Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Lech Lecha

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.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting the Medrash Rabbah which cites R' Yitzchak who would introduce the parsha by citing a pasuk from Tehillim (45:11) "My daughter listen to me and forget your nation and the house of your father."

The question is - what does this pasuk in Tehillim have to do with Parshas Lech Lecha?

R' Frand answered based on the Sefer Nachlas Eliezer who sought to address an inherent conflict in the first pasuk of the parsha. The pasuk states that Avraham was told to leave his land, his city and his father's house. Yet the pasuk seems to be backwards since when a person leaves home, he first leaves his father's house, then his city and finally, the country.

R' Frand answered that Avraham was not being told to leave his home, he was being told to change his very existence which needs to be done by leaving everything behind.

R' Frand gave a mashal about a problem that he had with his laptop. He brought the laptop to his computer guy who said that the laptop was old and had too many things running on it. The techie said - you need to wipe the laptop clean so that it can run well again. But it would be cheaper for you to start fresh with a new laptop, vs paying me to wipe this laptop clean.

The message to Avraham was - wipe your hard drive clean. I am starting a new nation with you and to do that, you need to be fresh and clean. So first, leave your land. But a person's nationality has the least impact on him. But a person is more impacted by his local surroundings than his land. So then Avraham was told leave his city. But the greatest impact on a person is what he saw in his father's house. This is a person's DNA, because it is what he saw when he was growing up. So Hashem says last, leave your house where you grew up.

This is what R' Yitzchak was saying - forget your nationality and the house of your father. This is exactly what is happening in Parshas Lech Lecha.

R' Frand said that based on this we can address another question on the first pasuk of the parsha. Rashi comments that Avraham was to leave for his own good. But how can this be a challenge? Where is the test if Avraham is told up front that it was for his own benefit?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Yisrael Salanter who explains that there are two elements of passing a test. The first is to have emunah in Hashem, that He will help you. But the second element is to belittle the challenge, to say to yourself - this is not a mountain, it is only a hill. 

R' Frand gave an example that a person may need to exercise, but the only time that he can do it is at 5 AM. But how does a person 'psych' himself up to do it? Just by saying I need to do it? That does not work. Instead, a person creates a carrot - if I get up at 5 I can have a special coffee for breakfast as a reward.

Hashem is telling the 75 year old Avraham - you need to change everything. But in order to psych Avraham up to do this, Hashem must give him a carrot, he must let him know that there is a reward.

R' Frand finished the vort by noting that Rashi explains that Hashem tells Avraham that He is giving Avraham the ability to give berachos to whomever you want. Hashem gives this to Avraham because he is a different person and is doing it all for Hashem.

This explains why when Avraham died, Hashem blessed Yitzchak. Rashi asks, why did Hashem have to bless Yitzchak? The source of blessings had been given to Avraham! Rashi answers that Avraham did not give that power to Yitzchak because he saw that there would be an Esav who will come from Yitzchak. 

But how can a father not give the blessing to his son? And after all, we are talking about Yitzchak who allowed himself to be brought at the Akeidah!

Still Avraham says, I can't give this to him because Esav will come from him. This was the ultimate act of selflessness. He did not pass this to his son because he worked on himself and took himself out of the equation. This came from following the message of Lech Lecha. So Hashem had to act to give the source of berachos to Yitzchak.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Stegmaier IPA



This week' Sunday Night Suds looks at Stegmaier IPA.

As discussed in a prior blog post, I only recently became familiar with Stegmaier as it is not widely available in the NY metro area. Although my prior experience with Stegmaier's Pumpkin Ale was positive (see review here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/10/sunday-night-suds-stegmaier-pumpkin-ale.html) I had the impression that the hop flavor/bite was a little on the weak side. Having tried the Stegmaier IPA, I am left wondering whether this is characteristic of the brewery in general.

When I think of an IPA, I think of big hops, more than a little citrus, some pine, and in extreme circumstances, an after taste bordering on coppery. This beer has none of these characteristics. There is no bite, little to no citrus and certainly no flavor approaching pine. The label indicates that it is 6.7% abv, but I am skeptical as to this number as well.

This is not to say that the beer was skunky or had any unpleasantness to it. In fact, for a cheap beer (six pack was less than a buck a beer) the beer is not half bad...its just not an IPA.

Stegmaier IPA is certified kosher by the OU, and there is an OU on the label. For the experts take on the Stegmaier IPA, please click here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/150/58313.

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, October 23, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Noach

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.

R' Frand began his vort by addressing the question of whether Noach was a tzaddik. The first pasuk of the parsha indicates that Noach was a tzaddik in his generation, but later in the parsha (7:7) the Torah states that Noach went into the ark and Rashi on the pasuk explains that Noach was of those who had lesser emunah. Rashi further states that Noach stood outside the ark until the waters began to rise around him and only then did he enter the ark.

So was Noach a Tzaddik or not?

R' Frand answered the question by quoting the Sefer Kidushas Levi by R' Levi Yitzchak M'Barditschev. He explains that Noach was a Tzaddik and that when Rashi writes that Noach had lesser emunah, it means that he had little emunah that he was a worthy person.

He further explained that there is a concept that a tzaddik can daven and Hashem will destroy a negative decree. Noach did not see himself as a tzaddik and did not think that he was worthy of being saved. He said to himself - I am no different than the rest of my generation - either Hashem will saved all of us or none of us. This is also why Noach stood outside until the water began to rise -- he thought that everyone would be coming in order to be saved, or no one would be saved. It is also why he did not pray that his generation would be saved, because he did not think that he was worthy of having his prayers answered.

R' Frand quoted the medrash that Moshe was the gilgul of Noach. Moshe fixed his prior taint by standing up for his people and davening for them and refusing to be separated from them after Noach did not pray for his generation.

R' Frand noted that the modeh ani prayer states that our souls were returned to us B'chemla Rabbah Emunasecha - with emunah that we will do right after having our souls returned to us, because we are worthy.

R' Frand also quoted a sefer by R'  Yona in Sha'arei Ha'avodah who explains that the first brocha of Shemoneh Esreh states that Hashem is the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Why? Because we need to know that we come from yichus, that we are people and come from important people.

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!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - Peyton Passes, Yawns, Goes Back to Work

Last night I followed what has become a recent Sunday Night habit of trying to watch some of the Sunday Night football game. Often I do not have an opportunity to watch live football on Sunday due to work, family or shul obligations or some other "pressing issue" which arises. When my Jets were worth watching, I would record the Jet game and watch it later on double speed. As the Jets are anything but good lately (and had already lost in a Thursday Night game which I could not watch as it was on YT), I was looking forward to catching some of the Sunday Night game, after a long day of family and work. It did not hurt that the teams playing (SF and Denver) were teams which I really enjoy watching.

Before I even turned the game on, I knew that Peyton was closing in on Brett Favre's record for touchdown passes in a career, but I thought that it would be unlikely that it would happen against a stout defense like the SF 49ers. Still, I thought the game was worth watching, if only because it was Peyton and Colin K - two talented and very different QBs.

Well, after watching some of the second and third quarters, the game was no longer worth watching. Peyton threw three TD passes to eclipse the Favre record and then added another for good measure. The SF defense had no answer for the master tactician and SF could not get out of its own way on offense. By the start of the 4th Quarter, Denver was playing Brock Osweiler at QB and there was no reason to watch the rest of the game, so I turned it off ... but turned it back on to watch the post game show and the interviews with Peyton and other team representatives.

In watching the post game show, I was struck by how humble Peyton was, despite this incredible lifetime achievement. For QBs, there is no greater accomplishment than throwing TD passes. In surpassing Brett Favre, Peyton stands alone as the NFL's most prolific QB of all time. Yet when Peyton addressed the team he commented about how there was a "great team effort" as if the game was just another game, or the feat had been accomplished by his team in one game, rather than over the course of a Hall of Fame career.

Peyton's humility in the face of this accomplishment made be think about the gemara expression about one who works at a task and succeeds vs one who did not work at the task and claims that he has succeeded. Every year there are players drafted out of college who are proclaimed "the next great" player at any given position. But often these players do not pan out on the professional level. Sometimes this is due to a lack of skill, but more often than not it is the player being unwilling to devote the time to study and prepare for the game.

While driving to work this morning, I heard a piece of an interview with one of the Denver WRs who when asked whether they should be taking Peyton out to celebrate, responded that Peyton would probably prefer that they sit down and study game film. This is the consummate professional, although he has now ascended to the top of the list, he chooses to prepare for the next game instead of celebrating the accomplishment.

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, October 19, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Tour De Fall Pale Ale



This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's Tour De Fall Pale Ale.

Picked this beer up at Binny's (Skokie) while visiting Chicago for Sukkos. Although the Tour De Fall was not included in the mix your own six pack section, the staff was nice enough to allow me to mix it into my six pack from the shelves.

The Tour De Fall poured a dark orange with incredible lacing on the glass. There was good citrus and pine in the first sip which continued all the way through to the aftertaste. This is not the strongest American Pale Ale which I have ever tried, but although the flavors are not extremely pronounced, the beer is quite tasty. I would recommend this beer for someone looking to ease into Pale Ales from lagers. 

I enjoyed my Tour De Fall with an Asian chicken vegetable soup. The beer would probably go better with spicier fare, but it did not clash with the ginger accented soup.

New Belgium Tour De Fall Pale Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Scroll-K of Colorado. Although the beer does not bear the kosher symbol on the label, I have verified its kashruth with the Scroll-K and it is listed on the LOC. Often times, a kosher symbol can be found on the bottom of the six pack holder for New Belgium products. Unfortunately, I did not buy a six pack of this beer, so I could not verify that it is found on the bottom of the Tour De Fall Pale Ale six pack holder.

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 Tour De Fall Pale Ale, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/131439. 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).

Finally, 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, October 5, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Stegmaier's Pumpkin Ale.

When the weather gets crisp and the sukkahs go up, its time for fall beers. For me, the two fall styles that I most enjoy are the Pumpkin Ales and the Octoberfest lagers. 

For those unfamiliar with Stegmaier, it is a line produced by Lion, a Northeast Pennsylvania brewery. As Stegmaier/Lion is not available in the NY metro area, I personally had never heard of this brewery until I recently read that it was under the kosher supervision of the OU.  During our family trip to Scranton, I saw a few varieties of Stegmaier/Lion available at a Wegman's where you could mix your own six pack, so I picked a few up to try.

After opening the Pumpkin Ale, the first thing that I was struck by was the overwhelming smell of pumpkin and cinnamon spice. I shared some with Mrs KB and she thought it tasted like a pumpkin pie in a bottle. Although the beer claims to be 5.5% abv, I don't taste any alcohol in the brew. Although there is negligible hop flavor to this beer, I would really not consider this an ale. Instead, the beer is a sweet (but not cloyingly sweet) brew which would do well in the sukkah with stuffed cabbage, sweet chicken with raisins or possible honey cake type desserts.

Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale is certified kosher by the OU, and there is an OU on the label. For the experts take on the Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale, please click here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/150/72670.

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!