Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Nasso

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 the Haftorah of Parshas Nasso there is a discussion of the interplay between Manoach and huis wife and the angel as to how she and Manoach should raise their son. This includes a repetition of the conversation multiple times before Manoach accepts that he must be raised as a Nazir.

R' Frand quoted R' Shimon Schwalb who asked three questions about the story. First, did Manoach not know the laws of Nezirus? Did he need a review course? Furthermore, why would he need an angel to teach it to him -- why did Hashem send an angel to tell this to him? Lastly, why did the angel simply repeat and repeat the story again and again?

R' Schwalb explained that this was a fundamental discussion as to how to raise children. Manoach said to the angel, how can I raise my son as a Nazir when I myself am not one? How can I ask him to act differently than me...to which the angel responded, Manoach - you will need to become a Nazir as well.

R' Schwalb reads into the pasuk where the angel tells Manoach all that I told the woman she should keep. But in repeating it, the angel tells Manoach, you also need to keep it. R' Frand remarked that this is another proof of the truism - you can't tell a child "do as I say, not as I do." So in order to create a Nazir, Manoach had to be a Nazir as well.

R' Frand then added to the vort by quoting the last pasuk in the parsha which states that when Moshe went into the Ohel Moed he heard the voice "Meedaber". Rashi explains that this means that Hashem was talking to Himself and Moshe was overhearing this conversation.

The Seforno expands on this and states that if you want to have an impact on someone else you need to practice what you preach. And a good way to do so is to repeat to yourself what you want to accomplish. Hashem was reciting the Torah to Himself, so that it would have an impact on Himself and Moshe.

R' Frand also quoted R' Shach who states that if a person wants to have an impact on others he must practice what he is preaching. You can't impact on someone and teach him to fear Hashem if you don't act that way. In so doing R' Shach quotes this Rashi and Seforno and explains that Hashem was talking to Himself, because you need to become that person in order to have an impact on others.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting a Ba'al HaTurim in Beshalach on the pasuk where Moshe is told to split the sea (Shemos 14:16). Moshe is told Har'eim - lift up his staff. There are two other times in Tanach where the word Har'eim appears - in Yishaiah where he is told to raise his voice like a shofar and in Melachim Beis where there is an instruction to raise one's self.

What is the link between these three instances? The Bobover Rebbi in the sefer Kedushas Tzion explains that there are three ways to have an impact on children - lift up the stick, lift up your voice or lift yourself up. The first two have negative impacts as well, but the third is most positive in its impact and we learn it from Hashem and the way He interacted with Moshe.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bamidbar

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 Bamidbar 2:2, the Torah writes that the children of Bnei Yisrael shall encamp, each man by his banner... ("Ish Al Diglo"). 

Rashi explains that these marching positions based upon the flags were actually assigned by Ya'akov to his children before he died and were the same marching positions that the children traveled in when they left Egypt to bury him (quoting the Medrash Tanchuma).

Rashi makes a similar commentary in Vayechi where he writes that Ya'akov told his children how to travel and they utilized the same formation when they traveled in the desert upon leaving Egypt. Furthermore, Ya'akov instructed them that Levi should be in the middle and that it was unfitting for Yosef to travel in the formation since he was the viceroy. Instead, Ya'akov assigned positions to Efraim and Menashe, in order that there would be 3 tribes traveling on each side of the formation.

R' Frand then asked, but why was it important for the Jews to travel in formation? He answered (quoting a sefer without identifying it by name) that when Ya'akov spoke to his children at the end of his life, Ya'akov told them about their individual strengths and weakness and gave them specific tasks to perform as part of Klal Yisrael. R' Frand remarked that we learn from this how important it is that everyone understand that they have specific roles as society needs people to perform their specific tasks if it is to succeed and people are to live in peace.

R' Frand also quoted a Medrash Rabbah which stated that the giving of the flags was a show of great love by Hashem and it cited to the pasuk in Shir Hashirim where it is written that "I was brought to the house of wine, my flag upon me with love."

The Medrash then quoted R' Yissachar who explained the pasuk in Shir Hashirim as - even if a person is sitting and learning and he skips from page to page or pasuk to pasuk, his skipping is viewed with love by Hashem. R' Frand said parenthetically that a person slugging through Zevachim like Daf Yomi and skips a page because it is too dense or too hard, this is what is referred to by R' Yissachar.  This person is still loved by Hashem.

The Medrash also quoted another opinion that tied the pasuk in Shir Hashirim into Kabbalas HaTorah when 220,000 angels descended with Hashem, all in formation. The Jewish people saw this and longed for their flags and formation.

R' Frand quoted the Sfas Emes who tied together these views on the pasuk in Shir Hashirim. He explained that in general a person needs to build their knowledge and skills, step by step. But sometimes a person wants to skip a step and leap forward. When Hashem sees that person who desires to grow by "leaps and bounds" (my words, not R' Frand's) Hashem says, I see that this is hard for you and that you want to skip over some of these steps, I will help you. Similarly, Hashem saw that the people longed to be like the angels, travelling in formation and He said, I will help you to travel like them as well.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Behar Bechukosai

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios 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.

The vort that R' Frand said on the parsha this evening was yet another discussion of the famous question by Rashi of "Mah Inyan Shmittah Etzel Har Sinai?" But the answer was drastically different than any other answer I have heard.

R' Frand first quoted a short Medrash which linked the words "Vayidaber Hashem El Moshe B'Har Sinai" (the first pasuk of the parsha) with the pasuk proscribing against price fraud (Vayikra 25:14). However, the two are not actually linked as the pasuk beginning "Vayidaber Hashem El Moshe" is the start of the laws of Shemitta and the laws of price fraud don't begin until after the Shemitta discussion concludes. So why does the Medrash make this connection?

R' Frand addressed this by first quoting a long Medrash involving lashon hara and more specifically that the tongue can be used for positive or negative. The Medrash first used the example of a coal which if a person blows on it can start a fire or if he spits on it, will be extinguished. 

The second example has to do with produce which is tevel. If the person uses his mouth to pronounce parts of the produce as Terumah and Ma'aser the mouth saves his life. If not and he just eats the food...it can mean Kares.

The third example cited by the Medrash was the famous Gemara about when R' Gamliel sent his servant Tevi to bring the best delicacy from the marketplace and he brought him tongue. He sent him another day to buy the lowest food...and he also brought back tongue. Tevi explained to R' Gamliel, the tongue can accomplish great things or cause bad things to occur.

R' Frand also told the Gemara about a feast that Rebbi prepared for his students at which he served tongue "prepared two ways." Some of the tongue was soft and other parts were hard. The students all took the soft tongue and left the hard portion behind. Rebbi admonished his students that when they dealt with others they should also use the soft tongue.

R' Frand then returned to Shemitta and Price Fraud by linking Shemitta with Lashon Hara. He quoted the Sfas Emes who explained that the purpose of Shemitta is to bring everyone to the same level. There are no land owners during Shemitta, the land is abandoned and anyone can come on someone else's property and take the produce growing there. Thus the line which usually divides between people (money) is erased during Shemitta and everyone is on the same level.

The concept of Ona'as Mammon (Price Fraud) and its "cousin"  Ona'as Devarim (Speaking cruelly to others) both are the antithesis of brotherly activity. Thus Moshe discusses them right after the discussion of Shemitta to underscore how they can divide what should be together. The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of ignorance of Shemitta and baseless hatred. Both are items which drive wedges between people...and both need to be fixed to bring the Moshiach.

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Joseph's Brau Spring Prost


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Joseph's Brau Spring Prost.

This beer is another in the long line of Trader Joe's brews produced under license by the Gordon Biersch company (which also contract brews for Kirkland, among others). The Spring Prost is Maibock style lager, which as explained by the good folks at BA, is a style which "tends to be lighter in color than other Bock beers and often has a significant hop character with a noticeable alcohol around the same as a traditional Bock. Maibocks are customarily served in the spring and are oftentimes interrelated with spring festivals and celebrations more often in the month of May."

The Spring Prost is 7.3% abv, but I could not taste any alcohol flavor, which is usually characteristic of beers above 7% abv. Instead, the beer tasted like a light bock, almost like someone had taken a Shiner Bock and just turned it into a light beer. This is not to say that it was light on taste, just like the bock aspect was muted. I could see having this with fish or salads, but it would not stand up to  grilled chicken or stews.

Joseph's Brau Spring Prost is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit and there is a kosher symbol on the back label on the bottle. Keep in mind, not every Trader Joe's/Joseph's Brau beer is under kosher supervision, so check bottles for kosher certification service mark from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/10707/90967. (As of today there were no reviews, but maybe by the time you follow the link there will be!)

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, May 3, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Emor

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 in the name of R' Nissim Alpert. The first related to the mention of Sukkos in the parsha (Vayikra 23:43) where it states that Jews should sit in the Sukkah to remember that Hashem housed us in Sukkos when we left Egypt.

R' Frand next made mention of the Gemara in Sukkah which contains a machlokes as to what these sukkos were. R' Eliezer was of the opinion that the Jews were not sitting in plywood huts, they were sitting in dwellings made of the Ananei HaKavod. However R Akiva said they were actually little huts. 

It is understandable if we hold like R' Akiva as that explains why we sit in huts. But if R' Eliezer is right, why do we sit in huts? They are not a reasonable facsimile of the Ananei HaKavod.

R' Frand quoted R' Alpert in explaining that we cannot duplicate the Ananei HaKavod. But that does not mean that we can't remember that the Jews were hosted in them and protected by Hashem every day...and unless you don't read the news you can't help but be reminded every day that Hashem has protected the Jews living in Israel and continues to protect them every single day for the last 70 years. The Jews of Israel have lived in a tough neighborhood for the last 70 years, but they have been protected. We may believe that the air force or the army protects Jews in Israel and we ourselves may think we are protected by gates and walls and security, but its still the Ananei HaKavod. 

So we need a way to remind ourselves of that...by going out of the house and into the flimsy hut. In this way we can be reminded that its not our defenses which protect us, its Hashem.

R' Frand said a second vort in the name of R' Alpert which was based on the pasuk in Vayikra 22:32 wherein the Jews are commanded in both negative and positive to not desecrate Hashem's name and to sanctify Hashem. We learn from this pasuk that a person is required to give up his life for the three cardinal mitzvos, but it is not explicit, whereas many other mitzvos have commands which tell us exactly what to do - take a lulav, eat matza, sit in a sukkah. But this mitzva does not say - give up one's life rather than violate the big three. But why?

R' Alpert's answer is that being able to stand up if faced with that scenario does not happen overnight. It happens if a person lives a life of mitzvos and he is filled with love of his fellow Jew and is purely ruchni. A person cannot stand up to the ultimate test if he has not spent his life preparing and working on all facets of his spiritual side.

R' Frand then gave an introduction to a story, saying that he does not like to tell holocaust stories and does not like to play on emotions. But he read a story in an email from Ari Wasserman of a story heard by a Rabbi Wallace from his father Judah Wallace, who had been in Dachau. One day an inmate was being taken to his death and he threw a small bag at R' Wallace's father. He opened the bag, expecting to see food and instead found...a small pair of tefillin. He was scared as being found in possession of tefillin would mean instant death.

The next morning, R' Wallace's father put on the tefillin. Immediately a German officer walked into the bunkhouse and took note of his number. He was sent to roll call, where he was called out and it was announced that he was sentenced to death by public hanging for wearing the tefillin. The guard said "Dog, what is your last wish?" He responded that he wanted to wear the tefillin one last time. Dumbfounded, the guard threw him the tefillin and he wrapped them on his his head and arm while saying the V'Erastich prayer...and with the noose around his neck.

The entire camp saw him, even the women's camp next door, all forced to watch the sight. People began to cry and he told them in Yiddish not to cry, because with these tefillin, he was the winner. The officer then said, hanging is too good for you! The officer then put two rocks under Mr. Wallace's arms and told him that he was going to get 25 lashes on the head that wore the tefillin. He was further told that he would be killed if he dropped any of the rocks. The executioner told him to drop the rocks so that he would have a quick death, but he refused. Mr. Wallaces sustained all 25 lashes and then lost consciousness. His body was thrown on a pile of corpses, but a fellow Jew realized that he was still alive and he hid his face and eventually crawled and hid under a bunkhouse until Dachau was liberated a few months later.

After liberation, a 17 year old girl made her way to the men's camp and said to Mr. Wallace - I saw how you stood up to that German officer. I have lost everything and everyone, but don't want to be alone, will you marry me? R' Frand (reading from the e-mail) said that the rest was history. The couple asked the Klosenberger Rebbi to perform the ceremony and he did so and wrote out the Kesubah from memory.

R' Frand said that he never met R' Wallace, but he remarked that only a person who has lived his life in Kedushah could have stood up to that officer and this is the meaning of the double language of the pasuk.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Acharei Mos-Kedoshim

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios 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 discussing Parshas Acharei Mos by noting that the beginning of the parsha is read on Yom Kippur. Some machzorim have an introductory quote from the Zohar which states that anyone who cries over the death of Nadav & Avihu will be saved from (r'l) the death of a child. 

[I heard a shiur once from R' Mansour about this where he noted that the Sefardim have a pizmon which is read before the Kriah on Yom Kippur which is meant to evoke such feelings].

R' Frand noted that there are many sad events which take place in Chaumash, so why is the only event where there is a segualh if one mourns over it? R' Frand answered by quoting the Rav of Ponovich (sp?) who explains that Nadav & Avihu were exceptional people, to the point that Moshe remarks that he thought that either he or Aharon would need to die, but Nadav & Avihu were holier then them.

Based on this, one should wonder, what would have happened to the Jewish people had Nadav & Avihu not died and instead were able to instill their kedushah in the Jewish people? For that matter, the Rav continued, think about all the great tzaddikim and anshei ma'aseh who died in the Holocaust. Although it has recently been written that the Jews are approaching the makeup point for the death of the six million, think about how much more Torah and kedushah we would have if these people had not died in the Holocaust. Or what about the talmidim of R' Akiva - 24,000 tanaim who perished and did not have the opportunity to teach Torah. This is the tragedy one should mourn, that the people, be they Nadav & Avihu, or the Karbanos in the Holocaust or the students of R' Akiva did not have the chance to make an impression on the Jewish people.

R' Frand's second vort related to the Avodah on Yom Kippur. He quoted the Gemara in Yoma which talks about how the Kohain Gadol was kept awake all night by the young Kohanim, while outside the "Yakirei Yerushalim" - the precious one- would walk around noisly in order to keep him awake. 

R' Frand asked - why are these people called the precious ones? If anything, the young Kohanim who actually sat with and occupied the Kohain Gadol should be given the accolades!

He answered by quoting the Tolner Rebbi, who explains that the young Kohanim had a personal satisfaction in their acts as they could "tell their grandchildren" one day about what they did that night...But the people on the outside did not have that satisfaction. They did what they did, without seeing the Kohain Gadol or even knowing whether he could hear them. 

R' Frand's final vort related to the actions of Nadav & Avihu. The Medrash Tanchuma quotes Bar Kappara who explains the four reasons they were punished: (1) they came close without permission; (2) they brought a sacrifice without permission; (3) the fire itself was from a foreign source and (4) they did not consult one with the other before bringing their sacrifices.

The final answer is curious, as there is a Medrash that they each independently decided to bring the sacrifice. But if that was the case, why would their consultation have accomplished anything?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Dovid Soloveitchik who explains that if one had asked the other, he would have gotten a response of --why are you doing this, there is no permission to do so! He connected it to the rule as to blemishes that a Kohain can view all blemishes to determine if they are tamei, except for his own. He read into the statement of law that a person can see blemishes in others, but not his own.

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