Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vaeschanan

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I generally 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 a young maggid shiur in my community - R' Jeff Thurm who gives a great 40 minute parsha shiur at the BTU shul on Thursday nights. 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 maggid shiur.

R' Jeff began by discussing the famous question of why Hashem instructed Moshe to stop praying to be allowed to enter the Land of Israel and why it was told to him now, after 515 prayers. He gave an interesting answer from R' Tzadok HaCohen who states that Moshe had the power to push Hashem's hand based on his prayers and force Hashem to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. This was based on the Gemara which states that Eliyahu HaNavi woke each of the Avos individually, because had they been awake at the same time, they could have successfully lobbied Hashem for the Ge'ula. Similarly the Gemara discussed R' Chiya who davened so powerfully that it was windy and rained when he said Mashiv HaRuach and was stopped before he could say the beracha of Mechaye HaMeisim.

R' Tzadok explains that some people (Moshe being one of them) could have forced Hashem's hand. Therefore Hashem had to say stop davening, before he caused a change. But why stop him? The Medrash recites a conversation between Moshe and Hashem where Moshe says - if you don't allow me in, history will view me as no better than Dor HaMidbar. Hashem then responds to Moshe, if I allow you in and you lead in the children of this generation, it will be a permanent indictment of the generation of the Midbar. So Hashem says, you need to stop, so history does not look badly at them and you and they will enter Israel after Techiyas HaMeisim.

R' Jeff closed this part of the vort by stating that its a lesson to us that although we may sometimes want something very badly, there are times that Hashem says "no" and we need to accept that He does things for the best for us.

R' Jeff also quoted R' Neventzal who addressed why this occurred now, after the 515 prior prayers. He explained that in preparation for the 516th time, Moshe was going to invoke the 13 middos with the word Avor and we know that Moshe was aware that if the Jews use the 13 middos when they daven, Hashem won't say no. Moshe was preparing to use the "trick" he learned at the Egel and said Ebrah Na - I am going to use the Avor option, so Hashem says stop - dont use the 13 middos as I will have to go against the rule that the 13 middos always work and still say no to you.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I generally 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 a young maggid shiur in my community - R' Jeff Thurm who gives a great 40 minute parsha shiur at the BTU shul on Thursday nights. 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 maggid shiur.

R' Jeff began his shiur by discussing the term Mishna Torah which is used to describe Sefer Devarim. The Medrash explains that Devarim teaches us many halachos, so its called Mishna Torah. But R' Jeff had many other reasons for this term.

He first quoted the Ramban who notes that Devarim is basically a reiteration of halachos which were discussed earlier in the Torah and that the mitzvos which appear to be "new" were hinted at earlier in the Torah. But if they were learned earlier as a hint, why not give the details there, rather than in Sefer Devarim? The Ramban answers that since the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel and these laws were relevant to life in Israel they are mentioned in Sefer Devarim. Additionally, some of these mitzvos are less frequent, so they are mentioned at the end.

R' Jeff also brought the Maharal who notes that Sefer Devarim is Moshe's reiteration and personal views on the Torah. By example, the Tochacha in Devarim is said in singular form as Moshe is telling the Jews about it, whereas in Vayikra its said in plural form as Moshe is telling the Jews about it from Hashem's directive. The Maharal further explains that the first four books were Moshe telling the Jews verbatim from Hashem. But Devarim is a prophecy to Moshe which he then told them after. In so doing Hashem was weaning the Jews off a direct reiteration of Hashem's words, towards the words which were said over by a prophet like Yehoshua. Thus Devarim serves as a transition so that the Jews will be accustomed to hearing prophecy from Nevi'im.

R' Jeff said a third explanation from R' Tzadok, who explains that this was a different kind of transition. This is a transition from the Written Law to the Oral Law (Torah SheB'al Peh). As opposed to the first four books which were written law, Sefer Devarim is Moshe's interpretation of the laws which are now being canonized as part of Torah SheB'ctav. In so doing, Hashem is teaching us that the words of the Rabbanim in interpreting Torah are important as well.

The fourth view on Sefer Devarim is based on a Gemara in Avodah Zarah which states that Sefer HaYashar is a reference to Sefer Devarim as mentioned in Shmuel II, based on the words V'Asisa HaYashar V'HaTov B'einei Hashem. But why is one mention in Sefer Devarim of Yashar the link?

The Maharsha explains that the first four books are the rules - the halachos. But Sefer Devarim is meant to unify all the rules as the sum of its parts - how to live a life that is complete as a Yashar. R' Jeff noted in the name of R' Weinberger that the Gemara in Veyamos states that we generally we are not doresh s'muchim - we don't draw rules based on the juxtaposition / proximity of the pesukim one to another. However in Sefer Devarim we are doresh s'muchim. Why? Because everything  in Devarim is connected under the rubric of Yashrus - that everything has a cohesiveness, we can learn rules based upon the connection of the pesukim.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Summer Haze IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Brewery's Summer Haze IPA.

The Saranac Summer Haze IPA is one of three new beers in the Saranac 12 Beers of Summer Box for 2019. The box also includes new entries Citrus Squeeze (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2019/07/sunday-night-suds-saranac-citrus-squeeze.html), IPA 100 (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2019/07/sunday-night-suds-saranac-100-ipa.html) and the staple Kolsch (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2008/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-kolsch-ale.html).

Over the last decade or so, the term "Summer" when used in connection with a beer has often come to mean one of two things - the beer is flavored with fruit, or its style has been watered down so that you can drink it on a hot summer day. Neither of those apply to this beer

Unlike many "summer" brews, the Saranac Summer Haze IPA is a full bodied IPA with fruit that does not derive from juice and a bit of pine. The carbonation is the usual spot on that one comes to expect from FX Matt Co and a little bit of spice which I was not expecting.

The beer runs 5.9% abv which is in line with most IPAs but again, not what you would expect from a "summer" beer. If you are looking for a medium bitter brew with a kick, this would be a good choice.

Summer Haze IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac brews some varieties off site, so check the cans/bottles for kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/406040.

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).

Lastly, 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 1, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos-Maasei

The following is a brief summary of two thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios back in 2010. 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 shiurand should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Matos begins with Moshe telling the heads of the tribes about nedarim. This is out of the ordinary as a parsha usually begins "and Hashem told Moshe to say [to the Jews]." However in this parsha Moshe speaks directly to the roshei matos without the Torah specifying that the source was from Hashem. The language of roshei hamatos is also unique as the Torah usually describes the people as nesi'im, not as roshei hamatos.

Rabbi Frand quoted R' Alpert who cited the Rashbam in Chukas about the maa'aseh meriva. In this parsha, Moshe is told to pick up the mateh and then later told to talk to the rock. Ultimately, Moshe is punished for using the staff, rather than speaking to the rock. But why is he told to pick up the staff in the first place? The answer Rabbi Frand gave is that Hashem was trying to teach Moshe a lesson about how to interact with the Jewish people. Hashem instructs - there are two ways to interact and influence the Jews, either by speaking to them or by hitting them. This time, the lesson is that the pen (or in this case the spoken word) is mightier than the sword.

When Hashem tells Moshe to take the staff, Hashem is saying take the staff, but then go and talk to the Jews. Hashem attempts to teach Moshe a lesson that every leader and Rebbi or Rov must know - you don't need the stick. You can have as much impact by speaking.

Matos is a parsha about speech - nedarim. A person can have a Rabbinically certified kosher meat sandwich, but if he has sworn that that he will not eat meat, then it is as great a sin to eat the sandwich as if he has eaten not kosher food. This is the power of speech. Therefore the parsha begins with Moshe telling the roshei hamatos, because Moshe has learned the power of speech and he can then instruct the leaders of sticks that they can lead with power or with speech, but leading with speech is much more effective.

A second vort was said over about Parshas Masei. R' Frand again quoted R' Alpert who remarks that the parsha recites the 42 stops which appear to be ancient history and almost irrelevant. So why are the mas'aos mentioned? Indeed, many of the locations mentioned were mile markers where things did not go well for the Jews. Chazal teach that Refidim marked the location where the Jews washed their hands of Torah (rafu yideihem) and therefore they were attacked by Amalek.

Another location was Kivros HaTavah where they complained about the food they were eating.R' Frand asked - how do people look back on their less than stellar past? They usually try to forget it. The Torah however tells us, remember your past that you did not act properly, but you were able to pull yourselves out of it and move on. The Torah then teaches 42 locations to show that there were glorious moments and not so stellar times. The message is that the Jews should be aware of their mistakes, not repeat them and at the same time see how they overcame them.

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!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Passion Fruit Kolsch & Nine Days Havdallah Guide


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's Passion Fruit Kolsch and not coincidentally provides the annual Nine Days Havdallah Guide.

This beer was included in the New Belgium Folly mix can pack which also includes the Citradelic Tangerine IPA (reviewed here  http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2016/05/new-belgium-citradelic-tangerine-ipa.html), Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2018/02/sunday-night-suds-new-belgium-voodoo.html ) and Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza (reviewd here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2019/06/sunday-night-suds-new-belgium-mural.html).

Although this beer is classified as a Kolsch there is really no suggestion of beer in this brew. When I first popped the top of the can, I could smell the tang of the passion fruit and the aroma never left. The beer poured a faint cloudy orange and was very carbonated, although not to the point of soda. Mrs KB and I shared this with friends on Motzei Shabbos and other than a woman who can't stand beer (and stopped after two sips), we all felt that this sweet beer was refreshing and did not taste much like a beer.  

The New Belgium Passion Fruit Kolsch is 4.3% abv, but that is barely above session beer status and its more of an aperitif then a beer. As discussed below, if you know someone who is not into bitters and is looking for something to use for havdallah this should fit the bill, However since I have only seen it as part of the Folly Pack you will only get three cans in your purchase.

The New Belgium New Belgium Passion Fruit Kolsch is under kosher supervision by the Scroll-K/Va'ad of Denver, and their symbol is on the bottom of the Folly Pack box. However, not every brew produced by New Belgium is under kosher supervision, so look for the Scroll K on the six pack holder or box when considering purchasing any NBB product.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about New Belgium Passion Fruit Kolsch, click here https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/400856/.

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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Bonus section - Nine Days Havdalah Guide.

In years past, I would receive numerous email and cell phone messages prior to Shabbos Chazon (the Saturday within the summer nine days mourning period) with questions as to what would be a good choice to make havdalah on. As the Shabbos of the Nine Days actually falls at the beginning of the period, I have presented the annual Nine Days Havdalah guide in this post to allow people to get an early look at alternatives to wine.

By way of introduction, on Saturday nights after the evening prayer is said, Jews have a special set of blessings that are said by which we separate between the holy shabbos and the rest of the week. There is a custom to say this prayer on a cup of wine, however this custom needs modification when the Saturday falls during the nine days of mourning.

As noted by the Orthodox Union on their website:

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition. Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of "mourning for Jerusalem". Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.

Should your local Rabbi direct you to utilize non-wine in your havdalah, there are multiple options to use to fulfill the havdalah requirement. Indeed, my father in law will use diet soda (or as he says "diet pop"). I recall as a child seeing my father on one occasion use hard alcohol for havdalah (and then burn the decorative plate my sibling made when he tried to put out the candle).

To me, the simplest answer to the havdalah dilemma (and one that is widely recommended by rabbinic authorities) is to use beer, which in the time of the talmud was called chamra d'medina - the wine of the masses. This brings us to the reason I get more summer phone calls and email around this time every year - which beer would I recommend?

The number one problem with the question is that most people who ask me about it don't generally drink beer. It then becomes difficult to make a recommendation of a beer that they can use for havdalah that won't have them making faces in their attempt to drink the halachic minimum level for the blessing. A second problem is that since the havdalah cup is imbibed on its own (i.e. without the benefit of food) people who might be inclined to have a beer with a meal will still have problems finishing their cup when the beer is consumed on its own.

The easiest solution is not to have beer, but instead to make havdalah on what is commonly called alcopop. These are malt beverage drinks with some similarities to beer and a beer-like 5% alcohol content by volume, but do not have the beer taste. Some examples are the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) Twisted Teas or the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. Please be aware that not every flavor of Smirnoff is certified Kosher. There are also a limited number of kosher "hard sodas" such as Henry's Hard Soda (a MillerCoors brand under the OU) and Coney Island (a Samuel Adams brand under the Star-K).

Another alternative is hard apple cider. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that for a time the Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider was not certified kosher by the Star-K, but they have again been certified kosher. For a current list of Angry Orchard ciders as well as the Coney Island Hard Sodas under hashgacha, please click here https://express.star-k.org/viewer/LOCViewer.aspx?PEFQZ4N3 (this will open a link which allows for a download of the July 2019 LOC). Additionally, there has been an explosion of other kosher hard apple ciders, including Strongbow out of the UK, JK Scrumpy, Smith & Forge, Henry Hotspurs Hard Cider (a Trader Joe's brand) and Appleation.

There are also a number of fruit flavored beers which bridge the gap between alcopop and true beer. These include the Miller/Coors line of Redd's products, including Apple Ale, Blueberry Ale, Strawberry Ale, Cranberry Ale, Mango Ale and perhaps other (just look for the OU on the label). There are also quite a few mainstream mango beers like the Samuel Adams Rebel Juiced IPA (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/07/sunday-night-suds-rebel-juiced-ipa.html) and the Blue Moon Mango Wheat (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/07/sunday-night-suds-blue-moon-mango-wheat.html). Also, Saranac has reintroduced their delicious Blueberry Blonde Ale after a few years hiatus (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/04/sunday-night-suds-saranac-blueberry.html) and as discussed above, the New Belgium can mix pack has three other options for fruit infused beer for Havdallah.

If you do like unflavored beer, or would like to drink something that is more manly than alcopop, the next step up would be an American wheat beer or some of the better Summer Ales. Many of these beers have been reviewed on the pages of this blog and you can search through prior Sunday Night Suds reviews to find one that might appeal to you. If you are a beer aficionado, you obviously won't need this post to tell you which ale or lager you should crack open for havdallah.

Again, I would stress that you consult your halachic authority before selecting a havdallah alternative. My Rav advises me that beer would be the first choice, followed by malt beverages. I did not ask about how the non alcohol options fit into the list.

May the world have a tikkun from our three weeks/nine days observances and may tisha b'av soon be transformed to the holiday that the gemara tells it will be in the times of moshiach bimheira biyamenu.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 began the vort by quoting Rashi who asked why Pinchas became a Kohain at this juncture? The Gemara in Zevachim teaches that Pinchas' father (Elazar) and his grandfather (Aharon) had been anointed Kohanim nearly 40 years earlier and his nephews similarly became Kohanim after they were born. But not Pinchas.

R' Frand then theorized that over the intervening years, Pinchas watched all of these people offer sacrifices as Kohanim, but he himself could not. He must have been disappointed and perhaps thought that this was not fair.

R' Frand quoted the Zohar which explains that a Kohain who killed another person may no longer serve as a Kohain. Had Pinchas been anointed Kohain before he killed Zimri and Kozbi, he would have lost the ability to serve as a Kohain. Because he did not join the ranks of the Kohanim when his brother and father did, he did not lose the ability to serve after he killed.

R' Frand next quoted the Sifri, which teaches that every single Kohain Gadol who served in the first Beis Hamikdash and the second as well, all descended from Pinchas.

R' Frand then explained that everything happens for a purpose and told a story about one of his students who was recently diagnosed with appendicitis. When the boy went in for surgery, they found that he had a restriction on his small intestines which was preventing him from being properly nourished. This syndrome occurs in less than 1% of the populace and can be fatal...and the only reason that it was diagnosed is that it was found when he was being treated for the non-fatal inflamed appendix.

R' Frand explained that Hashem works with Hashgacha Pratis to ensure that things happen for a reason and in the sequence they are supposed to occur. He made reference to the Gemara in Sanhedrin which teaches that one who is Boel Arami can be attacked by a Kana'i. But Moshe did not remember that halacha according to the Ramban. For this reason, Pinchas needed to act, and only then would he ascend to the ranks of Kohanim.

R' Frand told a second vort about the direction in Bamidbar 25:17 - "צָר֖וֹר אֶת־הַמִּדְיָנִ֑ים וְהִכִּיתֶ֖ם אוֹתָֽם." He quoted the Medrash Tanchuma which states that a person who is coming to you, you should rise up and kill him. But even worse than one who comes to kill, is one who comes to lead others to sin. Because the killer only kills in this world, but one who causes others to sin causes punishment in the world to come as well. The Medrash notes that two nations rose up against the Jews in battle - Egypt and Edom. Similarly, two nations rose up against the Jews and tried to lead them to sin - Ammon and Moab. Those who fought with the Jews on the battlefield are permitted to have their descendants convert to Judaism. But those who sought to lead us astray can never convert.

R' Frand next quoted a story from Sefer Shmuel where David attempted to show favor to the King of Ammon, despite the Torah's proscription on doing so. Hashem said to David - what are you doing? Dont be a tzaddik when you are directed not to show them favor. Soon thereafter, David's men met with the King and he had half their beards shaved off.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting a story told about R' Moshe Feinstein in the sefer Otzros HaTorah. There was a Jew in Russia in the 1930s who used to report other Jews to the KGB. At the end of his life he wrote a command that he wished not to be properly buried and that this would serve as an atonement for him. The Chevra Kadisha came to R' Moshe and asked whether they should honor his wishes, and R' Moshe said no. But this was his attempt at atonement? R' Moshe responded that the Torah requires every Jew to have a proper burial, regardless of his acts in this world.

A short time after the man's death, the KGB approached the cemetery's director and requested to exhume the body. The director did not want to, but eventually agreed. When asked why, the KGB informed him that the man had left a note for the KGB that indicated that he expected that the Jews would not honor him with a proper burial as a way to "get even with him" for turning in Jews to the Stalin government. But because R' Moshe followed the letter of the law, the man had a proper burial and there was no venue for retribution against the Jews.

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!