Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursda's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vaeschanan

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the 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.

Rabbi Mansour indicated that in Parshas Vaeschanan, Moshe prayed 515 prayers that he be allowed to enter the land of Israel. Although R' Mansour did not explicitly state the source for the number of prayers, I surmise that it is the gematria of Vaeschanan.

After the 515th prayer, Hashem says to Moshe - "rav lach" - you have prayed enough, please stop. Rabbi Mansour asked - why did Hashem allow Moshe to pray so many different prayers (as each of the 515 were different from each other)? Why didn't Hashem tell Moshe to stop praying much sooner, as Moshe's request was not to be granted to him?

Rabbi Mansour answered the question by citing chazal for the famous concept that "no prayer goes unanswered." It is possible that a prayer can be put on hold in one generation and it will be answered in another generation. Hashem knew that at some point the Jews would be in need of prayers, and Moshe's tefillos were put away to be used when the Jews are in a perilous situation.

Rabbi Mansour then explained that a person may pray from the heart and still not get the answer he is looking for at the time. This does not mean that the request won't be answered for a different person or at a different time.

Rabbi Mansour then analogized the situation to blood bank. A person will donate blood to the blood bank to be used in the future as needed. If that person needs blood, he may receive it back from the blood bank. However, if another person needs blood, the "banked" blood will be available to that other person to address his medical needs.

So too with the prayers that are made. Hashem may not give the person what he is asking for when he prays. But the prayer will be answered down the road and Hashem will assist him or perhaps his children or grandchildren.

A number of years ago, R'Frand told a story during one of his Thursday Night shiurim which related to the concept of no prayer goes unanswered. R' Frand spoke of a man who was walking on the street in Tel Aviv and was asked to join a minyan. The man protested multiple times, stating that he was not religious and had never been in a synagogue. Eventually, the man agreed and joined the short prayer service. The man later became Orthodox as a result of the experience.

Meanwhile, the gentleman's father became the butt of jokes on his Kibbutz. How could his son become Orthodox when his father had raised him to despise religion. The answer was that it must have been the prayers of the grandfather for his son. While the grandfather was unsuccessful in convincing his son to become frum, his prayers did not go unanswered. Instead, the grandson became the beneficiary of his grandfather's prayers and tears. It should be no great surprise that the synagogue where the man's journey to religion began was the same shul that his grandfather himself had prayed in.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Nedarim 65

Towards the middle of Nedarim 65b, the gemara hypothesizes about a conversation between the man who swears that he will not benefit his neighbor and Beis Din who try to create an opening by reminding him that the Torah has commandments which include not to take revenge, not to hate one's neighbor and to give charity to the poor.

As part of the conversation, the gemara theorizes that the man could say - its not my obligation to support my neighbor - I give to the community collection and they then can support the poor of my town. The gemara then responds - not everyone goes to the gabbai (tzedakah). Rashi explains that the gemara means to say that a person may first go to a relative or neighbor for assistance before seeking help from the gabbai.

The sefer Shearim Hamitzuyanim B'Halacha quotes the Be'er Golah who explains that this gemara is the source for the rule that if a person wants to give charity, the poor of his family should take priority. He also quotes the Sifri in Re'eh on Devarim 15-6 from which we learn that ones family comes first for support, followed by the poor of one's city.

He closes the thought by exploring the concept that although the gabbaim now need to investigate to see whether the person seeking help really requires assistance, a family member knows when his family needs help and therefore the obligation falls on them to help before the poor man goes to the gabbai.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday's Musings on Sports - Wanting to be Competitive and Doing the Right Thing

This morning I took the drive that I look forward to every summer. As regular readers of this blog are aware, during the summer I drive back from Camp M on Monday mornings and spend much of the 3+ hour ride listening to the Mike & Mike in the Morning Show on ESPN Radio. But although I have a general affinity for the show, there are certain annual events that I look forward to and one of them is the Monday after induction weekend in Cooperstown.

Yes, I admit it. Although I have become more of a hockey and football fan than baseball over the last ten+ years, I still have a love for the game of my youth and an appreciation for the players who have earned immortality by way of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although every year's induction evokes memories, this year's HOF class had special meaning to me because of the extraordinary level of pitching talent - John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. Each of these names brought me back ten or so years - thinking about how Smoltz would consistently dash the Mets playoff hopes, how Randy Johnson went from the D-Backs to the cross-town rival Yankees and how Pedro Martinez carried the Mets into the playoffs in the mid 2000s.

But a funny thing happened in the middle of the program - the hosts began talking about Alex Rodriguez and whether he should be considered for the award for comeback player of the year. I am not sure how this topic came up but it led to an interesting comparison with statements made by Pedro Martinez.

When players are enshrined in the HOF, they are allotted twenty minutes for their induction speech. Some players use this to thank loved ones or honor the memory of past coaches/mentors/role models. Other players devote part of their speeches to social issues or to campaign for other players. What made Pedro's induction most interesting was the interview with him after being enshrined in which he was asked about playing in the steroid era. While I would have expected that Pedro would have reacted like most pitchers and been adamant about how steroids ruined the game, Mike & Mike reported that Pedro had said that he felt that he needed to face the best and that regardless of whether they were juicing he wanted to prove he could beat them.

I contrasted that with the statements later in the program about A-Roid. I heard many interviews where baseball commentators were asked whether he should be considered for comeback player of the year. I don't recall the reaction of every commentator, but to my recollection they uniformly were against him receiving the award because his absence from baseball was due to punishment, not injury.

The question of wanting to be competitive and perhaps going over the line in trying to get to that point made me think of a story from Shabbos' Daf Yomi. There was a story about R' Tarfon who legally collected hefker (ownerless) figs. He was grabbed by the owner of a field and thrown in a bag which was to be tossed into the river when he revealed himself as being the sage - R' Tarfon.

The gemara then goes into an explanation as to why R' Tarfon was upset with himself for making such a statement to the field owner and whether he had improperly attempted to trade on his name as a Torah scholar in order to extricate himself from the mess.

One of the people who I learned with on Shabbos was particularly bothered by the story and wanted to know why R' Tarfon did not simply pay for the figs (even though he was no required to do so). We contemplated this for a bit and I have tried to do a little more digging but have yet to come up with a sourced answer.

But I wonder if this was in a way, comparable with the Pedro and A-Roid stories. When a person is placed in a position of authority or is recognized for his achievements, he needs to know that there is great responsibility. If he seizes the moment and gives his all he can go down in history as a great one. But if he uses a crutch, rather than standing up facing the situation on his own, he can leave himself open to question.

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Belated Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA



This week's belated Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's Slow Ride Session IPA.

Before you ask, the answer is no - I am not attempting to blame my weekly trip back and forth to Camp M or any related slow ride (often on the way up) as the reason that the usual Sunday blog entry has been belated posted on Monday. Instead, I must confess that after a slightly more intense Tisha B'Av fast than usual, I was not able to contemplate sampling a new beer this Sunday Night.

So tonight when I returned home from I chilled and then tried the New Belgium Session IPA with some Chinese food that I had picked up at Soy Sauce Kosher Chinese Restaurant (located on Main Street in KGH). I found that the beer made an interesting pairing with the spicy kung pao dinner and one that  I would like to repeat (but unfortunately cannot because I only bought one bottle of this beer and New Belgium is not for sale in NY).

The Slow Ride poured a mild yellow - not really straw but certainly not as golden as I was expecting. There was more than a fair amount of hops with pine and grapefruit very prominent. In fact, I found that even though this was called a "Session" beer (usually connoting a lighter version which can be consumed in larger quantities during a drinking session) the beer had a remarkable amount of flavor and stood up well to the spicy Chinese fare.

New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Scroll-K of Colorado. Although the beer does not bear the kosher symbol on the label, the Scroll-K kosher symbol can usually be found on the bottom of the six pack holder (as I bought this is as part of a mix your own six pack, I did not see the holder, but I have found that to be the case with all the NB beers under the Scroll-K).

Please note that not every brew produced by New Belgium is under kosher supervision. For a list of the New Belgium brews currently under supervision, please click on the link on the left side of my home page for my latest Kosher Beer List.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/144097. 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, July 23, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the 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.

In Devarim (1:22-36) the Torah recites that Moshe rebukes the Jews for the sin of the Meraglim - the spies who gave a false report about the land of Israel. Moshe states that because the Jews did not have trust in Hashem, they were punished and were not allowed to enter the land of Israel.

However, Moshe then makes a statement which is difficult to understand at first blush as he states in Devarim 1:37  "Gam Be" - I was also punished by Hashem because of you (the Jews) and I was told that I could not enter the land of Israel.

The mefarshim ask the obvious question - how was Moshe punished because of the spies? After all, it is very clear that Moshe is punished for hitting (rather than talking) to the rock at Mei Merivah.

The Ramban answers this question by stating that Moshe was just listing why people were not allowed to enter Israel. After stating (at length) the reason that the Jews could not enter Israel, Moshe simply stated - and Hashem got mad at me too and I was not allowed to enter.

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh gives a different explanation whereby he links the two events. He began with a general statement that the sin of the spies was so damaging that the impact would be for generations. As a result of the sin of the spies, Hashem would be forced to destroy the Beis Hamikdash twice and it would be embedded in their DNA for generations. 

He then explained that because of the sin of the spies Moshe could not have entered the land of Israel. The reason for this is that Moshe's trait was netzach and the results of his labors live on forever. In fact, the Zohar posits that had Moshe entered the land of Israel he would have built the Beis Hamikdash it never would have been destroyed. And that would have been the greatest disaster in history.

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that when the Jews sinned, Hashem had two choices - destroy the Beis Hamikdash or the Jews. Hashem took his wrath out on the physical structure and the Jews were allowed to survive. However, had Moshe built the Beis Hamikdash, Hashem would have had no choice but to destroy the Jews.

R' Mansour then added to the vort by stating that had Moshe played the incident of the rock in the right way, it could have undone the damage of the spies and he could have entered the land of Israel. But he did not did do so, and as a result Moshe could not enter the land of Israel and build the Beis Hamikdash. 

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Redd's Green Apple Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Redd's Green Apple Ale.

A few years back I reviewed the first version of Redd's Apple Ale to see the review click here (http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/02/sunday-night-suds-redds-apple-ale.html). At the time I found it crisp and refreshing, but over time I have been less enamored with this brew. I can't put my finger on whether the recipe has gotten sweeter or my tastes have changed, but I personally found it to be a bit too sweet.

So this past Friday I made a quick stop in the Big M in Walton, NY and I came across the newest version of Redd's - the Green Apple Ale. The beer is available in bottle or can and I brought some back to use for either a shabbos afternoon learning accompaniment or havdalah substitute for wine. 

Due to some other shabbos afternoon commitments, I wound up using the Redd's Green Apple Ale for havdalah. I found the Green Apple to be slightly less sweet than the original Apple Ale with a bit of tartness. While I would not pair this beer with a meat dish or even spicy fish, I could see having this with a lighter dairy or perhaps salad course.

Redd's Green Apple Ale is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union like nearly every beer produced by MillerCoors and there is an OU on the bottle. For the experts' take on the Redd's Green Apple Ale, please click here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/105/160791.

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