Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chukas

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.

In this week's parsha, the Torah states Zos Chukas HaTorah -- stating that the law of Parah Aduma is the prime Chok in the Torah. Rashi quotes the Medrash Rabbah in explaining that this is a Chok, because the Satan and the nations of the world provoke and ridicule the Jews over this law whereby the process causes the one who is impure to become pure and the one who was pure and applies the water/ash mixture, become impure. For this reason the Torah instructs that this is a Chok and one should not attempt to discern the reason for this law.

R' Frand also quoted the actual language of the Medrash Rabbah which states "Chukah Chakarti, Gezeirah Gazarti" - Hashem stated that he has set a Chok and a law and a person is not allowed to attempt to understand the meaning of this law. R' Frand further observed that there are many other Chukim in the Torah, such as Shatnez and kosher animals, but this is the prime Chok and there is no explanation for it.

R' Frand next quoted a different Medrash wherein a pasuk [perhaps from Mishlei] states that Shlomo attempted to understand the Chukim such as Shatnez and non-kosher animals, but this I did not understand. The Medrash also quoted R' Yosi who stated that Hashem told Moshe, I will explain to you the reason for Parah Adumah, but only to you, and I will not reveal it to the Jews until L'Asid L'avo. 

R' Frand then asked three questions: (1) If there is a reason for the law and Hashem revealed it to Moshe, why does He not want to reveal it to the rest of the Jews until the end of days? (2) Why does Hashem allow the Jews to be ridiculed by the world for this law? After all, the Torah writes that the nations will remark about the Jews that they are "Am Chacham V'Navon"! (3) Why does the Medrash use double language in describing it as a Chukah and Gezeira?

R' Frand answered these questions by quoting the sefer Be'er Yosef, who observed that the Parah Adumah was not needed only once in a while. A person would have a need for the ashes after coming in contact with a person who was Tamei Meis, or a body, or attending a funeral. R' Frand opined that a person might need the ashes dozens of times in his lifetime. Each time that the process was repeated he would go from being impure to pure and the Kohain would have the reverse. Each time the person would have the concept reinforced that there are things that occur in this world that he cannot understand. Similarly he might observe Tzaddik V'Ra Lo/Rasha V'Tov Lo, or the death of a Tzaddik or a child, and he would be faced with the reality that there are things that he cannot understand. Because the more a person repeats something, the more the concept is ingrained, which in this case is that there are things that are not meant to be understood.

This is why Hashem does not want to reveal the meaning for Parah Aduma and its crossover law of tamei/tahor at this time. Because Hashem wants us to know that there are things we cannot understand, even if the other nations mock us for it.

R' Frand closed the vort by explaining the double language....as not being a double after all. Hashem said to the Jews, I have set this Chok of Parah Aduma, because I have also set Gezeira(s) - decrees which you will not understand and you need to accept that it all comes from Hashem.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Shmaltz Brewing Co's Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Shmaltz Brewing Company's Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A., a Rye Double IPA.

[Due to  the mouthful of a title for this beer, it will be simply referred to "the RIPA", with no intended reference to any TV host].

I found this beer in the Beverage Barn on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park, where they let you buy singles of anything not in a closed box. They do upcharge by the standard formula (charging you the price of 1/5 of a six pack) but the slight increase over their usually decent price is not significant when you consider that they have such a great variety of kosher beer.

The first thing that struck me about the RIPA is its resemblance to a barleywine. This beer is 10% abv and you can tell it from the first sip. That's not to say that it is undrinkable as the beer was not just about the alcohol flavor as it was truly a rich and complex brew. But I would definitely call this a sipping beer, preferably one enjoyed on its own, not with a meal. 

As discussed above, the beer is not just about the alcohol and there is hop bite and some floral notes, deep grapefruit crossed with bock notes. The beer poured a dark brown, almost chocolate with some foam but not an excessive amount of carbonation. It served as a good accompaniment to the after dinner learning we did Friday night and I would recommend that it would be shared with good friends after a meal.

Shmaltz RIPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the KSA, as are many, if not all of the Shmaltz products.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/262/30970.

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, June 14, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Korach

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.

This week's parsha includes the end of Dasan & Aviram who seem to torture Moshe at every turn. Although not always mentioned by name, the Medrash teaches that they were the ones who told Pharaoh that Moshe had killed the Egyptian and they were the ones who called out Moshe for being the instigator of Pharaoh's wrath against the Jews. 

Yet, when faced with Dasan & Aviram and their role in Korach's rebellion (a fight in which they did not even have the possibility of gaining any position of power) the Torah writes in Bamidbar 16:25 that Moshe got up and went to Dasan & Aviram.

R' Frand quoted the Gemara in Sanhedrin which states that we learn from this that one should not be "M'chazek" in a dispute, because Moshe would have been within his rights to say that they should have come to him, but instead he went to them. 

R' Frand also quoted the Sefer Menachem Tzion which explain the Gemara as teaching that when a person is in a dispute he should not view the other person as being part of a chazakah. He explained that while there may be a chazakah that certain things occur in halacha, such as dealing with found objects or tumah, there should not be a chazakah in disputes. A person should not assume that a person he is in a dispute with will necessarily act in a particular way and he should go out to meet with him.

R' Frand also said a vort about the almonds which sprouted from Aharon's staff. The Torah writes in Bamidbar 17:23 that Aharon's staff sprouted a flower and then budded and the almonds grew out of it.

R' Frand asked first - since Moshe had only said that the staff of the chosen tribe would flower, why did Aharon's staff also grow the bud and fruit? He answered by quoting the Rashbam, which explains that when Moshe found the staff in the Ohel Moed it was flowering, but had not progressed beyond that state. Only after Moshe brought the staff out into the public view did it grow the fruit buds and eventually the almonds. The Rashbam explains that the people could have said -- the reason that there are flowers on Aharon's staff is because Moshe put them on it before he took the staff out of the Ohel Moed. But when the staff grew almonds in public, there was no room for them to be skeptical.

R' Frand also noted that the almonds grew irregularly, in that usually the flowers come off and then the fruit bud appears and then that falls away and there is fruit. But here they were all present at the same time. 

R' Frand addressed this by quoting R' Gedalya Shur, who explained that the Kohain Gadol's role is always to be fresh and new. He should be constantly blooming and showing energy, much like the pasuk Tzadik KaTamar Yifrach. 

This was Aharon, much like he was described in Behaalosecha in connection with the Menorah as always performing the task with the vigor and excitement that he did on his first day.

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, June 10, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Hop Manna IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Shmaltz Brewing Company's Hop Manna IPA.

I found this beer in the NY version of Total Wine & Liquors on Old Country Road in Westbury. Due to New York's antiquated/paternalistic/protectionist (pick any other adjective you choose) liquor rules which ban stores from selling beer and wine in the same store. As such when Total Wine finally came to New York (what took you so long) they wisely chose to subdivide the space previously occupied by Sports Authority (OBM). They had to build separate entrances to each store along with individual cashier sections, but the stores are separated only by only a thin wall.

The beer itself poured a lighter copper than I was expecting, with some midrange carbonation (not rivaling a Saranac Beer, but not flat either). Although the color and carbonation was slightly lighter than I prefer, this American Pale Ale was not lacking in flavor. There were nice floral hop notes and some citrus, but also a bit more malt than I was expecting.

The resulting brew was a solid example of the American Pale Ale style which would go well with charred meat, stews, burgers and, well, basically any meat!

Shmaltz Hop Manna IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the KSA, as are many, if not all of the Shmaltz products.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/262/78791.

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, June 7, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shelach

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's first vort was based on a Medrash which tied the sending of the spies to a pasuk in Yeshaya which states that the vegetation may dry out, but Hashem's word is forever. It then linked the two to a mashal about a king who was travelling and came across a friend. He told the friend, if you walk with me to my destination, I will reward you. The man agreed and began walking with the king, but then died before he reached the destination. The king then found the man's son and said to him, although I promised this to your father if he reached the destination, which he did not, I will still give you the present. The Medrash taught that the nimshal was Hashem giving the land of Israel to the Jews, saying although I asked your forefather Avraham to walk with me, I will still give you the land as I keep my word.

There is an obvious question to be asked about this Medrash as the two situations are different. Hashem promised Avraham that He would give the land of Israel to Avraham and his descendants, so how was this a gift that was not obligated?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Avnei Nezer who explained that the Meraglim created a sea change for the Jewish people which severed our connection to Avraham. When Hashem asked Avraham to do something, Avraham responded "Yes Sir." The Jews (until now) had followed Hashem's directive to go to the land of Israel on blind faith. But now they began to strategize and wanted to use spies to check out the land before they would move there. In so doing they broke their connection as Avraham's children and the worthy inheritors. As such, Hashem told them, I will give you the land to keep My promise to Avraham.

The second vort also was linked to a Medrash which tied the sending of the spies to a statement that "like vinegar for the mouth and smoke for the eyes, laziness bothers the person who sends a messenger." 

The connection between this statement and the spies is puzzling. The meraglim had many flaws, but there is no indicia that they dragged their feet or were otherwise lazy!

R' Frand answered this question by quoting R' Shraga Grosbart (sp?) who explains that there are two forms of laziness. There is physical laziness, such as one who does not want to get out of bed. But there is also intellectual laziness, embodied by someone who does not want to think. When the meraglim saw all the deaths of the residents while on their journey, they immediately thought - the land must be toxic! But had they used their intellect, they would have realized that this was the hand of Hashem, showing them that the giant inhabitants were not immortal. 

R' Frand also linked this to a famous Zohar which stated that the spies' motivation was their fear of losing their positions of power when the Jews would eventually enter the land of Israel. This fear of loss of Kavod colored their perceptions and made it that much easier to not think hard about what they were seeing.

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, June 3, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Sam '76


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Sam '76 (in honor of my nephew Sam and his love of flags).

The Sam '76 claims to be an American Pale Lager and it comes in a patriotically decorated can, complete with the logo "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happines" (which I was expecting to actually read hoppiness, but I guess that they were not feeling punny).

The side of the can states that the

Sam '76 is a perfect union of lager and ale, giving you a craft beer with the flavor of an ale, giving you a craft beer with the flavor of an ale and the refreshment and crisp finish of a lager. The result is revolutionary.

The Sam '76 to me is very little ale and almost entirely lager. The notes indicate that the beer is 4.7% abv with 12 IBUs, but I don't detect much in the way of bitterness and the alcohol content seems more akin with a light beer.

This is the kind of beer that you can bring to a BBQ at at friend where most of the participants are into American macrolagers. They will ooh and ah about how this is Sam Adams, but even though it has the Sam on the label it unfortunately has the heart of a Bud and even the can packaging looks similar to the great American stalwart. That's not to say that the beer is unpleasant, but it is a let down from a beer company which usually produces beer with more flavor and character.

The Sam '76 is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the side of the can. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/317014.

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!