Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Waterloo Dark Lager

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds beer review looks at Waterloo Dark Lager, another offering from the good folks at the Brick Brewery.

When people look at a dark beer, they generally assume that it will be heavy. I know that this shabbos when I had a Saranac Imperial Stout (reviewed here with my cholent, I knew that there would be a thick beer to mesh with the cholent and induce a well-needed shabbos afternoon nap. Of course, the 9% ABV also may have helped too.

In contrast to most dark beers, the Waterloo Dark Lager is a true lager with its characteristic light flavor and lacking the hoppiness found in many stouts and dark ales. If you visit the Laker website (, they market their beer as "looks dark, tastes light, its a dark lager!"

Having said that, there is a little more sophistication to this beer than the average Heineken/Rolling Rock lager taste. Although I am no brewmaster, I would assume that the use of the specialty malts that give the beer the dark color also lend it the sweetness that takes it out of just being a lager. I asked my wife whether she thought that the Heineken man would appreciate it, but she demurred. Perhaps I'll take one along for the sukkos trip anyway.

Waterloo Dark Lager would go well with most meat and chicken dishes. I am not sure how it would do up against a highly spiced Chinese type dish, but its flavor would complement steaks and poultry. I feel like it would also go extremely well with turkey, but have not tried it together as of yet.

Waterloo Dark Lager is certified kosher by the Kashruth Council of Canada. For the experts' take on Waterloo Dark Lager, click here

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

And to all those who have been mivatel zman to read my thoughts, I wish you all a chag sameach (happy holiday) a kesiva v'chasima tova (a good writing and sealing in the book of life).

Oh and by the way, if you are looking for a Rosh Hashana beer - see if your local beverage center has any Blue Moon Honey Moon. There's nothing like a honey beer on Rosh Hashana.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday's Thoughts on ... the New Year

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.

As a brief introduction, tonight's shiur did not have a vort on the parsha, but instead discussed Rosh Hashana. As the vort was quite powerful, I have chosen to summarize it here, rather than substitute a R' Frand parsha thought on Netzavim from a prior year.

R' Frand began his non-halacha part of the shiur tonight by quoting from Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau's book entitled "Al tishlach yadcha el ha na'ar" (don't touch that boy) which discusses his experiences as a five year old survivor of Bergen Belsen. R' Lau wrote that years after the holocaust, he returned to the city in Poland where his father had been the Rabbi (both of his parents were killed in the holocaust). It was Shabbas Chazon, the shabbos that precedes Tisha B'av and he was invited to give the drasha (sermon) in his father's shul. R' Lau spoke about a Medrash from Eicha in which Yirmiyahu (after the destruction of the First Beis Hamikdash) went to Ma'aras Hamachpela (the Tomb of the Patriarchs) to wake the forefathers and ask them to beg Hashem to allow the Jews to rebuild the temple.

As told by R' Lau, Yirmiyahu first woke Avraham, and after washing Avraham's hands, Avraham began to ask Hashem why the Temple was destroyed. Hashem answered Avraham and said that he would explain by using the alef beis. He first brough the Alef, but Avraham said to the Alef - how can you testify against the Jews when you stand for Anochi Hashem Elokecha and the Jews accepted Hashem as their G-d. He then brought the Beis and Avraham scolded the Beis as well, saying that the Beis stands for Bereishis Barah, that Hashem created the world based on the Torah, the same Torah that all the nations of the world rejected, but the Jews accepted without question. Avraham was eventually able to defeat the proposed testimony of all the letters.

R' Lau then mentoned a vort from R' Yitzchak Frankel (R' Lau's father in law) on the pasuk in next week's parsha (Devarim 31:21) "V'haya ki simtzena..." This verse is normally translated as "It shall be that when many evils and distresses come upon it, then this song will speak up before it as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from the mouth of its offspring, for I know its inclination, what it does today, before I bring them to the Land that I have sworn." R' Lau said that his father in law learned the pasuk to mean that like the letters of the alef beis, the Torah itself will come and testify before the world as to how the Jews sacrificed in order to follow the Torah's laws. Examples from the holocaust include Jews sneaking off the to the forest to hear the blowing of the shofar, despite certain death if caught (more on this later); foregoing their small ration of bread on Pesach so as to not eat chametz, melting the margarine they had been given so that the resultant oil could be used on their buttons to make chanukah candles. In this, the Torah will testify about the courageous acts taken by Jews to show that they have not abandoned the Torah, against all odds.

R' Frand then finished with another holocaust story from R' Tzvi Hersh Meisels (the Veitzener Rav who later settled in Chicago). R' Meisels writes in his sefer (Shaylos U'Tshuvos Mikadshei Hashem) that when he was in Auschwitz, he had a shofar with him in the camp. This fact became known to a number of students who had already been segregated for the crematorium and were scheduled to be killed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The boys asked R' Meisels to come blow shofar for them, despite the fact that they only had a few hours left to live. R' Meisels debated whether to go as he knew that if he was caught, he could be executed as well. His son begged him not to go, telling R' Meisels that he did not want to become an orphan. Still, R' Meisels decided that he would go, thinking to himself, how many days do I have left anyway?

When R' Meisels arrived at the barracks, the boys asked him to give a sermon before he blew the shofar. So he said a vort on the verse from Psalms 81, "Tiku Bachodesh Shofar..." which is normally translated as "Blow the shofar at the moon's renewal, at the time appointed for our festive day." In so doing he translated Bakeseh not as "at the time of" but rather using the root kisui - when it is hidden - thus rendering the verse - blow the shofar when things are hidden, when you don't understand why things are happening have faith that Hashem does everything for a positive purpose. And then he blew the shofar.

When R' Meisels finished blowing the shofar, one of the boys stood up and said - yes we should not lose hope, we must do as we must to serve Hashem for His sake. Then, together the boys screamed out the shma yisrael with fervor. And then the boys said, we are not saying thanks to you, R' Meisels for your actions, we want to give you a bracha, a blessing for long life instead.

May the sacrifices of these boys and many others who risked (and sometimes gave) their lives to worship Hashem stand for us in the Yamim Noraim and may the Torah testify as to our actions to keep it, so that we all merit a good year of life, health, good things and the coming of Moshiach.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXVIII

Tonight's Weird (but true) legal case involves the New York Giants and a sportswear manufacturer who wanted to exploit the Giants' relocation to New Jersey.

In National Football League Properties v. New Jersey Giants, 637 F.Supp. 507 (D.N.J. 1986) the court considered a matter in which the NFL and the New York Giants argued that the defendant had violated §43(a) of the Lanham Act (unfair competition) and had infringed their service mark by selling merchandise branded as "New Jersey Giants" clothing.

While the case itself is not a landmark legal decision, the fact pattern borders on hysterical. As described by the Judge:

Plaintiff, the New York Football Giants, Inc., owns and operates the New York Giants, a major league professional football team which plays all of its home games in New Jersey yet eschews a New Jersey identification as resolutely as a vampire eschews the cross. Defendant, the New Jersey Giants, Inc., which is decidedly not a major league professional football team, was created and exists solely to illegally exploit the confusion engendered by the unwillingness of the team to correlate its name with the place it calls home.
The Judge was rather blunt in his characterization of the defendants, noting that their principals:

[T]estified that one of the purposes for starting the business and incorporating the name, as they had previously incorporated the name “New Jersey Cosmos”, was to sell the corporate name to the Giants' football team; that the other purpose was to sell the merchandise to fans of the Giants' football team who would associate and “no doubt” did associate that merchandise with the team; that even though in its best year the company sold but $2263.85 of merchandise and operated out of a law office, a post office box, and the back seat of the car of one of the principals, $30,000 worth of stock in the company has now been sold to three additional individuals; that two cease and desist letters were ignored with defendant, through its principals, continuing to do business and continuing to solicit business by means of radio spots which were intended to refer to the New York Giants' team and by means of advertisements in the “Giants News Weekly”, a newsletter directed to Giants' fans.
With this kind of introduction, you get an idea where the Court was going with its decision. In finding that the defendants had violated the Lanham Act, the Court based its decision in part on a marketing survey performed by the plaintiffs which demonstrated a likelihood of consumer confusion as to the source of the defendants' products. In so doing, the court explained:

Defendant's use of its trade name and the solicitation and sale of “New Jersey GIANTS” merchandise is also likely to confuse the public into believing that the New York Football Giants has changed the team's name to the New Jersey Giants or does not object to being referred to by that name. Neither is true, of course, and while one may wonder why the New York Giants resist a new name and may wish, perhaps, that it were otherwise, the fact remains that the Giants have the right to retain the long-standing goodwill and reputation they have developed in the name “ New York Giants” and efforts in that regard will be undermined were defendant's conduct permitted to continue.
If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Gittin 74

Gittin 74 is an interesting daf as it has ramifications well beyond the sugyos that are discussed on the amud. I would like to briefly discuss a few points which I found interesting.

One interesting point has to do with the mechanism of a tenai (condition). On 74a, the gemara mentions the dispute between R' Huna and R' Yehuda in connection to a person who gives a get on condition that the wife pay him money. The gemara then quotes another gemara in Kiddushin (60a) where a man tells a woman that they will be married upon his payment to her of a sum of money. In each circumstance, R' Huna holds that once the condition is fulfilled, the transaction (either marriage or divorce) is effective retroactive to the date that the statement was made. Tosafos (d'h R' Huna) comments that the halacha follows this line of thinking (like Rebbi) that any time a transaction is effectuated with a condition that must be fulfilled, the completion of the condition renders the transaction effective, retroactive to the original date.

There is also an interesting discussion on 74b in which the gemara attempts to tie togther a machlokes as to whether a condition being fulfilled by an act of Hashem (an owner tells the aris to water the field four times and he will have a greater share of the produce, but then it rains before the fourth watering, thus rendering it unnecessary) with a machlokes about whether a man who requires that his wife give him a definite object in order for the divorce to be effectuated and she pays him money instead of the object. In trying to line up the disputes, the gemara says that perhaps Rabbah (who says that the aris gets paid despite not having watered four times) holds like R' Shimon Ben Gamliel (who says that she can substitute money for the object). In rejecting this logic, the gemara notes that it is impossible because while the halacha is like Rabbah when he disputes R' Yosef (except in three unrelated matters) , the halacha is not like R' Shimon Ben Gamliel when he disputes the Rabanan (except in three other unrelated matters). As such, the arguments cannot be aligned as it would violate one of the rules of discourse.

A final thought has to do with Rabbah and his position in relation to the aris (who gets paid despite the fact that he has not watered the 4th time). Tosafos (d'h Rabbah) writes that one should not ask from the situation in Baba Metziah (77a) where a farmer hires a worker to water for one day and the rains come and the worker does not water the field. Tosafos writes that the one day worker goes unpaid, since he was hired for one purpose. On the other hand, this worker was hired for the year and had performed all the other tasks (including watering three other times), so he has earned a portion in the field and is entitled to the heightened wage from the moment that the owner mentioned the need for a fourth watering, regardless of whether the rain renders that chore unnecessary.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings - Vol XXVII - Of Life Experiences and Today Derek Jeter is a Fountain Pen

Today's Max Kellerman show was a somber one, with proper deference given to the last game having been played at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees looming departure from the post season picture. But before getting to the topics discussed today, a little housekeeping is in order.

To address a number of e-mails that I received, yes the show is now just the Max Kellerman show (again). I am unaware of why Brian Kenny is no longer on the show, but one e-mailer mentioned that the separation was "amicable." Based on their long term friendship, I would hope so. If the change in format was mentioned on the air, then I missed it, but I haven't been able to spend that much time listening to the show over the last week, so its possible that it was discussed.

Another change is that the muzzle has been lifted from Louie and Lundberg. Late last week I began hearing Max asking them (along with the board op) to introduce themselves. I don't know if this was in conjunction with the loss of Brian Kenny, the result of lobbying by listeners or staff, or simply Max thumbing his nose at the empty suits at Disney/ABC.

The timing of letting Louie speak is quite suspect. When Louie Gold was gagged by the network, the Mets went on a winning streak and retook First Place in the NL East. Now that Louie has been permitted to speak again, the Mets are sinking into collapse version 2.0. I don't think that it is a direct result of Louie being permitted to speak, but I'm sure that Max is enjoying having Louie publicly expose his self-loathing for being a Met fan.

I guess that I should discuss the show's topics as well, so here goes. During the limited time that I listened today, I heard Max express his displeasure for R. Cano and M. Cabrera. It was interesting to hear Max say that he did not want to see Cano get game winning hits now and celebrate his accomplishments since (in Max's words) had Melky and Cano produced at a Major League level, the Yankees would not be out if it, despite the injuries that they suffered this year.

Max's take on the farewell ceremonies at the Stadium was overly cynical even for Max. His first though (that I heard) was that the Yankees' elimination from post season play made the ceremony ring hollow. Strong words! Max then said that Derek Jeter's speech after the game was "like a secular bar-mitzva speech" because it was all about tradition.

Max also utilized more of his idol's (Howard Stern) teachings, by incorporating his personal life in to the show. Max talked about how he was working with his wife on building their daughter's crib and changing table. He expressed frustration (well known to those who have tried to do these things, but new to Max) as to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. I can remember building the crib with Sarah and almost being done, before realizing that it was upside down. Max said on the show that he had remarked to Erin - does Jay-Z build his own changing table/crib? But then Max let out his human side by saying that by spending the time with his wife building the baby's furniture, he realized that "it turns out that Erin is OK."

Max's last thought on the issue was that he realized that this was something that his mother would have told him - that you miss out on something if you don't do it yourself.

Well, mother Kellerman's views are certainly rooted in Torah thought. Indeed, many Torah concepts teach the value of actually performing the task at hand. By example, in last week's parsha, the Torah teaches about bikurim, the first fruits of the year that are brought by the farmer up to the Temple in Jerusalem in an elaborate ceremony. The Ramban teaches that the minimum amount of fruit that can be brought up for the ceremony is one fig. Why? Because if we personally take the one fruit up to the temple, we show that we appreciate all that hashem does for us. This is valued by Hashem who appeciates our actions in taking the time to bring the bikurim personally and we are ensured a reward for our personal efforts.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Honey Porter

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Honey Porter, a beer which recently came under the supervision of the Star-K.

Before you all start to jump to e-mail me, yes I know that Samuel Adams has been under the Star-k for some time. However, just because a company produces one product which bears a hashgacha, does not mean that all products that are made by that company are all under supervision. A prime example would be the Miller family of beers. While Miller Genuine Draft (a.k.a MGD), Miller Lite (tastes great/less filling) and Miller Genuine Draft Light are all under the OK laboratories, there is no kosher supervision for Miller Lime Chill which the CRC goes out of its way in its most recent kosher list to indicate is not certified kosher.

The Samuel Adams products have an interesting history of kashrus. For reasons that I have never totally understood, some of the Sam Adams beers have a star-k on the label while others do not. Meanwhile, not all the Sam Adams flavors are under the star-k, so you need to check the Sam Adams LOC (letter of certification) on the Star-k website (click here ) to find out which brews are approved by the star-k.

This of course leads me back to the Honey Porter. I first saw this beer in a local beer store in January 2007. I bought it and brought it home and only then checked the Star-K LOC and found out that it was not on it. I contacted the Star-K and after a few emails and messages I was able to speak to Rabbi Rosen (the dean of flavored alcoholic beverages and a great resource for information) who told me that he would look into it and that I could not drink it at the time.

Well, eighteen months later Honey Porter is now on the approved list, so I went out and purchased another sixer (the last one was poured down the toilet when I could not get a yes/no before it passed its prime). Was it worth the wait? It depends on how you like your beer.

Porters as a general rule are heavy dark beers and this is no exception. Beer advocate describes the classic English porter as:

Porter is said to have been popular with transportation workers of Central London, hence the name. Most traditional British brewing documentation from the 1700’s state that Porter was a blend of three different styles: an old ale (stale or soured), a new ale (brown or pale ale) and a weak one (mild ale), with various combinations of blending and staleness. The end result was also commonly known as "Entire Butt" or "Three Threads" and had a pleasing taste of neither new nor old. It was the first truly engineered beer, catering to the publics taste, playing a critical role in quenching the thirst of the UK’s Industrial Revolution and lending an arm in building the mega-breweries of today.

Porter saw a comeback during the homebrewing and micro-brewery revolution of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, in the US. Modern-day Porters are typically brewed using a pale malt base with the addition of black malt, crystal, chocolate or smoked brown malt. The addition of roasted malt is uncommon, but used occasionally. Some brewers will also age their beers after inoculation with live bacteria to create an authentic taste. Hop bitterness is moderate on the whole and colour ranges from brown to black. Overall they remain very complex and interesting beers.

The Samuel Adams Honey Porter pours a rich brown color with quite a bit of stick foam. It is certainly dark, but has an interesting sweetness that may derive from the honey that is used in the brew process, but may also be a result of the hops used as well. If you are not a serious beer aficionado, I would not have this as summer beer as it better balanced for long winter nights. If you are looking for a honey product to ring in the new year as a shana tova u'metukah, stick with the Blue Moon Honey Moon (reviewed here if you can still find it in stores.

Samuel Adams Honey Porter is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Honey Porter, please follow this link -

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

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursdays Parsha Tidbits - Ki Savo

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur last year (due to technical difficulties our site was unable to play this week's shiur tonight). 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.

The beginning of Parshas Ki Savo contains a discussion of the laws of bikurim (first fruits). As laid out in Devarim 26:1-12, the parsha discusses the mechanism for bringing the fruits up to Jerusalem, the passing of the basket to the kohain and the declaration (mikra bikurim) that is said by the farmer. Of note, the mikra bikurim is not merely a recital that the fruits have been brought. Instead, the individual recites a historical statement whereby he discusses that an Aramean (Lavan) sought to destroy our forefather (Jacob), so he went down to Egypt where he lived and multiplied, but the Egyptians mistreated us, so we cried out to Hashem the G-d of our fathers and He saved us and took us out of Egypt with great strength and miracles and He brought us to the land of Israel, a land overflowing with milk and honey.

The placement of the laws of bikurim and the language of the mikra bikurim is difficult to understand. Why do the laws of bikurim come in the beginning of Ki Savo, immediately after the story of how Amalek came and tried to destroy the Jews? Also, why does the mikra bikurim have a historical recital which dates back to Jacob?

In answering the question, R' Frand made reference to a passage from Bereishis Rabbah. It is a well known vort on the first pasuk in the Torah (Bereishis Bara Elokim) that because of what came first - the Torah which preceded creation, Hashem created the world. Bereishis Rabbah 1:6 puts a different spin on the pasuk, stating that in the z'chus of the bikurim which are called first, the world was created.

The Alshich explains that one of the bedrock fundamentals of serving Hashem is to recognize that He is responsible for the good things that happen. Hashem gives us wonderful things such as life, family, success in business. By thanking Him for what we receive, we recognize that He is responsible for our good fortune. However, one who is haughty and arrogant believes that he is responsible for his own results and does not recognize or thank Hashem for what he has in life.

With this introduction, we can understand the mikra bikurim and why it follows the parsha of Amalek. The mikra bikurim is not merely a historical recital (much as the telling over of the story of the exodus from Egypt at the seder table is more than merely a history lesson). Rather, the mikra bikurim is a public acknowledgement that we came from little and were saved by Hashem numerous times before being delivered to the wonderful land of Israel where we grew the fruit that is being offered as bikurim.

This also explains why the parsha of bikurim follows the story of Amalek. Amalek was the first nation to challenge the Jews after Hashem took them out of Egypt, but others followed thereafter. By saying the mikra bikurim, we recognize that Hashem saved us from Amalek and in so doing raise our stature in his eyes.

R' Frand finished the vort by bringing the Ramban who asks, what is the minimum shiur (amount) for bikurim? He answers that even one fig is enough. By doing the entire bikurm process of bringing the one fig up to Jerusalem and making the mikra bikirum on the one fruit, we demonstrate that we truly appreciate all that He does for us.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXVII

Tonight's Weird (but true) Legal Case involves a sting set up by the New York City Police Department and a Judge who did the right thing, even when the perpetrator did not.

Although it is not well known, the rule in New York is not simply "finders keepers." Codified at §252 of the Personal Property Law is a law entitled "Found property and found instruments to be deposited with police." Under this statute, a person who finds property worth $20 or more or comes into possession of property valued at $20 or more which he knows is lost, must within ten days of finding the property either bring it to a police station or return it to its proper owner. A person who refuses to do so or willfully neglects this law is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars and a jail term of up to six months (or both).

With that introduction in mind, we turn to tonight's weird (but true) legal case - People v. Arroyo, 12 Misc.3d 1003, 815 N.Y.S.2d 922 (Crim. Ct. Kings Cty. 2006). In Arroyo, the NYPD had been running an operation called "Lucky Bag" in which police officers intentionally left an unattended bag containing an Xbox, cell phone and cash on a subway platform.

Well, once Mr. Arroyo saw the bag he picked it up and walked away with it, passing two uniformed police officers and a passerby who saw him pick the bag up and told him to turn it in to the Transit Authority (he responded "I'll take my chances"). Arroyo was subsequently arrested and charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property. When his case came on in court, his legal aid attorney asked the Court to dismiss the case in the interests of justice.

Since I gave away the punchline earlier, yes, the court dismissed the case, partially because the charges had no useful purpose and also because the judge felt that they may have conflicted with Personal Property Law §252 (since Arroyo never got his ten days to turn the bag in).

The Judge did have a message for the police as well, stating at the end of his decision:

The police should concentrate their noble efforts on behalf of the city on countering real crimes committed every day. They do not need to manipulate a situation where temptation may overcome even people who would normally never think of committing a crime.
If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Gittin 67

Gittin 67 features the end of a perek dealing with the mechanics of the writing and delivery of the get, as well as the commencement of a new perek which I believe is one of the most interesting in shas.

Although I usually focus on a few points from the daf, tonight's post will only address one story from Gittin 67b. The Gemara relates how R' Sheshes did not trust the Reish Galusa's servants. When R' Sheshes was asked why he would not eat with the Reish Galusa, R' Sheshes exposed how the servants were improperly serving meat from live animals (eyver min hachai). The Reish Galusa then suggested that if his servants prepared the food under the supervision of R' Sheshes' own staff, would R' Sheshes dine with them? R' Sheshes answered in the affirmative.

Since the Reish Galusa's servants had it out for R' Sheshes, they devised a plan to hurt him by serving him meat with a tiny bone that could cause him to choke. They reasoned that since R' Sheshes was blind, he would not be able to see the bone in the meat portion. Of course, they were unsuccessful as R' Sheshes was able to feel the presence of the bone. He then took the meat with the bone inside and wrapped it in his handkerchief. Seeing that R' Sheshes had wrapped something in his handkerchief and curious about what was in there (that trick never worked for us as kids either, we always had to eat the liver...) the servants then made up a story that someone had stolen a silver cup and they needed to check the handkerchief. When they opened it and found the meat, they said to the Resih Galusa - see, R' Sheshes does not want to eat with us.

Rather than exposing the servants' evil acts publicly, R' Sheshes told the Reish Galusa that he had tasted the meat and thought that the animal was diseased (Rashi says sh'chin). The servants then said, we did not prepare any animal with leprosy. Of course when they looked at the hide from the animal, there was a leprous spot.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Max Kellerman Monday Musings Vol XXVI - A multidiscipinary show

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show (during the limited time that I listened to it today) seemed to be a nice melding of many different sports disciplines. I will try to get to a few of them in this post.

The first thing that I heard was a joint interview with Roy Jones, Jr and Joe Kalzagi (that's probably not how you spell it, but its worth a try). It was interesting to me because you could really see that Max was in his element because he was talking about his first love - boxing. Max was throwing questions at the two fighters (they will face each other in a match soon) and was putting each of them on the spot about their careers and what the upcoming fight will mean to the other. The fighters were quite complimentary to each other which is different than what you see in at the weigh ins. I always thought the antagonism at those events was for show.

Its funny, but before I met Max (actually well before I knew that I was going to meet him) I watched the Rocky movie with my wife and I pointed out Max as the ringside boxing commentator. He seemed like a kid in a candy shop, just don't pinch him so that he would wake up from being in a Rocky movie. I mentioned this to him when I met him, but I can't remember his response (sorry).

Before moving on to the rest of today's show (or at least the part that I heard), I want to touch on something that Max spoke about last week. There was a story brewing that the Jets and Giants were considering an offer from Allianz to sponsor the new stadium. Max was extremely outspoken about Allianz and their historical allegiance to Nazi Germany. He said that he would never go to the stadium if they took the Allianz name and then said a Yiddish phrase about never forgiving and never forgetting. Its no secret that Max's Jewish heritage is important to him and having someone who will not apologize for saying things like this is important for young Jews who have grown up three and four generations removed from the holocaust.

But back to Sports Today. Max talked about how Favre is trying to win the game by himself because he is throwing interceptions and forcing passes when he should trust his teammates to help him. I can't say that I necessarily agree, since his improvisation when a play is busted is less about doubting his teammates and more a question of trying to make something from nothing. Sometimes it turns out to be genius and others its a mistake. Still, a quarterback with skills and the willingness to take chances is a better asset than a percentage passer who can't fling it down field.

There was also a statement made about the Houston Astros playing a home game against the Cubs in Milwaukee. I actually had said something to my wife about this when they announced this Saturday night - how do you have a neutral site game when the Cubs are playing less than two hours away from Wrigley? Of course, Max framed it better than I could, pointing out that the Astros were no hit in front of screaming Cubs fans and it counted as a Houston home game in the standings.

Max also talked about how Jeter will pass the immortal Lou Gehrig with his next hit at home for most hits at Yankee Stadium. He then correctly noted that its a record which will never be broken because Yankee Stadium is being replaced. But then he offered this observation - Jeter did not have as many extra base hits as Gehrig.

As usual (in my opinion) Max infused his show with Torah thought. Many times, people get caught up in the superficial numbers - hey look he has more career hits then the other. However, what's behind the numbers can be even more important. Max and Brian love to tout the OPS stat (On Base Plus Slugging) as a true barometer of a player's worth, because things like RBIs (Yes, I said RBIs) can also be a function of who is on base ahead of you. Its looking behind the gaudy numbers at what the substance is in baseball that allows you to understand the true value of the player. A similar concept is found in Torah Judaism. The Gemara (Ta'anis) relates how on Tu B'av the single girls who were looking for husbands would all go out wearing borrowed dresses so that no one would be embarrassed and all would have the same stature. Why? Because one's value cannot be determined solely by looking at the outer shell.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Laker Strong

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds review looks at Laker Strong, a lager that boasts a 5.9% alcohol content by volume.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in the review of Laker RedI have had an interest in trying Laker for a long period of time, but could not do so because they do not export to this part of the country (I'm not even sure they export to the US at all).

I did receive some interesting feedback from my cousin Doron as to the Laker beers. First, the ad campaign that I found hokey (click here to see the ad) is so omnipresent in Canada that Canadians are sick of the jingle. The other interesting fact he told me was that while Ontario restricts beer sales to government operated "Beer Stores", in Quebec it can be purchased in corner stores and grocery stores. Maybe my next family trip should be to Montreal...

Although the brand name for this offering by Laker is "Strong", I found the flavor to be anything but strong. The beer itself poured out as a light yellow color liquid with a little foam. Upon drinking it I could identify it as a lager, but could not pick up much else. To me, the beer almost seems to be like an ice beer - a beer that is brewed to eliminate aftertaste. When I first started my beer education, I went through an ice beer phase (Bud Ice in the penguin bottles, Icehouse and RedDog) and this seemed like it would fall into that category. Much like ice beer, this beer has a slightly higher alcohol content at 5.9% (usually brews are around 5.0) and this earns it the "strong" moniker that Laker gave it.

The beer went well with the cholent that I had for shabbos lunch, but then again most beers do. I would recommend this for someone looking to try beer, but not looking for much in the way of bitter.

Laker Strong is certified kosher by the Kashruth Council of Canada. For the experts' take on Laker Strong click here .

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

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday's Family Photo

Moshe with the newest addition to our family, Scratchy the Uromastyx

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Ki Seitzei

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.

Devarim 22:1-3 contains what is commonly thought of as the rules of hashavas aveidah - returning lost objects to a fellow Jew. During tonight's shiur, Rabbi Frand gave an entirely new meaning to the pesukim.

Devarim 22:1 states "Lo sireh es shor achicha or es seyo nidachim v'hisalamta me'hem, hashev tishive'im l'achicha." Translated into English, this pasuk on a basic level means, "[y]ou shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat cast off and hide yourself from them, you shall surely return them to your brother." The Or Hachaim Hakadosh asks - why does the Torah use the words "hashev tishivei'm" when the language of "hachzir" (which is normally used in connection with the return of objects) would be more appropriate? The Or Hachaim answers that the language of hashev tashiv is indicative of a deeper meaning - that one should assist others in doing teshuva.

With this introduction, the Or Hachaim puts the pesukim in a different light - when the pasuk mentions "shor" it does not literally mean an animal, it is a code word for a person. Similarly, the use of achicha does not mean your brother, it is a code word for Hashem. Additionally, in 22:2 when the words "v'im lo karov achiya" (if your brother is not near) are used, the allusion is to the times prior to the coming of the moshiach, when it is foretold that the Jews will be distant from Hashem. [Ed note - R' Frand also had an explanation for a few other words in the pasuk, but due to a combination of low volume for the transmission and some talking at the site where I viewed the shiur, I was unable to get them].

When looking at the pasuk from this angle we see that Hashem is actually telling us that if we see other Jews who need direction and who have wandered away from Him, we should get involved in helping them do teshuva and return to Hashem. And if (like in our generation) the people have gotten further away from Hashem, we should certainly assist in helping them find their direction back.

R' Frand drove the point home with a mashal. All parents are familiar with the concept of temporarily losing one's child in a public place such as a mall, museum or amusement park. The parent will get anxious or nervous while looking for the child. If a stranger assists in returning the child to the parent, the parent will be tremendously grateful for the outsider's assistance in returning the child.

The same concept can be said on a greater level of causing others to do teshuva and "return to Hashem." We know that Hashem looks at us as His children and for this reason he has given us many mitzvos through which we can draw close to him. If one of His children has drifted away, it will certainly be troubling to Him. However, if we take note of that lost child and help him return to Hashem, we will get a significant reward for being meishiv the person - causing them to do teshuva.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXVI

Tonight's weird (but true) legal case examines a scenario which could be written off as an exaggeration or Hollywood fabrication, but actually took place and was appealed and eventually decided by the highest court in New York State.

In Barker v. Kallash, 63 N.Y.2d 19, 468 N.E.2d 39, 479 N.Y.S.2d 201 (1984) the Court of Appeals examined a matter wherein a nearly fifteen year old child severely injured his hands when a pipe bomb that he was building (together with his fourteen and fifteen year old friends) exploded in his hands. Although some facts were in dispute, the court explained that

The plaintiff concededly obtained the pipe from his father's home workshop where he also found the caps to seal it and a power drill he used to make a hole for the fuse. Although his father also used gunpowder to reload shotgun shells at home, the plaintiff contends that the gunpowder used in the bomb was supplied by the Kallash brothers who extracted it from firecrackers. He testified, at an examination before trial, that they had told him that the day before the incident they had purchased fire crackers from the defendant Daniel Melucci, Jr., who was not quite nine years old at the time. Indeed, the plaintiff testified that he had told the Kallash brothers where the firecrackers could be purchased. The injury occurred after the pipe had been capped at one end and the plaintiff, and one of the Kallash brothers, had poured the gunpowder into it. As the plaintiff was screwing the second cap on to the pipe it exploded, severely injuring his hands.

Well, since the plaintiff must have been using bad fireworks in building the pipe bomb, he sued the eight year old who sold the fireworks (along with the child's parents) and the brothers (and their parents) who had helped him build the bomb.

Following depositions, the eight year old and his parents moved for summary judgment, mainly on the ground that the plaintiff was barred from recovery for injury sustained while he was engaged in wrongful conduct. The trial court granted the motion, stating that "by participating in the making of a pipe bomb [the plaintiff] was engaged in wrongful if not illegal conduct” and further noted that the courts of this State have consistently refused “to allow a party to establish a claim based on his own wrongful conduct.”

After the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court ruling, the Plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals. In affirming the dismissal, the Court explained:
when the plaintiff has engaged in activities prohibited, as opposed to merely regulated, by law, the courts will not entertain the suit if the plaintiff's conduct constituted a serious violation of the law and the injuries for which he seeks recovery were the direct result of that violation. In this latter instance recovery is denied, not because the plaintiff contributed to his injury, but because the public policy of this State generally denies judicial relief to those injured in the course of committing a serious criminal act.

As part of the decision, the Court made reference to one of those urban legend scenarios wherein the burglar who gets hurt breaking into a house, sues the owner of the property. The Court explained:
when the plaintiff's injury is a direct result of his knowing and intentional participation in a criminal act he cannot seek compensation for the loss, if the criminal act is judged to be so serious an offense as to warrant denial of recovery. Thus a burglar who breaks his leg while descending the cellar stairs, due to the failure of the owner to replace a missing step cannot recover compensation from his victims. As indicated the rule is grounded in public policy and holds that a claimant whose injuries are the direct result of his commission of what is judged to be serious criminal or illegal conduct is not entitled to recover. It involves preclusion of recovery at the very threshold of the plaintiff's application for judicial relief.
If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Gittin 60

Gittin 60 continues the discussion which began with the mishna on 59(a and b) as to rules that were made for darcei shalom. Although this post will only touch on a few of the topics discussed, the daf itself is filled with interesting topics and (in my opinion) would be an excellent daf for a tikkun leil shavuous.

One of the first topics discussed involves the laws of priority for aliyos among yisraelim. When we started the daf tonight after the 9:45 ma'ariv, a passing gabbai heard the topic and said something to the effect that it would make his life easier if everyone knew this topic. Unfortunately, the daf does not get into the specifics of whether a yartzheit takes priority over a baby naming or aufruf. Instead, the gemara gives a list of priority among yisraelim, starting with the chacham haparnas (the scholar who gets involved in managing communal affairs) and finishes with the regular Jew.

Another interesting topic dealt with the use of Haftora books. I can recall that in the late 1980's my parents' shul stopped using a Haftora book (a single bound volume containing only the Haftora for each Torah reading) and started using a full tanach. The source for the concept is this gemara in which Rabbah and R' Yosef indicate that it is not permitted to use such a book because permission was not granted to write down only portions of a book of Nach in an individual scroll as the scrolls should contain the entire text of that book of Nach. Indeed, many yeshivos use an individual Nach sefer scroll (i.e. a Shmuel I from a klaf) when reading the Haftora. So why do some communities still use the Haftora book? The topic in the gemara ends with a heter for the use of such a book when a community cannot afford to have each of the books of Nach written in individual scrolls. The reason is derived from a pasuk in Tehillim ("Es la'asos L'Hashem") which Rashi explains that -- if a time arises when something must be done, the chachamim can be "mefer" something because the time demands it.

One last topic that I want to get into involves the eight parshios that R' Levi teaches were given to Moshe on the day that the Mishkan was erected. The gemara makes mention of R' Levi within a fascinating discussion as to whether Moshe wrote the Torah piece by piece as it occurred, or whether he learned and taught everything, but did not write the Torah until the end of his life when the Torah formed the complete unit which we know it to be. Within this discussion, the gemara mentions R' Levi as a proof that at least some (eight) separate parshios were written so as to have the topics available for use by those involved with the Mishkan.

Within the eight parshios that were taught on that day is "parshas teme'im." Rashi explains that this parsha dealt with the rules of those people who were involved with carrying atzmos yosef and were therefore ineligible to eat the pesach sacrifice. Rashi explains that the parshas teme'im which was taught allowed these people to know that they could eat fron the korban pesach on Pesach Shayni.

Tosafos (d'h Parshas Teme'im) takes issue with Rashi's explanation. Tosafos asks, if the laws of Pesach are taught thirty days in advance, how could this be a discussion of those disallowed from eating the korban pesach since it was a month and a half away. Tosafos also says that it could not be those who were tamei from carrying Yosef's bones or because they were mitamei for a meis mitzva because they would have had their seventh day of counting on erev Pesach. Instead, Tosafos indicates that the Parsha Teme'im that was taught dealt with those who became impure by coming into contact with impure sheratzim.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XXV - Pigeonholes, Overreactions and the Mets

Today's Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show had its usual quality take on the weekend in sports, along with a giant helping of social commentary (in my opinion). I will try to hit some of the high points in this post.

There was a discussion about whether athletes are too pigeonholed which emanated from their analysis of the Jets-Dolphins game. When Mike Nugent was attempting a field goal he came up lame and the Jets did not attempt any field goals thereafter. Instead, the punter (Ben Graham) did the kickoffs for a few quarters and the Jets went for it on 4th down (scoring a touchdown in the process) and tried the two point conversion (unsuccessfully).

The above scenario prompted a conversation between Max and Brian as to whether athletes are too pigeonholed. Max talked about how teams need to be prepared, like a baseball team having a player who knows that he is also the emergency catcher. He also joked about how some relief pitchers feel that they only have a specific role (8th inning guy or lefty specialist) and have some trepidation about taking on tasks that they are unaccustomed too. Max correctly laid the blame at Eric Mangini's feet for not having been prepared for this possibility. I would have liked someone to have talked about how a kicker gets a deep thigh bruise kicking a field goal, but that will await another day.

There was also a discussion about the Yankees and how "the meatheads are right" that the Yankees have a bloated $200 million payroll with nothing to show for it (they are in 4th at the moment). They later spoke to Mel Kiper Jr about how the Yankees could use Pedroia and Ellsbury. It was an interesting exchange as Kiper said to Brian and Max that he "can't believe that he was telling NY sports radio guys not to overreact." To which Brian Kenny quipped "you're talking to the wrong guys."

There was also a great line by Max Kellerman about how the Mets did their best to collapse, but Johan Santana would not let them. Kudos were also given to Carlos Delgado, with Brian saying that it could not happen to a nicer guy. I don't know Carlos personally or otherwise, so I can't comment.

There was also a frustrated swipe taken at A-Rod (I can only hope this was an attempt at humor). Max said that A-Rod is garbage under pressure and that Max blames A-Rod's father for walking out on him and A-Rod's (soon to be ex-) wife Cynthia for divorcing him and that these events have contributed to A-Rod's inability to perform in the clutch.

Back to the issue of pigeonholes and staying in place, Max's commentary was right in line with Torah thought. I can recall hearing a shiur (class) when I was involved in kiruv wherein it was asked whether its OK to stay the same without attempting to improve. The answer of course, is no. Max would probably have some fancy sociology term for this, but Judaism knows this as you can't stay still. It is a fundamental tenet of mussar that if a person does not attempt to improve himself he will wind up backsliding. Instead, we need to try to do better each day and to improve ourselves on a regular basis. If we stay in our pigeonhole, satisfied with our level of interaction with others and Hashem, we will undoubtedly take steps backward. However, if we are willing to step out of the hole and improve ourselves we can accomplish great things.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Night Suds - Redhook Sunrye Ale

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds beer review looks at Redhook Sunrye Ale. I found this beer in the summer style mix box that I purchased in Allentown, PA in August. It was a bit of a curiosity to me as I had never heard of beer made from Rye. Sure enough, the experts at Beer Advocate had a special Rye Beer category. Their description is below:
Not to be confused with a German Roggenbier, a beers that fall into this category contain a notable amount of rye grain in the grist bill. Bitterness tends to be moderate, to allow the often spicy and sour-like rye characteristics to pull through.
After doing a little research on BA, I found that many brewers in fact make a version of rye beer, including the Saranac Roggen Bock (possibly included in their beers of summer box). I also found that the Triumph Brewing Company of NJ and Pennsylvania makes a "Jewish Rye Ale". I clicked through to their website, but could not ascertain whether the beer is flavored and would thus require Kosher supervision to drink. I also did not notice whether there were caraway seeds...

On the issue of flavored beers, I would like to make a general request to those who read this page regularly. No, I do not want donations. My request would be, if you are aware of a well regarded flavored beer, please contact the brewer by e-mail, snail mail, carrier pigeon, or any other way that you can conceive of. Let them know that you are a kosher consumer and that you would like to try their highly regarded flavored beer, but are unable to do so because the brewer does not have kosher supervision. Also, let them know how many beers are already under kosher supervision. You could be responsible for broadening the kosher market and making many waistlines a notch or two bigger. Seriously, if you have any questions, or would like to suggest a brewer, I would love to assist. Please e-mail me at .

But back to Redhook Sunrye Ale - its a light tasting summer ale. The beer pours a golden color with a little head. It went really well with barbecue tonight, but almost all beer goes well with barbecue. I have had a few of them with spicy meals and they are equal to the task.

Redhook Sunrye Ale 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 Sunrye Ale please click here .

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

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Shoftim

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 Devarim 17:8-9 the Torah discusses what appears to be directions to judges in small town courts as to how to conduct themselves if they encounter a case which is beyond their knowlege. The Torah mentions that if in deciding a matter involving blood (bein dam l'dam), judgment (bein din l'din) or blemishes (ubein nega l'nega) and there is a controversy (divrei ribos b'sha'arecha), the judge should go to the Sanhedrin and ask for guidance.

R' Frand mentioned that the Ari had a different spin on this which was derived from a story in the Zohar. The Ari relates that during the period of the destruction of the temple (churban) the angels came before Hashem and said - Your Torah shows compassion for animals' bodies and requires that the blood of a ritually slaughtered chicken must be covered, yet the blood of the Jews is flowing openly in the street. Your Torah shows compassion for animals' lives by forbidding a mother and child animal from being slaughtered on the same day, yet Jewish mothers and children are being killed on the same day by the invaders. Your Torah shows concern about Jewish property in that when a blemish is found on a house, the Torah is careful about the person's property and only the most minimal amount is removed, so why are you allowing the Beis Hamikdash to be destroyed. The zohar indicates that Hashem responded to the angels, "because there is no peace, if there is no peace, there is nothing."

The Ari explains that this zohar is alluded to in the pasuk mentioned above. If there is a case involving blood (bein dam l'dam) or judgment (bein din l'din) or blemishes (bein nega l'nega) and this arises because of discord in your community (divrei ribos b'sha'arecha)... If there is peace and harmony between Jews, there will never be a churban. Indeed, we know from the Gemara in Yoma (9b) that the Second Temple was destroyed because there was sinas chinam (baseless hatred) between Jews. As long as we can love and respect each other there will never be a need for the angels to ask about the blood, judgment and blemishes...

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXV

Tonight's weird (but true) legal case analaysis was inspired by a conversation that I had with my wife while we were driving in upstate NY this past week. While observing motorists flashing their brights to alert other drivers as to speed traps, I commented to Sarah that I had once come across a case in which a driver was prosecuted for flicking her brights. Upon further review, I was able to locate two such cases and I have summarized them in this post.

In People v. Lauber, 162 Misc.2d 19, 617 N.Y.S.2d 419 (App. Term 9th and 10th JDs) the Appellate Term concerned the appeal of a motorist who was convicted of failing to dim her headlights in violation of New York's VTL §375(3).

In the court below, the motorist testified that as she was driving southbound and approaching a state trooper's parked location, two cars flipped their lights at her. She passed the patrol car and "flicked" her lights three times. The trooper subsequently started his car and got onto the road, after she "would have" finished her "flicking."

The motorist also commented that the since the incident occured on a Sunday evening in February around 6:50 P.M. and traffic "was not very heavy", she was not "interfering" with any driver or anybody. Upon being asked by the trial judge why she was "flicking," she answered, "It may not have been smart, I admit, but when the cars flicked at me, I looked and saw the Officer's car, and I just flicked for other cars to know."

The motorist also testified that when she spoke to the trooper on a later date, he said he had given her the ticket "because [she] was alerting other drivers-- having nothing to do with her lights."

In discussing the VTL violation which the motorist had been convicted of in the lower court and its inapplicability to the charge, the Appellate Term noted that:

The subject provision states in pertinent part that a car's headlamps "... whenever a vehicle approaching from ahead is within five hundred feet ... shall be operated so that dazzling light does not interfere with the driver of the approaching vehicle ..." (Vehicle and Traffic Law § 375[3] ). From such language, it is clear that merely showing that defendant "flipped" or "flicked" her high beams at approaching vehicles would be insufficient to establish that he caused "dazzling light" which "interfere[d]" with the drivers of said vehicles.
In light of the above, the Appellate Term dismissed the conviction, explaining that "the defendant's motive for flicking her high beams, however unwise, did not render her guilty of the subject traffic offense."

As I mentioned earlier, at least one other motorist had been tried in the New York courts for warning motorists as to the presence of the police. In People v. Wright, 53 Misc.2d 942, 280 N.Y.S.2d 213 (Cty. Ct. Orange Cty. 1967) a mototist had been tried and convicted in a Town Court of a violation of Article 9, Section 375(2)(c) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

In discussing Section 375(2)(c) of the VTL, the court noted that it "forbids the display of certain white lights which ‘shall cast a constantly moving, oscillating, revolving, rotating or flashing beam of white light visible from a point in front of the vehicle or from any other direction, except a flashing light or lights used as a directional signal or highway hazard warning’, by all but specially authorized vehicles performing specially authorized functions."

The court went on to note that the motive of the motorist who had flashed his high beams was immaterial, explaining that "it would seem that the display of an unauthorized light or the use of a light in an unauthorized manner would be a violation of this section without regard to the motive which prompted such use, and conversely, if a light displayed by a motorist is not proscribed by this section of the statute, his motive in displaying the light will not render him guilty of its violation."

In reversing the conviction, the County Court explained that since the evidence indicated that the motorist had merely turned his headlights on and off five times at thirty second intervals, he had clearly not been causing his lights to be "constantly flashing", regardless of the motive for his actions.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Gittin 53

Gittin 53 continues a discussion which began with the mishna on Gittin 52b dealing with fines which were imposed for damaging another person's property. The focus of the discussion is an analysis of whether damage which is not recognizable to the human eye (hezek she'ayno nikar) is considered damage or not.

Within the context of the discussion, the gemara mentions Chizkiah's position that if the damage is not recognizable, it is still considered damage. The gemara then asks why according to the mishna on 52b, a person who accidentally damages the property (by being mitamei, or menasech or making it midama) is not required to pay while the person who does so on purpose must pay. The gemara answers that a person who does so accidentally might be dissuaded from owning up to his actions if he was required to make payment and admit his negligence, therefore he is exempted from payment where the damage is not recognizable so as to give him an incentive to admit his mistake. On the other hand, a person who does the action on purpose does not need this reason because (according to Rashi d'h L'tzarueh) he wants the other person to know that he damaged that person's property.

The gemara later attempts to prove that the imperceptible damage is still damage (and thus must be reimbursed) by making reference to a situation where a Kohain has piggul thoughts (an intention to eat the sacrifice beyond its permitted time) when the sacrifice is offered. The gemara teaches that the priest who does this on purpose must make payment to the individual who wanted to bring the sacrifice. Rashi (d'h Chayavim) explains that this is equally applicable whether the sacrifice was obligatory or voluntary. Rashi notes that if the sacrifice is obligatory, the individual will have to bring another sacrifice in order to fulfill his obligation and the Kohain must make him whole by reimbursing him for the animal. Rashi also explains that if the sacrifice is voluntary the Kohain must still make reimbursement, because otherwise the person will refrain from making voluntary sacrifices if he knows that there is a chance that the sacrifice will be voided by the Kohain's intentional malfeasance.

On 53b, the gemara tries to tie a dispute between R' Yehuda and R' Meir to the issue of whether or not fines are imposed for unintentional acts so that a person will not come to act intentionally. As part of this discussion, the gemara mentions two situations involving R' Yehuda, one in which a person mixes regular produce with terumah produce (thus creating a meduma mixture) and another scenario where a person bakes on shabbos. In the meduma example, R' Yehuda says that the accidental mixing of another's property is not compensable, but if it was done on purpose it is compensable. In contrast, R' Yehuda says that if a person baked on shabbos, whether or not on purpose, the food cannot be eaten on shabbos. In the former situation (meduma) we say that a fine is not imposed for accidental conduct because we do not seek to prevent intentional conduct, whereas in the latter situation (shabbos) we are seeking to avoid any intentional conduct and will penalize someone for accidental conduct as a mechanism of further insuring that there will not be intentional violations. In explaining why according to R' Yehuda there is a difference between meduma and shabbos, the gemara offers an explanation that shabbos is a Biblical prohibition so we look to avoid violations at all costs. However, since meduma is Rabbinic in nature, we don't need to impose an additional fine to prevent intentional conduct.

Tosafos (d'h B'Doraisa) asks the following question on this answer - why do we absolve the Kohain from making restitution for making the sacrifice piggul? Isn't this also a Biblical prohibition? Yet, we do not impose a requirement to reimburse the other person if the piggul is accidental! Tosafos answers that if we were to fine the Kohain for accidental piggul and make him reimburse the offerer every time that the Kohain errs, the Kohain will simply refuse to bring sacrifices.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Monday Musings on Sports

Due to the holiday, there was no Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny show today. Instead, 1050 ran a "best of" segment featuring interviews and selected calls from the last few months. Rather than rehashing stale sports topics that were rebroadcast in today's "best of" performance, I would like to give my own take on some of the recent sports topics of conversation, along with an insight into an interview with Teddy Atlas from last week.

In relation to Mets fans and their attempt to pump Carlos Delgado, I can honestly say that I don't know which planet they are on. Yes, he has 30 home runs (tied for 6th in the NL) and 93 RBIs (tied for 8th in the NL). But Delgado also has a poor batting average (.257) and is hitting an unbelievably poor .154 with the bases loaded. Is he doing better than Mets fans could and should have expected? Absolutely. Is he an MVP? Of course not.

My question is, why are Mets fans are not touting Manuel for Manager of the Year. The Mets are 43-26 under Manuel (.623). Prorated over the course of an entire season, the Mets would have over 100 wins under Manuel. Not even the Cubs have that high a winning percentage. If the Mets finish the final 25 games at the same winning percentage, their record under Manuel would be 59-35, a record befitting serious consideration in the Manager of the Year balloting.

In connection with the Yankees, I wonder whether their downfall this year is less about the quality of the players and more about the improvement of the rest of the AL East. No, Max has not paid me to say this and I am still convinced that Joba, Hughes, Kennedy and Rasner are the second coming of 1994's Generation K. Still, the numbers don't lie. In 2003 the Yankees had a 65% winning pct vs the Orioles, Blue Jays and Devil Rays (OBD) and a 61% winning pct against the rest of the league. [I don't factor the Red Sox into the equation since they have been on par with the Yankees for the last five years]. In 2004 the Yankees were 72% against the OBD and 57% against the rest of the league. In 2005 they were 56% against the OBD and 60% against the rest of the league. In 2006 they were 64% against the OBD and 58% against everyone else. In 2007 they were 57% against OBD and 60% against everyone else. In the present year they are 52% against the OBD and 53% against all other teams. If the Yankees had performed against their divisional bottom feeders at their usual rate of success, they would at least be talking wild card. Since they have not been able to take advantage of the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, they are largely irrelevant.

A couple of quick football thoughts - does either NY football GM have a clue about depth at skill positions? The Giants are now carrying two quarterbacks on their 53 man roster. If either goes down in a game they will not have any backup QB available if needed. Of course, the Jets are carrying four QBs, but the Giants can't reach across and take any of theirs. But the Jets have their own problems since they are carrying only three RBs on their active roster. If Washington or Jones goes down, the Jets will only have one RB left who can carry the football. [I can't seriously consider Tony Richardson since he carried the ball 18 times in the last three years]. Maybe the Jets will use one of their seven WRs to run the ball.

One other quick point in relation to a Teddy Atlas interview from last Wednesday. It was interesting to hear Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny ask the master motivator what he would say to the Mets to get them going. He responded that he would sit down with the bullpen and remind them of their roles and their past successes and their potential. In this way he would be able to motivate them to simply do the jobs they were capable of doing and the team could succeed.

The comments by Mr. Atlas about succeeding by accepting your situation and excelling based on where you are situated reminded me of a story I heard not that long ago about R' Gifter, the Rosh Yeshiva at Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland. The Rabbi and some of his students were on a plane flying to a wedding when the plane encountered difficulty and was forced to land. When it became apparent that they were not going to make it to the wedding, R' Gifter and the students began to look for a place to pray Mincha (afternoon prayer). They asked the custodian for an empty room and he opened one for them and remained while they prayed. Someone noticed that the custodian was mumbling while they were praying and asked the custodian about it. The custodian told them that he was not an observant Jew, but that his father had recently died and he needed to say the Kaddish (mourner's prayer). He then told them that his father had come to him in a dream to tell him to say Kaddish for him. He said to his father that their was no prayer service where he lived, but his father said that he would bring the service to the son. Sure enough, the plane was forced to land at that airport and he was present for the prayer service.

I'm not saying that Teddy Atlas had a story like this in mind when he hypothesized about what he would tell the Mets to motivate their bullpen. But accepting that one's situation is what it is and making the most of it (like the Rabbi and his students who realized they were not getting to the wedding and thus formed the minyan which allowed the custodian to pray) always leads to positive results. Hashem puts everyone in a position where they are capable of succeeding, we just need to figure out our role is and do our best once we do discern our position. As taught by Mr. Atlas, if we do accept our role and strive to do our best in this capacity, we are assured of succeeding.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site such as JBlog, please feel free to click here to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!