Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Night Suds - Angry Orchard Green Apple Cider



This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider.

Angry Orchard is a division of the Boston Beer Company (aka Samuel Adams) which has been occasionally under the kosher supervision of the Star-K over the last few years. Although the company had not been certified kosher over the last few years, recently it regained kosher certification and now has four varieties which are under the Star-K - Old Fashioned, Green Apple, Honey Apple and Knotty Pear.

Although a hard cider is not technically a Suds, there are certain advantages to a hard cider like Angry Orchard as it is gluten free and can be served to Shabbos guests who have celiac or other problems digesting grain products.

The Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider has a tartness and a bit of a bite which does not come from the alcohol. Although I would not recommend this as a beer replacement or with a meal, there are times a person might want something a little sweet with a kick and this seems to have less sugar content than the various kosher hard sodas.

As discussed above, the Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider is certified kosher by the Star-K. To view and download the LOC for Angry Orchard click here https://express.star-k.org/viewer/LOCViewer.aspx?PEFQZ4N3.

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, February 4, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Mishpatim

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 this week's parsha vort by making reference to the rules of Eved Ivri - the Jewish born slave. The Torah teaches that the Eved Ivri can be provided by his master with a Shifcha Canaanis who he may live with. However at the end of his tenure as a slave, the Shifcha and any resulting children stay with the master.

The Gemara in Kiddushin instructs that in regards to personal luxuries, the Eved Ivri must be treated identical to his master. If the master is eating meat for dinner, the Eved must be given the same food. If the master sleeps on a soft mattress, the Eved cannot be given a straw bed and he must be allowed the same kind of mattress as his master. Similar rules apply to the bread and wine consumed. In each instance, the Eved must be given an equal level of luxury as his master.

The Tosasfos on the daf in Kiddushin takes this one step further in discussing the rules of pillows. If there is only one pillow in the house, it must be given to the slave. It would not be right if the master had a pillow and the slave did not, so the pillow must go to the slave. Why? Because the slave has a feeling of inferiority which will only be reinforced if he sees the master receiving luxuries which he himself does not enjoy.

R' Frand then asked - if the purpose of giving these things to the Eved is to place on him on equal footing with the master, why does the Eved have to forfeit the Shifcha and children when he goes free?

R' Frand quoted R' Matisyahu Solomon who explained that the concept of Eved Ivri exists in order to rehabilitate the slave. This man became an Eved Ivri because he stole from someone and could not pay back what he stole. The thief did not think about how a person has an attachment to his possessions and that the act of stealing the items broke the personal connection between the victim and his heirlooms. In order to teach him not to steal in the future, we show him what it feels like to forfeit something for which he has a strong personal connection - the Shifcha and children. When he protests that he has a connection with them, we remind the Eved that his victims had a personal connection too. Should the Eved decide that he wants to stay for an additional period, he must go to the door post to have a peg drilled through his ear - because he forgot that he once had heard in the Ten Commandments - do not steal.

R' Frand closed the vort by asking - why do we wait until the end of the period of slavery in order to teach this lesson? He answered that the concept of slavery is meant to teach the Eved a lesson as to respecting other's property. But if he does not learn the lesson, then we drill his ear.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

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 the vort by quoting a Medrash which explained that Moshe began the Shirah with the word "Az" because he had sinned in the end of Parshas Shemos with the word "Az." In Shemos (5:23) we see that Moshe said "Me'Az Basi" - from the time that I came to Pharaoh - you (Hashem) have made it worse. The Medrash explains that Moshe wanted to atone for his wrongful negative accusation so he used the same word "Az" to begin the Shirah.

But there must be more to the use of the word "Az."

R' Frand quoted the Beis HaLevi who explains that there are two different kinds of thanks given to Hashem. There is an expression of gratitude to Hashem for healing him from a disease. The person is genuinely thankful that he has been healed. But still, he would have preferred not to be sickened in the first place.

The second form of thanks is when a person says to Hashem thank you for the sickness and thank you for healing me from being sick. The person recognizes that both aspects are important and are blessings from Hashem.

Moshe is now recognizing that because Pharaoh increased the level of oppression, the Jews spent less time in Egypt as the 400 years were reduced to 210. But more importantly, by virtue of how difficult and stressful the oppression was, there was an even greater Kiddush Hashem. The world saw how the Jews were taken from the depths and freed from Egypt with tremendous miracles. R' Frand said that this became the Jews' mission statement in showing the world the greatness of Hashem.

R' Frand told a story about R' Boruch Sorotzkin who was a Rosh Yeshiva in Telshe. R' Boruch died of cancer, but put up a valiant fight. His widow said that R' Boruch remarked at the end of his life that if someone would have told him before he went through his illness that he could avoid the cancer by paying $1 million he would have said OK. But after he went through the illness if someone would have said the same thing to him, R' Boruch would not have paid the money. He said that he grew tremendously from it and saw the Yad Hashem in what he went  through.

R' Frand observed that this was why Moshe used the word "Az". Moshe he had used the word "Az" and complained again and again. But at the end, Moshe realized that it was worthwhile.

We use the same words in Hallel wherein we say "Odecha Hashem Ki Inisani" - I will praise Hashem because He afflicted me. 

R' Frand said that this is not the universal approach, and it is easier said then done, but there are people who do see the good, even in the disease.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday's Musings on Sports - Athletes Behaving Badly and the Original Pharaoh

Its been a few weeks since I had an opportunity to do the Monday sports blog post. But during that time it seems like there has been a non-stop flow of athletes behaving badly on the field of play. Still there have been a few stories which serve as small light in the darkness of professional sports.

Years ago "Sir Charles" aka Charles Barkley famously stated "I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids." But being a professional athlete is about being a role model, even if the athletes being paid megabucks don't want to own up to their responsibilities. The non stop buffet of commercials feature professional athletes, not teachers or Rabbis or community leaders. 

Even when the actual sporting events are on, the athletes feel no compunction about strutting their stuff in a show of "look at me." But even these pale in comparison with the poor sporstmanship which is plaguing sports.

Take for example Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinati Bengals. I have followed this player since he graduated college and was looking to enter the NFL draft. Because of his inability to control his temper and numerous on and off the field indiscretions, Burfict was not drafted. Some of the draftniks were hoping the Jets would sign him as an undrafted free agent and if the decision was based solely on talent it would have been a "no-brainer." 

But Burfict often conducts himself as if he lacks the little voice in his brain which says "maybe this is not a good idea." He has been fined for hitting late, hitting players in the groin and intentionally twisting ankles and wrists when making tackles. But his escapades at the end of last week's game against the Steelers cost his team the chance to move on in the playoffs for the first time since I was in college. Not to mention the damage (perhaps permanent) done to Antonio Brown who was on the receiving end of a needlessly vicious hit. And Burfict did not even understand what he did was wrong as he immediately protested that he hit with his shoulder and not his helmet --all the while ignoring that he had struck a defenseless receiver in the head. I wonder whether the Steelers could have beaten the Broncos this week with a healthy Big Ben and Brown. And for this, Burfict was suspended only three regular season games next year. (For more on this click here here-).

An even more horrible display of poor sportsmanship occurred yesterday in college sports. While I can't say that I am a fan of PAC 10 basketball (my attention has always been focused on the Big East), I could not miss the story about Oregon State's Jarmal Reid. With slightly less than 3 minutes to play in Oregon State's game against Utah, the Utes center bumped Reid, who then fell to the ground. No foul was called. So Reid stuck his leg out and intentionally tripped referee Tommy Nunez. Reid was ejected, but even afterwards he protested. He has since been suspended four games. (For more on this click here here).

But perhaps the most horrifying story involved a referee, player and coach who tussled in a minor hockey game in Canada. As can be seen in the video of the brawl (click here for a link here) the referee steps over the line of trying to pull apart the fighting players and he actually clotheslines a player who is no longer fighting with anyone. Immediately thereafter a coach/trainer jumps in and attacks the referee.

But with all the negative there have been some heartwarming stories of players and former players who have made inspirational steps such as the news that Devin Still's daughter is now cancer free, (to see the story click here here) or the story of a Latvian born Israeli hockey player who learned to play roller hockey in Israel and was the first overall pick by the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL draft (to see the story on youtube click here here).

The story which appealed to me the most was an interview with Mike Piazza the day before he found out that he had been selected to the baseball Hall of Fame. When asked what he felt about his chances to get into the HOF, he answered "I can't hit any more home runs, so we'll just have to see."

Piazza's comment reminded me of the concept of this world being a conduit to the world of eternal life - Olam Haba. We try to do what we can in this world to earn the points (Mitzvos) we need to get into Olam Haba. If we try hard, Hashem will assist us. If not, or if G-d forbid one works at trying to do bad deeds, Hashem may help that person along the path to the lower world. This is most obvious with the original Pharaoh (no, not the horse) about whom we read that Hashem hardened his heart because he had worked so hard to reject Hashem's message. 

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Snow & Tell Scotch Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Boulevard Snow & Tell.

Its been years since I had a Scotch Ale. To date I have only found two under kosher supervision - the Saranac Scotch Ale which they only produce every few years (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2008/02/sunday-night-suds-saranac-scotch-ale.html) and the Leinenkugel Big Eddy Scotch Ale (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/02/sunday-night-suds-leinenkugels-big-eddy.html).

So what is a Scotch Ale? As explained by the experts at Beer Advocate, Scotch Ales are:
also known as "Wee Heavy." In the 19th century Scotland, they'd also be known as 160/-, a nomenclature based on the now obsolete shilling currency.

Scotch Ales traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew. Compared to Scottish Ales, they'll be sweeter and fuller-bodied, and of course higher in alcohol, with a much more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavor. A low tea-like bitterness can be found in many examples. Best served in a "thistle" glass.
The Boulevard Snow & Tell has a slightly elevated alcoholic content as it is 6.3% abv. The malts are very prominent and the bitterness is almost non existent. The beer tastes almost like a cross between a barleywine and a porter, albeit with slightly less body than both.

The Snow & Tell comes in six packs but unfortunately it cannot be purchased in singles as the six packs are all sealed.  Its a little difficult to locate, but the Boulevard website (www.boulevard.com) has a good beerfinder program.

Boulevard Snow & Tell Oak Aged Scotch Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not have the certification mark on the label. If you would like the LOC from the Va'ad, please let me know and I will email it to you.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/191614.

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 14, 2016

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 10:21-29 the Torah discusses the plague of darkness. Rashi on 10:23 states that the plague came because there were Jewish Risha'im who did not want to leave Egypt. Rashi explains that these Jews had to die before Moshe took the Jews out of Egypt, but they needed to die in a way that the Egyptians did not see them dying so that the Egyptians would not say --see even they are dying.

R' Frand next quoted the Rosh on Chumash who asked - why is it that Dasan & Aviram who were also Rishai'm did not die during the plague of darkness. He answered that it was because as evil as they were, they still believed and desired for the redemption.

R' Frand also quoted the Medrash Rabbah which explains that there were Jews who had Egyptian patrons and did not suffer in Egypt, so they did not want to leave. Therefore Hashem killed them during the period of darkness so that no one would see.

R' Frand stated that this is something for American Jewry to take to heart. As wonderful as things are here, we need to be desirous of the Geulah and of moving to Israel when the time of the redemption arrives.

R' Frand started his next vort by quoting from the beginning of the parsha wherein Hashem tells Moshe in Shemos 10:1-2 that He has hardened Pharaoh's heart in order to show these wonders as well as so that the Jews can tell their children and grandchildren of how Hashem made a mockery (Hisallalati) of the Egyptians.

R' Frand quoted the Tolner Rebbi of Jerusalem who noted that the only time that Hashem says that He made a mockery of Pharaoh was in connection with the plague of locusts. But why is this what needs to be told to our children and grandchildren?

R' Frand noted that Pharaoh was evil incarnate as he ordered that Jewish children be drowned, or placed as bricks in a wall and plastered over. But Pharaoh is also referred to by Shlomo in Mishlei as a "Letz" - a clown who should be smacked. We see this through the Avodas Parech - which the mefarshim explain means he had the men do women's work and the women do men's work - all to humiliate them. For this reason the Gemara instructs that we can't do this for our servants - to make them do work and then throw away the end result in front of them.

R' Frand quoted the Ramban in Bo who explains that the redemption from Egypt was meant to demonstrate that Hashem runs the world middah k'neged middah - the same way they acted was done back to them. This is seen in the Az Yashir in which the mefarshim explain that the more wicked the Egyptian, the more they suffered. The most cruel sank like straw, so they drowned over and over and could not do anything about it.

This is what Hashem wanted the Jews to see and tell their children - that there are repercussions and that Pharaoh got back in spades, but in the same manner that he dished out. 

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