Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday's Musings on Teshuva - The Rabbi Frand 5779 Teshuva Derasha - Part II

The following is a second installation of a summary of some thoughts said by Rabbi Frand in his teshuva derasha shown last week in Baltimore. (The first summary can be found here Same rules as usual apply. I have attempted to summarize many of the thoughts to the best of my abilities. Any inconsistencies are the results of my transcription and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand then gave another way to increase emunah which he called more profound. To do so is to be more dependent on Hashem and He will respond in kind. Because we need to realize that its not up to me, its up to Him and the more that I rely on Him, the more He will help. A person needs to do his hishtadlus, but after that he needs to put it in Hashem's hands.

R' Frand quoted a Gra on Tehillim which discusses the relationship between a nursing mother and a baby. The more baby is willing to nurse, the more the mother will give the baby. This is what David HaMelech says in Tehillim where he says that his soul is connected to Hashem like a nursing baby. The more that I am dependent on Hashem, the more that he will respond in kind. But the opposite is true as well. R' Frand quoted the Chovos HaLevavos who writes that the more dependent a person is on a man, be it his boss or a doctor, the less that Hashem will respond. We all say that Hashem provides the paransah and the doctor heals with Hashem's permission, but do we really believe it?

R' Frand quoted a story from R Yechiel Tauber's sefer on Emunah. R' Tauber's grandparents had a soda factory in Czechoslovakia. They had a policy that they would not fill orders after noon on Friday. One Friday a massive order came in on a Friday afternoon and his grandmother begged his grandfather to take the order. He said, no - we have a policy. She said that the factory was struggling and that the order would really help, it was a bracha from Hashem! He responded that Hashem would not be sending this if the order required them to work on Friday afternoon. R' Frand remarked that was putting his money where his mouth is.

R' Frand told another story about R' Belsky who was rushed to Maimonides Hospital and was diagnosed with a ruptured abdominal aorta. They found him a Jewish surgeon who was going to perform the surgery. But then, the askanim of Boro Park decided that he could be better treated at NYU and they located the best cardiothoracic surgeon to do the surgery. When they told R' Belsky he was being transferred he adamantly opposed to being transferred. He said that it was an issue of kavod habrios and they could not make this Jewish surgeon feel insufficient. As long as he had a competent surgeon -- that together with kavod habrios would be good enough because you dont embarrass another person. That is putting your life in Hashem's hands.

R' Frand quotes the baruch hagever and asked what does mifatcho mean? He answered that is making Hashem your insurance, as this is the common word for it in modern Hebrew.

R' Frand remarked that we all want to be like that and to be serene without being consumed with worry. We daven for this three times a day in Shemoneh Esreh. People know what Barech Aleinu and Shema Koleinu and Refa'einu are about. But we don't think about what the Al HaTzaddikim beracha means, where we talk about those who have bitachon in Hashem and we ask "V'sim Chelkaynu Imahem" --we want to be like those people. We wish for less worry and to have that level of bitachon.

R' Frand noted that if a person can achieve that balance between hishtadlus (underscoring that a person can't sit back - they need to do due diligence, be it checking out the business opportunity, or shidduch or doctor) and reliance.

R' Frand quoted a sefer by Esther Stern about R' Michel Feinstein whose daughter was having an asthma attack. They looked high and low for the child's nebulizer but could not find one and the child died before the ambulance could get her to the hospital. In preparing for the funeral they found 3 nebulizers under the child's bed and were inconsolable. How could they have missed it? R' Yaakov Galinski, the maggid of Yerushalayim came to be menachem avel. He reminded him of what they had learned together in the Lamzer Yeshiva - a person is required to do hishtadlus about the future. But after something has transpired a person should not feel remorse about the past. And to say what if I had done this or this (what he called coulda, shoulda, wouda) is heresy. For whatever His reason is, Hashem said that it was time for that girl to die and sometimes Hashem gives people the sechel to make the wrong decision. This gave R' Michel Feinstein solace.

R' Frand told a story of R' Mendel Futerfass who survived Siberia and made it to Israel. They asked him the secret of how he survived. He answered that he grew up in a small town in Russia and once a tightrope walker came and he walked one way on a rope between mountains. He then asked should I go back again and people said no! But he did. He did it again with his child in a wheelbarrow. They asked the kid, are you afraid and he said - If father is taking care I know it will be OK. Then R' Mendel asked the tightrope walker how he did it? The man responded, I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next step. R' Mendel said that he concentrated on that when he was in Siberia and just looked at the next step.

R' Frand told an additional story from R' Tauber's book. When R' Tauber was celebrating the Shabbos Sheva Berachos of his youngest daughter, it was Shabbos Shoftim and in speaking he quoted the pasuk Tamim Tehiyeh Im Hashem Elokecha. Rashi states on this - just accept it and don't try to figure out the future, accept what comes. R' Tauber then turned to his father - do you remember the night in the bomb shelter in Budapest. Do you remember when it was you and me and my three brothers in the bomb shelter? Their mother had been deported to Auschwitz and they had been hiding pretending to be non-Jews. The younger brothers did not even know their Hebrew names. Then a blast hit the shelter and his father fell to the ground, unconscious.  When he awoke he told R' Yechiel who was then six years old what he believed what his last will and testament. Your mother has gone to Auschwitz, but dont worry as Hashem takes care of orphans. Your brothers Hebrew names are...  R' Tauber then turned to his father and said that if a prophet came to you in the bomb shelter and said that you and your wife would survive the war and have 5 more children and that 50 years later you would be sitting in Monsey, NY at the Shabbos Sheva Berachos of your granddaughter would you have believed it? And his father replied with an emphatic- NO. But it happened and that was what Rashi means by dont try to figure out the future.

R' Galinski was at his grandson's Sheva Berachos in Jerusalem and gave the following speech - I never understood the pasuk in Tehillim my salvation is far from my pleas. When I was in Siberia I was punished for keeping Shabbos and they made me stand out in the cold. I saw the dogs had dog houses and I crawled in to huddle with the dog to try to stay warm. And the next morning they threw bread to the dogs and I prayed that I could have a piece of dog bread- that was all I wanted. And now, my salvation is so far from my prayer - I am in Jerusalem at my grandson's Sheva Berachos.

R' Frand told a story about a person in Baltimore who lived her life that way. Mrs Jacobowitz had stage 4 cancer for 11 years and her children did not know that she was undergoing treatment. Anyone who knew her knew that she was vibrant and always going here and there and doing for other people. Meanwhile raising 10 children and she never let on and she never looked sad or worried. R' Frand asked Dr Jacobowitz - did you ever see this Rashi? He responded that when he first saw the diagnosis he showed them to another doctor who said that she only had months. How did she do it? She took one day at a time and lived it to the fullest. This was a woman who lived among them on Yeshiva Lane and she had emunah and that is what we daven for.

R' Frand said that if we work on that emunah, then after 120 years we can answer the question - Yes, we did work on our emunah.

Gmar Chasima Tova.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Belgian White 100 Calories

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Belgian White 100.

After reviewing a light beer that did not taste like a light beer over Labor Day weekend (, this week 's post looks at a light beer which definitely does taste like a light beer.

The Saranac Belgian White poured a cloudy white with some phenols and coriander scent, but that's where the similarity to a true Belgian White ends. This beer is thin and has virtually no body or hops. Its almost like a seltzer with spices and food coloring, but there is no alcohol kick or taste. I shared some with Mrs KB as part of her b-day dinner, but she was not very enthused. At least the food was good...

Saranac Belgian White 100 is under the Kashrus 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 many different varieties off site, so check bottles for kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

While this would normally be the juncture in the post where I would suggest that you click on a link at Beer Advocate to see their reviews, for some reason its not listed there. (If you can find a review on BA, post it in the comments below).

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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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday's Thoughts on Teshuva - The Rabbi Frand 5779 Teshuva Derasha - Part I

The following is a summary of some of the thoughts said by Rabbi Frand in his teshuva derasha shown live this evening from Baltimore. Same rules as usual apply. I have attempted to summarize many of the thoughts to the best of my abilities. Any inconsistencies are the results of my transcription and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the shiur by noting that this year on Rosh Hashanah, we look around the room and see some empty seats which were previously filled by beloved members of the community. We realize that the previous Rosh Hashanah, Hashem decreed that these people finished their mission on this earth this year. And when they leave this world they face a Yom HaDin which is much scarier than the earthly Rosh Hashanah. would not make it to this year's Rosh Hashanah...

R' Frand made reference to the U'Nesaneh Tokef tefillah which contains a sentence "U'Malachim Yechafeisun." According to some poskim, the language of this sentence are actually describing the test which is given after 120 years and it is a "final exam" much scarier than our school tests. But unlike the tests given in school, we have been given the questions in advance. This test has only six questions and we can prepare for them. One would think that we can "ace" the test because we know the questions in advance, but that is not possible.

R' Frand quoted the Gemara in Shabbos which contains the 6 questions and recited 4 of them, albeit with the caveat that he would only focus on one question. The questions are Nassata v' Nassata B'Emuna which is commonly explained as - were you honest in business. The next question is did you set aside time for learning Torah. Another questions is were you involved in having children. R' Frand remarked that fulfilling this aspect is not dependent on having children as some people are biologically prevented from doing so. But instead the question asked is - did you try, and if you were unsuccessful did you donate money to organizations such as Bonei Olam or ATime which help infertile couples, or did you try to make shiduchim. The final question R' Frand mentioned was - were you eagerly anticipating Moshiach.

R' Frand focused on the first of these questions, albeit with an "unconventional" (my word, not his) view of the question. He quoted R' Menachem Mendel of Riminov (sp?) who explained that the question is not about business --it is whether you did anything to improve your emunah during your lifetime? Is your emunah the same as it was when you were 6 or 16?

R' Frand remarked that his grandson asked his mother - Who is Hashem's Tatty? This is a child's view, but our view of emunah must advance beyond that stage.

R' Frand observed that everyone in the audience at the live showing in Baltimore (and by extension everyone at the 60+ TCN sites viewing on-line) must be a ma'aman - a believer in Hashem, because otherwise what are they doing here? They would be watching the Ravens (who are playing in tonight's Thursday Night football game). But even though the people are ma'aminim, there is more to work on.

R' Frand gave the following scenario - are you ever driving in the car on  the highway when you see a state trooper behind you? You gently tap on the brakes and hope that he won't notice you are slowing down. And when the lights come on, does your heart skip a beat...until you see that he is speeding past you because he has bigger fish to fry? If this is your thinking about a Maryland State Trooper who at most will require you to pay a few hundred dollar speeding ticket and cause you a few points on your license, what is your thought when you know that Hashem is beside you in the car and is aware of your every action? Since Hashem is always watching us and always there, how do we ever sin? Because even though we know He is there, we are unable to translate that emunah that he is there into a cognizance that He is there and observing our activities. 

And the question of Nassata V'Nassata B'Emunah is what did you do to work on your emunah to be aware that Hashem is there? 

R' Frand compare this to the playing of piano or golf. In order to succeed, you need to work on and repeat the actions in order to internalize them. This can be seen in the word Emunah which comes from Imun - to work on something. Because Hashem is not able to be simply perceived by our sense of touch or smell or sight or hearing. You need to work on seeing Hashem in your daily light as we see from the pasuk "U'Bikashtem...Ki Sidreshenu" - that a person needs to seek Hashem out. It wont come on its own, you need to so something.

R' Frand quoted a Rebbi who compared it to hide and go seek. A child will hide behind a tree and think, I found a good hiding place. But after a few minutes of hiding, you start to realize that the person isn't looking for you. And that is how Hashem feels when we are not looking for him in our daily lives.

But how does one work on their emunah? R' Frand proposed three ways to do so, and I will do my best to summarize them below.

The first suggestion is to be actively involved in being aware of the Yad Hashem in our daily lives. This makes us aware of the reality of Hashem. When a person sees something, he should write it down in a diary, because over the course of a year, the person will realize all that Hashem has shown Himself.

R' Frand said that every Friday Night he and his wife sit down and discuss how they saw Yad Hashem in their lives that week. For him, its the same - he did not know what he was going to be speaking about, or needed  ma'aseh and suddenly he got an e-mail out of the blue or a call, or someone discussed something with him, and the shiur came together.

R' Frand discussed a family that every year has a Seudas Hoda'ah -- and not on Thanksgiving. At this meal the father reads from a diary in which he wrote down in a notebook over the course of the prior year all the times that he saw Yad Hashem, be it as (seemingly) trivial as a child fell off a bike and was not hurt, to events which were more obviously significant.

R' Frand quoted R' Michel Twersky of Milwaukee who has a slightly different take on this. He quoted the Gemara in Erchin which talks about Yissurin. But these are not only big events and the Gemara discusses what seem to be small events which are still Yissurin. The Gemara first proposes that a person buys new clothes and has them tailored and they don't fit. The Gemara then says that there is even a lesser version which is still Yissurin - when you make a hot drink and the temperature is off and you need to start again. But even lesser still, the Gemara states that when you reach into your pocket to take out one coin denomination and the wrong coin comes out. This is Yissurin and when they come, its Hashem's way of giving a potch and we should be happy that it is a small event such as the tea being cold, or the suit not fitting exactly or needing to reach back into the pocket for a few more dollars.

R' Frand next made reference to a parable to a son of a king who committed a capital crime with a punishment of stoning. The king was in a quandry, he could not stone his son, but he could not let him off the hook either. So his advisers told him to break the boulder that would have been used for stoning into little pebbles and throw them at his son one by one periodically until the boulder was exhausted.

R' Frand remarked that we don't recognize that small inconveniences such as the car not starting or the computer crashing or more tragically not being able to find your cellphone are Hashem's way of giving us these small pebbles instead of much larger tzoros/tzrroros (my pun, not his) and these are for the best. Don't view these as aggravations, Hashem is doing us a favor.

R' Frand said that he tries to employ this, but events do occur...

R' Frand told a story about is recent trip to Barcelona. He mentioned that he flew out of Philadelphia because there are no direct flights from BWI. He was able to sign up with a service that allows you to drive your car to the airport and they then take it from the airport to the garage and watch it for you. For an additional 14.95 the person who drives for you will not even need to be dropped off afterwards and R' Frand sprung for this perk as well.

When R' Frand flew back from Barcelona to Philadelphia he had been flying on very little sleep and he was happy he had signed on for this service. He followed the instructions from the agency and did not call for his car until he had his bags and was at the curb. They told him that it would be 5 minutes, R' Frand stood at the curb in the 91 degree & humid weather and began to wait. Five minutes turned into ten and he said to himself, Hashem must be saving him from something greater and he was thinking of this vort from R' Michel Twersky.

But then fifteen minutes went by and soon twenty. At that point, R' Frand lost his patience. He called the number again and asked where his car was and was told that they would check and put him on hold. They came back and said that they "had to junk the car." He could not believe it, what was the point of the service to drive the car for him if they could unilaterally "junk" the car. He asked again why and they said that it would not start so that they had to "junk" it. R' Frand went back into the terminal and again asked why did they "junk" his car? At this point the service rep's diction improved and he heard that they needed to jump the battery because it would not start.

R' Frand remarked that he tries to be conscious of these small stones, but it is a constant effort.

There was much more to the shiur and I will iyh try to finish the summary in a weekend post.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Nitzavim

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 Devarim 30:11 the Torah writes that "Ki Hamitzvah Hazos" - this commandment that I give you today is not hidden nor distant from you. Rashi explains that the mitzva referred to in the pasuk is the Torah which is not in the heavens, it is on Earth and accessible.

R' Frand quoted the Medrash Rabbah on Netzavim which states that if perhaps someone should think that the Torah was given "L'ra'schem", instead I have given it for you as a good thing. As a proof, look to the angels who wanted the Torah, but I kept it hidden from them and gave it to you.

R' Frand asked two questions on this Medrash. The first question was - why would someone think that the Torah was given as something bad and therefore needed to be told that it was not? The second questions was - why is the fact that the angels wanted it and did not get it, a proof that it was for the good?

R' Frand answered these questions by quoting R' Elya Finkel who in turn quoted the Da'as Zekeinim M'Ba'alei Tosafos, which stated (in usual cryptic form) that the first letters of Mi Ya'aleh Lanu Hashamimah spell out the word Milah. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that people could ask why do we need a Bris Milah and not be born perfect. The answer to the inquiry is that Hashem wants us to know that we can improve ourselves and make ourselves better. The same way that a person is not born perfect in form, so too he can improve himself in other ways. 

R' Frand further explained that Milah is like the Torah - the same way that the Milah improves the person, so too does the Torah improve a person and help rid him of negative traits such as jealous, haughtiness, anger and the like.

But a person could have an impression that the only reason that the Torah was given was to eliminate negative traits and therefore given to counteract our evil side - to be L'ra'aschem. The Medrash teaches that the Torah was not only given for this purpose, it was given so that we could improve and grow positively.

This is the proof from the angels. The angels cannot improve, they are what they are. Although they wanted the Torah, it is for our purposes because we can improve and become closer to Hashem.

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Shiner Light Blonde

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Shiner Light Blonde.

The Shiner Light Blonde is the second light beer that I have tried from the Spoetzel Brewery and it light years from the Shiner Light which I tried back in 2009 (reviewed here

While I suspect that many non macro-breweries began producing light beers in an attempt to recapture those lost souls who have stopped drinking beer in the misguided belief that other forms or alcohol are lower in calories, they have often sacrificed taste in the name of lower calories. However, the Light Blonde is unlike these light tasting beers.

The Shiner Light Blonde poured a light golden yellow, typical of most lagers. The first taste was bready malt and the malts continued throughout successive sips. There was some hop bite, but it was very subdued and more of a suggestion than a bite. Still, the beer was quite good for a light beer and better than some other light craft brews I have tried lately.

The Shiner Light Blonder is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit although there is no symbol on the the bottle. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew click here

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).

Please Note - if you are reading this post more than six months after it was written, please note that it is possible that the product is no longer still certified kosher. To verify that the product is still certified kosher, please click on the kosher beers list link on the left side of the blog.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Savo

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 noting that the first mitzva in the parsha is the bringing of the bikkurim (first fruits) to the Beis Hamikdash and the recitation of the mikra bikkurim. This recitation is more than just a thanking of Hashem for the bountiful harvest, it actually contains a historical recitation of events which track back to the Jews being saved from Egypt. 

R' Frand further observed that many of the pesukim in this section of the parsha are incorporated in the maggid section of the Hagaddah on Pesach. But why did the Ba'al Hagaddah choose to use these pesukim from Parshas Ki Savo when he had the entire parshios of Shemos, Va'era, Bo and Beshalach to work with? R' Frand answered by quoting R' Finkel who explains that those parshios are historical in nature. Meanwhile, the mikra bikkurim recitation of the events from Egypt is a HaKaras HaTov, a recognition of the good that Hashem has done for us, and mentioning it at the seder is appropriate. This is not to say that there is no discussion or citation from Shemos-Beshalach as there are many references which are punctuated by "K'mo Shenemar" --as it is written. 

R' Frand noted that in Devarim 26:3 the words V'Amarta Eilav (literally - say to him) are explained by Rashi as being purposed to not be a Kafui Tov - rejector of the good that Hashem has done for him. R' Frand then asked - but why not say that it is done to recognize the good that Hashem does? He answered that we cannot possibly sufficiently praise Hashem for all that He does for us, we can only hope not to be a rejector by not praising him. R' Frand linked this to the Ilu Finu pasuk in the Nishmas in which we state on Shabbos and that there is no way to properly praise Hashem for all that He does for us.

R' Frand also remarked that there is no way to properly recognize all the good that our parents have done for us (and he is right, not that he needs my approbation).

R' Frand also quoted the Brisker Rav on the pasuk in Ha'azinu (Devarim 32:6) in which we are described as Naval --translated as vile by Artscroll. What is a Naval? When an animal dies without shechita it is a neveilah - it loses its status as an animal and is just a disgusting piece of meat. Similarly, a person may have a defect such as being quick to anger or miserly, but he is still a person, just with a defect. But if he is a minuval, he loses his status as a person altogether.

R' Frand told two stories about Rabbis being makir tov. One involved R' Yaakov Kaminetsky who when he was told that a boy was being thrown out of the dorm because he consistently missed minyan asked to have the boy brought to him. When the boy came to see his Rosh Yeshiva, he was asked - where will you sleep? The boy had no answer. R' Kamietsky said --you will stay in my house, because when I was a bachur learning in the Kovno Yeshiva, your grandfather supported the yeshiva.

R' Frand told another story about R' Shach. One day R' Shach called his grandson and told him that he needed a cab to take him to a funeral in Haifa. They traveled together and arrived at a funeral of an older lady. There were very few attendees and it was a cold and rainy day. When the funeral ended, R' Shach went to the cemetery with the mourners and stayed outside in the rain and said the graveside Kaddish. When everyone left, he stayed outside in the rain a little longer, before getting back in the car with his grandson.

The grandson had never heard of the woman and after waiting as long as he could, he asked why R' Shach went to the funeral in Haifa. R' Shach answered that when he was in Yeshiva in Lithuania it was based in a shul. The boys lived in the shul and slept there as well, but because they were so poor. the sleeping arrangements were limited and only the older boys slept on benches. As one of the youngest boys, R' Shach slept on the cold floor. And it was really cold.

One day R' Shach got a letter from an uncle who wanted to leave his business to Rav Shach and asked him to come, because he had no children. R' Shach determined that he would leave the next day, but later in the same day a woman came to Yeshiva. She told them that she had just gotten up from Shiva for her husband who owned a blanket factory and she wanted to know if anyone needed blankets. R' Shach took blankets to use a mattress and on top of him and the floor became tolerable.

R' Shach told his grandson that without those blankets he would not have stayed in Yeshiva and become R' Shach. So he kept tabs on the woman and when she passed he went to the levaya.

The grandson asked - but why did you stay outside at the cemetery after all others had left? R' Shach responded, because I wanted to remember what it was like to be cold.

R' Frand closed the vort by stating  --the greater the Tzaddik, the greater his capacity to be makir tov.

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