Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Beshalach

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 his vort by first quoting a Gemara in Chullin in which R' Pinchas Ben Yair is en route to ransom captives when he reaches a roaring river. He asked the river to split to allow him to cross. The river responded to him - we each have jobs. You are going to ransom captives and my job is to flow. You may not be successful, but there is no doubt that my job will be done,

Nonetheless, R' Pinchas Ben Yair convinced the river to split. He then saw another man on the other side of the river who needed to cross in order to bake matzos. He asked the river to split so that the man could go and bake the matzos and it did. 

There was also a non-Jewish man who accompanied them who needed to cross. R' Pinchas asked the river to split for this man too, as it would not be right that river only split for Jews. The river complied with this request as well.

An observer then said - R' Pinchas was greater than Moshe and the 600,000 Jews who left Egypt with him as the Yam Suf only split once for him. The Gemara then amended the story to say that the river split once and was open for all three people. 

R' Frand then quoted a story involving R' Tzvi Hirsch M'Ziditschov (sp?) who was a great kabbalist and was nicknamed the Sar Beis HaZohar. He once wrote down a schedule of his daily activities and gave it to Chozeh M'Lublin to review and comment as to the tasks and their times. The Chozeh looked at the list and wrote Lav Davka (not necessarily) next to every task and time slot. R' Tzvi Hirsch was confounded - how could that be for every activity? The Chozeh explained - you think that you need to this task at this time, but maybe Hashem has another plan for you at that very moment.

The Tolner Rebbi applied the story to the Gemara to explain why the river split. Even though the river's tafkid was to flow, however even for the river there is a time when Hashem needs it not to do what it is programmed to do, and that was when R' Pinchas needed to cross.

R' Frand noted that there is another version of the Pinchas Ben Yair story in the Yerushalmi in Demai. The story has an epilogue wherein R' Pinchas' students approach him and ask whether they can attempt the same miracle. He told them - if you have never harmed or embarrassed another Jew then you can achieve this, but if not you will be unsuccessful.

R' Frand quoted R' Elya Baruch Finkel who explained the Yerushalmi as dealing withe a person as a Tzelem Elokim - in the image of Hashem. A person can achieve this and cause the river to stop if he is like Hashem. However if he has harmed another then he is not like Hashem and he is not worthy of having the river stop for him.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Mary Jane Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium Mary Jane Ale.

Although not a new beer, the New Belgium Mary Jane Ale is new to the East Coast as it has been nationally distributed as part of the Winter Variety Pack which includes standard bearer Fat Tire (reviewed here  https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/12/sunday-night-suds-new-belgiums-fat-tire.html); Accumulation (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2015/02/sunday-night-suds-new-belgium.html) and Snow Day (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-night-suds-new-belgium-snow-day.html).

The Mary Jane Ale is an American Pale Ale and the first sip had good pine and hops. There is a fair amount of carbonation and successive drinks over the half hour this was on my shabbos table did not disappoint. The beer was a little more bready than I expected, but the hops were present throughout. I was surprised to learn that the beer is only 4.5% abv as the taste was not weak in the slightest. This beer would be a good accompaniment to chicken dishes or light stews, but this is not strong enough for a cholent or steak.

The New Belgium Mary Jane Ale under kosher supervision by the Scroll-K/Va'ad of Denver, and their symbol is on the bottom of the mix box. However, not every brew produced by New Belgium is under kosher supervision.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about New Belgium Mary Jane Ale, click here https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/174734.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

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 Shemos 12:22, the Jews are commanded that on the night of Makas Bechoros while they were eating the Karban Pesach, they should not leave their houses.

R' Frand noted that while there are many aspects of the redemption from Egypt which are reenacted in our Seder, we actually the opposite of what took place in our Seder. Whereas Sefardim have customs to carry the matzos on their backs or step over water, these are symbolic of events which took place in Egypt. But why do we open our doors for the Shefoch Chamascha piyut in the Seder?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Bukspan who tied this into a Zohar and a number of Medrashim about biblical figures. The first Medrash applied to the pasuk dealing with jumping on mountains which the Medrash learns as Hashem saying - I did not redeem the Jews from Egypt because of their own zechus, I took them out because of the zechus of the Avos.

The second Medrash related to the sentence in the Seder which states twice "V'Omar Lach B' Damayich Chayiyi" from which the Medrash learns that because of the zechus of the Avos we were redeemed from Egypt.

The Zohar notes that besides the Jews being redeemed from Egypt based on the merit of others, there were two other instances where someone was saved not on their own zechus. Lot was saved from Sodom based upon the zechus of Avraham and Noach was saved, although he was not deserved either. The Zohar explains that each time someone is saved when they are not deserving to be saved, they should not look at others who are not being saved, as their hatzalah is not because they are any better. The Zohar referred specifically to Lot and his wife being instructed not to look back and Noach's ark not having windows to view the outside world. Neither instance was the person/people being saved because of their own merit.

Similarly, the Jews in Egypt were told - don't look or go outside, because you are not being saved due to your own merit. So why do we open the door at Shefoch Chamascha?

R' Frand answered that at this point in the Seder we are invoking the final Geula which should come speedily in our days. That redemption will iyh come based upon our own zechusim, when we have brought Moshiach. At that point we can look outside.

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, January 3, 2019

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Va'era

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 his first vort by quoting the pasuk in Shemos 6:9 in which the weekday aliyah of Levi ends with the statement that the Jews did not hear Moshe because of shortness of breath and hard work.

R' Frand observed that there is a general rule which we learn from Koheles that an aliyah does not end on a negative statement. But then why do we end this aliyah with that expression of negativity?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Shimshon Pinkus who explains based on the Vilna Gaon that this was not a negative statement. The Gaon noted that the notes on "Vayimarru Es Chayehem" (Shemos 1:14 are a kadma v'azla which translate as "got up and left". He explains that it was because of the intensity of the hard work that the Jews left Egypt early, so this was not a negative. R' Frand also spoke of the gematria of kadma v'azla which is 190 - the number of years which were deducted from the 400 which the Jews were supposed to be in Egypt. [Although R' Frand did not attribute this to him, I heard this gematria in the name of the Apter Rav a few years back in a shiur given by R' Mansour].

R' Frand also quoted the pasuk in Shemos 6:12 where Moshe asks Hashem how Pharaoh will listen to him if the Jews wont listen to him due to his speech impediment. R' Frand cited to the Rashi which states that this is one of the ten kal v'chomer (a fortiori arguments) found in the Torah, as Moshe was stating that if they wont listen, how could Pharaoh possibly listen?

However the statement that this is a kal v'chomer could be open to debate, as the pasuk itself states that the Jews would not listen due to their hard work and Pharaoh was not similarly enslaved at the time!

R' Frand proposed two answers to this question. The first came from the Siftei Chachamim who explains that Moshe's kal v'chomer was more predicated on his speech impediment than the hard work. If the Jews would not heed one of their own if he had a speech problem, why would Pharaoh?

R' Frand also quoted R' Leib Chasman who cited the Seforno in explaining that the term kotzer ruach (which I translated above as shortness of breath) could also be explained as obsession. The Jews were so obsessed with their jobs that they did not have the attention span to hear Moshe. Similarly, explained R' Chasman, Pharaoh was so obsessed with his role as an ersatz deity, that he would or could not pay attention to Moshe.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting the Mesilas Yesharim which writes that a person can be so busy that he lacks the time to sit and think. Pharaoh fomented this in Egypt by giving the Jews Avodas Parech which deprived them of a chance to contemplate what Moshe was saying, even as they were desperate to leave slavery.

R' Frand closed the vort by observing that modern culture is the same with our smartphones, in that people don't take time to think or ponder, as every moment a person has "down time" - whether on an elevator or waiting for a train, the person is looking at things on their smartphone.

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, December 27, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

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 Shemos 2:21, the Torah writes "Va'Yoel Moshe" which is simply explained as Moshe agreed to marry Tzipporah. However, R' Frand quoted a Medrash from the Mechilta which states that when Moshe asked Yisro for permission to marry her, Yisro asked him to agree that their first born son would be given over to be a priest for idol worship and Moshe agreed!  Then Yisro asked Moshe to promise that he would do so, and Moshe did as well.

R' Frand asked two questions - why would Moshe even consider marrying the daughter of the priest of Midyan and how could he possibly agree to the condition that he would give over a child to be an idol worshipper?

R' Frand quoted R' Elya Svei who explained this Mechilta based on two Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel Medrashim. One of the Targum Medrashim was that when Moshe came to Midyan, Re'uel (Yisro's father) heard that Moshe was wanted by Pharaoh. In order to avoid potential punishment, he had Moshe thrown in a pit for 10 years. During this time, Tzipporah came and fed him daily. 

The second Targum Medrash involved the staff of Ya'akov which had been buried in Yisro's garden. When Moshe was released from the pit, he came to Yisro's garden and saw the staff which was inscribed with the acronyms Dtzach Adash B'Achav. Moshe was aware of the power of the staff and he miraculously removed it from the earth. 

Based on these Targumim, R' Svei explains that Moshe married Tzipporah as a hakaras hatov for what she did for him by feeding him all those years. And he had no concern about the promise that Yisro wanted him to make, because he knew that once Yisro saw the miracles that he would accomplish with the staff, Yisro would rescind the promise.

R' Frand also said a second vort on Shemos 5:4 when Moshe and Ahraon are told by Pharaoh to go to their own burdens. Rashi explains that when Pharaoh said this, he meant that they should go home and cry about their burdens. But this is difficult to understand, as the tribe of Levi did not have to work. In fact the Chizkuni explains that the exemption from work was based on a conversation between the sons of Levi and Pharaoh when they were working side by side, early on during the time the Jews were in Egypt. The sons of Levi said to Pharaoh - Ya'akov gave us a blessing that we will carry the Mishkan - we cannot carry secular things on our shoulders. To this Pharaoh responded, OK.

But why did Pharaoh willingly allow the tribe of Levi not to do the heavy lifting?

R' Frand quoted the Tolner Rebbi who explained that Pharaoh wanted to break the Jews spirit and he thought that if he could separate Levi from the rest of the Jews, they would be jealous of Levi and there would be infighting. R' Frand remarked that this was the same playbook utilized by the Nazis in using Jews as kapos.

However, Pharaoh did not realized that even though Levi did not do the heavy work, they still suffered as they went out into the fields every day to comfort and cry with their brethren. R' Frand explained that they learned this from Moshe himself.

R' Frand closed the vort by noting that Levi knew that this would be the case in Egypt and that this is why he named his sons the way that he did. He explained that Merrari is bitterness and that Levi presciently told his children - there will be bitterness in Egypt and you need to be a shoulder for your cousins.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Clouded Dream IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Clouded Dream India Pale Ale.

The Clouded Dream IPA is one of the two new beers in the Beers of Winter Mix box. Along with winter staples Seasons Best (reviewed here  https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/05/sunday-night-suds-saranac-brown-ale.html) and Big Moose Ale (reviewed here  https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-big-moose-ale.html), Saranac has also introduced the Oatmeal Stout (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2018/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-oatmeal-stout.html) and Clouded Dream IPA.

The Clouded Dream IPA is an American IPA absolutely bursting with floral hops and citrus. Saranac brews this with Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic Hops and the resulting beer is one of the better new IPAs I have tried in years. The beer is a bit low at 5.50% abv, but it does not take away from the flavor or the medium mouthfeel. As of now you cannot purchase this in six packs, but I'm hoping that will change soon.

Saranac Clouded Dream 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 has begun to brew many different varieties off site, so check 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/99/381152.

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!