Monday, March 31, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol VI - Wrestling Tournament, Interviews Galore and How the Yankees Sustain All of Baseball

Today's Max Kellerman show was broadcast from a New York baseball landmark - Mickey Mantle's Restaurant. Because the show was broadcast on a live set (as opposed to from the studio), it allowed for people to ask questions directly to Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny. Or to paraphrase Max, "instead of ignoring callers I can ignore the people in the restaurant." But of course he didn't ignore them.

Working backwards through the topics that the show touched on, there were questions asked of Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny by various marines who were in the restaurant. These included some marines who had no opinions on baseball (prompting Max to ask for them to pass the mike to someone with an opinion) -- to marines that said that they had stopped following baseball after the strike. This provoked what sounded like a well rehearsed dissertation by Max and Brian as to how the owners got greedy and as a result the players needed to strike in order to get what they deserved.

Oddly enough, the discussion actually closed the circle from a topic which started the show off, as to how the nation is not appreciative of the Yankees. Max and Brian developed a theory that the game of baseball and more particularly the small market teams are being subsidized by the New York Yankees and that without the Yankees, these teams would not be around. This point was new and innovative to me as I had not heard it phrased in the same manner.

The problem with the theory is that when applied to the strike, it actually proves that the players do not properly appreciate the owners (not that I love ownership either, but...). If the players could command whatever salary they desired without limits, non viable teams would fail and the league would contract and there would be less jobs for the players. In my opinion, the end result is that whereas eight hundred players now make an average of over a million dollars a year, after contraction there would still be the same team salary structures (some players making more than others) but less players in the game.

The concept of lack of understanding of how we benefit from the actions of the few has its roots in Torah as well. The gemara in Berochos 17b, mentions R' Chanina Ben Dosa and the fact that the whole world was fed in the merit of R' Chanina Ben Dosa while he subsisted on one kav of carobs a week. I can't say that Max Kellerman, in discussing how the world should be Yankee fans (because they support all of baseball) was specifically making reference to R' Chanina Ben Dosa as this would be a stretch even for me. But his novel analysis of the lack of appreciation for the actions of the few and how their actions are responsible for the continuation of the (baseball) world's existence has its parallel in the world of Torah as well.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Redhook Winter Hook

Tonight's beer review is the Redhook brewery's winter seasonal entitled Winter Hook. The Redhook brewery is not very well know in these parts. I have visited many beer stores where the proprietors have either assured me that Redhook is a local Brooklyn Brewery that went under or that it is simply not available on the East Coast. Neither of these propositions are correct.

Redhook brewery is based in two locations - Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Woodinville, Washington (yes they brew on both coasts). Interestingly, the bottles carry both cities on their labels, so I have never been able to ascertain which coast's brew I am drinking. One of my goals is to try to get the same variety from each brewery and see if I can taste the difference. While the yeast, hops and barley are probably identical, the water should make a difference. Of course, this presupposes that I could taste the difference, but it would be fun to try.

Redhook is not very easy to find on the East Coast, but it does have a presence. I have been able to purchase ESB and Blonde Ale (my friend Yehuda F has become quite fond of this variety and asks me to pick up a six whenever I can find it) on Queens and Long Island. I was able to locate the Winter Hook by chance at Bridgeview near the Bayonne Bridge in Bayonne, New Jersey. For reasons I can't explain, Bridgeview has never made it to the Beerfly on Beeradvocate. I wish I passed near it more than once a year.

Winter Hook (also known as Winter Ale) is a ruby-copper colored Ale that has some similarities to Pete's Wicked Ale, but with a little more sophistication in its flavor. The aftertaste is a little like caramel, maybe even a little nutty, but not as over the top as Saranac's Season Best. The Winter Hook goes well with meat dishes, especially cholent (a meat and potato stew that simmers for about 20 hours before it is served).

Redhook is under the kosher supervision of the OU. To see the experts' take on Winter Hook Winter Ale, please follow this link .

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Shemini

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In this week's parsha, the Torah discusses the kosher laws and more specifically, delineates which animals, fish, birds and insects are permitted to be eaten. Within the context of this discussion, the Torah states at Vayikra 11:42 that a creature that crawls on its belly is not Kosher. The word that the Torah uses for belly is "Gachon." In writing the actual word, the Torah makes the letter Vuv in Gachon longer than the rest of the letters. This is done so as to demarcate that this is the midway point of the letters in the Torah.

Rashi on the word Gachon comments that the creature that the Torah is indicating is a snake that creeps and falls on its stomach. Rashi's choice of word is interesting as well. While belly would be normally translated as Beten, Rashi uses the word Meyav or intestines.

R' Frand quoted the Vilna Gaon as having explained why Rashi uses the word Meyav instead of Beten. He explains that since this is half the Torah in letters, by its very nature it is also the midway point of Rashi's commentary on the Torah. The first Rashi (in Bereshis) begins with the word "Amar" that begins with Alef. The last Rashi on the Torah ends with the word Sheshibarta that ends with a Tuf. By using the Meyav word for stomach, Rashi is showing that the Torah is Emet (true) as the commentary begins with an Alef, has a Mem in the middle and a Tuf at the end.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Cases - Vol V

In honor of opening day, tonight's weird but true legal case is Sparks v. Sterling Doubleday Enterprises, 300 A.D.2d 467, 752 N.Y.S.2d 79 (2d Dept. 2002) a matter wherein a child (Sparks) was struck and injured by a ball hit during batting practice at Shea Stadium. Sparks had been invited to Shea Stadium to perform with his school's marching band. While he was in an area of the stadium that was not protected by screening, Sparks was struck and injured by the ball.

In October 2001, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County dismissed the lawsuit. On appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, Sparks argued that the Mets were negligent in that they had not properly protected him. The Appellate Division disagreed, citing to an earlier decision of the Court of Appeals in Davidoff v. Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc., 61 N.Y.2d 996, 475 N.Y.S.2d 367 (1984) wherein New York's highest court determined that a baseball stadium satisfies its duty to protect its patrons by erecting a screen behind home plate (the area where most foul balls are hit) and providing adequate seating in that area for all the fans that reasonably would have wanted protection from foul balls. Based on Davidoff, the Appellate Division ruled that the Mets had adequately protected Sparks by erecting the screen behind home plate and that they were not required to "be an insurer of the safety of spectators who choose to occupy unprotected areas."

An interesting postscript to Sparks is Cohen v. Sterling Mets, 17 Misc.3d 218, 840 N.Y.S.2d 527 (Sup. Ct. Queens Cty. 2007) a matter involving a vendor at Shea who was injured when he was struck by a fan who was diving for a t-shirt that had been launched into the stands. In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Hart of the Supreme Court, Queens County, ruled that launching t-shirts into the stands was similar to a baseball player's tossing a ball to the fans and that a person who was present in the scrum (vendor or spectator) assumes the risk of being struck by people who are scrambling to catch a souvenir - ball or shirt.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts On The Daf - Nazir 4

Although today's daf is Nazir 5, I thought that the following story from yesterday's daf (Nazir 4) could offer a little perspective on the Tractate of Nazir.

By way of introduction, the Gemara in Nedarim (9b) views a vow of nezirus as a vow of the wicked. The negative view of becoming a Nazir is self evident in two respects: (a) the vow can be taken on as a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a Sotah in her degraded state that resulted from the abuse of alcohol (Nazir 2a); (b) the Nazir (because of his vow) loses the ability to perform certain positive commandments, such as making kiddush or havdalah on wine.

Another negative aspect can be seen in relation to a Nazir who either intentionally or accidentally becomes impure by exposure to a dead body. In the event that this exposure occurs, the Nazir is required to bring an asham (guilt) sacrifice and recommence his period of observance of the Nazir laws. The Tosafos on 4b comments that the Nazir, who having fulfilled some of the time of his Nazir period, must recommence the observance after having been purified from exposure to the dead body. The Tosafos theorizes that this person may come to regret his acceptance of the Nazir vow, thus making the asham sacrifice less than sincere.

In connection to this asham sacrifice, the Gemara tells the story of Shimon Hatzadik and in so doing frames how rarely a person becomes a Nazir for altruistic reasons. The Gemara relates that Shimon Hatzadisk stated that he never partook of the asham offering of a Nazir who became impure (under the reasons laid out by Tosafos above) with the exception of a certain man. This individual came to Shimon from the South of Israel, with beautiful looks and neatly arranged hair. Shimon asked the man - why would you like to destroy your hair (as the Nazir is required to shave it off at the end of the period of Nazirus). The man responded that he had taken a flock of sheep to water, when he observed his own reflection in the water. In so doing, he noticed how attractive he looked and felt that his evil inclination would push him to go out and use his looks to engage in immoral acts.

Aware of his feelings, the man responded to himself - this is not my world, why am I acting so conceitedly when in the end I will eventually become worm and maggot fodder. The man immediately declared that he would become a Nazir so that he could cut off his beautiful hair for the sake of Heaven. Shimon Hatzadik was so taken by the man's story, that he praised the man and indicated that since he acted with such sincerity, Shimon would eat from his asham sacrifice.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol V - Why he hates Cinderella, is Clete really an idiot and fantasy drafting of New York Baseball Players

Today's Max Kellerman show began with a nod to March Madness followed by a quick departure to other matters. The show actually started with an intriguing discussion as to why Max hates Cinderella - to paraphrase poorly - she shows up on the scene for a short time and then disappears at midnight. Robin Lundberg groused about Cinderella as well since she appeared to have impacted on his tourney picks, although the posted leaders for the 1050 sheet of integrity tournament still give him a decent chance to win the 1050 personalities bracket contest.

In a way, Max Kellerman was right, in that we remember the Cinderellas that advance to the Sweet 16 or even the Elite 8 of the Tourney but they end up largely irrelevant. Growing up, I remember Cleveland State and more recently, Gonzaga and George Mason. But other than giving us good theatre or one liners (SI had a memorable line about some major college "looking fairly ridiculous in barely beating Fairleigh Dickinson") the clock strikes midnight quickly and the ultimate winner is a major college program.

The discussion then went over to why Clete the Board Op is an idiot. Having never met Clete in person, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of the personalities on the show get unfairly picked on whether or not its their fault (i.e. Louie Gold). I don't know if Clete falls into that category as the radio audience does not get to see what is on Max and Brian Kenny's screen. I will say that if Clete was the one responsible for selecting music cuts for the Rock N Roll tourney, then maybe Max is right on this one. After all, Bruce Springsteen lost last week without them even having played War, Born to Run or Born in the USA. If you select his weaker songs and match them up with Bon Jovi megahits, of course Bruce loses.

The show then went into a discussion about selecting the best fantasy team made up of only Mets and Yankees and the order of priority in selection. Surprisingly, Max Kellerman put Johan Santana first (over A-Rod) despite the fact that he is a Yankee fan. I chalk this up more to Max being a sabremetric scholar then anything else.

Interestingly, during the discussion the rules of selection and priority were changed on numerous occasions to deal with points raised by various hosts and callers about the players' potential, whether they were building a complete team and how to best utilize skills. In so doing, Max and Brian had Derek Jeter as an outfielder, because it would allow Wright to play third and A-Rod to occupy his natural position of shortstop.

As usual, in directing the flow of the show Max Kellerman intuitively relied on the fundamentals of Jewish religion - that sometimes rules need to be adapted to avoid hurting another person when a situation arises that needs to be delicately addressed. By example, there is a Talmudic story told about R' Shimon ben Shetach who purchased an animal. When he arrived home, he realized that the animal had a precious stone around its neck. Although according to Jewish law R' Shimon was not required to return the stone, he did so anyway because he understood that the end result would be more positive than keeping the stone. As a result the non-Jewish merchant wound up praising Hashem saying "Praise be to Hashem the G-d of Shimon Ben Shetach."

This can also be seen in Max's placement of certain players such as Jeter in the outfield. Although according to the lineups, you would pick one shortstop, Max realized that he could not slight a player of Derek Jeter's talent and moral background by leaving him off the team. Still, he had already placed a superior player (A-Rod) at shortstop. Given these parameters, Max did what any good Talmudic scholar would do and adapted the rules to allow them to place Jeter in the outfield to avoid hurting the Captain's feeling while still benefiting the "fantasy team."

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Coopers Original Pale Ale

Tonight, I offered my wife Sarah a taste of the beer that I was reviewing for this post - Coopers Original Pale Ale. I described it to her as a cross between Heineken and Rolling Rock. She was not interested. Honestly, I can't say that I was thrilled either.

My quest for Coopers began about six months ago, when I learned that Coopers was certified Kosher under Kosher Australia (f/k/a Melbourne Kosher). I started combing my usual haunts looking for Coopers, but was unsuccessful. I then emailed their US distributor on two occasions, but never received a response.

Then, a short time ago, I needed to go out to Islip-McArthur Airport to pick up my father-in-law, who was flying in from Chicago. Since I knew that I had a little extra time, I decided to stop in at Big Z in Huntington. Big Z has great reviews on Beer Advocate , but I never have an excuse to be out in that neck of woods. I wandered in and lo and behold, there were two varieties of Coopers - the Original Pale Ale and the Sparkling Ale. They even had a promotion to get a free Coopers glass with each six pack. (I am a sucker for beer glassware - when we were in Barbados with 1050 ESPN Radio last month, I HAD to get a Banks Mug, even though I did not really need it). So I plunked down the $13.50 plus tax and deposit for a six pack, although that was more than I am comfortable with paying for 12 packs.

Was it worth the more than $2 a bottle? Hardly. The beer has very little flavor, no body and does not even leave lacing on the glass. The label indicates that you can pour it straight or shake it slightly to get the sediment out from the bottom of the bottle. The first time I had some on Purim eve I poured straight. Tonight I shook the bottle a little to get the sediment out but did not notice the difference.

If you like beer with very little flavor - Coopers is your kind of brew. When I first started experimenting with Ice Beer in the late 90's (think Ice House and Bud Ice) I enjoyed beers like this. Now, its almost not worth the calories. Why they call this a Pale Ale I do not know, since it does not taste like any IPA or American Pale Ale that I have ever tried. Still, if you want a beer that goes down smooth without much flavor, I guess that you can try this over Bud.

Coopers Original Pale Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of Kosher Australia. Their digital Kosher ID can be found at this link . To see the experts' take on Coopers Original Pale Ale, please follow this link .

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Tzav

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur a few years ago. [Due to the Purim holiday there was no shiur this evening]. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

This week's parsha continues the discussion of the various sacrifices that are brought. One of the sacrifices mentioned is the mincha (meal offering). In Vayikra 6:7, the Torah begins a discussion of the mincha and specifies details of the process. In the middle of the discussion, the Torah states that the mincha offering is kodesh kodashim (most holy) like the chatas (sin offering) and asham (guilt offering).

The Klei Yakar asks - why does the Torah only compare the mincha offering to the chatas and asham when there are many other holy sacrifices. The Klei Yakar then answers his own question, stating that the chatas and asham come as atonement offerings and are elevated to most holy status. By example, a person who is righteous is considered holy. However, a person who becomes a baal teshuva - i.e. he returns to the fold and repents for his sins, is considered most holy. Indeed the Talmud teaches us that baal teshuva reaches a level that righteous people cannot hope to attain as all of his sins are converted to righteous acts (Mitzvot).

I was reminded of a story that R' Frand told at the Siyum Daf Yomi in 2005. There was a boy who went away to yeshiva to learn. When he returned, he used to sit at the dining room table learning Talmud. Meanwhile, his father would sit in the living room and watch the fights on television.

One night, the father asked the son if he could learn Talmud with him. The son agreed and over the course of the next few months they were able to learn one page of Talmud together. When they completed the page, the father indicated that he wanted to make a party to celebrate his accomplishment. The son was skeptical as such parties are usually reserved for finishing a volume of Talmud, not a page. Nonetheless, the son went and asked R' Moshe Feinstein ztl. R' Moshe answered him that his father should make a party and furthermore R' Moshe said that he wanted to speak at the party.

Not long after the party, the father died. When R' Moshe heard, he said that he wanted to speak at the man's funeral. In the eulogy that R' Moshe gave at the funeral, he made an allusion to the concept that certain people can achieve eternal heavenly reward by a single act. [Usually this concept is applicable to people who are killed for being Jewish or who take other singular great actions]. R' Moshe explained that this father had achieved eternal heavenly reward through the act of learning one single page of Talmud.

We can see from the Torah's discussion of the mincha offering and the story involving the yeshiva boy's father who chose to learn Talmud late in life that the actions of those who return can entitle them to incredible rewards, merely because they chose to act.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Cases - Vol IV

Tonight's weird but true case involves the unlucky Queen Esther who eventually had her day. In the 1939 case of Spector v. News Syndicate, Inc., 280 N.Y. 346, 21 N.E.2d 185 (NY 1939), New York's Court of Appeals examined a matter involving a girl (Katherine Spector) who had won a beauty contest in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1933. Although Spector was single, the Daily News ran the following piece under Ed Sullivan's byline:

Too often, beauty contest and bathing beauty pageants bring about situations that are unpleasant. City editors, for instance, might look into the aftermath of the recent Queen Esther contest, in which nineteen-year-old Katherine Spector was adjudged most beautiful of the Jewish girls of the country.

What hasn't been brought out is that Katherine Spector was married secretly in August, 1931, at Newark, to William Shemin, young Bayonne, N.J. attorney. They were completely happy until the Queen Esther contest. Shemin was delighted, as any youngster might be. He okayed a fat Hollywood contract for his bride.

On Saturday night, Katherine Spector leaves ‘Music in the Air.’ Not to accept the Hollywood contract, but to leave her young husband for the long trip to Palestine. The Shemins, in other words, have Called it a Day.
Ms Spector filed suit against the Daily News, News Syndicate (its parent company) and Ed Sullivan. The trial court dismissed the complaint and the Appellate Division (with one Judge dissenting) affirmed the dismissal. In a terse opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of the lower courts and indicated that the article was libelous per se.

V'nahafoch Hu was alive and well in New York in 1939!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts On The Daf - Nedarim 88

Nedarim 88a contains an interesting confluence of events that teaches us methods of biblical exegesis. The case being discussed is whether a blind person who accidentally kills another by throwing a rock is punished with expulsion or is not punished at all. On Nedarim 87b, R' Yehuda had learned from the words "without seeing" in Bamidmbar 35:23 that if a person can't see, he would not be punished with expulsion. R' Meir learned that the "without seeing" teaches us that he is expelled since (according to the Ran) he has partial awareness that someone is there and this is enough to mandate the penalty.

Rava then explains how R'Yehuda and R' Meir reach their disparate conclusion, albeit based on the same verse. R' Yehuda learns from Devarim 19:5 ("one who goes with another into the forest") that anyone who is capable of going into a forest (including a blind man) is subject to punishment if he accidentally kills. R' Yehuda then says - what do I need Bamidbar 35:23 for? It can't be coming to include a blind man, since we already know this from Devarim 19:5. Rather, the pasuk from Bamidbar must be teaching that "without seeing" means that a blind man is exempted from punishment (or an inclusory phrase can't be followed by another inclusion - therefore the second inclusion must be an exclusory phrase).

Rava also explains how R' Meir reaches the opposite conclusion. In Devarim 19:4 it states that only someone who kills "without awareness" is subject to expulsion because he had the capacity to be aware and did not utilize his ability to notice the other person. This would exclude a blind person who is not capable of being aware. However if Bamidbar 35:23 is also teaching that a blind person is exempted from expulsion due to a lack of sight you would then have an exclusion followed by an exclusion. And we have a general proposition that any time there are two exclusions, the second term must be coming to include (or a negative can't follow a negative and therefore the result must be a positive and the blind person is subject to the punishment).

Thus R' Meir and R' Yehuda reach opposite conclusion about the same phrase, all based on whether it is being used in conjunction with another positive or another negative derivation.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol IV - Pedro, Tournaments, Rockets and Pandering

Today's Max Kellerman show was the quintessential Monday morning sports show. It was a recap of the events of the weekend, including: Pedro Martinez's outing for the Mets, the NCAA Tournament, Tiger Woods and the Paquiel fight. So with all this information to talk about, I decided to start this post with something from Friday's show.

Yes, I know, its Monday's Max Kellerman Musings on sports. But on Friday, Max touched on a topic that reminded of my childhood - Punch Out. Growing up in Long Island in the 80's my friends and I used to ride our bikes to 7-11 or stationery stores and play video games. I can remember many a Sunday spent with my friends David Y and Lonnie O at 7-11 eating devil dogs, drinking big gulps and playing video games. Among my favorites were Sprint, Ultimate Warrior, Time Pilot and, yes, Punch Out.

Punch Out was a game where you stood as a boxer (you actually tried to look through him) and attempted to knock out various other boxers - Glass Joe, Piston Hurricane, Bald Bull (I never could beat him), Kid Quick, Pizza Pasta and Mister Sandman (I never saw ANYONE beat him). As you boxed, the tinnish announcer voice would call out "body blow, body blow" or "uppercut!" As you got close to the point where you could put the other boxer away the game would blare "knock him out!" For those of you too young to remember the game, I have provided a link to a site that has the actual sounds of the game along with many of the images .

But enough reminiscing and a return to today's show. The show started with a recap of the weekend's top stories and an attempt to rank them in order of importance. I had to turn the show off a few time to take work calls, so I am unsure of the final ranking, but it seemed that the Pedro Martinez performance on Sunday was the most important NY story.

The show then digressed to the Rock N Roll Tournament that pitted U2 against Stone Temple Pilots. Brian Kenny and Max began to debate which group should advance based on playing clips of songs from each band. I can't believe that the voting was close as U2 was a band that revolutionized sound, had staying power and (most importantly in my opinion), continued the theme of using music to convey a message. It took me years to understand the meaning of some of the songs (Sunday Bloody Sunday, for example) but it only led me to have a deeper appreciation of the music.

The odd thing was that Max said that the show was going to pander to the Irish audience (as it was St. Patty's day) but it really did not. Indeed, in attempting to argue that Stone Temple Pilots was a superior band to U2, it probably turned off a significant portion of the Irish audience. But how would I know, I'm Jewish. I should probably ask my friend Nick D. He is an Orthodox Jew from Ireland who lives down my street. Although his wife is from Brooklyn, his kids have authentic Irish names. Nick would probably be a better source for whether picking against U2 would alienate Irish audiences.

But back to the music issue - the whole discussion on the Rock N Roll Tournament started from Max saying that he was not into the NCAA Tourney. How far have we fallen from the days that I spent watching Chris Mullin, Walter Berry and even Bill Wennington give us hope that St. John's (my adopted BB college) could take home a National Championship. (I have even corrupted my 9 year old and made her a Red Storm fan after I won tickets from 1050 in March 2007 and took her to see SJU upset the Orangemen at MSG).

The idea that Max Kellerman played out of finding solace in music when other things are not going well was just another example of Max intuitively referencing the fundamentals of the Jewish religion. As many people know, during the three week summer mourning period when we commemorate the destruction of the Temples, we refrain from listening to music. Similarly, during the sefirah period that will be upon us in a little over a month, we again refrain from listening to music out of mourning for the students who died. Why do we do this -- because music makes us happy and during the mourning period we are not to distract ourselves from the seriousness of the time. Of course, since Max was not really in mourning for St John's there was no problem listening to music today, but you know that Max already knew this...

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Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Caramel Porter

Tonight's beer is a dark beer with an interesting twist - Saranac's Caramel Porter. Porters are dark beers that were brewed in this fashion to be able to withstand long trips or ocean journeys. The Saranac Porter is no exception.

I first started drinking this variety last year (winter 06-07) as it was part of the Saranac Winter Beers box. At the time, I had just started getting into the flavored beers and decided to give the Caramel Porter a try. I found the beer a little on the heavy side, but with a nice caramel aftertaste that was able to offset a beer that was quite dark.

A quick word about "flavored beers." Most beers are made from four main ingredients - barley, hops, yeast and water. So why do some beers vary greatly from others, depsite the fact that they all have the same ingredients? A lot can depend on the type of hops that are used in the process. Some hops give a lighter flavor, others can induce a fruity effect, while still others produce a rich dark flavor that borders on coffee. My wife Sarah thinks that Guinness tastes like coffee and although she likes coffee, I can rarely get her to take more than a sip of a Guinness. (As to how a nice Jewish boy like me got into Guinness, the credit goes to my good friend Charlie, but that's a story for another day...).

So if the beer gets its flavor from the hops, what is a flavored beer? Flavored beer is a beer that something additional is added into the brewing process - this can include fruit extracts like blueberries, strawberries, pomegranates or apricots. It can also include darker more complex flavors like caramel or coffee. It is beers like this that require special kashrut supervision as the main four ingredients (water, hops, barley and malt) are generally kosher, while the "flavorings" can come from a variety of sources and thus require kashrut supervision.

The Caramel Porter is a drinkable beer if you like beers that have more character than bud or Heineken. It is full bodied and has a sweetness from the caramel flavor that is added to the brewing process. After enjoying the two that I had in my Winter box last year, I wrote to Saranac and they agreed to distribute it in six packs. It is not as easy to find as the Saranac Pale Ale, but it is widely available where Saranac is carried.

Saranac Caramel Porter is under the Kosher Supervision of the Vaad of Detroit as are all beers brewed by Saranac. For the experts' take on the Caramel Porter please click here .

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Vayikra

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

As Vayikra is the beginning of the volume of the Torah dealing with sacrifices, Rabbi Frand said an interesting vort about the purpose of sacrifices. He mentioned that the Ramban analyzes the Rambam's discussion about the purpose of sacrifices. The Rambam states in Moreh Nevucim that Hashem gave us the concept of animal sacrifice as a way to separate ourselves from the other nations that worshipped these animals. While certain religions worshipped the cow or sheep, we would sacrifice that animal, thus indicating that it was not our deity.

The Ramban was bothered by this view. He challenged the concept by pointing out that when Noach left the ark, these nations did not yet exist and no one was worshipping animals, yet Noach still was commanded to bring sacrifices. Similarly, Cain and Abel were bringing sacrifices, yet there was no concept of idol worship at that time.

In an effort to answer the Ramban's question, the Meshech Chachma (R' Meir Simcha from Dvinsk) states that the Rambam must have meant that individual sacrifices were intended to make a break from the idol worshipers. Meanwhile, community sacrifices were intended by Hashem as a way to worship Him.

In the sefer Ner Uziel, R' Malefsky analyzes the concept of why people bring sacrifices in the first place. He states that people sense that there is a God and want to draw close to him. They feel that by bringing a sacrifice they can show their devotion by giving up (aka sacrificing) something that is near and dear to them. The Torah shows us the concept of giving something that is important to us to Hashem as a sacrifice as it is written in Vaykira 3:16 - "all the choice parts [of the animal brought as a sacrifice] go to Hashem." We see from this that if a person wants to bring a sacrifice he should give of his very best.

Although we no longer have animal sacrifices due to the destruction of the Temple, we still have a concept of personal sacrifice. R' Frand mentioned a verse in Vayechi (49:15) where it is said about Issachar that "He saw that menucha (rest) was good and the land was pleasant, but he bent his shoulder down to work and became a laborer (in Torah)." Why if someone saw that rest was good, would they then decide to give up this relaxation? Because they saw that they could sacrifice this to Hashem by giving of their time and devoting themselves to Hashem.

I have personally seen this concept in the actions of certain people around me. When R' Frand said this vort, I immediately thought of my shul Rabbi, R' Kelemer. He is constantly running here and there and always on call to help the community in its observance of mitzvot. In fact, when my wife was sitting shiva after the loss of her mother last spring, R' Kelemer drove cross country to pay a shiva call. Could R' Kelemer relax? In theory yes, but he sees that he can sacrifice his valuable free time and this makes him a true role model to us all.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Cases - Vol III

Tonight's weird but true legal case involves this special time of year - March Madness. Although little known, the term did not always connote the NCAA Tournament. In fact, it was originally connected to an Illinois High School basketball tournament. When the NCAA decided to market the term in relation to their tournament, litigation ensued.

In the 1996 case of Illinois High School Association v. GTE Vantage, the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit considered an appeal by the IHSA of a decision denying it an injunction barring GTE Vantage (a licensee of the NCAA) from using the term in connection with a CD-ROM game. IHSA argued that the term had been used since the 1940's in relation to its tournament and that the IHSA had licensed the term for use in connection with the high school game. IHSA argued that without an injunction, the public would confuse the GTE game with its tournament and be mislead.

In connection with its argument, IHSA asserted that it was not its fault that March Madness had become associated with the NCAA Tournament since the term was first used by Brent Musberger of CBS in 1983 and IHSA (correctly) could not seek to prevent the media from using the term to describe the NCAA tourney. The 7th Circuit agreed, but also pointed out that if the IHSA was vigilant, it could have sued to prevent CBS from marketing its coverage of the NCAA Tournament under the term "March Madness."

In a bit of creative judicial gymnastics, the 7th Circuit did not take the logical step of stating that the IHSA's use of the mark had been superseded by the NCAA's use or even that the term had become generic. Instead, the Court created the theory of "dual use term" and effectively allowed both the IHSA and the NCAA to use the term in connection with their tournaments.

The story has a happy ending. In 2000, the NCAA and IHSA banded together to form the MMAA - the March Madness Athletic Association. Three years later they worked together to prevent a website from using the name in connection with their own marketing of the NCAA Tournament in March Madness Athletic Association v. Netfire Inc.

You can find a copy of the 7th Circuit decision in Illinois High School Association v. GTE Vantage by clicking here: .[Non-Findlaw users will need to register to see the case, but there is no cost].

You can also find a copy of the 5th Circuit decision in March Madness Athletic Association v. Netfire Inc. by clicking here: . [No registration required].

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts On The Daf - Nedarim 81

Nedarim 81 contains a digression from the discussion of Nedarim and a discussion on why sometimes the sons of Torah scholars do not become Torah scholars in their own right. The gemara offers five different amoraim with their own specific answers to the question. I would like to address two of these in particular.

R' Yosef answers that this does not occur "so that it is not said that the Torah is their inheritance." The commentaries on the daf have two sharply divergent views on who R' Yosef is speaking about. The Ran explains that the children of the Torah scholars will not learn because they will say that the Torah is their inheritance and there is no reason to study it (since it will be coming to them anyway). Rashi (or as another member of my daf chaburah calls him, "non-Rashi") writes that the children of Torah scholars do not become Torah scholars so that the regular people will not view Torah as the ultimate province of the Torah scholars and be dissuaded from learning Torah.

Another answer is given by Ravina who says that it is because they did not make the blessing before they learned Torah. Ravina then links the thought to a statement of R' Yehuda about a pasuk in Jeremiah where it says that the Jews will lose their land because they have left my Torah. The gemara relates that the people asked the wise men of their time why this was occurring and they were unable to answer the question until Hashem said that the reason was that the people had stopped listening to Him.

The Ran explains (in the name of R' Yona's Megilat Sisarim) that the rationale that they lost the land because they did not make the blessing is a logical thought. If the reason why the land was lost was because they simply were not learning Torah, then of course the scholars would have been able to answer the question. Instead, the people were learning and the scholars could not understand why the loss occurred. Only Hashem who is aware of people's inner thoughts was able to provide the answer - that they were not making the blessing before they learned.

The Ran explains that they were not making the blessing before learning Torah because they did not consider it worthy enough to make a blessing over. This was a direct result of their lack of learning Torah L'shma. Because they were not studying Torah for proper purposes and did not deem it important enough to make a blessing before studying, Hashem removed them from their land. Similarly, those who become Torah scholars, but don't learn L'shma will not merit having children who are Torah scholars.

The "non-Rashi" brings this thought into sharper focus. He notes that the actual language of the blessing includes the phrase that our children and our children's children will learn Torah. If these people did not take the task seriously and did not properly recite the bracha to ask for assistance that their children would learn Torah, then of course they would not merit this result.

I cannot leave this topic without making reference to a story told by R'Frand during one of last year's Thursday Night shiurm. He spoke of a man who was walking on the street in Tel Aviv and was asked to join a minyan. The man protested multiple times, stating that he was not religious and had never been in a synagogue. Eventually, the man agreed and joined the short prayer service. The man later became Orthodox as a result of the experience.

Meanwhile, the gentleman's father became the butt of jokes on his Kibbutz. How could his son become Orthodox when his father had raised him to despise religion. The answer was that it must have been the prayers of the grandfather for his son. While the grandfather was unsuccessful in convincing his son to become frum, his prayers did not go unanswered. Instead, the grandson became the beneficiary of his grandfather's prayers and tears. It should be no great surprise that the synagogue where the man's journey to religion began was the same shul that his grandfather himself had prayed in.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol III - Yankees/D-Rays Made Up Controversy, Rock N' Roll Tournament & Fake News

Today's Max Kellerman show was very timely. Max led with a discussion of the "made up controversy" involving Joe Girardi, Don Zimmer and a collision between two ball player who between them may get half a cup of coffee in the big leagues. Max and Brian accurately portrayed this as a "made up controversy" that was only newsworthy in New York because there really is not any sports news of note going on right now.

Having observed the paucity of true sports news, the conversation digressed to a discussion about the Rock N' Roll Tournament that had been seeded by the show. Unfortunately, hearing about 64 bands and how they are seeded, without visual aids is a little difficult to follow. I actually had to stop working for a minute to pick up the phone and call Louie Gold to confirm that Rush was in and Boston was out. [By the way, as a follow up to last week Louie confirms that both he and Payton have fully recovered from their "Lundberg infection"]. You have to believe that Max's Yankee fanaticism was the only reason that a great band like Boston was not ranked among the top 64.

After a few segments on this issue, Max intuitively realized that he should get into Purim Torah and launched into a full fledged "Fake News" format. Max, Brian Kenny, Robin Lundberg and many callers and emailers filled the next hour with made up news flashes. Some were quite funny ("Roger Clemens had an ear removed from his forehead in 2000") some were a little more sophomoric. If I had the time to actually call in and stay on hold I would have suggested a News Bulletin of Knicks Trade 1st Round Pick (Unprotected) to the Nets for Keith Van Horn. Then again, you can never truly label a potential trade by Isaiah as a "Fake News" story since he may actually pull off another stinker.

But back to the first story of the show (the made up controversy between the Yanks and D-Rays), Max Kellerman again showed his Torah roots by leading with this story. People will tend to blow any little issue out of proportion if they think that its salacious enough to sell papers. Yes, its unfortunate that the player was injured and you can truly debate whether or not it was the right thing to do when a minor leaguer tried to run through another minor leaguer. But to try to portray it as a rift between two old friends (Girardi and Zimmer) is Loshon Harah at its apex. Too often, legitimate differences get blown out of proportion by third parties who either hear comments, or worse, invent comments in an effort to exploit the controversy for their own ends. It makes no difference whether the tale teller is doing it to break up a business relationship or sell papers. Bottom line - blowing up an issue for exploitation purposes is a significant form of Loshon Harah, and as usual, Max Kellerman was there to remind us that we should not give this any credence.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Pete's Wicked Ale

It's funny how you sometimes associate a certain taste with an event. I still remember the first Pete's Wicked Ale that I ever tasted. It was Thanksgiving Day 2005. I was in the middle of my IPA phase and wanted to get some Saranac Pale Ale to bring with me to my parents' house where we were having Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, I had run out and did not realize that all the regular retailers were closed for the holiday.

At the end of my rope, I drove to my back up beer store (it's always important to have at least one back up store). I was pretty sure that the store would be open since the owners are recent immigrants and were not likely to close for an American holiday. Sure enough, they were open. Unfortunately, they only had the Saranac Pale Ale in twelve packs and I did not want to buy that much. They did have Pete's and I had heard good things about it, so I figured that I would pick up a six (they don't let you mix sixes at this store, just another reason that its not one of my primaries).

I was pleasantly surprised how well the Pete's went with turkey and fixings. I had shared some with Sarah and we both reacted at about the same time as to how well this smooth yet full bodied beer went with our feast. Of course, my parents were not interested in sharing any, since there was never beer in my parents home, but that's a story for another day. Still in all, we finished a couple with supper that Thanksgiving day and Pete's became a regular visitor to my beer cellar (aka the space under the counter ledge where I store as many different beers as Sarah will let me keep at one time).

Pete's is a nice smooth ale that is perfect with meats, poultry and especially barbeque. Its a nice first step ale for those looking to graduate from macros or ice beers. As a colleague remarked when I ordered some at a going away party for our friend Charlie (he was going to Iraq at the time and has since B"h returned safely) -- this is really good beer. And she was right.

Pete's Wicked Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Vaad of Detroit as are all beers brewed at the FX Matt plant in Utica, New York.

For the experts' take on Pete's please click here

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

Sarah & I meet former Bears Defensive Lineman
Jim Osborne in Barbados.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Pikudei

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Shmos Chapter 39, Verse 33, the chumash tells us that the Jews brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the tent and all its implement, its hooks, its beams, its bars, and its pillars and sockets. Rashi (in the name of the Midrash Tanchuma) comments that they brought the Mishkan to Moshe because they were unable to raise it and because Moshe had done no work on the actual construction, Hashem left it to Moshe to actually erect the structure (The Jews were unable to raise it on their own because the beams were too heavy). Moshe then said to Hashem, how can one man raise the Mishkan? Hashem said to Moshe - be involved with your hands in the process and it will rise all by itself. This is the meaning of Chapter 40, Verse 17 that the Mishkan was set up - using the passive verb to imply that it was set up on its own.

R' Pam (o"h) connected this thought to a Midrash Shirm Hashirim that discusses a verse in Mishle that states that "If you see a person who is committed on a personal level to accomplishing something, you should know that he will one day stand in this capacity before a king." The Midrash then tells the story of R'Chanina who was distressed when he saw many people passing through his village on the way to the Temple to offer sacrifices. R' Chanina was poor and could not do the same. Instead he went off into the forest and found a beautiful rock. He then cut and polished the rock and wanted to bring it to the Beis Hamikdash as well, but the rock was too heavy. He approached a number of men and wanted to hire them to bring the rock up, but they wanted 100 silaim and he only had 5 in his wallet. Hashem saw this and sent four angels who appeared as men before R'Chanina. He asked them whether they would bring the rock to the Temple. Yes, they responded they would perform the task for 5 silaim, as long as R' Chanina assisted as well. Upon their arrival at the Temple, R' Chanina turned to pay them, but they had disappeared. Said R' Pam - we see from this Midrash that if a person wants to accomplish something and is willing to try on their own, Hashem will assist them.

R' Frand then told a story about the Ponovitzer Rav (o"h) who in 1942 took a number of benefactors to a hill in Bnei Brak and said that on this hill will someday be the Ponovitz yeshiva. Said one of the men to him - surely you are dreaming - Rommel is rampaging across North Africa and he is days from conquering Egypt. Soon he will be here. The Rav responded - I may be dreaming, but I am not sleeping (implying that yes I am aware of certain current realities, but I will continue to work towards my goal). Obviously, the beautiful Ponovitz yeshiva now occupies the spot today.

We can learn a valuable lesson from the Midrash Tanchuma quoted by Rashi and the above stories - if we are willing to take the steps towards a process, Hashem will assist in achieving the goal.

On a personal note, I sit here this evening grieving the loss of seven teenagers whose only "crime" was that they were Jews studying in Israel and therefore were fair game for a terrorist intent on inflicting casualties on a civilian target. In my mind, the only way to understand this event is that Hashem gives everyone the free will to act on their own. If they act in a positive manner towards building a beautiful structure - Hashem will allow them to act and will assist in reaching that goal. Unfortunately, free will by its very nature also means that someone who acts in an evil manner also has the ability to destroy, like the villain who perpetrated this senseless act of violence against teenagers who were merely studying. May their souls go straight to Gan Eden and may we never know from such tragedy again.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Cases - Vol II

Tonight's weird but true case involves the tragic story of Dawn Ward. In 2000, Dawn contacted an adoption agency and asked to adopt a special needs child. In 2001, the agency gave her Jeffrey, a child suffering from mild cerebral palsy. The agency informed Ward that Jeffrey's mother had not habitually used drugs and alcohol during her pregnancy, and that Jeffrey was a "quiet, gentle and pleasant child." Since Jeffrey was adopted in New Jersey, Dawn was eligible to (and did) receive a $1000 per month subsidy as adoption assistance. This continued even after Dawn moved to New York.

By October 2002, Jeffrey's behavior had deteriorated. He regressed in toileting, dressing and eating. His behavior at daycare included head-banging, hitting and kicking other children and throwing chairs and objects. In February 2003, he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder. Jeffrey's play therapist advised Dawn that Jeffrey had significant neurological issues resulting from exposure to drugs and alcohol in utero.

Jeffrey's behavior did not improve. He injured both himself and Dawn during the summer of 2003, and had frequent bouts of uncontrollable behavior. In August 2003, Jeffrey was admitted to a private residential treatment facility, for psychological evaluations. The results were inconclusive. Dawn was advised that Jeffrey would be discharged on September 2, 2003.

On September 2, 2003, Dawn went to the Greene County Department of Social Services (GCDSS) and asked for a temporary relinquishment of parental rights. When GCDSS refused to accept a temporary relinquishment, Dawn decided that returning Jeffrey to her home would pose too great a risk to his and her safety, and permanently surrendered her parental rights before a Greene County Family Court judge. She subsequently relinquished the monthly subsidy she had been receiving from the State of New Jersey.

As is unfortunately common in these cases, after Dawn surrendered her rights, GCDSS pursued her for payment of part of Jeffrey's care. They obtained an order charging Dawn with "$133.54 weekly child support for Jeffrey commencing February 4, 2005 and $10,015.50 arrears from September 2, 2003 through January 28, 2005 to be paid in $10 weekly increments.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the Court affirmed the order of support and refused the request to equitably estop GCDSS from pursuing Dawn. In a poignant concurring opinion, Chief Judge Kaye took GCDSS to task for failing to advise Dawn that she would have to pay for the costs of Jeffrey's care if she relinquished him. Indeed, Dawn stated that had she been made aware of this she would have attempted to have the $1000 monthly New Jersey subsidy transferred to GCDSS. Additionally, Judge Kaye noted that the GCDSS apparently did not refer Dawn to any of the mandatory preventive services for which Jeffrey was qualified.

Still, the Court affirmed the decision requiring Dawn to provide support payments to the GCDSS. In so doing, Judge Kaye stated:

"In sum, I conclude on this limited record that GCDSS did not provide Ms. Ward with the notifications and access to support services she needed to make an informed decision. Although this omission was mentioned generally, Ms. Ward did not rely on any of the specific regulatory sections discussed above—so that the agency might have offered a response—nor did she challenge the surrender proceeding itself. We therefore cannot determine whether any such violations may have invalidated her relinquishment of parental rights to Jeffrey or entitled her to some other remedy. Moreover, we are unable to grant Ms. Ward the only remedy she does request—that the agency be estopped from enforcing its support order. The doctrine of estoppel against a governmental entity is limited to "all but the rarest cases" (Matter of Parkview Assoc. v City of New York, 71 NY2d 274, 282 [1988]), circumstances not present here.

This tragic situation should never recur.

You can see the decision here: .

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts On The Daf - Nedarim 74

There is a story told about the late R' Yaakov Kaminetzky (o"h). He was once traveling on an airplane with his grandson. He was seated on the flight next to an individual who had quite different views on religion.

During the flight, R' Yaakov's grandson would periodically check to see if his grandfather needed anything. The other individual asked R' Yaakov why his grandson treated him this way and lamented his own family's lack of respect. R' Yaakov responded that the difference lay in their approach to history - we believe that each generation is one step further away from perfection (the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai). You on the other hand believe that each generation is one step further away from being monkeys.

At times the value system of prior generations is revealed to us, as in Nedarim 74b. During a discussion on a particular topic, R' Akiva presents a sharp answer to R' Yehoshua. Ben Azai (who was no slouch) observed the discussion and commented - woe onto you Ben Azai that you did not study under R' Akiva.

The above conversation is striking in its inclusion on the page of the daf. During the previous two amuddim there was no side comment or conversation - the sole focus was on the debate over whether a yavam can annul the vows of a shomeres yavam. Following this comment, the gemara returns to its discussion of the topic. Only this brief statement of Ben Azai, (who has no speaking role in the rest of the daf) is mentioned by the compilers of the Talmud. Why was this statment included? Perhaps just to give us a little understanding of how important Torah study was to the people of that generation and to give us a glimpse of how far we have moved away from perfection.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musing Vol II - Jets Moves, Mets/Yanks Popularity Issues and Sickness

Today's Max Kellerman show had many different topics during the three hour program. Of note, there was more than a fair amount of football talk, including discussions of the Jets newly remade offensive line and the Giants (at least temporarily) resting on their accomplishments. I was glad to hear some discussion about the Jets and the strides they are making in the quest to Manginize the roster. Whether or not Mangini did the right thing by not trying to adapt his system to the players on the roster, at least the Jets seem to be making positive moves in bringing in talent that should fit the system that Mangini wants to play.

Of course, as any long suffering Jets fan knows, the mere fact that certain lauded players are brought in as free agents or by trade hardly means that they will work out as Jets --regardless of their accomplishments prior to arriving here. Hey just look at some of the more recently released players - Justin McCareins (brought in for 2nd Round pick) Andre Dyson (big ticket free agent signing) or Sean Ryan (brought in for a 7th Round pick to try to mitigate the disaster of trading a first rounder for Doug Jolley). Well, only time will tell if this year's crop of headliners is any better than most of the mercenaries the Jets bring in.

There was also some conversation regarding territorial rights of the Mets and Yankees in the New York area and Brian Kenny correctly pointing out that when we grew up on Long Island the Met hat was the dominant one worn by kids and the tide has shifted. (OK I didn't grow up with Brian as he is about six to eight years older than I am, but the memories he evoked with his comments about the Mets of the 80's are of my pre-teen and teen years and are certainly still strong in mind).

There was also a considerable amount of talk about sickness. Louie Gold called in sick and blamed it all on Lundberg who apparently came in to work sick one day last week and infected Louie. Louie sounded genuinely ill and what was worse was that his baby (Payton) has caught it too. As much as they rip on Louie about his family life (that week about him not looking for his wedding band after he lost it on the beach was priceless) he really cares about his little girl. I remember the first conversation that I had with Louie and I asked him how it was to be away from Payton for five days. While many new dads would probably say that it was a relief to be away from the screaming and to be able to get a good night's sleep, that was not Louie's reaction. Instead, Louie answered immediately that it sooks (well he actually did not use the Max phrase as the conversation was not on the air). It really made an impression on me at the time and showed that Louie truly cares about his little girl.

But back to the talk about sickness - Max and Brian also talked about a dinner that they went to with their fathers. Max mentioned that Brian's father (Charlie Kenny) looked really good and that you could not tell that he had just recently recovered from a heart attack. [I was very glad to hear about this - from the very short time that I spent with him, Brian seems like a good guy and I wish his dad only good health]. Max also mentioned that if Brian's father had been Jewish he would have been brought in a wheelchair complaining about his health. Max then talked about Brian being of hearty Irish stock before moving on to another topic.

As is wont to happen, Max's discussion about the stereotypical old Jewish man with his health complaints made me stop and think. I recalled recently reading about R' Meir Abichazira in the Sefer Abir Yaakov. There is a story there about how he did not want to go to doctors but only did so in order to put his family's mind at ease. After his death, they found all the prescription bottles neatly lined up in the cabinet. He did not feel that he needed the doctors or the medicines, but "humored" his family to make them feel better. He also never complained about his failing health, except when his condition prevented him from being able to devote full concentration to his Torah study.

Max's thoughts also evoked a hashkafa discussion that I recall hearing/reading about many times, but I was unable to locate the source in my library this evening. The concept goes something like - if you are feeling ill and someone asks how you are doing, do not respond that you feel lousy. Instead let them know that you are OK, but your body is a little under the weather. The actual statement is much more powerful than my paraphrasing can do justice to, but you get the picture.

As always, Max Kellerman's show always makes it way into Torah thought...

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Full Moon Winter Ale

While not well known to many, the Blue Moon Brewing Company is a division of Coors Brewing of Golden, Colorado. You would be surprised at how few people are aware of this, although I guess the fact that they don't identify themselves as affiliated with Coors on the Blue Moon bottle labels probably plays a factor in this as well.

Not that long ago I was sitting in a restaurant with a number of colleagues. We were celebrating a well fought victory in the never ending battle against insurance companies and their creative ways of not paying claims. Although I could not eat in the restaurant, I could certainly drink and most of my friends know my affinity for beer. I perused the menu (mostly foreigns) and selected Blue Moon. A younger attorney from my firm had never heard of Blue Moon and decided to try it as well. While I drank mine straight from the bottle (I can be uncivilized at times) he poured his into a glass and was surprised by the cloudiness of the brew. I explained to him that Blue Moon (the regular version) is an unfiltered wheat ale and that the cloudiness was normal. I did not stick around to see whether he ordered another.

As alluded to above, the Blue Moon Brewing Company produces a regular wheat ale which is quite tasty (I will review it at a later time). They also produce seasonal brews: a Spring Ale that is brewed with lime, a Summer Ale (Honey Moon) that is a take off on the traditional Wheat Ale but with a bit of honey brewed in to the mix, a Fall Ale (Harvest Moon) that is brewed with Pumpkin and spice (not one of my favorites) and the Winter Ale that they call Full Moon.

Of note, the Blue Moon company are pretty punctual about pushing out the next season brew and it is very difficult to find the current season Blue Moon past the first month of the season. Personally, I have had to scour many beer stores to find any left over Full Moon and when I do find it I buy as many packs as Sarah will let me keep in the house.

The Full Moon is an Abbey Ale, somewhat darker than average but not straying to far into the stout or chocolate categories. It is brewed with a "hint of dark Belgian sugar" that gives it a slight sweetness in the aftertaste. The carbonation (as with all Blue Moon brews) is perfect and gives a great mouth feel. Personally, I like it with full flavored chicken and/or beef dishes.

Full Moon (like all Coors products that I am aware of) is under the Kosher Supervision of the Orthodox Union.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Full Moon, please follow this link -

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

NOTE: As a follow up to last week's post on Saranac Scotch Ale, I received an email back from the Saranac people (only three weeks after I first emailed them) and they will not be producing six or twelve packs of the Scotch Ale.

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