Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Bamidbar

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his 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.

Parshas Bamidbar begins with a series of "countings" of the Jews in the desert. It is no great wonder that the book of Bamidbar is sometimes referred to as "Chumash Hapikudim" or as the English Bibles call it, the Book of Numbers.

Following Hashem's command to count the Jewish people, the parsha methodically performs such a count, which is set out in detail from Bamidbar 1:20-1:47. Following the listing of the count for each tribe (other than the tribe of Levi) the Torah gives a final tally of 603,550 Jews.

A number of pesukim after the end of the count, the Torah starts a discussion of how the Jews travelled in the desert. The Torah then indicates that there were four groups (one in each direction) and each group was comprised of three tribes. The Torah then again lists each tribe's individual census before indicating at Bamidbar 2:32 that in total, all of the tribes combined to have 603,550 Jews (again other than Levi).

The obvious question is, why does the Torah need to give a second tally? We know that since the Torah was written by Hashem, there are no superfluous words. Indeed, the great sages of the Gemara were able to discern meaning in seemingly excess letters in words. So why the double count?

The Medrash answers that the second count is an indication of how dear the Jewish people are to Hashem. By example, the old nursery rhyme that "the king is in his counting house, counting all his money" is indicative of how dear the money is to the King. When a person has something that is important to him, he will look to count and recount, deriving pleasure from each successive act. I recall doing the same with baseball cards as a child and I see it in my son Moshe who has 12 Transformers. He will play with them together or separately, but occasionally will count them and then announce "I have 12 Transformers." Why? Because he loves them.

The Ramban writes that the count is performed twice to show that from the day of the first count in chapter 1, through the day of the second count at the end of chapter 2, no Jew had died, despite the fact that twenty one days had passed. While I am no actuary, I'm certain that there is a mathematical computation or algorithm for figuring out how many people in a population of 603,550 will die over twenty one days. The Ramban writes that this shows that Hashem performed a great miracle.

While in fact the miracle was great, why are so many verses devoted to the topic?

R' Frand answered the question by quoting to a R' Leb Rotkin (the spelling on his name is a guess on my part) who heard it in the Yeshiva in Kletsk. R' Rotkin related that the use of so many pesukim is indicative of how valuable a Jewish life is. It is well known that a Jew may violate almost every Biblical commandment to save another Jew's life. As such, if a person is ill, he can be driven by a Jew to the hospital on the Sabbath. Similarly, while Yom Kippur is our holiest day, a person may eat if she will become ill by not doing so. Why do these rules exist? Because we believe that the life is extraordinarily valuable and that anyone who saves a Jewish life has saved an entire world. This principle is supported by the great miracle that no one died during the time period, which Hashem relates over numerous "extra" pesukim - for the purpose of demonstrating how dear each Jewish life is to Him.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XIII

Tonight's weird but true legal case examines the age old question of who is a Jew, albeit from the viewpoint of prison officials. In Jackson v. Mann, 196 F.3d 316 (2d Cir 1999) the Second Circuit Court of Appeals examined a lawsuit brought by an inmate who claimed that he had been deprived of kosher food in violation of (among other things) his 1st Amendment right of Freedom of Religion and his 8th Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. What makes this case "weird" is that Jackson was neither born a Jew nor did he undergo a ritual conversion with any Rabbi.

As discussed by the Court in its opinion, Jackson entered the NY State Penal system in 1986 and at that time he identified himself as Jewish and participated in the kosher meal programs at various prisons. In 1995, Jackson was transferred to Shawangunk, where he again listed his religious preference as Jewish and asked to be placed in the kosher diet program so that he could receive kosher meals as part of his religious practice. His request was granted pending a formal determination of his eligibility for the kosher diet program by the prison's Jewish Chaplain, Rabbi Goodman. Rabbi Goodman then told Jackson that he could approve a kosher diet only if Jackson was in fact Jewish. As Jackson was not born Jewish and had not converted, he would not be permitted to enter the program.

Jackson was not willing to accept Rabbi Goodman's answer and
claimed that he was Jewish because he read the Torah and ate kosher food. He told Rabbi Goodman that his prison records would confirm his Jewish status. The rabbi gave Jackson a Congregational Questionnaire which asked about his Jewish practices, but Jackson only partially completed it. Jackson later told Rabbi Goodman that he had indeed been born Jewish, but the rabbi was unable to reach Jackson's mother to substantiate this claim and Jackson himself declined to contact his mother for “fear of upsetting her.”

Unwilling to accept the decision of the Rabbi, Jackson filed suit in Federal District Court in 1995. The District Court granted the prison's motion for summary judgment, accepting Rabbi Goodman's discussion on what makes a person Jewish and noting that the prison was properly restricting the kosher food program to inmates who actually are Jewish.

On appeal to the Second Circuit, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment to the prison. In so doing, the Court explained that in "determining whether a prisoner's particular religious beliefs are entitled to free exercise protection, the relevant inquiry is not whether, as an objective matter, the belief is “accurate or logical.” Instead, the inquiry is “whether the beliefs professed by a [claimant] are sincerely held and whether they are, in his own scheme of things, religious.” The Court further explained that "A claimant need not be a member of a particular organized religious denomination to show sincerity of belief."

Based on this logic, the Court noted that

the district court relied on Rabbi Goodman's statement that “a Jew is one who was born Jewish or has formally converted” to conclude that Jackson is not “in fact Jewish” according to the “practice of the Jewish religion.” This reasoning erroneously substituted the objective “accuracy” of Jackson's assertion that he is Jewish for the correct test-whether Jackson's beliefs are “sincerely held.”

Viewed through the prism of sincerity, Jackson has produced sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his religious beliefs are “sincerely held.” He submitted prison documentation that: (1) listed his religious preference as Jewish; (2) showed his participation in kosher meal programs in several other correctional facilities; and (3) showed that he had actually gone without food for several days to avoid eating non-kosher food. He also submitted an affidavit from his mother, in which she stated that she had raised Jackson according to the Jewish faith and dietary laws.
Interestingly, the prison officials also challenged the court's ability to determine the issue as a whole, arguing that "the question of Jewish status is an 'ecclesiastical question' beyond the competence of the courts, and is best left to the prison's religious authorities." The Second Circuit did not accept this argument, "because the question whether Jackson's beliefs are entitled to Free Exercise protection turns on whether they are 'sincerely held' not on the “ecclesiastical question” whether he is in fact a Jew under Judaic law.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Sotah 3

Sotah 3 continues the introduction to the rules of Sotah including the number of witnesses who are required for the various stages of the process. Within the daf are a number of aggada type references that were interesting to me, and they are summarized below.

On Sotah 3a, R' Meir relates that if a person commits a sin in private, Hashem will reveal it publicly. He quotes a pasuk from Bamidbar as his proof - that it is stated "And it will pass over him (V'avar Alav) a spirit of kinna." R' Meir states that the use of the word V'avar means that Hashem will cause the matter to be (macriz) announced. Rashi explains this by saying that Hashem is ma'avir kol (from the same "avar" root) He will cause the sound to issue.

Also on Sotah 3a, Reish Lakish states that a person only sins when a "ruach shtus" (spirit of stupidity) passes over him. He links this to the pasuk "Ish Ish Ki Sishte Ishto" - translated as "a man, a man, whose wife has gone astray." In so doing, he uses the same root for different meanings - stupidity and adultery.

On Sotah 3b, R' Shmuel Bar Nachmeni says in the name of R' Yonatan that anyone who does a mitzva in this world, the mitzva runs ahead of him before he dies and announces his presence and merits in the world to come. On the other hand, one who sins in this world, the sin wraps around him and accompanies him to judgment day.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

My Monday Musings on Sports - Why can't we all share (the blame)

Due to the holiday, there was no Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show today. Instead, Mike Missinelli (who used to do the midday show with Stephen A. Smith) hosted the show on 1050. Rather than reviewing Mike's views on the weekend in Sports, I would like to give my own take on the #1 baseball topic of conversation (covered in great detail last week by Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny, along with every other sports pundit in NY) - should Willie Randolph keep his job?

The vast majority of the views expressed on air have been that Willie needs to be fired based on the Mets track record. Today, Mike Missinelli said (in the name of Louie Gold, who I assume must have drawn the short stick and had to work today) that in the last calendar year, the Mets have a sub-.500 record under Willie. This is probably true as Louie is a passionate Mets fan (and probably can do math) so I have no reason to doubt it. I have also heard a great number of radio jocks (Max and Brian included) who have criticized Willie Randolph for having a "Joe Torre like" approach to managing and that his laid back style cannot work with a team with the flaws that the Mets have. This also may be correct. But I would like for a moment to look at the other half of the equation and ask why Omar Minaya and the players don't share the blame.

As to the players, one of the most brilliant lines in this regard was uttered by Michael Kay (within the context of a different manager who was in trouble a while back) "you can't fire all the players." This is certainly correct. And I'm not about to start making fantasy-style trade suggestions since these things are great when you are playing video games or trading baseball cards or rotisserie rosters, but are not the least bit realistic. But the players who have tanked quite a few games, either for lack of talent or lack of desire (in a perfect world) should be sharing in Willie's pain as they are partly responsible too. Yes, some of them do get their share of press when the team loses, but they are safe in their positions, thanks to guaranteed contracts.

But leaving aside the players, Omar Minaya should bear the lion's share of the blame for the Mets debacle. People are quick to forget, but in 2006 (the year the Mets lost in Game 7 of the LCS to the Cards) Willie had to manage a fundamentally flawed team. When the season began, the Mets were so short on starting pitching that they had to use such gems as Jose Lima, Geremi Gonzales and Alay Soler. Somehow, Willie was able to manage them to a tremendous regular season, despite the fact that Omar had left the team without starting pitching. And before anyone blames injuries, the starting pitching depth was this low because Omar had traded away starters in the off season in exchange for relievers.

The other major roster flaw in 2006 was that the team had no outfield depth. The Mets went down the stretch in 2006 with superstars Rickey Ledee and Michael Tucker in the outfield. Somehow, Willie managed to guide them to the LCS.

Last year, the Mets did collapse and maybe Willie's lack of fire had something to do with it. I'm not saying that the man is perfect, or even that he deserves to keep his job. But a large part of the collapse was the implosion of a bullpen as most of the losses down the stretch were games that the Mets had led, before the bullpen gave it away. September 2007's pen featured allstars in the pen such as Sosa, Schoenweiss, Sele, Urdanetta and Collazo.

And this year - its just too simple to spot Omar's flaw - the team has no power. In the starting line up you have Wright, Church, Alou and Delgado who have HR power, but only Wright has managed to stay healthy. The bigger problem is the bench , if the Mets are losing by a run with a man on base in the sixth or seventh, there is no one on the bench who can hit a HR. And when someone gets hurt, the starting lineup features Raul Casanova, Gustavo Molina, Damion Easley, Brady Clark and Marlon Anderson - no speed, no power.

But for reasons that I can't explain, Omar Minaya never gets called on the carpet by the media to explain how he can sign off on mega$$$ and build $150 million+ fundamentally flawed teams. Willie may not be a great manager, but to quote a line from a movie (the name of the movie escapes me) "don't spit on my head and tell me its raining."

So what is the Torah thought in Max's show today? Well as I said when I started this post, Max did not do the show, so I can't tell you specifically how his weekend wrap up touched on Torah thought. But before signing off, I will make brief reference to the players on the Mets and tie that in to Torah. As I wrote before, some players have seemingly been dogging it on the field, while others have shone (Ryan Church and Brian Schneider in particular) because they have put in the effort. The Talmud teaches us that if a person says that they did not try hard and succeeded, they should not be believed. Similarly, if a person says that they were successful without trying don't believe them. Willie can't play instead of the players, but if they do try hard, the team can succeed, despite Omar's efforts.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Brooklyn Summer Ale

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds review looks at Brooklyn Summer Ale - a relatively new addition to the Brooklyn Brewery roster of fine beers. As you may be aware, Brooklyn Brewery beers are brewed in New York, although the 12 oz bottled beers are not produced in Brooklyn. Instead, these beers are brewed at the FX Matt Brewery in Utica that also produces Saranac and Pete's Wicked Beers.

Unlike the Saranac beers, the Brooklyn brews are predominantly unflavored and draw their distinctive tastes from the various hops that are utilized by master brewer Garret Oliver. Mr. Oliver frequently participates on the chat boards at Beer Advocate and is a great source of information.

The Brooklyn Summer Ale calls itself a "modern rendition" of a British "Light Dinner Ale." Since the blurb on the website indicates that the Brits stopped making Light Dinner Ales in the 1940s, I can't comment on whether it is true to form. I can tell you that it is light in terms of alcohol content (less than 5% ABV) and while it has a nice flavor, the hops certainly do not hit you over the head. Needless to say, there is no bitterness at all in the aftertaste and the overall impression is citrus, but not nearly as much as a wheat beer.

Summer Ale would do well with salads, chicken and definitely fish. The next time that we have salmon (Sarah makes an awesome Salmon Teriyaki), I want to try it with the Summer Ale to see if the flavors work as well as I think they will.

Brooklyn Summer Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Vaad of Detroit as are nearly all beers brewed by Brooklyn. For the experts' take on the Summer Ale 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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Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

Yael and Moshe visit Shea Stadium
Yes, the Mets lost this game too :-(

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Bechukosai

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by the maggid shiur in a shiur delivered via satellite 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 the maggid shiur. Unfortunately, the satellite broadcast did not identify the speaker, and as such I am unable to propely give credit where it is due.

This week's parsha contains two main themes - Hashem promises that if you (the Jewish people) follow my rules, then various positive results will occur including that the rain will come in the proper time, the trees of the fields will give fruit and you will eat bread to the point of satiation (Vayikra 26:3-5). The flip side of the coin is also foretold in the parsha as Hashem states that if the Jewish people do not keep his laws then various negative results will occur.

The maggid shiur then brought various sources that support the general concept that Hashem does not reward us in this world for doing mitzvos, rather the ultimate reward is received in the afterlife. If this is case asked the maggid shiur, then why does the parsha write that these good things will occur if the laws are followed?

Before answering the question, the maggid shiur posed another query - one of the promises of reward is that the bread will be eaten to the point of satiation (Vayikra 26:5). Rashi points out that this means that if a person eats one piece of bread, he will be full. The question asked was, why is this a blessing in a time of plenty? It would be more apropos to say that one piece of bread will satiate when there is too little food (certainly a blessing) then when the food is so plentiful there will be no room to store it?

The maggid shiur answered both questions in talmudic fashion by saying that one question serves as the answer for the other. He drew an analogy to a boss who sends his best salesman out on the road and tells him - stay in a nice hotel and don't worry about your meal expenses - I won't take it out of your pay. In so doing, the owner is telling his worker - I want you to have the best that you can without distraction or worry. I will pay you the salary that I promised you, but while you are on the road do not worry about the little things - this way I know that you will be solely focused on doing your job.

The same concept can be said by the parsha. Hashem is not rewarding us for doing his mitzvos, he is giving us what we need in order to continue to do his commandments, while allowing us to bank the real reward for the world to come. Similarly with the example of the salesman, the money spent on his room and board are not equal to his salary, they are merely a benefit to him now. When he returns from his trip he will receive his salary that he can use to support his family.

So why are there seemingly wondrous rewards promised in the beginning of the parsha? Are they truly rewards? The maggid shiur answered by quoting to a medrash - that "the rains in its time" meant that rain would come on Friday night after everyone was home and would not be inconvenienced by the precipitation.

The medrash further explained that the fruit would be wondrously large and the sages will store it for future generations. Why? To show what sin causes. While this concept may seem counter intuitive it is not. [Ed. note - at this point the maggid shiur began quoting " R' Meir Simcha" who I assume to be the Meshech Chachma]. The maggid shiur explained that the medrash is telling us that rain in the proper time and extra large fruit used to be the norm. Only once the Jews began to sin did the teva (the natural order) change and fruit shrunk and water became scarce. On the other hand, if we return to simply doing what we are commanded, the teva can also return to the prior norm and we can I'YH enjoy the nice fruits and surroundings that will allow us the freedom to do more and more mitzvos and accumulate more reward in the world to come.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XII

Today's weird but true legal case involves a municipality's attempt to enact legislation regulating the barber industry and the haircut that the city took in trying to prosecute the barber who had the temerity to attempt to violate the ordinance.

In People ex rel. Pinello v. Leadbitter, 194 Misc. 481, 85 N.Y.S.2d 287 (Sup. Ct. Dutchess Cty. 1948) the court reviewed the attempts by the City of Poughkeepsie to prosecute a barber who violated the following city ordinance:

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to open or keep open, any Barber Shop, Hairdressing Establishment or place of business where barbering or hairdressing is practiced, or to do any barbering or hairdressing, whether for compensation or not, on any Sunday or on any of the following holidays, to wit: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and no Barber Shop or Hairdressing Establishment shall be opened for business whether for compensation or not, earlier than 8:30 A.M., nor shall any Barber Shop or Hairdressing Establishment close later than 6:30 P.M. throughout the year.’

In this matter, the barber was observed opening his shop and cutting the hair of a customer at 8:05 AM. In the within habeas corpus proceeding, the barber challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance and the City of Poughkeepsie asserted that it was within its police powers to regulate the time that barbers can give haircuts.

Prior to analyzing the city ordinance, the court gave the background for the City's power to enact legislation, stating:

Local ordinances or regulations enacted by virtue of the police power generally are limitations upon or abrogations of constitutionally guaranteed rights and such regulations to be valid and enforceable must conform to certain well defined standards. The general standard which evolves from a consideration of many cases on the subject of police power is that a law or ordinance which limits constitutionally guaranteed rights must not be arbitrary, discriminatory, capricious or unreasonable and must bear a real and substantial relation to the object sought to be obtained, namely the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the public. The constitutional rights of a citizen may never be curtailed by an unreasonable regulation passed by virtue of police power. A legislative body may not, under the guise of protecting the public interest, interfere with private rights by imposing arbitrary or unreasonable restrictions upon a lawful business.

Following the discourse on the standard governing the regulation of industry, the court observed that the "occupation of barbering is a well recognized trade, and is regarded as more or less indispensable in our present-day way of life. Clearly, the relationship of the barber to the public is such as to render him amenable to legislative regulation to the end that those who patronize him may be protected from communicable diseases, unhealthful practices and unsanitary conditions, so far as practicable."

With this introduction, it might have seemed plausible that the court would allow Poughkeepsie to regulate the hours at barbershops as within the purview of protecting public health. However, the judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional, explaining that:

Any contention that the regulation is a health measure designed to prevent those engaged in barbering from working long hours thereby impairing their efficiency and competence is fanciful indeed. To reason that hours of opening and closing of barber shops have a reasonable relation to the public health and safety is to overlook the practical aspect of the problem. It would seem that the public will be just as healthy and safe whether a shop opens or closes at the hours specified in the regulation, or at some other reasonable time convenient to the trade. Allowing that hours of work have a reasonable relation to the public health or safety, they can only be effectual as health or safety measures if limited to the number of hours per day or week that the individual barber is permitted to work.

Nor can there be any real merit to the contention that the regulation should be upheld upon the theory that it facilitates adequate inspection of the barber shops, thus inuring to the public health. Certainly, opportunity exists without absolute closing of barber shops for reasonable inspection. It does not, and can hardly be made to appear that any inspection must be continuous, covering every hour a barber shop is open. Any regulation compelling the opening or closing of barber shops between certain hours because it will be inconvenient for the authorities to inspect them-when they are open at other hours amply sufficient for such inspection-is an unnecessary and unreasonable interference with the operation of a lawful trade.

Not content to merely strike down the ordinance, the Judge then took a swipe at Poughkeepsie's rationale for passing the law, stating that:

Seemingly, the regulation under consideration was not designed as a health measure to protect the public or proprietors or employees engaged in the barbering trade, or to facilitate sanitary inspections, but rather to protect certain members of the trade from lawful competition. The regulation in no sense tends to promote or preserve public health, morals, comfort or welfare. It is but an arbitrary and unwarranted interference with a merchant's business. One, or a number of barbers may desire to open or close their shops at a particular time. They may do so. However, they cannot, by legislation, compel every other proprietor to open or close at the same hours. If, to serve their own purposes those engaged in barbering in the City of Poughkeepsie wish to effect what is sought to be effected by this regulation, they will have to accomplish it by friendly arrangement with the membership of those engaged in the trade, not by resort to compulsory legislation.

It should be noted that the City of Poughkeepsie did not sit back and accept the shave administered by the Judge in this action. Instead, the City appealed to the Appellate Division and ultimately to the Court of Appeals who affirmed the ruling that the statute was unconstitutional.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Nazir 61

Nazir 61 contains both the end of the eighth and beginning of the ninth perakim of Nazir. In the mishna that commences the ninth perek, there is a discussion about who may legally become a nazir. In explaining the mishna, the gemara on Nazir 61a discusses the ramification of the mishna's statement and examines whether a non-Jew may become a nazir.

Of interest in this analysis is the discussion as to the possible reasons why a non-Jew could or could not become a nazir. [Yes there really is no reason that a non-Jew would want to become a nazir since it would mean exteme sacrifice as the person would be barred from activities including taking haircuts and drinking wine for the nazir period. The motivation for the actions of the non-Jew for wanting to become a nazir is not discussed]. As part of the discourse, the gemara suggests that a non-Jew should not be able to become a nazir because one of the elements of nezirus is that the nazir is barred from becoming ritually impure through involvement in the burial of his father or mother during his nezirus period. Following a discussion on inheritance, the gemara hypothesizes that since the non-Jew is not obligated in the Torah to honor his mother or father, there would be no sacrifice by the non-Jew of his ability to partake of the burial and as such the laws of nazir could not apply to him. While the gemara ultimately rejects this theory as the basis why a non-Jew cannot become a nazir, the principle that a non-Jew is not obligated by the Torah to honor his parents is not challenged.

I found this concept very interesting and utilized it in the following test - If I were to ask you whether a non-Jew was obligated to observe dietary laws mandating the separation of milk and meat (Kosher), you would answer me in the negative. Similarly, if I were to ask whether the non-Jew was obligated to not mix wool and linen in his garments (shatnes) you would also answer negatively. However, if asked whether a non-Jew was obligated by the Torah to honor his parents (its my belief that) nine times out of ten the answer given would be yes. The gemara however indicates the contrary - that a non-Jew is not required to honor his parents under Torah law.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XII - NY Managers, Is Ryan Church the Reincarnation of Paul O'Neill and Do Sports Have a Yeharaig V'Al Ya'avor?

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show was chock of baseball, which should not be a surprise, given that it was the day after the first "half" of the subway series concluded. (I write "half" in quotes, since the weather forced the postponement of one of the three Yankee Stadium games). The show did discuss some other sports, as there was a segment or two on boxing as well as basketball, but in deference to the main focus of the show, my unauthorized review of the program will focus solely on baseball.

The show led off with an analysis of which New York baseball manager is on the hot seat. Max asked whether Willie is a motivational genius and Joe Girardi is a motivational moron, based on the fact that Willie had a meeting before the weekend series that the Mets took from the Yankees.

There was also yet another discussion about Ryan Church and his production with the Mets. Brian Kenny had been talking up Church for a while and the hosts have debated whether before Church got here he was an average or above average corner outfielder. I guess that issue is water under the bridge, since Church has been more than just average since he came to the Mets. Today's take on Ryan Church was whether he was Paul O'Neill reincarnated - a player who was platooned or a role player with another club, but when given a chance to shine in NY he exceeded all expectations and bordered on All-Star status.

An interesting discussion revolved around whether a New York sports fan could root for a Boston team in any capacity. I know that personally it created an issue for me when the Giants played New England in the Superbowl. Until the championship game, it was easy for me (as a rabid Jets fan) to root against the Giants in the playoffs. But once they reached the Superbowl, how could I root for Belicheat and the Patriots? My boss at the firm told me in no uncertain terms that I must continue to root against the Giants. However, when asked on the air what I thought would be the result in the Super Bowl, I responded Giants 26-21 without hesitation. Okay, I was off on the score, but not the result. Also, I owe a great debt to Max and Brian for putting me on the air that Saturday Night as my oldest daughter was sleeping over at a friend while we were in Barbados with 1050 and she was on cloud nine when her friend's father told her that he heard me on the air. More about that in some other post.

Back to the issue at hand, Max Kellerman admitted that he once wore a Red Sox shirt to school as a form of "political protest" over the Yankees' rebuilding efforts. Now older and wiser, Max counselled a caller that no one from this geographic area can root for a Boston team, Celtics, Red Sox or otherwise. Indeed, Max treated this akin to (lehavdil) a Yeharaig V'al Ya'avor - that under no circumstances can one root for a Boston team because it is so antithetical to being a New Yorker.

As always, Max Kellerman's rants have a foundation in Judaism, whether he intends them to or not. It is well established in Judaism that a person must give up his life, rather than bow down to an idol. History is replete with instances where Jews chose to allow themselves to be killed rather than worship at the feet of stone idols. Perhaps one of the most famous stories involves Hannah whose seven sons were all killed when they chose not to worship the false Greek idols (see Talmud Gittin 57b; see also which discusses a similar story told in Midrash Eicha about Miriam Bas Nachtom). The reason for such a prohibition is simple, if a Jewish person worships idols he explicitly rejects that G-d created the world as well as his own identity as a Jew. Indeed, what has allowed the Jews to continue as a nation for more than 3000 years when all other civilizations have failed (when was the last time that you saw a Mesopotamian or an Amorite) is their stubborn refusal to abandon their belief in Hashem as the creator of the world.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Redhook Long Hammer IPA

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds beer review looks at relatively new offering from Redhook breweries - the Long Hammer IPA (India Pale Ale).

I was actually quite surprised to see this brew in my favorite beer store (Beverage Barn on Jericho Turnpike, Garden City Park, NY - highly recommended). Redhook does not get much shelf space on the East Coast, I can count on one hand the number of stores in New York and New Jersey that I have seen it in, and most of them only the carry the ESB (I'll have to review that one a different day). Since I had never seen this one before, and I tend to like IPA's, I figured that I would pick up a six pack to try.

American IPAs are a unique twist on a traditional brew style. The American IPAs tend to be somewhat bitter, but with a complexity to the brew as well. They go very well with steaks and stews (especially cholent). This particular IPA has the bitterness down pat (maybe a little too bitter if you are drinking it on its own). The somewhat coppery hops flavor is there as well, along with some other flavors that my intermediate beer nose cannot truly identify. It finishes very cleanly, without a lingering aftertaste. The six pack holder had some prose on it that said that the beer is to remember the manual laborers that helped make this country great, but you don't need to be a construction worker to appreciate this beer. Last week, I gave one to Charlie H, a good friend at my firm who really appreciates beer. He could not stop raving about the flavor, although practically any beer is good on a hot day after trial.

Redhook Long hammer IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Orthodox Union as are all all beers that I have seen produced by Redhook. For the experts' take on the Long hammer IPA 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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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

Moshe and his friends learn how to make pizza at Hunki's Kosher Pizza. Thanks for a great party!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Behar

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his 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 Vaikra 25:35, the Torah discusses the obligation to help another Jew who has started to encounter financial distress. The Torah writes "V'chee Yamuch Achicha Umateh Yado Imach" translated as - if your brother becomes impoverished and his means becomes less with you, you should strengthen him.

The commentators who discuss this concept indicate that the Torah is not advocating charity, but rather assistance. Rashi compares it to seeing a donkey which is starting to lose its load. If one person stops the burden from slipping off the donkey, the animal can continue. But if he does not intervene and the donkey falls, even five people will have a difficult time raising the donkey. Indeed, the following sentence talks about how this person should be assisted before he falls, stating that you should loan him money without interest, without ever invoking the word tzedakah (charity).

In analyzing verse 35, R' Frand asked the question - why does the Torah say "Umateh Yado Imach" that the person's means become less with you? The Torah could have simply stated that the other person's means become less.

R' Frand answered the question by making reference to a thought said by the Yismach Yehuda in the name of the Shevet Mishor. The Talmud in Bava Basra writes that "poverty is difficult in the home of a person." What does the gemara mean by "in the home of a person?" R' Frand answered that there are two types of indigent people, those that people know about and others that are not known of yet. For the person who is known to be poor, he may receive anonymous donations around the holidays, or perhaps the community will take up a collection on his behalf. But there are other people who are on the precipice of poverty - who may have a nice looking house or car, but they are about to experience financial hardship - maybe because of a business failure or even an adjustable rate mortgage that is about to spike.

This second type of person is the one that the Talmud in Bava Basra refers to in indicating that poverty is difficult in his home. Few people (if any) know that he is about to experience financial ruin. No one at present is taking up collections for him and he alone is suffering internally, knowing that he is about to become indigent.

R' Frand explained that it is this second type of person that the Torah refers to by stating that the person is becoming less with you. You may be one of the few that are in this person's inner circle and are aware that he is on the edge of financial ruin. If so, while he totters on the brink of poverty (with your knowledge), the Torah obligates you to assist him before the poverty strikes him. If you are successful in assisting him before his poverty becomes manifest, the Torah commends you under the rubric of "V'chai Achicha Imach".

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XI

Tonight's weird but true case involves the creative efforts of an insurance carrier to avoid covering a loss contemplated by the policy. In Walton Hauling & Warehouse Corp. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co, 69 Misc.2d 295, 329 N.Y.S.2d 972 (Civ. Ct. NY Cty 1972), the court examined a matter in which a freight carrier accidentally lost a package and made a claim against its policy which presumably was taken out to cover such a scenario. However, as anyone who has ever dealt with an insurance carrier knows, nothing is ever truly as it seems.

In this matter, Walton had been retained by David Merrick Productions to transport a box that was 4 x 4 x4 on one of its trucks, to be delivered to a studio where a play was being rehearsed. But a funny thing happened on the way to the studio, as the box fell off the truck. Although a passerby saw the box and called Merrick which in turn notified Walton, when Walton found the box it was open and missing a great deal of merchandise.

As Walton had insurance, it put in a claim with its insurer so that Merrick could be compensated for its loss. The policy obtained by Walton indicated that it covered:

the assured's liability as a carrier, bailee or warehouseman for loss or damage directly caused by perils hereinafter specified to shipments of lawful goods consisting principally of theatrical and television equipment while such goods are in due course of transit in or on vehicles owned, hired, leased, operated or used by the Assured within the 48 contiguous states of the United States, the District of Columbia and Canada.'
Well, the language of the policy would seem to cover a package that was lost by the shipper. This did not prevent the insurance carrier from disclaiming liability "on the ground that there was no theft or pilferage of the goods while such goods were ‘in or on the plaintiff's vehicle.'"

In assessing the policy taken out by Walton, the court noted that:

A reading of the policy discloses that it was the intent of the parties to provide the assured with unusual and broad coverage for all losses to customers' merchandise and equipment being shipped, carried, or stored by it. It included, in addition to the usual losses resulting from fire, theft, burglary, pilferage, hold-up, and accidental collision, losses resulting from acts of God (lightning, cyclone, tornado, windstorm, and floods), losses from perils of the seas or navigable waters, losses due to strikes, civil commotion, riots, vandalism, and malicious mischief.

Excluded from coverage were items such as money, securities, or jewelry and losses due to theft or pilferage by persons in the assured's employ, losses due to hostile or warlike action, nuclear explosion, and radioactive contamination, except that indirect loss by fire resulting from nuclear reaction was insured against.

Despite the plain language of the policy that would seemingly cover this type of loss, the court noted that the insurance carrier sought to avoid payment because the loss did not occur precisely within the strict and literal meaning of the policy. The court then characterized the insurer's position, explaining that the carrier was:

Admitting as it must that the loss occurred while the merchandise was ‘in transit’ and admitting, albeit reluctantly, that there was an inference that the loss resulted from theft or pilferage, the defendant insists that the loss did not occur while the merchandise was ‘in due course of transit in or on vehicles' owned by the assured.

The court did not accept the insurance company's attempt to avoid paying the claim, stating that:

True, having fallen off the truck at the moment the theft or pilferage took place, the goods when stolen were not in or on the assured's truck. However, it is this Court's opinion that the allowance of this specious disclaimer would be contrary to the spirit and intent of the contract entered into between the parties.

An interesting postscript is that the insurer took the case up on appeal to the Appellate Term. Walton Hauling & Warehouse Corp. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 73 Misc.2d 959, 343 N.Y.S.2d 423 (App Term 1st Dept. 1973). Although the Appellate Term affirmed, one judge was swayed by the carrier's argument and dissented based on the fact that the loss did not occur while the box was on Walton's vehicle.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Nazir 54

Nazir 54 revisits some topics that have previously been discussed in Nazir including the concept that an inidvidual who leaves Israel for the diaspora becomes ritually impure by virtue of the travel outside of Israel. The Mishna on the bottom of Nazir 54a lists a number of individuals who are required to undergo purification (haza'a on the 3rd and 7th days) as a result of exposure to tumah. Included in this list is one who goes to "eretz ha'amim" - one who leaves Israel.

The interesting angle to this Mishna is that the person who leaves Israel does not forfeit the days of nezirus that he has already put away in the bank. Instead, the Mishna teaches that the person's nezirus period is interrupted while he is tamei and during the purification process, but he can begin counting again once he receives the haza'a on the 7th day. This seemingly contradicts the gemara on Nazir 19 which contains the argument between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel about whether one who became a nazir and then comes to Israel now must observe the entire period of nezirus again. Indeed, the gemara there told over the story of Queen Hilni who had to observe (14 or 21 years of nezirus, depending on the p'sak) based on the fact that the first seven years had been observed while she was in the diaspora.

Rashi (d'h "V'ein") explains that it all depends on where the nezirus was commenced. If the nezirus was commenced in the diaspora, then the person may need to repeat the nezirus upon arrival in Israel. On the other hand, if the nezirus was commenced in Israel and then the person left for the diaspora, the nezirus period is interrupted while the person is out of Israel and recommences following the purification process once he returns. The rationale is that the "ikar nezirus" can only be in Israel.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XI - The solution to what ails the world, How far do you need to go on Mother's Day and Why Dolan bought Newsday

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show (IMHO) was strong on sports but also contained a great deal of impressive social commentary. One of the interesting questions asked at the beginning of the show was how far one needs to go to satisfy the obligation of Mother's Day observance. Brian Kenny talked a little about what he did for his wife on Mother's Day, before asking Max what he did for his mom. Max first said that he called all day before finally getting her on the phone around 8 PM. Under strong cross examination from Brian, this turned into leaving her a message at 2 PM and finally talking to her at 8 PM. But what else can you expect from a seasoned journalist like Brian who knows how to dig to uncover the truth behind any cover story.

"Meca" Robin Lundberg chimed in through robot/computer voice that he called his mom later in the day. The most interesting Mother's Day story would probably have come from Max analyzing what Louie Gold did for his wife on her first Mother's Day. Unfortunately, this is a story that will never be told (although Erica must be happy about it) since Louie Gold and Robin Lundberg are still muzzled. Interestingly, last Friday, caller after caller started their comments on the air with "Free Louie and Lundberg." The first couple of callers were humored by Max and Brian, but by the end the hosts seemed to have tired of this expression of popular sentiment. What can you say - by introducing the masses to Louie Gold and Robin Lundberg as vital elements of the show over the last eighteen months, the audience has come to appreciate them. While the empty suits at Disney/ESPN may have decided that they don't want Louie and Robin to speak on the air (and from the way Max and Brian were talking about it on Friday it seems like the call came from the corporate side), the people want to hear from Louie and Robin and its nice to hear the audience express their hakaras hatov (cognizance of the good performed by others - more on that concept later).

An interesting sports "related" rant was that getting rid of Stephon Marbury is the cure to all that ails the world. References were made to the vast improvement that the Nets made after trading him to Phoenix and the similar reversal of fortune for Phoenix after they dumped him on the Knicks. Max then said that when he sees world tragedies now (specifically mentioning Darfur and the earthquake in China) he keeps thinking that if they got rid of Marbury their situations would improve ("hey just get rid of Stephon Marbury and everything will be better").

There was also a clever take on the news today that Cablevision had bought Newsday. I can't recall whether Max or Brian came up with this logic, but together they theorized that since Dolan had to cede some control to Donnie Walsh when he was named team president, Dolan needed something else to meddle in, so he had his father purchase Newsday for him. The interesting question will be whether Newsday will go down the tubes like "The Wiz" electronics stores, or whether it will just have a complete reversal of direction like the Knicks, but continue to exist because people have no other viable option for Long Island news.

But back to the issue of hakaras hatov - Max talked about how he took his wife Erin out for Mother's Day (Happy Mother's Day Erin!) to a restaurant on the way back from the Hamptons. He said that there is a person who works there who really helped them out in securing things for their Labor Day weekend wedding. The problem was that when Max and Erin stop in, Max can never remember who the guy is and Erin has to remind Max about what the fellow did for them and how they owe him. This was just another example of how the show contains Torah undercurrents. The concept of hakaras hatov is well established in Judaism. From the very beginning of their education, children are taught about recognizing the good performed by others, such as when Moses did not hit the water to initiate the plague of blood or frogs because the water did not attempt to drown him when his mother put him in the basket. Sure enough from recognizing the debt owed to our mothers to the personal debt of gratitude that Max and Erin owed to this fellow who helped them with their wedding plans, the show carried the Torah thought of hakaras hatov.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Pomegranate Wheat

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds reviews what had previously been a Saranac seasonal offering that recently become a regular staple of the Saranac lineup - Pomegranate Wheat.

When in the supermarket Friday with my daughter Penina, I bumped into a friend (David N.) who wanted to know whether the beer that he was interested in trying (Pete's Strawberry Blonde) was Kosher. I told him that since it was a Pete's product it was under the hashgacha of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every product made in the FX Matt Brewery in Utica, NY. One day I need to stop in there and express my hakaras hatov (recognition of the good) for producing such a wide variety of kosher beer.

On my way home from shul on Friday Night, I bumped into David N again. He asked me whether the Pete's Strawberry Blonde was any good. I said that it was, if you liked beer flavored with strawberry. As this is not a Strawberry Blonde review, I will save my analysis of the brew for another Sunday. I did mention to him that if he liked the Strawberry Blonde, he should stop by my house on the way home from shul on Shabbos day for a bottle of the Saranac Pomegranate Wheat. Sure enough not long after we came home from shul, David & Wendy were at my door. I gave him a bottle of the Pomegranate Wheat along with a bottle of the Blue Moon Honey Moon (to see a review of the Honey Moon, click here). He then asked me whether the Pomegranate Wheat was a good beer to have with cholent, but I told him that the Honey Moon would provide a better flavor mix with the cholent. Truth be told, the regular Pete's Wicked Ale (reviewed here) would be a better choice, but as I explained to David, I did not have any cold ones in the fridge.

So what is the Saranc Pomegranate Wheat like? It is a wheat beer with the trademark cloudy appearance. Saranac has amped up the usual fruitiness of the wheat beer by adding some pomegranate juice to the fermentation process. I don't know if that makes it any healthier or trendier (since anything pomegranate seems to be all the rage among the health conscious). I do know that it gives the beer a bit of sweetness in the aftertaste that compliments the general wheat beer flavor. Having said that, it is not a top choice for cholent, but does go very well with sweet chicken, barbecue and teriyaki salmon.

Saranac Pomegranate Wheat is under the Kosher Supervision of the Vaad of Detroit as are all beers brewed by Saranac. For the experts' take on the Pomegranate Wheat 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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Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

In honor of Mother's Day, a picture from a previous Mother's Day (2005)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Emor

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his 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 Emor 22:31, the Torah states "Ushmartem Mitzvosai Va'asisem Osam" - a command from G-d that we should both be "shomer" (loosely translated as we should watch the mitzvos) as well as "oseh" (translated for our purposes as we should do the mitzvos). Rashi on the spot asks the obvious question - why do we need both concepts of ushmartem and va'asisem? Rashi answers that "ushmartem" teaches us that we need to learn the rules and aspects of the mitzvot and "va'asisem" means that we should do the mitzvot.

In offering another take on the double language, R' Frand mentioned an interesting thought on "ushmartem". He said over that the Chasam Sofer said that the use of the word "ushmartem" is linked to Yaakov's knowledge of what was going on with Yosef in Parshas Vayeshev where it is written "V'aviv Shamar Es Hadavar" - that Yaakov was aware of what was occuring between Yosef and his brothers and remembered it. This is the meaning of "ushmartem" in Parshas Emor - not only should we know about the mitzvot, but we should be constantly aware of the opportunity to do them.

R' Frand then told an interesting story that he himself had been told by an attendee at one of his shiurim. As told by R' Frand, this person had been together with his father on Sukkos when it began to rain before a meal. Under the rules dealing with rain on Sukkos, we know that with the exception of the first day of Sukkos, any time that it is raining so hard that we would be uncomfortable eating in the Sukkah, there is no miztva to eat in the Sukkah and we are instructed to eat inside rather than out in the Sukkah. This person's father was not content to eat inside because of the rain. Instead, the man stood by the window, constantly peering up at the sky to see if perhaps the rain had stopped and they could go out and eat in the Sukkah.

R' Frand related that this level of desire to fulfill the mitzva of Sukkah, to be aware and keep in the back of one's mind the need to do mitzvot, is the meaning of the word "ushmartem" in this week's parsha. We should hope that we too can keep this in our minds and always have an awareness of mitzvot that we can potentially fulfil.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol X

Today's weird (but true) legal case is Schwab v. Coleman, 145 F.2d 672 (4th Cir 1944) a matter which involved a petition for a writ of mandamus filed jointly by the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization of the United States and five persons who filed petitions for naturalization before a Federal District Court Judge. As you learn in law school, a writ of mandamus is extraordinary relief - it is an Order from an appellate court that commands a lower court Judge to act and it is rarely granted. This case was an exceptional matter where the appellate court decided that the petitioners were entitled to such a writ.

The case involved five individuals who wished to become permanent United States Citizens. As indicated by the Fourth Circuit in their decision, each of these people had fulfilled their requirements to become United States citizens and their applications were approved by the Commissioner. The only problem for these five people was that in 1944, Federal District Court Judge William Coleman did not want to pass on their application as they had all emigrated from Germany.

Who were the potential American citizens? As noted by the Fourth Circuit in their decision, the petitioners:

[a]re persons of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. One is a Rabbi of a Hebrew Synagogue in Baltimore. Two of the others are a noted ophthalmologist, attached to the Wilmer Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his wife. Another is a woman whose father is dead, whose mother is in a German concentration camp, who has no relatives in foreign military service, who has three cousins in the armed forces of the United States and who desires citizenship in order that she herself may join the Women's Army Corps. The remaining applicant is a trained nurse, the wife of an officer in the United States Army.

After the petitioners had completed all of their paperwork they all appeared and testified before Judge Coleman as to their desire to become American citizens. However, after the hearing was completed, Judge Coleman refused to rule on their applications and continued the hearings indefinitely. In explaining his reason for doing so, Judge Coleman explained:

(1) That during a state of war an investigation as to background and antecedents
cannot be conducted, and, (2) that petitioners for naturalization who have not resided in the United States since prior to 1933 have not resided a sufficient length of time for the Court or the petitioners to know whether they are attached to the principles of the Constitution due to the emotional conditions under which they came here.

The motivation for Judge Coleman's actions in unknown. The appellate court gives him the benefit of the doubt as to why he would refuse to grant citizenship to these refugees of Nazi Germany. The ramification of his actions were clear - by refusing to formally deny the applications, the five petitioners had no way of seeking appellate review of the Judge's true intention of denying them citizenship in the United States because they did not come here from Germany before 1933.

The Fourth Circuit indicated that it would grant the writ of mandamus, but stopped short of formally issuing it, stating:

we are of opinion that Judge Coleman should proceed forthwith to pass upon the petitions for naturalization and that petitioners are entitled to the writ of mandamus prayed. It is clear, however, that the learned judge has refused to act upon the petitions merely because of an erroneous view of the law applicable; and we assume that it will not be necessary that the writ of mandamus actually issue requiring him to act, now that this court has passed upon the questions of law involved.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Nazir 47

Nazir 47 almost seems like the start of a bad joke - a Kohain and a Nazir are walking down the street and find a random dead body that is not being prepared for burial. Who allows themselves to become ritually impure in order to bury the body? The problem for both the Kohain and the Nazir is that while the mitzva to bury the person (aka Meis Mitzva) is a very important and honorable act, both the Kohain and the Nazir are under obligations to avoid becoming tamei (ritually impure) through the burial of the Meis Mitzva, unless there is no one else to bury the person.

The daf has a number of variations on this scenario as there are discussions about priorities among the Kohanim and even among multiple Kohanim Gedolim. It is the discussion of the multipke Kohanim Gedolim that I would like to focus on.

On Nazir 47a, the gemara discusses a scenario where a Kohain Gadol who had been anointed with the special oil and another who has been appointed Kohain Gadol but has not been anointed with the oil are both in a position to bury the Meis Mitva. Tosafos (d'h V'Chen) explains that the oil which existed from the days of Moshe until it was buried by Yoshiahu was used on the first Kohain Gadol. This Kohain Gadol then became temporarily unable to serve. The replacement Kohen Gadol was not anointed with the oil because in the interim it had been buried by Yoshiahu.

Tosafos then takes issue with the scenario because the replacement Kohain Gadol (who serves as Kohain Gadol by virtue of his wearing the eight garments of the Kohain Gadol rather than the four garments normally worn by a regular Kohain) is only serving temporarily while the original Kohain Gadol is impure. Tosafos reasons that it would be illogical to think that the original Kohain Gadol should get involved with the burial since the original Kohain Gadol was only replaced for a short time and would soon return to his original status. As such, Tosafos redefines the case as one involving a Kohain Gadol who absconded for a few years and the replacement Kohain Gadol (who was deprived of being anointed with the oil since it was buried by Yoshiahu) served as Kohain Gadol during the intervening time. Tosafos puts them on the same level and explains that this is the scenario that the gemara must be dealing with.

The question remains to be asked - why does Tosafos need to go through these machinations? Indeed, why is it significant that the replacement Kohain Gadol only serves on a temporary basis? The answer can be found in the gemara in Yoma 12b. In that gemara (referred to in Tosafos d'h Meruba on Nazir 47b) it is explained that the temporary replacement Kohain Gadol is stuck in limbo after he completes his short term assignment of "filling in" for the Kohain Gadol. He cannot remain as Kohain Gadol as it would create enmity between the two. He also cannot return to the prior position of being a regular kohain, since once he has been elevated to a holier position, he may not be lowered to the prior spot.

In a way, the situation is akin to baseball or hockey player who has exhausted his minor league options. The player can be called up to take the place of an injured member of the major league roster. However, once the major leaguer returns from injury, the former minor leaguer (if his options have been exhausted) may not be returned to the minor leagues. Yes, I know that the analogy is not perfect since he can be sent down if he clears waivers because no other team wants him, but there are distinct similarities.

As a footnote to last week's daf thoughts - Nazir 47 does laugh at us as well. When learning the daf this evening with R' Ephraim, I realized that the citation to Vayikra used to prove that a Kohain Gadol can become impure to bury a Meis Mitva is actually derived from Chapter 21 of this week's parsha. Yet again, the daf laughs at us.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol X - Yankee & Met Roster Moves, Earning One's Place in the Bigs and Why Can't Louie or Lundberg Speak?

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show had a lot of baseball talk - it led with discussions about recent Yankee roster moves, an anlysis of the Milledge trade and continued on a baseball track. This format is my favorite for Max and Brian as it gives them a chance to show their baseball acuity. While I may not always agree with their analysis, I usually walk away with something to think about during the rest of the day.

The show opened with an analysis of the two recent Yankee roster moves - putting Phil Hughes on the DL with his rib injury and sending Ian Kennedy down to Scranton/Wilkes Barre, while replacing them in the rotation with Rasner and Kei Igawa. The Rasner move paid immediate dividends as other than getting hit in the first inning against Seattle, he pitched a decent game on Sunday. I can't imagine that Igawa, the latest incarnation of Hideki Irabu (or as some pundit called him Hideki IRobYou) will succeed for the Yankees, but I guess that they had no better option. Either that, or maybe they felt that $40M was too much to pay to stick him in the minors. We'll have to see.

There was also a discussion about whether Met fans are still second guessing the Lastings Milledge trade. I have to admit that the first week of the season I had my doubts, as Milledge was (to use a Keith Olbermanism) en fuego. But now that Ryan Church has established himself (.300+ BA with 4 HRs) and Milledge has cooled off significantly (.260 BA, 1 HR) the deal is definitely looking better. Now if Schneider could only stay healthy...

Max Kellerman also had his trademark 1050 Hockey Rant feature (I will seriously miss this segment now that the Rangers have been eliminated) which led off with Bob Gallerstein. The only problem was that Bob had said "exactly" what Max wanted to say about the Rangers so he had nothing to add.

Speaking of having nothing to add, Robin Lundberg and Louie Gold have been muzzled, and I can't say that I am thrilled about it. On Friday I was driving in the car and heard that Lundberg "can't speak." I assumed that he had some kind of throat/voice problem. But today again there were numerous references to the fact that neither Louie nor Lundberg can speak. I don't know if this was an empty suit decision at Disney/ESPN, but I wish they would rescind the order. Lundberg is always quick with a line and its usually quite funny. Although he reminds me of your best friend's smart alec little brother (the one that always got pummelled) his quick wit was an asset to the show. Louie's comments are also missed, partially because he is a Mets fan (they already deported the other Met fan by sending Clete the board-op to Boston) and partially because Louie Gold is the everyman that most listeners can relate to. If my two cents on a blog that gets twenty hits a day counts for anything, I hope that they change their policy.

As always, the Monday Max Kellerman & Brian Kenny show had its allusions to Torah thought. In talking about Hughes and his stint on the DL, the guys mentioned that a player needs to earn his spot on the roster and should not automatically be returned to the big league club simply because he is healthy. This truism was first related in the Mishna in Kiddushin - 4:14. In this Mishna, R' Nehorai relates that he would rather teach his son Torah as it has advantages over mortal professions. R' Nehorai explains that in standard professions, if a person becomes ill, injured or aged, he loses his ability to earn a living and potentially starves. R' Nehorai then remarks that this concept is inapplicable to Torah, since if a person learned Torah but can no longer study at present due to illness, he still reaps the benefits of Torah learning through Heavenly assistance and reward.

R' Nehorai's principle was clearly reflected in Max Kellerman's discussion of not awarding roster slots simply because a player returns from injury. As explained by R' Nehorai thousands of years ago, if someone is injured they do not have the ability to earn a living and can starve. This also links to a prior statement in the same Mishna by R' Meir that our ability to earn a living is dependent on help from above in addition to our own efforts. Similarly with Phil Hughes, due to his injury he is not guaranteed a position on the major league roster. Whether he will get a slot when he returns is not only dependent on his own actions, since the rotation could potentially be full if his replacement succeeds while he is unable to perform.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale

This week's Sunday Night Suds features one of my all time favorite beers - the Blue Moon Brewing Company's Summer offering known as Honey Moon Summer Ale.

As you may know, Blue Moon (a division of Coors) produces a Wheat Beer that they brew all year long called Blue Moon. It is an American Wheat and is cloudy in color and slightly sweet to the taste. They occasionally market it as best enjoyed with an orange, but the combination of the two has never really hit it for me. Blue Moon itself is a great beer, I specifically went looking for it in Chicago after Pesach 2007, so that I would be sure to really enjoy that first beer after Pesach.

In addition to the standard bearer, Blue Moon also brews a different seasonal beer - Winter Moon (reviewed by Kosher Beers here on Sunday March 2, 2008) ; Spring Moon (brewed with Lime); Honey Moon (brewed with a taste of honey and orange peel) and Harvest Moon (brewed with pumpkin and spice).

Last Summer I came across this beer by accident, I actually can't remember where I first tried it. When I had my first sip I immediately thought of my wife Sarah's carrot kugel muffins but fused with beer - mayein olah habah. I told myself that I would save a bottle to drink with the muffin to see if the flavors were as complimentary as I thought them to be. Of course, I finished the six pack during the week and needed to get another before I could try the combo. Needless to say, it was enjoyable finishing the beer with and without the muffins (although they did go quite well together).

My problem became that I got into this seasonal too late in the game. By mid-July I could not find any more left in my area. I kicked myself for getting on line at a Walmart in Norwich, New York at 11:45 Pm on a Saturday Night. By the time I got to the register at 12:05 AM the cashier would not sell me the beer under New York's blue laws, despite my protestations that I had gotten on line on Saturday Night and that it was not my fault that the line moved so slowly.

I did luck into finding a case on erev Sukkos at Binny's in Skokie, Illnois. I bought three sixers because I figured that since my father in law is a straight Heineken man, we would finish one six and I could bring the other two home in my luggage. Well, even though my in-laws are all Heineken drinkers, they still went through two sixers over three days of Yom Tov in the Sukkah. I still got to bring one six pack home, but it did not last very long.

Honey Moon is a wheat beer with some of the usual characteristics including the cloudiness that is normally associated with wheat beer and the flavor of the wheat. There also is a nice sweetness to the brew that is hinted at with the first sip and in the aftertaste, without beating you over the head like alcopop (see Smirnoff Twisted V) or even some other flavored beer. If you live anywhere outside of New York, pick some up and try it. If you live within thirty miles of my home, go try something else, I'm already stocking up.

Honey 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 Honey Moon, 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, May 2, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

Penina and her cousin take in a

Mets - Cubs game at Wrigley Field

(Yes the Mets lost)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Kedoshim

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his 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 contains one of the most famous lines in sefer Vayikra -"V'ahavta lreyacha camocha" - or as it is known in English - love thy neighbor as thyself. In discussing this passage, R'Frand mentioned the Ramban's interpretation that the line is an exaggeration. How can this be? The Ramban explains that it is not possible to love another as much as one loves himself (unless that other person is a relative such as a parent, spouse or child). Rather, the meaning of the passage is that you should want your neighbor to have things exactly like you do.

For example - if you find out that your neighbor got a new car, you are no doubt happy for your neighbor, but you may also want the car to be just a little bit less nice than your car. Or even if the car is identical, you may want your garage where the car is parked to be a little nicer than the other person's garage. The key to v'ahavta l'reyacha camocha is that you should be happy with your neighbor having exactly what you have, without your possessions being superior in any way. In this capacity you can avoid ever being jealous of your neighbor.

The gemara in Shabbos tells a story about how a gentile once came to Shammai and asked him to teach the gentile the entire Torah while Shammai stood on one foot. Shammai did not honor this request and instead tossed the man out. The gentile then came to Hillel and asked the same question - to which Hillel responded the entire Torah can be summed up with - what you dislike do not do onto others, that is the entire Torah - the rest is just commentary.

The question which can be asked on the statement of Hillel is that he has only satisfied one half of the Torah. Yes, this is the root of all the commandments dealing with one's interaction with his fellow man (bain adam l'chavero) but how can this be the entire Torah when it does not encompass the commandments between man and G-d?

R' Frand answered that this also encompasses the commandments between man and G-d. The only way that one can be happy with the possession of others and put aside jealousy is if the person accepts that G-d has given him all that he needs in this world. If I know that through divine intervention I have received what I need, why should I care (let alone be jealous) that my friend has a nicer car, or house or bank account?

In this way "love thy neighbor" is also rooted in the relationship between man and G-d, since by having true belief in G-d and knowing that He has given you exactly what you need, a person will never come to be jealous of the possessions of others and will truly be happy with his lot.

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