Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday's Matza Crumbs II

Traditionally, R' Frand does not give his Thursday Night Shiur on the last Thursday Night before Pesach. Rather than repost a prior year's shiur on Acharei Mos, I have blogged of some of a thoughts said over by R' Mansour on his www.learntorah.com website. (Those desiring to see prior vorts on Parshas Acharei Mos can search the blog for prior posts on the parsha). Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce these thoughts 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' Mansour.

The Medrash writes that the day that Yaakov "stole" the brachos from Esav was Pesach. There are clues to this within the story as it is related in Parshas Toldos.

In Bereishis 27:9 Rivka tells Yaakov to take two young goats which she would make for Yitzchak. Rashi asks - did Yaakov usually eat two goats? He answers that it was the night of Pesach and the goats served two purposes - one for the Karban Pesach and one for the Karban Chagigah.

R' Mansour next quoted the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer who explains that Rivka told Yaakov - tonight is a special night, the most special night of the year. It is the night of Pesach and a night of blessings below and in heavens. Don't waste the night, go and get the blessing tonight.

We see that the beracha that Yaakov received had an allusion to receiving "the dew of the heavens" (Bereishis 27:28). This is remembered the following day (the first day of Pesach) when we say Tefillas Tal.

In Bereishis 27:25 we see that not only did Yaakov follow his mother's advice to bring the goats, but he also brought his father wine. This was not among the instructions from Rivka, but it was necessary - as taught by the Baa'al Megaleh Amukos, Yaakov brought wine because it was the night of Pesach and his father needed to drink the four cups.

Later in Bereishis 27:35 Esav comes to his father and asks for a beracha, and Yitzchak responds - "ba achicha b'mirma" - your brother came in cleverness and took your blessing. R' Mansour noted that the gematria of b'mirma is 287, which is the same gematria as afikoman. Yitzchak tells his son Esav - it is halacha that one cannot eat after consuming the afikoman - so I cannot eat from your food, nor give you the beracha that you desire.

(I have heard it said this is also the reason that the children "steal" the afikoman at the seder - in order to remember that Yaakov "stole" the beracha on this night).

R' Mansour noted that Yaakov came to Yitzchak dressed as Esav. This signifies that even someone who looks like an Esav on the outside can be a good Jew on the inside and can merit receiving a beracha. The seder describes the four sons who come to the seder and this includes the evil one. Because after his teeth are blunted, he too can absorb the berachos, because inside he is a good Jew.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Shiner Ryes & Shiner Rye Lager


With Pesach on the near horizon, what better beer to send you off with than a true chametz brew - Shiner's Ryes & Shine Rye Lager!

You are probably thinking, what is a Rye Lager? Is it a beer made with rye bread? Not exactly, but that's not so far off either. As explained by the folks at BA, a Rye Beer is:

Not to be confused with a German Roggenbier, beers that fall into this category contain a notable amount of rye grain in the grist bill. Bitterness tends to be moderate, to allow the often spicy and sour-like rye characteristics to pull through.

The Shiner Ryes & Shine is neither sour nor overly spicy. It also falls at the low end of the spectrum for Rye beers as it is only 4.9% abv. Having said that, the beer is a nicely balanced lager with a little bit of bite on the back end. 

I have only seen the Shiner Ryes & Shiner Lager in Shiner Family mix packs and have not seen it sold in six or twelve packs. I consumed my only bottle of the Ryes & Shine with shabbos leftovers this evening and did not find that it was obtrusive or overly well paired. If I had a few more of these I might experiment with some lighter pairing. 

Bottom line - if you are looking for a lager with a little more body than a macro this will fill your bill. 

Shiner Ryes & Shine Rye Lager 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 the Ryes & Shine Rye Lager, please follow this link  beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/143/77570.

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, April 3, 2014

Thursday's Matza Crumbs

Because of the proximity to Pesach, R' Frand did not speak on the parsha after he finished the halachic portion of the shiur this evening and instead spoke on the Haggadah. As such, I have blogged of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the Haggadah this evening. Those desiring to see prior R' Frand vorts on Parshas Metzorah can search the blog for prior posts on Metzorah. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce these thoughts 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 right before the Maggid portion of the seder, we break the middle matza as Yachatz. A portion of the matza is left in the matza stack, while the other portion is reserved as the afikoman. R' Frand quoted the Chassam Sofer, who asked why we do Yachatz? 

He answered that the seder is an experience which transforms us from slaves to free men. A slave will hoard food because he is afraid that there will not be any food to eat tomorrow. As we begin the seder, we have the slave's mentality, so we break the matza and hide some to eat later. Similarly, slaves will steal items because they need them to survive. 

The Chassam Sofer explains that this is the reason that we encourage the children to hunt for and steal the afikoman. 

As the Jews began their transformation from slave nation to free men while they traveled in the desert, Hashem gave the Jews manna to eat. The manna fell every day (except Shabbos) and the Jews would gather what they needed each day and no more. If more manna than the person needed was collected, it would rot. But the question is why? Couldn't the manna fall once a week or once a month? 

R' Frand answered that the reason that the manna fell every day is that Hashem was trying to teach the Jews that they were no longer slaves and they did not need to hoard food out of fear that there would be nothing to eat tomorrow. 

When we reach the tzafun stage of the seder and ask the children to return the afikoman so that it can be eaten, we demonstrate that we are now free men and have learned that food does not need to be hoarded. This is the meaning of the word afikoman - bring the manna! 

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Beitzah 2

Tonight the Daf cycle began the study of Meseches Beitzah, or as I informed the chabura its time for Shabbos Part II. The daf had many interesting topics, but I wanted to focus on the wisdom of Rashi and more specifically two comments that he made on the daf.

The first Rashi is found on Beitzah 2b and is in the midst of a discussion as to R' Nachman's deference to the "stam" mishna in explaining the root of the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel as to whether the egg which was laid on Yom Tov can be eaten. The gemara asks a rhetorical question - who was the person who decided to make the mishna stam (translated either as sealed or anonymous).

Rashi explains that when Rebbi compiled the mishna, he chose to record certain mishnayos with anonymous opinions. In not divulging the author of the "stam" mishna, Rebbi made the mishna more authoritative and precluded the possibility of criticism that the opinion was that of a single person and should not be followed.

When I gave the daf shiur tonight, the majority of the attendees were lawyers. I reminded them that in writing a brief, often a lawyer will write that a concept is "black letter law" or "well established" before citing to one or two cases that illustrate the point. The purpose of writing the prefatory phrase of either "black letter law" or "well established" prior to citing to the one or two cases, is to give the impression that the principle of law is firmly in your corner, even if you only have one or two cases that support the position.

The second Rashi was on also on Beitzah 2b and dealt with why the gemara chose the example of the egg as opposed to a chicken to introduce the concept of nolad. The gemara gave a suggestion that maybe the mishna should have offered the other view as Koach D'Heteira Adif - the power of taking a lenient position is greater.

Rashi comments on this line that it is easier to take the position that something is forbidden than to allow it to be performed. Since the lenient position had firm support in halacha, it would have better to use that as an example.

The genius of Rashi is how he used the concept to lend an insight on life. It is easy to say no - that is forbidden.  Or even to say no - that task cannot be accomplished today or we don't have enough (fill in the blank - time, resources, manpower, etc.) to fulfill the request. But when the person speaking has the power of his convictions or in the case of the gemara, is on firm halachic standing to say that something is permissible, this is the greater power.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Prism White Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Prism White Ale.

The Saranac Prism White Ale is a new white ale which Saranac introduced this past winter. The beer is an interesting twist on an American Wheat Ale as it has some characteristics of the class, but there are some notes which are quite different, yet nonetheless delicious.

The beer pours a very pale yellow, but with some cloudiness which is the trademark of a wheat ale.  I did not see any sediment and it does not appear that the beer is unfiltered, but I can't be entirely sure about that.

As I drew the glass close to my face, I immediately smelled spice, but the taste was different that any White Ale that I tried before. The hops are prominent and there is some lingering phenol flavor, but there also are citrus notes and what seems to me to be vanilla pears. 

I would recommend this beer with strong, full flavored meat dishes. Unlike many other Saranac limited edition brews, this beer is available in six or twelve packs, so feel free to experiment with pairings.

Saranac Prism White Ale 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 some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the Legacy IPA, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/109882.

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, March 27, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Tazria

The following is a brief summary of some of the 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.

The parsha contains many laws related to the person who has tzara'as (loosely translated as leprosy). One of these laws is that once the tzara'as has been confirmed, the person must go outside of the camps where the Jews were living. R' Frand quoted the sefer Emes L'Yaakov who explains that the person does not leave the camp because the tzara'as is contagious. Instead, he is left out because in Heaven Hashem wants him separated from the rest of the Jews. R' Frand opined in his own name that the person is excluded because by speaking loshon hara, he has damaged the framework of his environment.

R' Frand illustrated this point by quoted R' Karlinsky (sp?) who asked - which was the worst plague in Egypt? He explained that the question was not based on the number of dead, but on the worst impact. R' Frand answered that the worst plague was darkness, because for three days, the Egyptians could not move.

R' Frand quoted the old expression "misery loves company" to prove his point. When things go bad in a neighborhood, people will come together to commiserate, even if there is a level of one upsmanship. Still, the people are all experiencing the problem together and can share in each other's pain. 

However in Egypt during the plague of darkness, each person was in solitary confinement. Each person was stuck with no one to complain or commiserate with. This is the punishment of tzara'as and how it influences one not to speak evil of others again.

R' Frand also said a vort which tied into a famous gemara which he had discussed before, but he put a different twist on the story.

There is a gemara which tells a story about a peddler, which in gemara loshon is a "rochel". When the rochel came to the middle of the city he got up and announced - who wants the elixir of life? The townsfolk approached and the peddler said "who wants life - keep your mouth from speaking evil" - making obvious reference to the pasuk in Tehillim. The gemara relates that Rav Yanai was touched by the episode and that he learned something new about the well known line from Tehillim. But what was new?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Nissim Alpert who said that the new thought was how to read the pasuk. The actual pasuk states - "who is a man who wants life, one who loves days to see good, keep your tongue from saying evil..." When this pasuk is read, a person generally puts the question mark after good and before keep your tongue from saying evil. However, R' Alpert explained that the question ends after "who wants life" and before "one who loves days to see good." If a person wants life, he should look at others in a positive light and not think negatively about them. 

R' Frand explained that loshon hara does not begin with the mouth, it begins with the eye. If a person sees another doing something questionable, or even leaning towards bad, but the observer judges the person to the positive, he will not speak loshon hara about him. But if the observer thinks that the person is doing something negative, he will speak loshon hara about the other person. 

The person who wants to live a long life will use his eye to see the good in others and not speak evil or complain about them.

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