Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Seitzei

Although the Rabbi Frand shiurim commenced after we entered Chodesh Elul, there were issues with the broadcast tonight which could not be corrected by the TCN technical staff. Rather than leave the blog without a vort for shabbos, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com, Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the 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 the maggidei shiur.

In Devarim (21:22) the Torah states that if an Ish (person) has a Cheit (sin) which is punishable by death, the man is killed and then hung from a tree. 

R' Mansour asked a number of questions on the words in the pasuk. He first observed that there is a general proposition that the word Ish is an indicator that the person is important. If this man committed a sin which was punishable by death, how is he important? The sinner should have been referred to as an Adam.

R' Mansour also asked about the use of the word Cheit. This generally implies an accidental sin whereas Uhvon would be an intentional sin. Why does the Torah use the word Cheit instead of Uhvon which would be more applicable to a capital crime.

R' Mansour answered these questions by making reference to the eulogy given by the Arizal for R' Moshe Cordovero. The Arizal began by mentioning the gemara which discussed how four people never sinned, but they died anyway because of Adam HaRishon's sin of eating from the Eitz HaDa'as.

He continued that the word Cheit has more than one meaning. Besides meaning sin, the word also means empty. This can be seen from Batsheva who discussed with David how she and Shlomo would be seen as Chataim - empty or deficient. 

The Arizal said - R Moshe Cordovero was perfect and had not sinned. So why did he die? The answer lies in the pasuk - If an Ish (like R' Moshe Cordovero) is Cheit (lacking) an adjudication of a death penalty and he dies you should hang it on the tree. Why did this man die? You must say that it is because of the Tree - the sin of Adam HaRishon.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shoftim

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. 

R' Frand told a story about a Jew who lived in a town called Skolov (sp?) who married off his daughter to a Talmid Chacham. Two years later, witnesses came and told the Talmid Chacham that the woman had been seen going into a locked room with another man. The woman protested that this was not true, and her father similarly challenged the charges. 

The Talmid Chacham went and asked the Rav what to do. The Rav was unsure and went to ask the Vilna Gaon what to do. The Vilna Gaon said to him - I am not a prophet, I need to hear the witnesses for myself. 

The Rav then arranged for the Talmid Chacham, the wife her father and the witnesses to come and testify. They all went and testified in the same manner that they did before the Rav. The Vilna Gaon took the witnesses aside and asked them each to explain their stories. After completing the review, the Gaon said - they are liars! The witnesses then recanted and said that they were lying and had been paid by a business rival to lie about the woman. The students asked the Gaon - how did you know? 

The Gaon responded by quoting a mishna which discussed how to listen to testimony of witnesses. The mishna says to listen to the witnesses and see if the stories are found to be identical (nimtz'u). 

The Gaon explained that the use of the word nimtz'u teaches that a Judge has to listen and decide whether they are telling the same story. But here, the witnesses told the same story - word for word. No two witnesses will tell the same story - they must be liars. And this was enough to spook the witnesses into admitting they had lied. 

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Brooklyn Brewery Dry Irish Stout



This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Brooklyn Brewery's Dry Irish Stout.

Its been a few years since I reviewed a Brooklyn Brewery product as I had done SNS posts on all of the Brooklyn kosher certified products within the first two-three years of writing this blog. Since this brew only began production in bottle form in 2013 it slipped past me...until I saw it in a mix your own six rack this summer and I added it to the sixer I was mixing.

So what is a Dry Irish Stout? The gurus at Beer Advocate explain that:

Dry Irish Stout tend to have light-ish bodies to keep them on the highly drinkable side. They're usually a lower carbonation brew and served on a nitro system for that creamy, masking effect. Bitterness comes from both roasted barley and a generous dose of hops, though the roasted character will be more noticeable. Examples of the style are, of course, the big three, Murphy's, Beamish, and Guinness, however there are many American brewed Dry Stouts that are comparable, if not better.

Interestingly, the Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout had some roasted barley flavor, but very little hops or malts. The beer indicates that it has a 4.7% abv, but it actually seemed to me that the number was a little too generous. If you would have given me this beer in a blind taste test, I might have thought that it was a weak black coffee.

The flavor profile of this beer does not lend itself to an obvious pairing. I guess that you could have this with a dessert such as chocolate cake, but I have the feeling that the rich chocolate cake might even drown out the flavor of the brew.

Brooklyn Brewery Dry Irish Stout is under the kosher supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as are all 12 oz Brooklyn beers which are brewed in the Utica plant. Please keep in mind that Brooklyn now brews and bottles 12 oz beers at its Brooklyn location, so make sure to check the label for where the beer was produced/

For the experts' take on the Brown Ale please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/45/78521.

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).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click http://www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com/ to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Strongbow Hard Apple Cider - Honey


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Strongbow Hard Apple Cider - Honey.

With this being the Shabbos that we welcome in Chodesh Elul, I figured that it was close enough to Rosh Hashanah to start auditioning a new honey beer for the sweet new year. Yes, I know that hard apple cider is not beer, but the honey flavoring seemed enough of reason to buy and sample it for the SNS post.

Having tried this cider tonight on its own, I can tell you that it is probably too sweet to have with an yom tov meal. When bringing the cup to my face, I could smell the sweetness and each successive sip was more of a one note sweetness which built upon itself. There was no tartness or bite to this cider. Additionally, although the cider bills itself out as made with natural honey, there was no honey listed in the ingredients. Additionally, much like my first experience with the Gold Apple Hard Cider (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2015/06/sunday-night-suds-strongbow-gold-apple.html) I have a hard time believing the label's claim that this is 5% abv.

If you are looking for an aperitif to have after your RH meal, you may want to consider serving this in small quantities. However, if you are looking for a honey beer to have with your meal...keep looking.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer (or cider) unless there is no designated driver. 

If you've tried this cider or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable). 

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parsha Eikev

As mentioned in prior summer posts, since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim until Chodesh Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com, Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the 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 the maggidei shiur.

The parsha begins with a statement "V'haya Eikev" - that in the event that you keep all of Hashem's mitzvos, there will be great blessings in both this world and the world to come.

R' Mansour asked a question as to why we hold the Aseres HaDibros - the Ten Commandments in such high regard. They are mitzvos, just like other mitzvos. Indeed, the Rambam writes that one should not stand up for the Ten Commandments alone. Either a person should stand for all, or sit for all.

R' Mansour answered his question by stating that all of the 613 mitzvos from Hashem and the 7 rabbinical mitzvos can be found in a letter of the Ten Commandments. It should not be surprising that there are 620 letters in the Ten Commandments.

R' Mansour gave a proof from the last rabbinical mitzva - the mitzva to light candles. He linked this to the last letter of  the Ten Commandments which is Chuf. Chuf spelled backwards is Pach which hints to the flask of oil which stayed lit for eight days.

R' Mansour added that there are 172 words in the Ten Commandments. This is also the gematria of Ekev - 172. Hashem is hinting that if you keep the Ten Commandments which are 172 words, Hashem will give you all the berachos in this world and next.

R' Mansour then noted that there are three Avos, each with a specific trait. Avraham's trait was Chessed. Yitzchak represents Gevura and Yaakov is Torah as we state give Emes to Yaakov. Yaakov's name is spelled with a Yud which is ten that symbolizes the Ten Commandments. Thereafter the remaining letters spell Eikev - 172. This is a sign that if you keep the Ten Commandments you will keep the entire Torah.

R' Mansour gave one additional example of the meaning of 172. He stated that there are times of the year which are easier and more suitable to serve Hashem, These are the days between spring and fall. While the winter it is difficult to get out of one's house to do mitzvos, during the non-rainy season it is easier to go to shul or a shiur or to visit the sick. 

When is the weather suitable? Between Pesach and Yom Kippur. Pesach falls on the 15th of Nissan and Yom Kippur on the Tenth of Tishrei. There are 172 days between Pesach and Yom Kippur.

R' Mansour next observed that we are judged on Rosh Hashanah. But why does Hashem need two whole days to Judge us? Couldn't it be done in a second? R' Mansour answered that the two days of Rosh Hashanah are different - the first is the strict day and the second is more lenient. Of course, one would want to be judged on Day 2. But how does one get to be judged then? R' Mansour answered that the word for Hashem's name in judgment is Elokim which is 86. If one were to multiply 86 by 2, the result would be 172. If one keeps the mitzvos, he is zoche to be judged on day 2.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday's Musings on Sports - Sense, Sentimentality, Sensitivty - Moshe and the Mets

Over the course of the last week there has been a great deal written about the Mets' Wilmer Flores and his tearing up in Wednesday Night's Mets game. And with all due deference to Tom Hanks, there is nothing wrong with crying in baseball.

Even if you don't follow baseball, there was no way to avoid the Wilmer Flores story last week. In case you were living under a rock - here is a brief synopsis. Flores is a 23 year old Venezuelan born player who signed with the Mets as an international free agent at the age of 16.Since signing with the Mets, he has steadily worked his way up through the Mets minor league system and this year earned some regular playing time with the big league club.

As the Mets (perpetually) have issues with lack of production from the outfield, the Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers worked out a trade in principle in which Flores and injured pitcher Zack Wheeler would have been traded for All Star Outfielder Carlos Gomez. Although the trade was never completed, during Wednesday Night's game, certain Mets writers tweeted that the deal was done. But since the deal was never actually pulled off, the Mets did not remove Flores from the game (they would have to if he was no longer Mets property). They also did not tell Flores.

So as the game progressed, the fans in the stands started to tell Flores that he had been traded and they gave him a standing ovation. But since he was still in the game, the stress started to wear away at him and he began to tear at the thought of being traded from the only organization he ever knew.

When I went to daf at 945 that night my friend Jim S remakred to me that it was the strangest thing that he had ever seen - as the Mets had left Flores in after the deal was done. I told him that the deal must not have gone through because the Mets could not play Flores if he had been traded away. Don't get me wrong - I am not a prophet (or the son of a prophet) but it is fairly obvious that a player can't play for a team that no longer owns his rights.

The following day there were two Wilmer Flores themed stories in the media - one that ridiculed him for crying (and comparing him to that scene from A League of Their Own). The second story ridiculed the Mets for not completing the deal.

But a funny thing happened to Wilmer and the Mets. Two days later, Flores (still a Met) hit the game winning HR against the Nationals (the team who the Mets at the time were chasing for 1st Place) and the Mets went out and got a better Outfielder - Yoenis Cespedes, without giving up Wheeler or Flores. And they have not lost since.

The fans show of support for Flores and his sensitivity and sentimentality made me think of a vort I heard from R' Mansour a few years back on Parshas Vaeschanan. In the beginning of the parsha, after Moshe prays his 515th prayer to enter the land of Israel, Hashem says to him in Devarim 3:26 - "Rav Lach" - it is too much for you.

I can't remember the source he brought, but R' Mansour said that the statement from Hashem to Moshe was actually rebuke. He compared the statement to Moshe telling Korach and his followers in Bamidbar 16:7 - Rav Lachem - you (Korach and his follower) - it is too much for you,.

The mussar being said to Moshe was - never tell another Jew that his aspiration for greater holiness, even if motivated by a desire, is "too much." Be sensitive towards their desire to grow and find another way to set them straight.

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