Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayera

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 R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in the halacha sefer Halichos Shlomo. He prefaced the vort by restating the known story of Avraham giving the angels food, including the delicacy of tongue and mustard. But he also noted that the Torah writes later in Bereishis 21:33, וַיִּטַּ֥ע אֵ֖שֶׁל בִּבְאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע - Avraham planted an Eishel in Be'er Sheva. The mefarshim write that Eshel stands for Achilah, Shetiya and Levaya - food drink and accompanied his guests who stayed in his hotel.

R' Shlomo Zalman asked - which act had a greater impact on the world? It must be the Eshel, since it continued for tens of years. Additionally, the gemara teaches that Avraham used the hotel as a way to spread monotheism. People would want to bless Avraham after they ate. He would respond to them - you want to bless me? Bless Hashem who is the creator of the world and provided the food. The tent was his vehicle to put Hashem's name in their mouth. Yet even though this was a long standing practice and the  angels did not even eat, has a greater impact!

Indeed, the gemara in Bava Metzia teaches that all the gifts that the Jews had in the desert came as a reward for Avraham providing the angels with the food and drink (which they did not even consume).

Why is this first short interaction with the angels rewarded so richly?

R' Frand said that R; Shlomo uses this to teach that the harder something is, the greater the reward and the greater the recognition from Hashem. This is the 3rd day after millah, without anesthesia, on a 99 year old man. And yet he went out of his way on a hot day to find the guests. Hashem rewarded him for his tzaar and his mesiras nefesh.

R' Frand said a second vort along the same lines in the name of R' Horvitz from Romeima. We see that Avraham had mesiras nefesh in the beginning and the end of the parsha. The angels did not eat the food, even though he knocked himself out to provide for them. Similarly, at the end of the parsha, Avraham was willing to sacrifice his son at the Akeidah, but was unsuccessful. And yet we pray to Hashem on Rosh Hashana to remember Avraham's unsuccessful yet selfless act.

Why are these stressed and rewarded by Hashem? Because Hashem just wants a person to try. Judaism does not value results, it values efforts and Hashem wants to see that we have attempted to do what he asks us to do. This is the vort often said at a siyum. During the siyum we say that we work and get a reward and they work and don't get a reward. What does that mean? Of course there is a reward - but their reward is only if they accomplish. If the tailor does not sew the suit or the shoemaker does not fix the shoe, he gets no reward. But Hashem rewards us for trying, even if we don't accomplish.

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Lech Lecha

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 said two vorts on the parsha tonight, both in the name of R' Moshe Freundlich. Both also tied into interesting stories and would be perfect for the Shabbos table.

The first vort was in relation to the first pasuk in the parsha, wherein Hashem said to Avram, לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ. The meforshim take issue with the order of departure, in that Avram is told to leave his land, where he was born and the house of his father, when usually a person would first leave his father's house and as he continued to travel would eventually leave the country.

R' Frand offered a novel approach based on a story of R' Moshe Turkichinsky who was born in Israel and traveled to learn in Slobodka for the summer z'man. Before Shavuous, the Rosh Yeshiva, R Isaac Sherer asked him whether he would be keeping two days of Yom Tov as he was now in galus. R' Moshe did not answer and this was more of a statement than a question, but still he was confused. The halacha is that someone who intends to return to Israel does not do work on day 2, but also davens as if it is Chol. 

R' Moshe went and asked the Rav of the city what he should do and was told that he should be davening the Chol davening. When asked again by the Rosh Yeshiva about keeping two days he decided that he would daven in his dorm with tefillin first and then go to the Yeshiva when they davened and no one one would know that he had previously prayed. But then as the Yeshiva was going to daven Maariv to begin the second day, the Rosh Yeshiva approached him and asked him to be the Shaliach Tzibbur. Now he was stuck, how could he lead the Yom Tov prayers?

R' Moshe decided that the only solution was to take upon himself not to return to Israel and become a ben Chutz L'Aretz. He then went up and led davening and recited all of the Yom Tov prayers. When he was done, R' Sherer said to him - I know the halacha that you should only keep one day, but I also saw that your head and heart were not in the yeshiva. You may have been physically in Slobodka, but you were thinking about your birthplace and I needed you to commit to being a bochur here.

R' Frand closed the vort by saying that this was the meaning of the order, based on the Malbim - a person may physically leave his home first when he travels, but it is much easier to depart from one's country than to emotionally depart from the customs of one's home.

The second vort was based on the pasuk in Bereishis 12:3 where Hashem says to Avram "וַֽאֲבָֽרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רֲכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר" - I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you, I will curse. The statements are not parallel as the blessing by Hashem comes before the blessing of Avram and the cursing by others precedes the cursing by Hashem.

R' Frand again linked this to the story of the son of Chafetz Chaim who went with his mother to get a suit for his wedding. The tailor measured the boy and said to come back in a few weeks. When they returned the boy tried on the suit and the mother put the money down to pay for it and then the tailor gave the boy a bracha that he should have a life of wealth and honor. The mother was taken aback - this is the blessing you gave my son? My husband shuns wealth and honor and this is what you give as a bracha? You should be blessing him to be a Yarei Shamayim or Ben Torah!

This is the meaning of Hashem's words to Avram - I will bless those who bless you in order to elevate them and bring their blessings to a higher spiritual level, thus their blessing to you will be from a higher spiritual plain and not just wishes for wealth and honor. In contrast, those who curse you, will be cursed and they will continue to sink as a result of their bad wishes.

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Noach

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 Bereishis 7:23 the Torah states "וַיִּשָּׁ֧אֶר אַךְ־נֹ֛חַ" - which literally translated means that only Noach (and his family) survived. Rashi offers multiple interpretations of this statement, including that Noach was bitten by a lion because he was late bringing its food.

R' Frand then asked - what is the purpose of this statement? Was it a lesson that if you are late feeding the lion it will get angry?

R' Frand answered by quoting a vort from the Ostrovser Rebbi [Ed note - I am probably off on that name, if you have the correct spelling, please post it in the comments below]. He first cited a Gemara in Yoma which states that the smoke of the burning wood of the Ma'aracha in the first Beis Hamikdash went up in the image of a lion and the second Beis Hamikdash like a dog. 

The Ari explains that the smoke was a protectant for the Jewish people and dissuaded them from sinning. In the days of the first Beis Hamikdash the protector was a lion and the second was a dog. There is a difference between being guarded by a lion and a dog, as a lion will attack an intruder, while a dog is more of a burglar alarm which alerts you that an intruder is present.

This was the difference between the two Batei Mikdash- in the first, the lion was strong and protected from sin, whereas the dog was nowhere near as strong of a protection. When the lion was present, there was no potential thought of sin. The dog could not offer such protection, it just barked to try to dissuade from sin.

The Ostrover Rebbi tied this into Noach. He was not interested in going out to convince others not to sin and just worked on his ark. Yes, when people came and asked him, he told them that the flood was coming, but he was not actively trying to prevent people from sinning. Thus he was bitten by a lion as a mussar to him that he should have been more actively involved in preventing sin.

R' Frand then connected this to the sign of the rainbow which was a promise  that there would not be another flood. Why did Hashem choose this sign? He quoted R' Yosher Ber Soloviechik who explained that the rainbow is a sign that even though there are clouds and darkness, there is light behind it. The message to Noach was, there is no generation without hope as there is always a possibility that they can be brought back. 

R' Frand then linked this to a Gemara in Berachos which provides the history of the admissions to the yeshiva as R' Gamliel only permitted those who who were the same on the inside and out, whereas R' Yehoshua allowed everyone to come and learn. The Gemara states that when R' Gamliel saw all the extra benches which were added after R' Yehoshua's open door policy began, he wept. To this he was shown an earthenware vessel filled with ash. He had solace as it appeared to him that the new students were empty on the inside. But the Gemara teaches that was not the case.

R' Soloviechik explained that the ash was not without potential as smoldering ash can reignite if there is oxygen blown back in. Similarly, the people who appeared empty and burned out on the inside could be motivated and their true souls reignited by Torah.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Hop Harvest Haze IPA


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

The Saranac Hop Harvest Haze IPA is one of two new beers in the Saranac German Roots mix box  for 2019. The box also includes new entry Hopskeller, as well as old standards Black Forest (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2010/01/sunday-night-suds-saranac-black-forest.html ) and Octoberfest (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/10/sunday-night-suds-saranac-octoberfest.html ) which is to be expected in a fall box calling itself "German Roots." 

This the second consecutive mix box from Saranac featuring a "Haze", the prior box for Summer containing the Summer Haze IPA (reviewed here   https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2019/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-summer-haze.html). Much like the Summer Haze IPA, this beer is somewhat cloudy and is a very dark gold in color. But this beer also stands on its own as the hops make you swear that there is grapefruit juice. Yet all of the flavor comes from the mix of Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy hops.

The beer runs 6% abv and packs a little bit of a punch. If you are looking for a medium bitter brew with a kick, this would be a good choice.

The Hop Harvest 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/99/435306.

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, October 24, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bereishis

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 Bereishis 3:12, the Torah provides Adam's response to Hashem when asked about eating from the Etz HaDa'as wherein Adam states - וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הָֽאָדָ֑ם הָֽאִשָּׁה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נָתַ֣תָּה עִמָּדִ֔י הִ֛וא נָֽתְנָה־לִּ֥י מִן־הָעֵ֖ץ וָֽאֹכֵֽל. The basic translation of the pasuk is that Adam said that the woman that You gave with me provided me from the tree and I will eat.

R' Frand noted the use of the future tense ("will eat") and quoted Rashi's explanation that Adam was stating that he had eaten and will continue to eat. Yet it is hard to understand how Adam could have the chutzpah so say to Hashem that he will continue to eat in the future (my father asked me the same question over Simchas Torah).

R' Frand answered the question by quoting from the Sefer Imrei Da'as who explains that Adam was not saying that he will eat. Rather this was an observation about human nature. If a person makes a mistake (even on a purpose) and when confronted with the error, owns up to his actions, he will be unlikely to continue  that course of conduct in the future. However, is a person blames some external force (like Adam blaming his wife or even Hashem for giving him Chava), then he will continue to sin. In Adam's case, that would be continuing to eat.

R' Frand linked this to Kayin being confronted later in the parsha about the murder of his brother and the punishment meted out to the ground. The Torah states in Bereishis 4:11 that the ground will be punished, but the reason for the punishment is not immediately apparent. R' Frand tied this to the 70's Watergate incident. The crime was the burglary, but the bigger problem was the failure to admit the act and the attempted cover up. Had Kayin admitted that the murder was an act of passion, an action taken out of intense momentary anger, then perhaps the result could have been different. However, Kayin engaged in a cover up and for this reason the earth is punished for covering up the crime.

R' Frand also said a vort on man's punishment for eating from the tree in that man must work by the sweat of his brow to earn a living. R' Frand asked - why is the punishment characterized as sweat of the brow? This is an external manifestation, but in reality the work is done with the hands. Would it have been more accurate to say that the produce of the work of the hands (Y'giah Kapecha)?

R' Frand answered by quoting the sefer V'Lamedcha (not sure that is correct name) who writes that the sweat of the brow is not what results in a paycheck. This is only what a person needs to do in order to allow Hashem to work behind the scenes and provide a parnasah for a person. When a person works to earn a living, Hashem will provide, but not necessarily in the manner that the person expects as there is not always a direct correlation.

R' Frand told a story he had hear from R' CY Goldvicht (the KBY Rosh Yeshiva when I attended back in the late 80's). There was a man who owned a small five and dime in Israel when the British Mandate was in place. One day, a young girl stopped in and wanted to buy a notebook, The store owner had to climb a ladder to reach a high shelf where he moved things around until he found the 5 cent notebook. Immediately thereafter a British soldier entered and wanted to buy an expensive Parker pen. The store owner knew where the Parker pen was, because he had seen it when he was up on the ladder, rearranging the shelf to get the notebook. And by making the sale of the pen, he had covered his expenses for the store for the entire day.

The notebook was the sweat of the brow, and the pen was the resultant parnasah. Not the way that it was drawn up or intended by the store owner, but it often never is...

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday's Thoughts for the Sukkah

R' Frand did not give the shiur this evening as it was given by R' Azriel Hauptman in his stead. The following is a brief summary of the drush portion of the shiur. 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 the maggid shiur.

R' Hauptman began the shiur with the famous question - why is Sukkos celebrated on the 15th of Tishrei? He quoted the answer of the Gra who explains that when the Jews sinned with Egel they lost the Ananaei HaKavod (loosely translated as heavenly clouds) which only returned on the 15th of Tishrei. This was the end of a period of kapparah for the Jewish people which began on the 1st of Elul when Moshe went back up to Har Sinai to receive the 2nd set of Luchos which he then brought back down on the 10th of Tishei (Yom Kippur).

R' Hauptman then diagrammed the next four days of Tishrei:

On the 11th, Moshe announced to the Jewish people that they were collecting to build the Mishkan.
On the 12th and 13th - the collection of goods and materials was held.
On the 14th, Moshe announced that everything which was needed had been collected.
On the 15th, the Annanei HaKavod returned.

R' Hauptman then digressed to discuss the Seir L'Azazael (loosely translated as the scapegoat). This sacrifice seems a bit surreal, as the service was performed outside of the holy, was performed without ritual slaughter and as a result of the service, the Jews were forgiven for their sins. It seems a bit hard to understand.

R' Hauptman tied this together by quoting R' Moshe Shapiro who explains that the word Kippur means Kinuach which is a cleansing which wipes away the external stain. When the Jews ask for forgiveness on Yom Kippur, they are saying - Hashem we want to do Your way, but the external force of the Yetzer Hara/Se'or SheBa'isa/Akum are pressing on us and causing the external stain. So please, take one goat which will be offered in the Holy of Holies, while this other goat is used outside to wipe away our external sins - because those sins are not us.

R' Hauptman then noted that the concept of Yom Kippur did not exist before the Egel. Prior to the Egel we had the first set of commandments which we heard and we were perfect. But perfection was not a state that we could maintain, thus the need for the second set of luchos, because we are not perfect. And Hashem sees that we have flaws, but they are external.

When the Jews enter the sukkah it is like entering a marriage, complete with a Chuppah (wedding canopy).  It is well established that a marriage is stronger after the couple rebuilds from their first fight then when they first get married. The strength is based on the couple's will to look past the imperfection which caused the fight, as the issue is external to their marriage.

After the first luchos we were not perfect anymore as we had sinned with the Egel and we asked for forgiveness. By giving us the second luchos, Hashem showed that he had forgiven us. Only then did the Ananei HaKavod come back and this is the end of the wedding ceremony.

R' Hauptman then asked - why is Sukkos called Zman Simchaseinu as opposed to any other holiday? Because we are happy that Hashem accepted us back, despite our external flaws.

R' Hauptman next quoted the Meshech Chachma who notes that before the Egel, the holiday we know as Sukkos was only called Chag Ha'asif - the holiday of gathering. The term Sukkos does not actually appear in the Torah until after we received the second Luchos in Sefer Devarim. This is because the clouds did not return until after we received the second Luchos and that is what triggered our need to remember the way we were housed in the desert.

R' Hauptman  closed the vort by quoting the Avodas HaGershuni who was the Gra's nephew. He in turn quoted his uncle who stated that on the 15th the Jews began to build the Mishkan and the Shechinah returned. For this reason we celebrate Sukkos as this was the day that we were zoche to sit under the wings of the Shechinah. He links it to the avodah on Yom Kippur where it states in Vayikra 16:16 "וְכִפֶּ֣ר עַל־הַקֹּ֗דֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִפִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכָל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְכֵ֤ן יַֽעֲשֶׂה֙ לְאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד הַשֹּׁכֵ֣ן אִתָּ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָֽם" that the Kohain Gadol effects atonement in the Ohel Moed which dwells with the Jews in their state of Tumah. The first Yom Kippur established that even though we are tamei, Hashem will still dwell among us.

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