Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim for the next month, I have been substituting 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 1:10 Moshe tells the Jews - Hashem your G-d has multiplied you and today you are like the stars in heaven in abundance (using the word in Hebrew, LaRov). R' Mansour asked, the Jews are less than one half of one percent of the world's population, so what does Moshe mean about being numerous like the stars in heaven? Rabbi Mansour answered --look at a star from afar, it looks very small. However the star in its true size is larger than the planet earth. So too the Jews, they may look small from a distance, but see what they have accomplished and how well represented and renown they are in the prestigious fields, and you will see up close they are much larger than they appear.

Rabbi Mansour then quoted a vort from the Ben Ish Chai on the use of the word LaRov. The word itself is spelled chaser - without a cholam between the reish and vet. As such, the word can read LaRav. The significance of this relates to a machlokes between Rav and Shmuel, but requires an introduction.

When a person is sleeping, his soul goes up to shamayim and admits the sins the body did during the day. There is a punishment and a penalty which comes from doing sins. The punishment comes from doing the sin against Hashem. The penalty is for damaging the soul, a piece of Hashem which does not belong to the person and to which he commits me'ilah by sinning.

When the soul goes up to testify, it is not the only entity that wishes to speak about the sin, as the act of sinning has created an angel which too desires to attest to the act. However, the soul and the angel have different rules of procedure. The angel wants to appear at the heavenly bet din to testify, but cannot do so at night because the bet din does not sit in judgment at night. However, the soul can testify at night and manages to get its testimony in first.

The soul's ability to testify first is highly significant. The gemara brings a machlokes about a person who admits an act which is punishable by a fine before the witnesses come. Rav teaches that a person who admits an act which is punishable by a fine and then witnesses come, the person is exempt from paying the fine. Shmuel disputes this as he says that the person's testimony before the witnesses appear does not exempt him from payment of the fine.

Boruch Hashem, the halacha is like Rav and our soul's testimony exempts us from the penalty which accompanies the punishment. The Ben Ish Chai explains that Bilaam when he blessed the Jews in Bamidbar 24:23 states Oy Mi Yichyeh Mi Sumo Kel. However it can be read as MiShmuel, by which Bilaam states - who could live if Shmuel is right and the soul's advanced confession is incapable of deflecting the penalty.

The Ben Ish Chai also supports this with a sentence from Tehillim in which it states "v'salachta l'avonee ki rav who" which can be explained as Hashem will forgive our sins because the halacha is like Rav.

This is what the meaning of the pasuk that Hashem makes up great that our neshama can testify at night and that way tomorrow during the day we will succeed, because the halacha is like Rav.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Tartastic Stawberry Lemon Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's 2018 Tartastic - the Strawberry Lemon Ale.

Much like the Citradelic and Voodoo Ranger lines, New Belgium is continuing to pump out new fruit flavored tart beers as part of the Tartastic Fruit Series (for  a review of last year's Tartastic Lemon Ginger Ale, click here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/04/sunday-night-suds-new-belgium-tartastic.html).

After seeing this in Oliver's in Albany earlier in the week, I knew that I had the 9 days havdallah beer for someone who was not into strong beer flavor. This beer has a base of a Berliner Weiss which is a tart ale usually low in alcohol. And given that this beer is 4.2% abv, it certainly is low on that spectrum. There was an artificial strawberry flavor which was not overpowering, but not very pleasant either. I would not buy this again and was glad that I had only bought a single, but the fellow who made havdallah on it at Camp M seemed to like it, so mission accomplished.

The New Belgium Tartastic Strawberry Lemon Ale is under kosher supervision by the Scroll-K/Va'ad of Denver, and their symbol is on the bottom of the six pack holder. However, not every brew produced by New Belgium is under kosher supervision.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about The Tartastic Strawberry Lemon Ale, click here https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/315829.

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!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Belated Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos Maasei

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. [Also due to a work trip I was unable to blog this last night, so its being posted on Friday from Camp M]. 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 Bamidbar 32:1 the Torah tells us that the tribes of Gad and Reuven had "mikneh rav" which is literally translated as much livestock. They then recite the cities in the area of the East Bank of the Jordan and tell Moshe that it is fertile for raising livestock and they have much livestock.

The Shem M'Shmuel explains that the reason that the tribes of Gad and Reuven wanted to stay on the other side of the Jordan because it was impossible for them to leave their Rebbi - they had a great kinyan in their Rebbi, so how could they leave him on the other side of the Jordan.

The Chassam Sofer explains that the tribes wanted the land to become Israel now and they stated this with some urgency. Why? Because they loved Moshe and thought that it would be embarrassing for Moshe to be buried outside of Israel. How could the greatest leader of the Jewish people be buried outside of their homeland? So they asked - please make the land on the other side of the Jordan into Israel now.

R' Mansour also quoted the Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel which explains the names of the cities listed as being built by the tribes on the other side of the Jordan (Bamidbar 32:34-39) had specific meaning.  One of the cities is Nevo, which not coincidentally is the name of the mountain which was buried on. The Targum calls that city Beit Kevurteh D' Moshe - the location where Moshe was buried. 

R' Mansour also explained that the tribe of Gad wanted to stay with Moshe because he was responsible for their miraculous existence. R' Mansour noted that when the manna was first described in Shemos 16:31 the Torah uses the words "K'zera Gad Lavan." The Zohar explains that just like the manna was only the other side of the Jordan, so too the tribe of Gad wanted to be on the other side of the Jordan. R' Mansour also cited (without identifying the sefer specifically) that the reason that the tribe of Gad had the most sheep was because they did not eat any of the animals - they only ate manna.

R' Mansour also explained the connection with the miraculous existence from a pragmatic standpoint. The tribe of Gad had the most sheep and once they crossed over the Jordan they would have the most work - taking care of the sheep. Thus they wanted to stay on the other side of the Jordan so that they could keep learning Torah, while their sheep were miraculously attended to.

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!



Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams New England IPA + Bonus Nine Days Havdallah Guide


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams New England IPA.

This beer is one of those unflavored IPAs that you could swear has been influenced by fruit juice, but is definitively unflavored. The beer has a strong grapefruit/citrus taste, but much like the Uinta Wyld (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2011/09/sunday-night-suds-uinta-wyld.html) the citrus is entirely derived from the hops and there is no external flavoring.

The beer poured a hazy maize yellow with decent lacing and carbonation. Although the alcohol flavor is mild at most, the beer packs quite a punch, coming in at 6/8% abv. Successive sips sent me to pine and back to citrus, and all were quite delicious.

The Samuel Adams New England IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the side of the can. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/303198.

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).

Bonus section - Nine Days Havdalah Guide.

In years past, I would receive numerous email and cell phone messages prior to Shabbos Chazon (the Saturday within the summer nine days mourning period) with questions as to what would be a good choice to make havdalah on. As the Shabbos of the Nine Days actually falls towards the end of the period, I have presented the annual Nine Days Havdalah guide in this post to allow people to get an early look at alternatives to wine.

By way of introduction, on Saturday nights after the evening prayer is said, Jews have a special set of blessings that are said by which we separate between the holy shabbos and the rest of the week. There is a custom to say this prayer on a cup of wine, however this custom needs modification when the Saturday falls during the nine days of mourning.

As noted by the Orthodox Union on their website:

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition. Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of "mourning for Jerusalem". Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.

Should your local Rabbi direct you to utilize non-wine in your havdalah, there are multiple options to use to fulfill the havdalah requirement. Indeed, my father in law will use diet soda (or as he says "diet pop"). I recall as a child seeing my father on one occasion use hard alcohol for havdalah (and then burn the decorative plate my sibling made when he tried to put out the candle).

To me, the simplest answer to the havdalah dilemma (and one that is widely recommended by rabbinic authorities) is to use beer, which in the time of the talmud was called chamra d'medina - the wine of the masses. This brings us to the reason I get more summer phone calls and email around this time every year - which beer would I recommend?

The number one problem with the question is that most people who ask me about it don't generally drink beer. It then becomes difficult to make a recommendation of a beer that they can use for havdalah that won't have them making faces in their attempt to drink the halachic minimum level for the blessing. A second problem is that since the havdalah cup is imbibed on its own (i.e. without the benefit of food) people who might be inclined to have a beer with a meal will still have problems finishing their cup when the beer is consumed on its own.

The easiest solution is not to have beer, but instead to make havdalah on what is commonly called alcopop. These are malt beverage drinks with some similarities to beer and a beer-like 5% alcohol content by volume, but do not have the beer taste. Some examples are the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) Twisted Teas or the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. Please be aware that not every flavor of Smirnoff is certified Kosher. There are also a limited number of kosher "hard sodas" such as Henry's Hard Soda (a MillerCoors brand under the OU) and Coney Island (a Samuel Adams brand under the Star-K)..

Another alternative is hard apple cider. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that for a time the Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider was not certified kosher by the Star-K, but they have again been certified kosher. For a current list of Angry Orchard ciders as well as the Coney Island Hard Sodas under hashgacha, please click here https://express.star-k.org/viewer/LOCViewer.aspx?PEFQZ4N3 (this will open a link which allows for a download of the July 2018 LOC). Additionally, there has been an explosion of other kosher hard apple ciders, including Strongbow out of the UK, JK Scrumpy, Smith & Forge, Henry Hotspurs Hard Cider (a Trader Joe's brand) and Appleation.

There are also a number of fruit flavored beers which bridge the gap between alcopop and true beer. These include the Miller/Coors line of Redd's products, including Apple Ale, Blueberry Ale, Strawberry Ale, Cranberry Ale, Mango Ale and perhaps other (just look for the OU on the label). There are also quite a few mainstream mango beers like the Samuel Adams Rebel Juiced IPA (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/07/sunday-night-suds-rebel-juiced-ipa.html) and the Blue Moon Mango Wheat (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/07/sunday-night-suds-blue-moon-mango-wheat.html). Also, Saranac has reintroduced their delicious Blueberry Blonde Ale after a few years hiatus (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/04/sunday-night-suds-saranac-blueberry.html).

If you do like unflavored beer, or would like to drink something that is more manly than alcopop, the next step up would be an American wheat beer or some of the better Summer Ales. Many of these beers have been reviewed on the pages of this blog and you can search through prior Sunday Night Suds reviews to find one that might appeal to you. If you are a beer aficionado, you obviously won't need this post to tell you which ale or lager you should crack open for havdalah.

Again, I would stress that you consult your halachic authority before selecting a havdalah alternative. My Rav advises me that beer would be the first choice, followed by malt beverages. I did not ask about how the non alcohol options fit into the list.

May the world have a tikkun from our three weeks/nine days observances and may tisha b'av soon be transformed to the holiday that the gemara tells it will be in the times of moshiach bimheira biyamenu.

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!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

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 27:26, the Torah begins its discussion of Moshe's conversation with Hashem about Moshe's successor. The topic begins with the unique statement "Vaidaber Moshe el Hashem Leimor". R' Frand stated that this is the only time that such a pasuk is found in the Torah.

R' Frand linked this to a story involving a chassid who came to the Kotzker Rebbi and asked him, why is it Moshe had to approach Hashem and ask Him who would succeed Moshe? Did Moshe think that Hashem did not have a plan?

The Kotzker Rebbi responded that of course Moshe thought Hashem had a plan, but that the plan involved Pinchas taking his place. However, after Pinchas killed Kozbi and Zimri, Moshe knew that Pinchas would not succeed him, because the role of leader requires someone who has an even keel and not a Kanai (loosely translated as zealot). Once Pinchas publicly stood up and took the lives of Kozbi and Zimri, although his actions were justified and rewarded, Moshe knew that there would be a different leader of the Jews.

Rabbi Frand said a second vort on this topic. He first quoted from Bamidbar 27:20 where Moshe is told to give Meihodcha. Rashi states that Moshe was told to give from his Hod (loosely translated as glory or majesty) to Yehoshua, but not all of it. He then utters the famous statement that Moshe was like the sun and Yehoshua the moon and the moon is not as radiant as the sun.

R' Frand next quoted the Gemara in Bava Basra which states that the elders of the generation said what a Busha and Klima that Moshe is the sun and Yehoshua the moon. R' Frand asked two questions about this: (1) why did only the elders make this statement and (2) how could they say it in front of Yehoshua?

R' Frand answered the first question by quoting the Ohr Sameach which explains that everyone saw the difference between Moshe and Yehoshua, but the younger generation figured that Yehoshua would grow to be a Moshe and they were not bothered by it. To this the elders said - Moshe was always Moshe, he did not grow into the job. We remember when Moshe was made the leader and he was always like this.

R' Frand also quoted R' Bukspan who cited R' Isser Zalman Meltzer in explaining that they were lamenting themselves - the generation receives the leader that the generation deserves and the leader who can relate to the problems of the generation. They bemoaned that they did not receive a leader like Moshe because they were not worthy of such a leader.

R' Frand also said another explanation similar to his vort last year (see link here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/07/thursdays-parsha-tidbits-parshas-pinchas.html)  as to the leaders observing that Yehoshua had been just like them when younger, but he worked on himself to become Yehoshua, and they did not.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting the Chafetz Chaim who explained that Busha refers to a person who feels unworthy to stand in the presence of greatness, while Klima is a person who recognizes in himself that he has not accomplished all that he could.

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!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Coney Island Merman NY IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Coney Island Brewery's Merman NY IPA.

Its been a while since I tried a new Coney Island brew and they all have labels and names which seem to be inspired by "permanent makeup" artists. As I wrote when I reviewed the Mermaid Pilsner back in 2016, no they don't make this beer out of real mermans and no, I don't have a clue why Coney Island has linked mermans with IPAs. Even the guy on the label does not look like Ethel. (To see the review of the Mermaid Pilsner, click here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2016/09/sunday-night-suds-coney-island-brewery.html).

Leaving aside the ink and name of the brew, this IPA is one of the more refreshing brews I have tried in a while. There is fruit, which Mrs KB thought was reminiscent of mango and which I thought was more of a mild grapefruit, but it was sweet without the addition of any flavoring. The alcohol content was on the mild side, being 5.8% abv, but it did not taste like a light beer. I found myself wishing that I had bought a sixer instead of a single as Mrs KB and I really liked this brew.

The Coney Island Brewery Merman NY IPA is certified kosher by the Star-K and there is a Star-K on the label, although not every beer brewed by Coney Island is currently on the LOC. To view and download the LOC for Boston Beer which includes Coney Island, Angel City, Angry Orchard, Sam Adams and Traveller Beer co, click here https://express.star-k.org/viewer/LOCViewer.aspx?PEFQZ4N3.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/10707/248707.

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!