos by stating that we sit in the Sukkah to remember the Anane HaKavod - the Heavenly clouds which accompanied and protected the Jews in the midbar. R' Mansour even mentioned that according to an unnamed rabbi there is a requirement to remember the Anane HaKavod before making Kiddush in the Sukkah.

R' Mansour then asked - but when did the Jews leave Egypt? They left in the spring which is when the Pesach holiday takes place. But then we should be having Sukkos two weeks after Pesach and before Shavuous. So why is it celebrated in the fall?

R' Mansour gave what he called the simple explanation which is that the spring is comfortable time so there would not be all that out of the ordinary to sit outside in the Sukkah. For this reason we do not sit there in the spring. But R' Mansour hinted there was more to the question.

R' Mansour next talked about the other two things which accompanied the Jews in the desert - the manna and the well of Miriam. R' Mansour explained that although people know that the manna tasted like whatever a person desired, the water of the well was miraculous in that it tasted like whatever the person wanted. If a person wanted to have Merlot with his steak, the water of the well would accommodate. But where is the commemoration of the water? We remember the manna and the way that it fell (being sandwiched by two layers of dew with a double portion on Friday) by having something under and over the two loaves of challah on Shabbos. But how do we remember the water?

R' Mansour began his answers by quoting the Chida who states that after the Egel, Moshe saw the Jews were Paruah - they were uncovered because Hashem had removed the Anane HaKavod after they sinned with the Egel. Moshe then broke the luchos on 17 Tammuz before going back up to ask for forgiveness on 18 Tammuz. Moshe then comes back down on 10 Tishrei (Yom Kippur) and has the new luchos with him - a sign that Hashem has forgiven the Jews. But forgiveness does not mean that all has gone back to the way it was - the relationship was still strained and the clouds had not come back. 

On 11 Tishrei Moshe announced - we need to build the Mishkan. In order to build the Mishkan, Moshe made an appeal for funds. The Jews then collected for two days - 12-13 Tishrei. And then something odd happened - Moshe announced on the 14th of Tishrei - we have enough money - no more donations are needed. So on the 15th Hashem said - I see that you are serious about making up so I want you back as it were and I am giving you back the Anane HaKavod. This is why we celebrate the holiday in Tishrei - because Hashem forgave us and returned the clouds to us. The Sukkah is a rememberance of Hashem returning the clouds - things are like they were once before.

This is why there is a mitzva to be happy - Zman Simchaseinu - we are happy that Hashem has taken us back. We see this in the pesukim of the Torah. R' Mansour noted that Sukkos is mentioned in Mishpatim and Re'eh. When mentioned in Mishpatim it is called Chag Ha'asif - the holiday of harvesting. However, in Re'eh it is called Chag HaSukkos. Why the change? The Meshech Chachma explains that before the sin of the Egel - the holiday was a happy time because they collected the crops. But after they worshiped the Egel the Sukkah was added to the holiday because the Anane Kavod came back.

This is also why the holiday of Sukkos is bunched together with Yom Kippur. We just got forgiveness from Hashem, but we also want to feel close with Hashem and know that he wants us back, The holiday of Sukkos is Hashem inviting us to come back and have dinner with him.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

R' Frand Teshuva Derasha 5776

Every year R' Frand's Teshuva Derasha is an event. Over the course of a few weeks leading up to Yom Kippur, R' Frand polishes the shiur and makes changes to it based on the feedback and stories he receives. Finally, the shiur is given in Baltimore and in Brooklyn, New York (the NY shiur is to benefit Just One Life) during Aseres Yimei Teshuva. The following is a summary of some of the thoughts which he said in this year's derasha. As always, I have attempted to reproduce the vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

R' Frand began by posing the hypothetical questions as to what the most dominant news story has been over the last few months. He paused and then said that the words Islamic State/ISIL/ISIS has been used more that twelve thousand times. He gave a brief introduction as to the Islamic State and noted that Islamic Terrorism has been a preoccupation of the American public since 9/11, but it really goes further back to the first WTC bombing in 1993.

Jews on the other hand have been dealing with this for many prior years. The only question is when do you want start counting? This would include the 1880 arab pogroms, the 1929 Hebron Yeshiva massacre, the pact between Hitler and the Grand Mufti and the countless attacks since Israel's foundation in 1948.

Did we know that this would happen? R' Frand said that the answer is a resounding yes.

R' Frand quoted the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer which quoted Bilaam in Parshas Balak (Bamidbar 24:23) - Oy Mi Yicheyeh M'Sumo Kel - and stated that Hashem placed his name Kel in two names of all the 70 nations - Israel and Ishmael. The name Kel connotes power and strength. Bilaam stated - woe is to whomever has to live with Ishmael. Hashem has given them power and the Jews must bear the brunt of their power - woe is to us who have live with them in the end of days.

The Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer writes that Ishmael will do fifteen things to the Jews, including that they will turn a cemetery into grazing land and a garbage dump. This can be seen today on the Mount of Olives, where the arabs have turned it into a garbage dump. The Pirkei further writes that they will pervert honesty and spread lies. He also writes that they will build a building on the Heichal - this is obvious - the mosques built on Har Habayis - and was written hundred of years before the life of Muhammad.

The Rambam wrote in the Igeres Tayman more than 800 years ago that there will be no nation that will cause the Jews more trouble than Ishmael and they will make the Jews appear despicable. And this has happened again as Amnesty International used the language of war crimes and accused Israel of showing indifference to civilian homes, while ignoring that Hamas hid the missiles in homes and schools, not to mention the 4000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets. This is what was meant by making the Jews appear despicable.

R' Frand made reference to the BDS movement and its attempt to force hedge funds and universities to boycott Israel. Israel Apartheid Day is a regular event on many universities. R' Frand talked about a Jewish student at UCLA who was asked during an interview to be on the student council and she was asked - do you think that since you are Jewish you can be unbiased? No other group would be the subject of such question without claims of overt racism. R' Frand also an allusion to Matisyahu being banned from a concert in Spain unless he declared his opposition to the State of Israel.

R' Frand asked - how do we defeat the adherents of Islam? He answered by making reference to Avraham and his two sons - Yitczhak and Ishmael. The Medrash teaches that Ishmael tried to shoot and kill Yitzchak with an arrow and that this is what prompted Sarah to tell Avraham that he had to leave. Ishmael did so because he believes that he is the legitimate heir of Avraham, but it was not true. In fact, while Esav was given some land, Ishmael was not given any and he has never gotten over it. That is why they covet the land of Israel. And how do we defeat them? By being truer to our ancestor than they are to theirs.

What defines Yitzchak? Initially - one must say prayer - the three foundation of the world are Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chassadim. Yitzchak is the middle - he is prayer. But Ishmael is also identified with prayer as Hagar is told in Bereishis 16:11 that she will have a child and that her child will be called Ishmael because Hashem heard her prayers. Hagar calls that place in Bereishis 16:14 - Be'er L'Chai Roee. Yitzchak is aware of this and the pasuk tells us in Bereishis 24:62 that Yitzchak prays there and comes from there when he first sees Rivka. He was there to counterbalance Ishmael and his success in prayer. And as descendants of Yitzchak we must carry on with his legacy.

R' Frand noted that the descendants of Ishmael take their prayers seriously and that they pray to the same G-d. R' Frand told a story which was said over by R' Moshe Shapiro about the Maharil Diskin who was walking in Jerusalem and was about to pass a Muslim who was praying and he stopped -- because the halacha is that one should not walk in front of a person who is praying.

So how does one improve his prayers? R' Frand said that there have been many suggestions for improving prayer and kavana - concentration. But he gave two easy ways to improve. The first was a suggestion of being properly attired when one davens. He told a story of a lawyer who told him about how he walked into court with his top button undone and the tie slightly low and the Judge told him off for doing so. R' Frand said that he does not think that people need to daven with ties - but that he has also seen people come into shul with their baseball caps turned backwards as if they had just come from a game. He then suggested - just try to daven in Tishrei, or even for the next week, like a mensch. Pretend you are trying to present a case, or close a deal or are coming from an interview. Would you walk in with a backwards baseball cap?

R' Frand gave one additional suggestion - avoid looking at your cell phone while davening. He gave a hypothetical - would a person answer his cell phone while at his parents grave? When the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt - will you text there? R' Frand said that he knows a businessman who has a policy that if a person looks at his cell phone while there is a lull in the conversation the man will break off negotiations, regardless of how lucrative the deal would be. R' Frand wondered if Hashem has the same policy.

The second aspect of Yitzchak was his Mesiras Nefesh - his willingness to give up his life for the sake of Hashem as seen at the akeidah. This was passed down to Jews and throughout the millenia, "simple Jews" gave up their lives for the sake of Hashem.

R' Frand said that this past summer he was on a tour that visited Wormes, Spires and Maines (sp?). These cities had a glorious Jewish history, but the cities were wiped out during the Crusades in 1096 when they were ostensibly going to liberate Jerusalem, but instead they made pit stops to try to force Jews to convert. Where did Jews get this ability? This came from Yitzchak.

R' Frand said that he was in a shul in Germany which had a unique paroches which stated - Lo Amus Ki Echyeh - I will not die. 

Even over the last hundred years when Jews have not had to make the ultimate sacrifice, they still had to sacrifice financially - when people were told - if you don't come in Saturday, don't come back on Monday. And people lost their jobs every single week. R' Frand that he was told by someone that his grandfather hung his pink slips in the Sukkah as Noy Sukkah - and all his grandchildren are religious.

R' Frand said that he hosted R' Aharon Kahn of Yeshiva University for Shabbos. He asked him - where are you from and where did your parents come from. He said that his father was a simple stockbroker. But previously when he first came to America he was working for family in Harrisburg in a factory. One fall Friday they took away his job and house when he had to leave early. They told him - you will need to keep half of Shabbos. He came to NY and was sitting on a park bench when an old Jew sat down and complained about his stockbroker. The old Jew said would you be my stockbroker? R' Kahn's father said yes and then came home and asked the 11 year old R' Kahn - what is a stock? R' Kahn had to read the books and explain the terms to him to teach him for the test.

R' Frand observed that over the last 50 years we have not needed to fight this battle or use this muscle. So it has atrophied as the Avnei Nezer says that if Jews don't use a middah it gets taken by the other nations and in this capacity - our middah of Mesiras Nefesh has been usurped by the sons of Ishmael. 

R' Frand quoted Rashi on the pasuk in Bereishis 22:1 - Vayihee Acharei HaDevarim Ha'eleh --- that what actually happened was that Ishmael says to Yitzchak, I am more devoted than you because you had no choice about having a millah as it happened when you were eight days. I was 13 and submitted voluntarily. Yitzchak responded - you want to talk about one part of the body, I am willing if asked to give up my entire life.

Islam defines itself as submission to the will of G-d and devotion to his law. It is a perversion of G-d's law but they are devoted.

So how do we counteract this? Do we blow ourselves up? Of course not. But we do need to reinvigorate the heritage of Mesiras Nefesh. But how?

Rashi explains that Mesiras Nefesh means subjugating one's will. Rashi states on the pasuk in Bereishis 23:8, Im Yesh Es Nafshichem - subjugate your desires to the will of G-d. Mesiras Nefesh is defined as self sacrifice - give up your desire and will for the sake of Hashem.

R' Frand said that we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask whether we are behaving properly, even if no one is around.

R' Frand quoted R' Nosson Friedman of Ner Israel who discussed how his father came to the country in the 1940's with no background or skill and he got a job doing body work on cars.  He was so good at it that he got a job at Capital Cadillac. But he felt that this was not a respectable job for a Jew, so he quit his job and took a job as a Shamas in a shul.

R' Frand said that Jewish women should attempt to dress with tznius, even though its very hard. He said that they can look at Islamic women who wear burkas. He clarified that Jewish women don't need to wear burkas - but think about the Islamic women - do they really want to wear them? They do it because of a sense of Tzinius.

R' Frand said that two years ago he was in the Intercontinental Hotel in Vienna and he saw many Islamic women wearing burkas but they were also shopping at the most modern clothing stores. Why? Because they only wear burkas outside, because they don't want men to look at them. But at home they wear modern clothes for their husbands to see.

R' Frand tied this into the statement by John Kennedy about sending man to the moon - we choose to do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. 

Avraham went to do something which was antithetical to his nature in order to do Hashem's will. This is Mesiras Nefesh.

R' Frand quoted R' Yaakov Luban who talked about his father R'  Chaim Luban who was a Rav in many shuls. He was a man of peace who avoided confrontation whenever he could. There was a wedding to be held at the YI of Forest Hills and R' Luban was to be the mesader kiddushin. As he was waiting for the Kallah to come down to the Chuppah he heard a relative say - I hope this works out better than the last wedding for her. R' Luban asked her - were you married before? She said - it was only a civil ceremony and it was annulled. R' Luban held like his Rebbi who said that she would need a Get before she remarried, even though R' Moshe Feinstein permitted such women to remarry bidieved. And so this man who was an ohev shalom and rodef shalom went back into the Shul and told the audience that the wedding was cancelled.

R' Frand talked about the Rambam who says that if a person abstains from an aveirah or does a mitzvah solely because Hashem told him to do so - like Yosef who abstained - not because of fear of sin or to earn a reward or kavod - in a totally private setting - he is Mikadesh Hashem.

R' Frand made reference to R' Yosef Friedenson who was in a concentration camp and was assigned to clean the barracks with an older Jew. The two were cleaning under a gentile's bunk and found a loaf of bread hidden there. R' Yosef wanted to take the bread but the older man who was working with him said not to. Why? The man said that he was old and would not survive the camp, but he wanted the gentile to know that a Jew does not steal.

R' Frand quoted the Brisker Rav who discussed why Yosef had all the reasons in the world to leave the wife of Potiphar alone - but he said that he would not do it because it would be a sin to G-d. Because all the other reasons can have a rationalization - but not when its done because Hashem wants things done that way.

R' Frand also said that people should think about what hangs in the balance. We are past the Iran deal and the Iranians will get the bomb one day. What can we do? We need to pray to Hashem to protect us and we need to daven better than they and submit to the will of Hashem more passioinately than they do. The world hangs in the balance and we need to defeat the sons of Ishmael by being better descendants of Yitzchak than they are of Ishmael.

The Ba'al Haturim comments on the pasuk in Bereishis 25:18 - Al P'nei Kol Echav Nafal that the pasuk is immediately followed by the words Eleh Toldos Yitzchak (25:19) which is the first pasuk of Parshas Toldos. He explained that in the ends of days, Ishmael will fall and then the Moshiach son of David, descendant of Yitzchak will rise and we will rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Coney Island Hard Root Beer

This week's Sunday Night Suds takes a left turn and reviews another type of "brew" - Coney Island Brewing's Hard Root Beer.

While research for the Labor Day version of the Kosher Beers list, I check the Star-K's sites for updates on Boston Beer varieties which were certified kosher and I was surprised to see that a limited number of Coney Island Brewing Company products were now listed on the LOC as certified kosher. (To see the LOC, please click here
This does not appear to be all products which are brewed under the Coney Island Brewing Company label, but it does list four products including the Hard Root Beer.

A few years back, the "Hard" soda/alcopop products were all the rage and products such as Mike's Hard Lemonade (which to my knowledge was never certified kosher) were the subject of many an email and question as to whether they could be consumed. I have never come across any kosher certified hard lemonade or cola, so I was intrigued when I saw the Coney Island Brewing Company's Hard Root Beer in the Garden City Park Beverage Barn.

My first reaction to the Hard Root Beer is that its REALLY SWEET. I don't think I have ever had an alcopop with this much of a stick to your teeth sugar content. Keep in mind, it has been about 17 years since I regularly drank sugared soda, but this seems like just straight root beer lollypop, but in bottled form. Every few sips there is a slight medicinal aftertaste, but the flavors are basically sugar and birch beer (even though the label indicates that it is an ale made with natural flavors and caramel color added). The label also indicates that the product is 5.8% abv, but there is really no alcohol taste in the flavor profile.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable). 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayelech (plus Netzavim and thoughts on Teshuva)

Although I would normally blog on the R' Frand shiur from this evening, there was no live R' Frand shiur this evening on TCN as they were taping the Teshuva Derasha (which I hope to write up and  post on Monday after it is publicly shown). Rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on This vort was uploaded earlier this month and links parshios Netzavim, Vayelech and Teshuva. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

In Devarim 24:1-4, the Torah discusses the concept of divorce and marriage. The Torah writes that after a man divorces his wife, if she marries another man who then divorces her too, the original husband may not remarry her. The Torah emphasizes this by stating that a man who remarries his ex-wife (who had been married to another in the interim) is a "toevah" or abomination. R' Mansour question the use of this term as the person did not eat a disgusting object or engage in illicit behavior. This man divorced his wife under the halachic guidelines. Another man married her - legally. The second man then divorced her. Now the first husband married her again - by the book. So why is it barred, let alone a toevah?

R' Mansour first gave the explanation of the Ben Ish Chai who explained that if this was permitted it would be like wife swapping or legalized adultery. But then he gave another explanation from R' Chaim Zeichik (sp?) which is the theme of the shiur.

R' Mansour cited to a Ramban which explains the concept of Nazir -- the current mesechta being studied in Daf Yomi. The Nazir who completes the 30 day period has to bring a Chatas - sin offering. This is curious as he has not done anything wrong. However, the Ramban explains that the person became a Nazir and had a moment of elevation. If  a person has completed his period and then goes back to the way that he was, he has fallen. This warrants a Karban Chatas.

R' Mansour analogizes this to a person who sees gains in the stock market.  A good investor will take his gains and sell, while a novice will stay in, even as the stock slips.

R' Mansour then mentioned various types of people who take upon themselves to make improvements in certain areas of their life and then fall back and stop observing the halachos.

R' Mansour gave another example which he attributed to R' Zeichik. A person who dedicates his field to the Beis Hamikdash and then wants to redeem it -  must pay a redemption tax of 20%. However, if an outsider wants to redeem he just pays market value. Why? Because the donor saw the light and donated his property. If he then takes a step back and wants the property from the Beis Hamikdash he has to pay the "backwards tax."

R' Mansour then tied this back to the man who divorced his wife.  In making this decision he realized that there was a real problem (ervas davar). The woman then marries again and she is divorced again. Rashi explains that the first one got rid of marshaas from his home and the second one took her in. The second one confirmed the first husband's thinking by divorcing her as well. The Torah then says he cannot take her back - because the first was right in divorcing her and he was proved right. So now by taking her back he has regressed.

R' Mansour observed that Parshas Netzavim always is read before Rosh Hashanah. Why? Because the word Netzavim means stability. The Torah is telling us - don't give back your profits - your religious gains. The commitment that you made should stay as a commit - stand on your principles. 

R' Mansour next quoted a Medrash which states that Moshe is more loved than Noach. Why? Because in the beginning of his life (Bereishis 6:9) Noach states that he was a Tzaddik, but at the end of his life (Bereishis 9:20) he is called an Ish Adama - man of the earth. In contrast, Moshe at the beginning is called an Ish Mitzri - an Egyptian man (Shemos 2:19), but at the end of his life he is called Ish HaElokim - a man of G-d (Devarim 33:1). Noach regressed and Moshe improved.

R'  Mansour said that this is the message before Rosh Hashanah - take the gains from 5775 and lock them in so we don't back off our commitments. 

R' Mansour next made reference to the Ma'amar Chazal which states that Hashem tells people - open for Me an opening like the eye of the needle (for teshuva). R' Mansour asked - why use the example of an eye of a needle instead of the hole made by putting one's finger in sand or water? He answered that when removes his hand from the water or sand - the hole fills in. People should not make improvements and then back off. Therefore the Torah says a person needs to be among the Netzavim.

R' Mansour took a step beyond this theme by quoting a pasuk from Shoftim which states that a person should not make a Matzeivah which is hated by Hashem (Devarim 16:22). The simple explanation is that a Jew should not build like the idol worshippers. But the sefer Ma'or V'Shemesh explains that a person should not be comfortable or complacent with their Matzav - their spiritual situation. The pasuk is thus explained that a person should not be complacent with where they are in life in life, as Hashem hates that person too. 

This is the reason that Vayelech follows Netzavim. A person must cement and enforce his commitment. But he cannot just stop where he is. The person must then take the next step and move on in his religious observances.

R' Mansour linked this to the Vilna Gaon who explains that a person cannot stay in one place in religion. If the person stays still, gravity will pull him down. So in order to break the pull down, he has to move up. R' Mansour gave the analogy of a person who is on a plane and the captain announces - we have gained our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet so we are going to turn off the engines.  This cannot be done because the plane will crash. Instead energy has to be expended to keep the plane in the air.

[In a momentary cross-over R' Mansour quoted R' Frand for the analogy that life is like a down escalator - you need to keep running up, or you will be dragged down].

R' Mansour also quoted the Squarer Rebbi who explained a Gemara which states that the Yetzer Hara says today "aseh cach" (do this) and tomorrow he also says aseh cach until he convinces a person to worship idols. The simple explanation is that the Yetzer Hara chips away and chips away until he gets the person to worship idols.

The Rebbi asked - why does the gemara use the same expression twice? Why does it not say tomorrow do that or do something else? He answered that Yetzer Hara is telling the person - keep doing what you are doing. Tomorrow do that same thing as well. Because if the person stagnates and does not move forward, the person will fall back until he does do avodah zara.

R' Mansour also tied this to the concept of Tashlich. Why do we go to throw the bread in the water? Because the water always has movement - it is going in one direction or another. The person needs to find something and then move forward in that direction. Once the person asks for another year of life, he needs to make the commitment to do something with that life.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Netzavim

The following is a brief summary of some of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand. 

The parsha begins with Moshe telling the Jews that they are standing (Netzavim). Rashi comments that the Jews were concerned as they had just heard the 98 curses which are recorded in Parshas Ki Savo and they were worried as to how they could survive. To address this, Moshe says to the Jews - don't worry - you are still here. Even though you have previously sinned against Hashem, He has not wiped you out.

R' Frand asked - doesn't this diminish the force of the Tochacha? If the point of the curses is to shake them up - why tell them not to worry?

The sefer Abir Yosef quotes R Elya Berel Wachtfogel (the Rosh Yeshiva of the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg) who gives an explanation to Moshe's statement. He quoted the Tosefta which writes that of all of the people in the world, the people who were the most serene and calm were the people of Sodom. This is why Lot chose the city of Sodom to live in.

R' Wachtfogel explained that Lot had lived previously with Avraham and saw that Avraham had this kind of serenity and he wanted it too. Why did Avraham have the serenity? Because his soul and his body were not in conflict - he was completely devoted to Hashem and there was no tension.

Lot said - I can't live the life of Avraham because I enjoy the worlds pleasure. So Lot looked for the other extreme - the people who have no tension, no guilt, because they have no conscience and only want to chase pleasure.

With this introduction we can re-examine Moshe's statement to the Jews. Moshe says - what happened to Sodom is going to happen to you, but only if you forsake the spiritual and are wholly devoted to hedonism. But Moshe sees and knows that this cannot really occur. Because after Moshe tells them the Tochacha's 98 curses, he sees that they are scared and concerned. By having this reaction, the Jews are showing Moshe that they have not given up the battle and are committed to the spiritual side. 

R Frand closed the vort by noting that we are on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and we know what we have done wrong and what we need to improve on. But because we are still in the battle, because we keep trying and get up after falling and because our failings bother us - is a testament that we are not serene like Sodom and should be a zechus for us in the New Year.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day 2015 Kosher Beers List

As a community service, Kosher Beers publishes a list twice a year of the beers which are known to be certified kosher. The list will be updated periodically until the next edition (Purim 2016). For the Labor Day 2015 edition, I will again be using scribd to upload and maintain list. All newly added beers are in bold.