Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday's Musings on Mussar - An Aseres Yimei Teshuva Thought

While the Monday Night post usually reflects a Sports/Torah crossover, I occasionally deviate from the format during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva (10 days of repentance) to discuss a derasha or thought that I had read which I found inspiring. Here is a brief summary of one such thought.

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, there is a custom to eat foods which have symbolic significance including fish, carrots, pomegranates, celery (my sister claimed that it should be eaten with raisins as a segulah for parnasah), dates, beets and of course apples dipped in honey.

When eating the carrots/pomegranates there is a prayer which is said that Hashem should increase our zechuyus (loosely translated as good deeds). The Sefer "Shalal Rav" asks  - how can we pray that our good deeds should increase if its within our hands? On a similar note, the prayers during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva ask that we should be inscribed in the book of good deeds. But again, isn't this in our hands?

The Shalal Rav answers by making reference to the story of how King Shaul utilized a necromancer to raise the spirit of the Navi Shmuel in order to ask him a question. When Shmuel came "up" he was scared and the meforshim explains that the reason he was scared was that he was concerned about facing a judgment day. The meforshim ask - but wasn't he already judged when he died? They answer that every year after a person dies, he is judged as to the results of his actions - if he inspired others to do mitzvos he will receive reward. But if he inspired others to sin the results are not so positive. Shmuel was afraid that he was facing this judgment.

The Shalal Rav explains that when we ask to have our zechuyus increased, we are asking that those who we inspired should be given opportunities to utilize what they learned from us so that our zechuyus will increase.

The concept actually ties into a gemara in Chagigah 22a (last Tuesday's daf yomi!) which discusses how a tzaddik can have places in two worlds and a rosha could as well. The gemara explains that a tzaddik who inspires others to do good earns his place in the world to come, as well as piece of those who he has inspired. Similarly, the rasha picks up his place below and a piece of those who he inspires.

The concept ties into a story that I heard from R' Zev Cohen of Adas Yeshurun. when I was in Chicago over Pesach. The story involved R' Meir Shapiro, the formulator of the daf yomi cycle. As related by R' Cohen, soon after the Rosh Hashanah when the first daf yomi cycle began, R' Shapiro received a letter from his sister. She wrote that she had a dream the first night of Rosh Hashanah that their mother was being honored in shamayim and was wearing a crown. The obvious correlation that the sister drew was that because R' Shapiro had initiated the daf yomi cycle that Rosh Hashanah, whereby many people would become a system of learning gemara, their mother was being honored for his actions.

However, R' Cohen explained that there was more to the story. When R' Shapiro was a seven year old boy, his mother hired a tutor to come and learn with him because he was so far ahead of his classmates. 

One day, his family moved from one city to another and his mother arranged to have a new tutor come to their house in the new city on the day that they arrived. After unpacking, the mother sat with young R' Meir waiting for the tutor. As the hours wore on R' Shapiro's mother broke down and started crying. When he asked her why she was crying, she explained - "it's a day without Torah, its a day without learning."

It was this lesson which R' Cohen believed was the motivation for R' Shapiro to begin the daf yomi program so that no day would be without Torah. Is it any wonder that his mother was honored in shamayim because she had inspired her son to create a daily learning program?

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!

Belated Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Ginger Pale Ale



This week's belated Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac's Ginger Pale Ale (aka GPA).

Although the Sunday night post is always reserved for a beer review, I just could not contemplate opening a beer last night as our Sunday night dinner was the break fast for the Jewish fast day of Tzom Gedalyah.

As  I have detailed in past posts, when I was younger I used to be able to eat a meat meal after a fast, but I am finding as I get older that I just can't stomach that anymore (no pun...well maybe pun intended). As such, we have been making it a habit of having dairy meals for the breakfast. Even with this lighter fare, I admit that I was not up to beering last night, so the SNS post is making a belated appearance on Monday.

But enough about my digestive proclivities, since the average reader not related to the KB family does not come to this blog to read about my eating habits.

The Saranac Ginger Pale Ale is another of  the beers included in this past summer's "12 Beers of Summer" variety pack. The other beers included in this box were the Wild Hop Pils (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/07/sunday-night-suds-saranac-wild-hop-pils.html); Cloud Splitter (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/09/sunday-night-suds-saranac-cloud.html); Jugglernaut (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-jugglernaut.html); Kolsch (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2008/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-kolsch-ale.html) and Session IPA.

Although I put off drinking the GPA until tonight due to my concerns coming out of the fast, there really was no reason to worry. The GPA is first and foremost a ginger beverage and I was unable to finish my drink this evening due to the strong ajax/floor cleanser flavor emanating from the brew. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy ginger flavored beers (see my review of the Shiner Ruby Redbird here - http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2011/05/sunday-night-suds-shiner-ruby-redbird.html). However, the strong ginger flavor makes this beer undrinkable in anything other than small sips. At least there is only one other bottle of it in the mix box, so I can try to pass it off on some unsuspecting soul...

Saranac GPA 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 brews 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 GPA, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/116793.

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, September 21, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Cloud Splitter Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac's Cloud Splitter Ale.

The Saranac Cloud Splitter was one of the beers included in this past summer's "12 Beers of Summer" variety pack. The other beers included in this box were the Wild Hop Pils (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/07/sunday-night-suds-saranac-wild-hop-pils.html); GPA; Jugglernaut (reviewed here  http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-jugglernaut.html); Kolsch (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2008/08/sunday-night-suds-saranac-kolsch-ale.html) and Session IPA.

Interestingly, the packaging of the 12 Beers of Summer variety pack indicates that only the Session IPA and GPA are "new" beers, but I cannot recall ever seeing and cannot find any prior reference to the Cloud Splitter Ale.

The Cloud Splitter tastes like a wheat ale with a little extra kick from the bitters. Although the label indicates that there are oats, coriander and orange peel included in the brew, I did not taste any spice. I did enjoy the extra hop bite and the tang from the wheat. 

The Cloud Splitter Ale would pair well with brisket (in case you were still looking for a beer to pair with Yom Tov fair) as well as other smoked or stewed meat.

Saranac Cloud Splitter 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 brews 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 Cloud Splitter Ale, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/116794.

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!

[I'm not one for self promotion - but I am forced to acknowledge that is post 1,000 for kosherbeers. I give thanks to Hashem for giving me the opportunity, inspiration and strength to complete this task. Mrs KB gets the credit for putting up with/supporting this six year plus hobby and I have my friends to thank for their support, suggestions and for helping me with locate interesting kosher beer. Along with the way I have met some incredible brewmasters and professionals who devote their lives to the perfect pint and have received wonderful guidance from mashgichim who are so giving of their time to educate me about the kashrus of beer. Last but not least, the readers of kosherbeers and especially their e-mails keep me motivated and make this truly a labor of love. L'Shana Tova - here's to 1,000 posts more!]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Netzavim & Vayelech

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parshios.Unfortunately, due to transmission issues, I was unable to hear most of the parsha portion of this evening's vort. As such, I have reproduced a prior year's vort in this space. As always any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand quoted the Maharal who noted that while the Tochacha in Parshas Bechukosai has words of nechama (comfort) after the Tochacha, the Tochacha in Parshas Ki Savo does not have words of nechama at the end.

R' Frand cited R' Yosher Ber Soloveitchik who explains that the Tochacha in Bechukosai is aligned with the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash and galus bavel. Since the first galus was very brief, the divrei nechama come soon after the Tochacha. However, the Tochacha in Ki Savo is aligned with the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash and galus Edom. Although this is a long drawn out galus which we are still experiencing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and nechama at the end of the galus. R' Yosher Ber explains that the divrei nechama comes in Parshas Netzavim at Devarim 30:1-2, where the Torah writes "V'haya ki yavou alecha ..." that it will be when these things come on you, the blessings and the curse, that the Jews will return to Hashem.

The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva writes that the Nevi'im promised us that the Jews will do teshuva at the end of galus and they will be immediately redeemed. R' Yosher Ber explains that this is the nechama, knowing that there will be teshuva and the galus will end.

R' Frand mentioned that he was always bothered by this Rambam. There are so many people who are not keeping the Torah and do not even know that they are sinning because they lack the basic knowledge of the Torah laws. How will these people do teshuva?

R' Frand said that he heard a vort from the Shem Mishmuel which answered the question. The Shem Mishmuel quoted Devarim 30:3 which states that Hashem will bring back "shevuscha" - translated as your people in captivity. However, the Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel translates shevuscha as your teshuvos - Hashem will gather in all the teshuvos from all the generations and use them to redeem the Jews.

The Shem Mishmuel referenced the line from the Rosh Hashanah davening - Ma'avir Rishon Rishon - the Gemara in Rosh Hashana 17 states that this means that if a person is equally weighted with sins and mitzvos, Hashem will take away one aveirah so that the scale tips to life. However, the sin is not erased completely. If later a person piles on the sins, Hashem will add this sin back to the pile.

The Shem Mishmuel states that if Hashem will store away an aveirah to be added in at the appropriate time, than He certainly is saving the less than perfect thoughts or acts of teshuva that were done for centuries so that they can be added togther at the appropriate time and bring the geulah. The Shem Mishmuel states that this explains how a person can do teshuva at the end of his life and it will be accepted. The teshuva certainly cannot be an acceptance to change for the future since the person will die in short order. The Shem Mishmuel explains that this person had many thoughts or acts of teshuva over his lifetime which did not come to fruition. However, at the end of his life when he has a genuine desire to teshuva, Hashem brings back all these thoughts and deeds and together they cause the person to become a true ba'al teshuva.

The Shem Mishmuel further states that this collection of imperfect teshuvas applies not only to individuals, but also to groups. Hashem has collected our improper teshuvos over thousands of years and geula can happen in our days by adding just a little bit to the scale to put us over the top. This is the answer to the question that bothers people - if we did not merit geulah when we had greater leaders, how can we possibly merit the Moshiach today? The answer is that all those teshuvas have been building up and if we on our lower level can somehow add the final piece through our teshuva, we can bring the geulah and be the nechama.

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, September 15, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - Can Anyone Keep Their Hands to Themselves

Unless you have been living under a rock, you could not have missed the explosion of domestic violence related cases in football this year. It started during the pre-season when NFL President Roger Goodell announced that Baltimore Ravens' RB Ray Rice would be suspended two games in connection with a domestic violence related prosecution in New Jersey. At the time, little was known publicly about the underlying facts, as the only information leaked was a video showing Rice dragging his then girlfriend out of an elevator.

Although Rice had already entered a pre-trial diversion program which was intended to address first time offenders, there were more than a few who criticized the punishment as being too lenient, especially in comparison with punishments being meted out for substance abuse and or drunk driving incidents. 

Soon after the two game suspension was announced, Goodell made a mea culpa and admitted that he had been too soft by only assessing a two game suspension. As such, in late August, the NFL announced a policy for dealing with domestic violence offenses - a six game suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for a repeat offender.

Goodell's new policy, however well intentioned, was unable to protect him from the fallout when a tabloid website released the video of what happened in that elevator, Once the public saw that Rice had struck his then girlfriend and knocked her unconscious, the NFL came under pressure and the league changed Rice's punishment to an indefinite suspension.

The lawyer in me wondered how the NFL could change the punishment when the underlying facts were unchanged. After all, Rice had entered the pre-trial intervention program and had made a disclosure to the NFL as to the nature of his act. If the NFL had deemed that the act was only worthy of a two game suspension, how could they alter the punishment?

Adding to my feelings of unease with the NFL decision was the heartfelt statement made by Rice's now wife as to how hurt she was by the release of the video of the assault in the elevator. While the public clamored for a more severe punishment, the victim had made her peace with the man who struck her and the two were now married. Instead of putting the incident behind them, the NFL now wanted to punish Rice again and bring the story back to the forefront. Could anyone actually believe that the NFL's action was anything more than damage control?

While all of this was percolating, other stories of domestic violence began to emerge. Pro Bowl Defensive End Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers had been allowed to play in week one of the NFL season, even though he had been convicted of domestic violence. Similarly, San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald was not going to be suspended even though he too had been charged with a domestic violence crime. And then news broke late Friday that All Pro running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings had been indicted for striking his four year old child with a switch (I have learned this is a tree branch).

All of these incidents incurring within a short period of time can cause one to wonder about this professional sport where athletes get paid for violent behavior. Out of the four major professional sports, there is nothing with more violence than football and maybe questions need to be asked as to whether these athletes can draw the line between aggression on the playing field and aggressive behavior towards their spouses and children.

Although the Monday post is usually devoted to a link between sports and a Torah thought, I find it difficult to make a connection this evening. The Torah does not condone violence towards one's spouse. Even as it relates to discipline of children, there are strict parameters and there are even rules as to the age of the child being subject to discipline. I will leave it with this - I can recall a shiur from R' Mansour where he recounted that a certain Rav hit his child in order to teach him that the child's behavior was wrong. When striking the child, the Rav said to him, "I am not doing this because I am angry." But I think to myself, while a child may need a potch to teach him a lesson, how can anyone justify striking their spouse?

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, September 14, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Honey Queen


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Honey Queen, an excellent choice for a Rosh Hashanah table.

This past Shabbos we had very special guests for lunch so I opened the bottle of Honey Queen that I had been saving since I picked it up earlier this summer. I had never seen the Honey Queen sold individually, so when I saw it at DiCicco's of Brewster, I plunked down my $7 and put it away for a pre-Rosh Hashanah Shabbos. As we were joined by homebrewer expert Dan R of kosherhomebrew.blogspot.com (check out his kosher home brew instruction video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaeWCLTT_3M) I knew that this was the perfect time to serve the Honey Queen.

As you can see from the picture above, the Honey Queen is classified as a Braggot. I had never hear of a Braggot but the experts at BA explain that:

The Braggot is quite an old drink, there is a mentioned in Chaucer, Canterbury Tales in the late 1300’s, and there are earlier references dating even further back to the 12th century in Ireland. Braggot is simply made by blending spices and herbs with mead and beer, to produce a strong concoction with uncommon flavors. Many taverns would make this blend right at the bar though brewers would also blend them as well. 

There should be a balance between the honey character and malt flavor with the hop bitterness not overpowering the sweetness yet should be noticeable. Today’s Braggot may or may not be spiced.

The Samuel  Adams Honey Queen did not have any hop character, but the sweetness was not overpowering and had some interesting notes from the chamomile and other spices. We enjoyed the Honey Queen between the fish and main course, rather than with a particular dish. I would not recommend pairing this with any savory dish, but if you are looking for something to have with the apples and honey or new fruit on Rosh Hashanah, this would be a good choice.

The Samuel Adams Honey Queen is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K. Like many other Samuel Adams brews, this bottle does not have the Star-K certification mark on the label. To see the LOC for Samuel Adams which certifies this beer as kosher click here - http://www.star-k.org/loc/LetterOfCertification_PEFQZ4N3.pdf.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/92899.

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!