Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shoftim

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.

For the first parsha vort of the season, R' Frand began by discussing the rules which apply to Jewish kings, as set forth in Devarim 17:14-20. The Torah includes many specific rules and their reasons, including that the King should not have too many horses so that the Jews will not go back to Egypt and that the King should not have too many wives as they may lead him astray.

R' Frand next quoted the Gemara in Sanhedrin which states that King Shlomo said that he could exceed the cap (18) on wives and it would not impact on him, however he was led astray anyway. 

R' Frand asked - if Shlomo was one of the wisest men who ever lived, how could he have fallen? 

Before answering the question, R' Frand made reference to the Gemara in Shabbos (12) which states that a person should not read by the light of an oil lamp on Shabbos because he might come to tip it in order to make the light brighter. 

R' Frand then remarked as a parenthetical that a person can read from his Machzor on Yom Kippur by the light of the candle, because on Yom Kippur there will not be a temptation.

Returning to the Gemara, R' Frand quoted R' Yishmael Ben Elisha who remarked that he could read by the light without being tempted to tip the lamp...until one day that he was tempted. To this he stated - how wise are the Rabbis.

R' Frand asked on this Gemara - why did R' Yishmael praise the Rabbis in this regard?

R' Frand answered these questions by quoting R' Elya Baruch Frankel who in turn cited R' Aharon Kotler ztl who stated that there are laws of nature and metaphysical laws. The same way that there is a law of gravity which dictates that a dropped object will fall, so too is there a metaphysical or spiritual law which provides that a King who has too many wives will be tempted, even if he is as wise and good as Shlomo.

R' Frand then told a story about R' Chaim Soloveitchik who was the Rosh Yeshiva when the Russians came and tried to influence the school to teach Russian culture. Each time a minister would come to the school, they would pay him off to leave them to their studies. But once, a minister came who could not be influenced. R' Chaim came to him at his office in July and was wearing a fur coat and hat. The minister asked - why are you wearing this in July? He answered that his mother had appeared to him in a dream and told him it was going to be below freezing the next day. The minister responded - that is never going to happen. R' Chaim said "I bet you 100 rubles it will." The minister took the bet and collected the money the next day as the temperature did not drop. R' Chaim returned to the school and said that the minister will not be a problem in the future --since he took this money he will be able to be influenced because "HaShochad Y'Aver".

This was how Shlomo fell and why R' Yishmael Ben Elisa praised the Rabbis as he realized that once they made their gezeira, the metaphysical teva had changed and people could come to tip the lamp.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale.

This summer I had an added benefit in summering at Camp M as the Rav HaMachshir for the Va'ad of Kansas City was on staff at the Camp. So naturally, I had to ask him for some updates on the Boulevard Brewery beers and he put me in touch with the mashgiach assigned to the brewery...who tipped me off to new beer under the kosher supervision of the Vaad of KC, including the Boulevard Tropical Pale Ale.

Before reviewing the beer, I need to give a quick warning. Although the gurus at beer advocate call this an American Pale Ale, this is nothing like a typical Pale Ale. When I hear American Pale Ale, I think of the Saranac Pale Ale, not a beer brewed with grapefruit and passion fruit. Yet for reasons I cannot explain, they do classify this brew as an American Pale Ale.

This beer is all fruit and very little derived from hops, as best as I can tell. The passion fruit seems to be the strongest flavor, together with what could be pink grapefruit juice. The beer poured a rich golden color with little lacing and some foam and little alcohol flavor, despite the 5.9% abv. 

I would recommend this beer for people who like alcopop or hard cider. If you are looking for a Pale Ale, keep looking.

Boulevard Tropical Pale 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. Hopefully the Vaad of KC will come out with their new LOC for Boulevard soon -- the prior list can be found on the list of kosher certified beers on the Vaad of KC website (http://vaadkc.org/blog).

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/215146.

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!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Belated Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Re'eh

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 having to drive KB Jr to Camp M after I finished work last night,  I was unable to blog until today]. 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.

The first two pesukim of the parsha utilize the word Anochi - once in the first pasuk where Moshe says "See that today I am giving before you a bracha and a curse", where the word Anochi is used for I. The next pasuk states at the end "... that I am commanding you" again using the word Anochi for I.

But its hardly coincidental that the Anochi is used in consecutive pesukim. The question is why? Clearly, the word Anochi has special significance, as both the Aseres Hadibros in Yisro and Va'eschanan begin with the word Anochi. But what is the connection?

R' Mansour began the vort by noting that the first luchos were broken in Tammuz, then Moshe went up and received forgiveness and then went up again and brought down the second luchos on Yom Kippur - the tenth of Tishrei. The gemara teaches that the Jews worshipped the Egel only to teach that a person can get forgiveness, with the teshuva being completed during Elul and the ten days of repentance ending with Yom Kippur.

R' Mansour quoted last week's haftorah which discusses the conversation between Hashem and the Jews and the Jews asking will Hashem forget us and He says, I will always remember you. The gemara teaches that the Jews were asking --if You will always remember then maybe you will remember the sin of the Egel? To this Hashem answers "Gam Aleh Tishcahna" - also this I will forget. The gemara teaches that Hashem says that He will forget the sin of the Egel wherein it was said about the Egel "Aleh elohecha Yisrael." The Jews then say, but maybe you will also forget that we received the Torah? To this, Hashem responds "V'Anochi, Lo Eshcacheh" - I will not forget the Anochi.

R' Mansour expanded on this gemara, explaining that the Jews were saying - we committed many sins, maybe you wont forget our sins and they are in front of You constantly. To this Hashem responds - I can forget your sins, because I gave you the second luchos. Just like the first luchos begin Anochi, so do the second, because I will forget your sins and take you back.

R' Mansour noted that the word Anochi is 1. How would you say two Anochi? He answered by quoting Rashi that when a pasuk begins with a Vuv it is a repetitive perpetual act. Thus the V'Anochi in the conversation is the second Anochi.

R' Mansour then connected this to a gemara in Rosh Hashana 16b, which discusses the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashana in various points and postures. Why? In order to confuse the Satan. Tosafos ties this to a Yerushalmi which states that when the Satan hears the shofar the first time, he is a little confused, but not disturbed. But when he hears the second blowing, he gets nervous and thinks Moshiach is coming. R' Sadya Gaon lists 10 reasons that we blow the shofar, including to remember the shofar blowing at Matan Torah. R' Mansour tied this together --the first shofar reminds the Satan of the first luchos, But then he says - but they sinned after they accepted the Torah and they will sin again. But when he hears the second shofar it reminds him that Hashem gave us another set of luchos and forgave us. If that's the case, Hashem will forgive the Jews for their sins now as well.

The double use of Anochi in Re'eh is teaching that the biggest blessing is to know that a person can start his life again today, even if he sinned yesterday. A person can't move forward if he is fixated on what he did previously. Like an addict abandoning a habit, he needs to say, today is a new day. And the Torah is given today, so don't worry what you did yesterday. See that I am giving you Today a blessing and a curse, and if you use it positively, it will be a blessing. And the proof that you can start Today, is that there are two Anochis. There is an Anochi that was before the sin and an Anochi after the sin. Use the today and start over, because I am giving you another chance. And I will never forget that there is a second Anochi.

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, August 5, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Shmaltz Brewing Slingshot Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Shmaltz Brewing Company's Slingshot Lager.

If you have ever seen their products in beer stores, then you know that Shmaltz is into shtick. In fact, they have a mix box which is called Shtick In a Box as well as another mix box called the No Shtick Variety Pack.

So with no understanding as to why they called this Slingshot, I went to the corporate website and found this explanation from Shmaltz:

THE PERFECT SESSION BEER.
Our Fermented Tribute  to the Glories of the Underdog.A tasty and clean craft lager for craft ale drinkers – like us! A hint of rye and wheat in the malt bill and a blast of Pacific Northwest hops in the nose balances creativity with drinkability.

Mrs KB and I enjoyed this beer with shwarma dusted beef kabobs and potato salad. The combination bordered on eclectic, but it worked with the beer. The citrus in the lager was a bit stronger than expected as this was claimed to be a lager, but the bite melded with the vinegary potato salad. Also, although they call this a session beer, the 5.5% abv is high and the alcohol taste was surprisingly present, albeit not unpleasant.

Shmaltz Slingshot Lager is under the Kosher Supervision of the KSA, as are many, if not all of the Shmaltz products.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/262/92956

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!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Eikev

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. 

Parshas Eikev begins with a list of tremendous berachos that Moshe tells the Jews will come to fruition if they will listen to Hashem's commandments. Among the berachos is the promise that Hashem will remove all illness from the Jews (Devarim 7:15). 

The gemara asks - what kind of sickness is this? The gemara answers in the name of Rav - it is the ayin hara which will be removed. 

R' Mansour asked - what is ayin hara. He answered by making reference to a gemara in Berachos 20 which talked about R' Yochanan who was asked why he was not concerned about ayin hara. R' Yochanan answered that he was from the tribe of Yosef who cannot be touched by ayin hara. But why are they exempt from ayin hara? 

R' Mansour answered by quoting rabbanim who offered the following explanation. If a person sees another person's wealth he should recognize that it is from Hashem. However, if the person is impressed with the object, he detaches the item from Hashem as he gives the recipient the credit for the object instead of recognizing it as from Hashem. At this point, the ayin hara can attach to the object unless the object can be reconnected with Hashem. How is this accomplished? By saying baruch Hashem - by attributing the success or the item to Hashem and not the owner of the object. 

R' Mansour then quoted from Parshas Ekev again where it states that a person may have great wealth and think that he himself is responsible for it (Devarim 8:12-17). The pasuk immediately says thereafter that the man must remember that it all comes from Hashem. 

Yosef had mastered the art of recognizing Hashem and reconnecting items with Hashem. When Pharaoh had Yosef brought down to him to interpret the dream, Pharaoh tested Yosef. He told Yosef (Bereishis 41:15), I had a dream and no one can interpret it, but I heard that you can. While a normal person would accept the praise (especially when seeing the king), Yosef does the opposite - he tells Pharaoh its not from me, its from Hashem (Berishis 41:16). 

Pharaoh then tells the whole dream to Yosef and then tries to test him again by saying that none of his advisers can interpret the dream. Yosef passes the test by responding to Pharaoh in every pasuk that it comes from Hashem. (Bereishis 41:24-25). 

When R' Yochanan responds that he is from Yosef (which he clearly is not since he descends from Yehuda) he is saying -- I learned from Yosef's ways and much like one who teaches Torah to another is like his father, so too I am Yosef's son. 

R' Mansour then asked - where did Yosef learn this from? He answered that it was learned from Yaakov. When Yaakov came to meet Esav, Esav observes Yaakov and asks who are these women and children who are here with you. Yaakov resists the urge to say they are mine, instead he says these are what Hashem has graciously given me (Bereishis 33:5). 

This is the lesson to us, that when someone comes and praises you for your possessions, give credit to Hashem and you will avoid the impact of the ayin hara. 

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 29, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Hoppy Wheat Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Hoppy Wheat Ale.

The Samuel Adams Hoppy Wheat Ale is classified as an American Pale Wheat Ale. As defined by the gurus at Beer Advocate, this style is:

An Americanized version of a Hefe Weizen, these beers range within the pale to golden range in color. Reminiscent of a Hefe Weizen in appearance, unless filtered. Long-lasting head with a light to medium body, higher carbonation is proper. German Weizen flavors and aromas of banana esters and clove-like phenols will not be found. Most use a substantial percentage of wheat malt. Hop character will be low to high but most are moderate in bitterness. There may be some fruitiness from ale fermentation though most examples use of a fairly neutral ale yeast, resulting in a clean fermentation with little to no diacetyl.

Often served with a lemon wedge (popularized by Americans), to either cut the wheat or yeast edge, which many either find to be a flavorful snap ... or an insult and something that damages the beer's taste and head retention.

The beer poured a rich golden yellow with decent carbonation and some lacing. The first sip was pine and that continued and developed citrus aftertaste which stayed with me well after the swallow. I did not detect anything that reminded me of phenol and the beer was not very cloudy either. At 4.8% abv the beer is not high on the alcohol scale and the alcohol flavor is not strong, but it would go well with pizza and other lighter side entrees.

The Hoppy Wheat Ale 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/35/303571.

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!