Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

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. Also, please be advised that the vort reproduced in this post was actually part of a longer thought. Unfortunately, our Internet connection broke off and the last portion was not heard at our site.

Tonight, Rabbi Frand asked the well known question which has been asked at seder tables for generations - why did Hashem need ten plagues before Pharaoh would let the Jews leave Egypt? Why didn't Hashem just use one large and terrible makkah which would have convinced Pharaoh to let the Jews leave?

Rabbi Frand then followed up the question with another question related to the Jews geulah from Bavel. Rabbi Frand noted that the geulah from Egypt was not the only return from exile as the Jews were also exiled to Bavel and were then permitted by King Coresh to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple (indeed, Koresh funded a good portion of the construction). The book of Ezra explains that this return resulted from Hashem's having influenced Koresh, as Koresh stated that he was inspired by Hashem to allow the Jews to return to Israel. Rabbi Frand then asked, why didn't Hashem influence Pharaoh in the same way?

Rabbi Frand answered by quoting to R' Shlomo Kluger who said that Hashem wanted Pharaoh to be strongly opposed to the Jews leaving Egypt so that the eventual redemption would come at a time that Pharaoh was a broken man. We see this as the pesukim say that Hashem hardened Pharaoh's heart to resist letting them go. This required ten makkos to systematically break Pharaoh down publicly. Without this public display, the Jews would not have had a strong connection to Hashem. Instead, they could have said reasoned that they were leaving Egypt because Pharaoh had benevolently allowed them to leave. In order to build a strong kesher with His people, Hashem needed the Jews to see that the redemption came as a result of His acts.

Rabbi Frand then quoted a line from the haggada, where it is written that had Hashem not taken us out of Egypt we would still be "mishubadim" (enslaved) to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Rabbi Frand then asked - its been thousands of years and many nations have risen and fallen since the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, how is it possible that we would still be enslaved?

R' Frand answered that had we not been overtly taken out of Egypt we would have been indebted to Pharaoh for letting us go. This was very different from when the Jews left Bavel. The gemara states that when the Jews left Bavel there were only 43, 000 Jews who went to Israel. When they arrived there they did not have their own monarch. Additionally, the second Temple was nothing in comparison with the first. Indeed, the gemara notes that those who had been alive at the time of the first Temple cried when they saw the second Temple, as it lacked so much from the first.

In sharp contrast, when the Jews left Egypt they left en masse, with six hundred thousand men in addition to the women and children. When they came to Israel they had their own leaders and divided the land. Had this been accomplished because Pharaoh had voluntarily allowed them to leave, there simply would not have been a strong connection to Hashem. As such, the Jews needed to see the yad hachazakah, that Hashem was the sole cause of their redemption from Egypt and that we are meshubad to Him.

The mefarshim say that geulas mitrzayim is the paradigm for the geulah that will come in the future. R' Frand then quoted R' Paam who asked in his sefer - why do the umos ha'olam hate the Jews so much. R' Frand then alluded to what he called the "law of the playground" that if you hit someone they will hit you back. Why is it so foreign to the world that if you send thousands of thousands of missiles from Gaza into Israeli towns for years, that finally the kid being hit will hit back hard after years of abuse?

R' Frand then made reference to yesterday's conference in Davos where there was a discussion about Gaza involving Ban Ki-Moon, Amr Moussa (arab league president), the Turkish Prime Minister and Shimon Peres. Peres went last and spoke for 25 minutes which enraged the Turkish Prime Minister. Why? Because Peres asked - how would you react if someone was shooting missiles into Istanbul. R' Frand then asked - how would the US react if they were shooting missiles from Tijuana into San Diego?

R' Frand then quoted R' Paam's answer - its because in the future it will not be the nations of the world who will stand up for and defend the Jews. It will be like geulas mitzrayim, Hashem alone and not through any surrogate or assistant, will be the one who redeems us.

R' Frand also quoted R' Paam about the UN. What is their purpose? He answered by making reference to the gemara in Avodah Zarah (2:2). There it states that Hashem will say to the people of the world - what did you do. They will respond that they built bridges and structures and cities all for the Jews to learn Torah. Hashem will then respond to them - you are liars, you did this all for yourself. R' Paam said that the UN is a symbol of this gemara. Every vote in the UN is recorded. All their speeches vilifying Israel are recorded. When the time of judgment comes in the future when the umos haolam are asked what did you do for the Jews and they respond by making reference to the UN, Hashem will pull out all of their votes and show that they truly acted for their own purposes. At that point it will again become obvious that like yetzias mitzrayim, all of our help only comes from Hashem.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XL

Today's Weird (but true) legal cases continues last night's insight to chassidus by looking at the matter of Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation.

In this matter, Chabad filed suit against the Russian Federation and various Russian state agencies (the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communication, the Russian State Library and the Russian State Military Archives) seeking to reclaim various seforim which the Russian government had refused to turn over to Chabad. The suit was originally commenced in 2004 in US District Court for the Central District of California. However, since the suit arose under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), the case was transferred to the US District Court for the District of Columbia (which provides that these actions should be heard in the DC District Court).

Tonight's post focuses on the first of two decisions which have been published involving this lawsuit. The first was the 2006 decision of District Court Judge Royce Lamberth which determined the defendants motion to dismiss, the second decision is the 2008 Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit decision in the appeal of Judge Lamberth's decision.

The initial decision (published at 466 F.Supp.2d 6 (DDC 2006) is a fascinating read for other than legal reasons as it examines the history of Chabad starting with its creation in 1775 by the Alter Rebbe, R' Schneur Zalman and continuing to the present date (although it mercifully does not talk about the divisions in Chabad since the death of the Seventh Rebbe).

The crux of the decision revolved around two sets of documents which Chabad sought to recover, the "Library" which consists of more than 12,000 seforim and 381 manuscripts and the Archive which consists of over 25,000 pages of the various Rebbe's handwritten teachings and correspondence.

In 1915, the Fifth Rebbe (who was fleeing from the advancing German army) took some of the books from the Library and put the rest into storage. Unfortunately, from that point forward the Library was never returned to Jewish hands as it passed from agency to agency during the period of the Bolshevik revolution to the present.

Meanwhile, the various Rebbe continued to carry the archive with them as they fled from Russia to Latvia and then to Poland. Then in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the Sixth Rebbe fled to the United States, however he was unable to bring the archive with him. The archive was seized by the Nazis and moved to a Gestapo controlled castle in Germany. Then, in 1945, the archive was taken by the Soviet army as "trophy documents" and transferred to Russia. Thereafter in the early 1990's Chabad attempted to obtain the archive through various administrative methods which at times seemed promising, including a November 1991 Order mandating its return to Chabad. However, this order was later reversed by an appeals court which ordered that the archive be turned over to the Russian Jewish Library. This Order was then reversed by the Deputy Chief State Arbiter of the Russian Federation who nullified the prior orders which had required the Russian State Library to turn over the archive.

In seeking the return of the library and the archive, Chabad argued that the FSIA's expropriation exception provided the Court with jurisdiction to entertain Chabad's suit against a foreign government. As noted by the court, this exception applies when: (1) “rights in property” are at issue; (2) the property was “taken in violation of international law”; and (3) “the property at issue (or any property exchanged for it) [is] ... ‘owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality’ engages in commercial activity in the United States.

In analyzing whether it could maintain jurisdiction over the suit, Judge Lamberth looked at the claims for the archive and library separately. In relation to the library claim, the court ruled that since it belonged to a Soviet citizen when it was seized in the 1920s, the taking did not violate international law. However, in regards to the archive which was seized by the Soviet army in 1945, the court explained that:

[t]he Soviet Army's 1945 seizure and appropriation of the Archive from its Nazi captors as spoils of war was also a taking in violation of international law. The Archive was neither taken nor held for a public purpose, as the Soviet Union did not make it available for public use and long denied that it even had it. And regardless who the legal owner of the Archive was at the time, the Soviet Union neither provided nor offered compensation for it. This taking took place in Poland after the Sixth Rebbe had become a Latvian citizen and Chabad had been formed as a New York corporation, defeating any possible argument that this matter is outside the purview of international law.

The defendants also argued that the FSIA should not apply since the act of state doctrine (which presumes the validity of acts of foreign nations within their borders) purportedly immunized their actions. The court disagreed with this conclusion in relation to the archive documents, stating:

The act of state doctrine does not apply to Chabad's claims concerning the Archive. The Nazi taking of Jewish property during the Holocaust was manifestly illegal. It is not clear whether the Soviet Army's taking of the Archive as spoils of war at the conclusion of World War II was an official government act, but irrespective, it occurred in Poland and not in Soviet territory. Were this Court to eventually decide in Chabad's favor, declaring the taking of the Archive a violation of international law, this ruling would not have the effect of declaring illegal any official Soviet or Russian action in its own territory.

The court noted in conclusory fashion that the acts of state doctrine would bar the court from considering the taking of the Library.

Next week, Wednesday's Weird (but true) legal cases will examine the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit's 2008 opinion in relation to the appeal from Judge Lamberth's order.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Kamma 30

Right before the beginning of the second mishna on Bava Kamma 30(a), the gemara digresses and presents a middos analysis. After having discussed the liability of an individual who takes thorns and glass shards and inserts them in a wall which is subsequently destroyed (spilling the dangerous objects out into the street) the gemara then discusses various righteous individuals who tried to safeguard the public from these objects.

The gemara first mentions that the "chassidim harishonim" used to bury the objects three tefachim deep under their fields, either so that the plow blade would not be damaged by them, or as Tosafos (d'h Shelo) explains, so that the plow would not dislodge the objects and leave them in a place where someone could hurt themselves on the thorns/shards.

After this, the gemara states that R' Sheshes would burn the dangerous items, while Rava dumped them into the Tigris River.

The gemara then presents various opinions on how one can become a chassid (not the curly ones). R' Yehuda states that one who wants to become a chassid should study "Nezikin" which is understood to mean the three tractates of Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia and Bava Basra. Rava then states that one should study Avos (Rabbenu Channanel learns this means Pirkei Avos). Rava also offers the alternative explanation that one should study Berachos.

I was struck by the contrast in approaches to the goal of becoming a chassid. By studying Nezikin, one learns how to treat other people's property, seemingly a pure bein adam l'chavero route to chassidus. In learning Avos, one studies the philosophy of the world as well as how to interact with one's fellow man, a hybrid of bein adam l'makom and l'chavero. By learning Berachos, one concentrates solely on his relationship with Hashem. All in all, three different approaches are presented to reaching the same goal.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XXXIX - Anything but football

Today's Max Kellerman show while broadcast from "Radio Row" at the site of the "big game" had very little to do with football. Rather than speculating on the reasons for the avoidance of NFL talk, I would like to quickly sum up some of the topics which were discussed.

The new Joe Torre book which had been "excerpted" in the tabloids caught a great deal of attention. Max led with a thought about Joe Torre, asking (and I paraphrase) whether the book was really anything new. He mentioned that the book's characterization of A-Rod's "Single White Female" obsession with Derek Jeter was like "catching Nixon." Max explained that everyone knew that Nixon was a crook, but once he was caught and exposed it became an "Aha, I knew it" moment where you feel that your suspicions were vindicated. This was his feeling as it related to the book's expression of what everyone supposedly knew about A-Rod.

There was another Max observation about A-Rod that everyone knew that A-Rod had the most talent. However, everyone still wants to BE Derek Jeter, including A-Rod.

There was a good deal of boxing commentary which I missed, partially because I lack the background in boxing and partially because I turned the show off for quite a while before turning it back on in the midst of a Michael Irvin interview (OK, so there was some football).

As usual, there were some Max personal references as Max continued his application of the Howard Stern school of hooking the audience by sharing some of your life experiences with them. This included Max talking about how he was unaware of whether it truly was sunny in Tampa as he was on "Radio Row" while his wife and daughter were off on the beach (hope they enjoyed it, it was in the twenties in NY today).

Max also talked about his view on members of the media rooting for sports teams. He said something to the effect that "just because you are in the media doesn't mean that you can't be a fan." This was said within the context of a discussion about the NY Knicks - they are "fun to watch now, even as they prepare for the summer of '10. "

There were a few segments which touched on games that kids play and what was the favorite non-sports game. Some suggestions were tag, freeze tag, stoops and kickball. I did not listen to the whole show (or even most of it) so I don't know if this was suggested - but my money is on "off the roof."

But back to the issue of the interjection of personal life into the show, there was a moment in a show last week which I wanted to highlight. Max was talking to Larry Fitzgerald's father (LF Sr.) about what Larry did for him after he signed his first contract. This theme (while not unique to the Max Kellerman show) is one of those topics the media likes to write about - what did the athlete do for his mother/father/grandmother after he "made it big." Unlike most of the stories which the media runs with that are usually negative in nature (shootings, extramarital affairs, books bashing teammates) , the "I bought my mom a house" stories are positive, feel good stories which make for good press. I believe that these stories catch on because people do like to read about athletes showing hakaras hatov (the recognition of good done for you by others) to their parents and family members.

[And yes, Max did share his own hakaras hatov story in which he talked about how his family did not have a car growing up, so when he had made it he bought a Jaguar, took his dad out for a ride under the premise that Max was showing off his new car, and then Max gave his dad the keys.]

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Black Lager

This week, Sunday Night Suds returns from a brief hiatus and looks at the Samuel Adams Black Lager.

While on vacation with the family in the Boston area, we decided that it would be educational to take a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery. It certianly was a positive experience as we got to see first hand the actual brewing process and were permitted to taste the various types of malted barley which are used in the brew process. (They also passed around a cup of hops, but we chose just to smell, rather than chew the flowers).

During the tour, our guide Scotty was using a cool looking glass fromwhich he periodically sipped his brewery fresh Boston Lager. The glass was much different than the kind that I had seen in my local beer stores, more like the fancy glasses they discuss on BA. So I decided to add it to my collection and use it for this week's review (see picture above).

Unlike typical pint glasses or mugs, the Samuel Adams Lager glass has a wide lip which really allows the scent of the beer to hit you before you taste the beer. In drinking my Black Lager tonight, I was struck by the chocolate tones well before I actually drank the beer. Also, the beer has an interesting ring below the mouth which supposedly allows the beer to retain its head, although my lager did not do that this evening.

But enough about the glass, if you have read this far you are looking for some insights into the flavor of the brew. Initially, I would caution that while they call this a Black Lager, it is nothing like the Waterloo Dark Lager ( ) as it strays from typical lager taste. There are strong chocolate/coffee notes in the brew. While you could drink this with a meal, it would probably be best served as an after dinner drink to be consumed slowly.

Samuel Adams Black Lager is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K. Having said that, this is yet another Samuel Adams brew which does not have the certification mark on the label. [I attended a shalom zachor this week where the hosts served Sam Adams and had put a copy of the LOC on the table so that anyone wondering about the flavored SA brews could make they were under supervision.] If you would like to verify that the Black Lager is on the LOC issued by the Star-K, please click here

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

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

Finally, if you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Va'era

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 Shmos 7:1, the Torah states that Hashem told Moshe that He had made Moshe an "Elohim"over Pharaoh and that Aharon would be Moshe's spokesman. Rashi asks what does the pasuk mean when it states that Moshe will be "Elohim" ? He explains that the term can be used in a form other than divine - it means that he will be the master over Pharaoh and that you will teach him a lesson.

The Medrash Rabbah learns the pasuk in connection with the pasuk in Tehillim - Seu Sha'arim Rasheichem... What does that pasuk refer to? The gemara in Shabbos 30a explains that when Shlomo wanted to bring the aron into the Kodesh Hakadashim he had a problem as it would not fit. He then davened 24 tefillos, but still was unable to solve the problem. He then said this line in Tehillim Seu Sha'arim...V'yavo Melech HaKavod. The people thought that Shlomo was referring to himself. They wanted to kill him for the perceived arrogance. They asked him, who are you referring to (Mi Hu Zeh...). He responds that he is referring to Hashem who is the Melech Hakavod. Still the doors would not open. Then Shlomo invoked the name of his father Dovid and only then did the doors open.

The Medrash then asks why did Shlomo refer to Hashem as Melech Hakavod? Because Hashem gives kavod to those who fear him and walk in his path. Hashem is the Melech Hakavod not because he demands kavod, but because he gives it to others. A regular king has special rules as you can't sit in his seat or ride his horse. Yet Hashem has allowed humans to use his things such as his sceptre, horse and chair - thus giving kavod to others. The Medrash concludes that a human king does not permit others to use his name. When there was a Caeasar, no one else could be called by that name. Here, Hashem has given kavod to man as he has even given his name (in our situation to Moshe) to humans.

The Sefer Shemen Hatov explains that a melech who demands kavod is a slave to kavod. He must kowtow to the masses in order to receive more kavod. However, if kavod can be given to others, this is the melech al hakavod. He then writes that this is the same by humans. A person is worthy of kavod if he can give it to others. Pharaoh deified himself as he would not even go to the bathroom in public as he wanted to give the image that he was a god. Therefore Hashem calls Moshe "Elohim" to show Pharaoh what a true melech hakavod is - one who gives kavod rather than demands it.

R' Frand then supported the vort by making reference to a Rambam in Hilchos Ishus. The Rambam explains how a man is to treat his wife. A man is supposed to honor his wife and give her more kavod than himself. He should spend money on his wife according to his means. R' Frand then interjected that the Jewish institution of marriage is built on ahavah and kavod and that a marriage which lacks the giving of kavod to the wife is is not the paradigm of a Jewish marriage.

R' Frand then continued that a wife should give kavod to her husband and view him as a melech. The melech the Rambam refers to is not the one who demands kavod, but rather one that gives to others. This is not the dictator, but rather the Rambam explains that he should speak to his wife softly and not impose his will on her. This is the Melech Hakavod - the one who gives kavod rather than demanding it.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

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 Shemos 2:11, the Torah recites that Moshe grew up and went out and saw that the Jews were suffering as slaves in Egypt ("Vaya'ar BiSivlosam"). The Midrash asks what was it that Moshe saw? He saw that the Jews were working as slaves seven days a week. He went to his stepfather and said - if you make them work seven days a week you will kill them - slaves need one day off per week. The Midrash relates that Pharaoh agreed with Moshe and gave the Jews one day off per week which they chose to be Shabbos so that they could keep the Shabbos as a holy day.

R' Frand then brought the Sefer Ikvei Erev which asks - why would Pharaoh care about the Jews? Didn't Pharaoh want to kill them? After all, Pharaoh had previously said that he wanted to have all the male Jewish children thrown into the river so that there would be no more future Jews. So why did he listen to Moshe's suggestion?

The Ikvei Erev answered that originally, Pharaoh did want to kill all the Jews. However, he came to realize that he had a great resource - free labor. Pharaoh became spoiled by the magnificent cities and pyramids which were built by the Jews and became less inclined to finish them off. Moshe sensed that Pharaoh's desire for money was greater than his desire to kill the Jews and he seized upon this as a way to save his brethren.

R' Frand then noted that besides saying something Pharaoh, the vort also demonstrated how (prior to Moshe running away) Moshe had a great influence on his stepfather. However, this influence was short lived, as soon after Moshe saw the Egyptian striking a Jew. The Torah relates at 2:12 that Moshe saw that there was no "Ish" (man) , so he killed the Egyptian.

The Alter M'Novordok asks - why didn't Moshe balance in his mind whether it was worth it to kill the Egyptian. After all, Moshe had Pharaoh's ear and he had the ability to influence Pharaoh to the Jews betterment. Wasn't this more valuable than saving the life of one Jew if that meant that Moshe would lose his position of influence?

The Alter answers that Moshe saw that there was no "Ish" that no Jew was willing to be a man and stand up for a fellow Jew against an oppressor who was beating him. Moshe said to himself - the Jews will never be able to leave galus if they don't stand up for each other. Therefore, I will stand up for this Jew and act as role model, even if I lose my position of influence in the palace.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXXIX

Tonight's Weird (But True) legal case continues the examination of how the Federal Courts view lawsuits filed against various Palestinian governmental and quasi-governmental agencies.

In Weiss v. Arab Bank, 2007 WL 4565060 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2007) the court considered a suit brought by the families of five American citizens who were killed while serving in the IDF. The complaint alleged that these five individuals were killed by acts of international terrorism committed by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

The basis for the suit was the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) which provides that:

Any national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney's fees.

The ATA does contain an exception which preempts lawsuits when the individual was injured through an "act of war." The ATA defines act of war as an act occurring in the course of: (1) a declared war; (2) an armed conflict between two nations regardless of whether war has been declared; or (3) armed conflict between military forces of any origin.

The Plaintiffs named Jordan based Arab Bank as a defendant, alleging that the bank had knowingly and willingly conspired with and aided and abetted Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade by providing material support to those who had killed the five victims.

Following receipt of the complaint, the bank moved to dismiss, arguing that the suit was barred under the third definition of act of war (armed conflict between military forces of any origin).

Prior to discussing the ATA, the court cited to the decision of Federal District Court in Utah, noting that:

As alleged in the Complaint, the Terror Victims were murdered by members of HAMAS, the PIJ, and AAMB, all three of which are designated terrorist organizations. Limited authority exists on whether a designated terrorist organization can constitute a “military force” for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 2331(4)(C). One court, however, has addressed this question and answered it in the negative. In Morris v. Khadr, 415 F.Supp.2d 1323 (D.Utah 2006), a member of the United States Army and another soldier's executor brought ATA claims against a defendant who financed and abetted al Qaeda after the soldiers were attacked by al Qaeda terrorists while serving on active duty in Afghanistan. Id. at 1326-27. In the course of granting plaintiffs' motion for default judgment, after defendant had failed to respond to the complaint, the court analyzed the “act of war” exclusion sua sponte. Id. at 1330.The court concluded that “the acts complained of are not ‘acts of war’ under § 2336(a) but are acts of international terrorism under § 2331(1).” Id. at 1330-31. In reaching that conclusion, the court emphasized that al Qaeda could not be considered a “military force of any origin” under § 2331(4)(C).

In arguing that the activities fell within the third ATA exception, the bank put forth three arguments which the court quickly disposed of. As noted by the court in its decision:

First, defendant summarily argues that relief under the ATA is unavailable to soldiers who are injured during the course of an armed conflict: “Because the injuries at issue here, as they are alleged, were incurred by soldiers, and thus plainly combatants, during the course of an armed conflict, any damages arising from such acts must logically be read to fall within the armed conflict exclusion of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2336(a).” Def. Mem. at 13. This argument ignores one of the express requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 2331(4)(C): that, to constitute an “act of war,” the armed conflict in question must be “between military forces of any origin.”Id. (emphasis added). As detailed above, I find that the Terror Victims were not killed by a “military force.” Accordingly, that the Terror Victims were themselves part of a “military force,” and that they were killed “during the course of an armed conflict,” does not preclude plaintiffs from seeking relief under the ATA. See Morris, 415 F.Supp.2d at 1339 (upholding American soldiers' ATA claims for injuries they suffered while in active service abroad).

The second argument advanced by the bank was that since the decedents had joined the IDF they had forfeited the right to relief under the ATA. This was also rejected by the court which noted that the bank "offers no support for this argument, which is contrary to the plain language of the ATA. See18 U.S.C. § 2333(a) (providing a claim for relief to “[a]ny national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism”).

Finally, the bank argued that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Quds were military forces because the complaint attributed paramilitary status to their activities. This was also rejected by the court, which noted:

This argument mischaracterizes the allegations of the Complaint. To describe, in common parlance, as the Complaint does, that the terrorists engage in military or paramilitary-type activities does not mean that HAMAS, the PIJ, or AAMB is a “military force” within the meaning of the ATA's “act of war” exclusion. On the contrary, as explained above, there is no sound basis for concluding that the term “military force,” as used in the ATA, encompasses designated terrorist groups.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Kamma 16

Bava Kamma 16 continues a discussion which commenced on 15b which dealt with the types of creatures who are Tam or Mu'ad and the damage each are responsible for causing. In reviewing this sugya, it struck me how different the Talmudic view of tort law is from NY tort law. In this post I would like to just deal with one example.

In discussing the mishna on 15b, the gemara mentioned the view of R' Tarfon who had said that if the ox caused abnormal damage while on the injured party's property, the owner must pay full nezek. On 16a, the gemara extrapolates this and learns that if the ox caused normal damage while in the public domain (i.e. by eating the injured party's produce which he had left in the public domain) the owner is not responsible to pay any damage. A similar concept is taught by Shmuel on 16b where he explains that a lion which tears flesh from a live animal in the public domain does not cause its owner to be liable because this is like shein - this is what an animal normally eats in the public domain.

My problem with conceptualizing these rules is that they are contrary to NY tort law, and given my twelve years of legal practice, they are anything but logical to me. Under NY law if my animal enters another's property and eats their animal, of course its my responsibility. However, if my animal eats another person's produce which the person has left in a public area, NY law does not absolve me of liability. Instead, the finder of fact will apportion fault and determine to what degree the act of leaving the produce out in the public area has caused the injury. As a result, the injured party will not recover the full value of his property, but unlike the limud in the gemara, I will not be completely off the hook.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XXXVIII - Giants Post Mortem

Today's Max Kellerman show started with a clip from the Dewey Cox movie of a song entitled "It's been a beautiful ride." Thus began a show devoted to a review of the ending of the Giants season.

In giving his initial take on the loss to the Eagles, Max offered the following reasons for the Giants loss including that: Eli did not rise to the occasion and that no Giant WR made plays they were not supposed to make. Max further explained that while the receivers made the catches they should have, they did not make exceptional plays to catch balls which were not perfectly thrown. He also made proper reference to how the lack of "an elite receiver like Plaxico Burress" allowed the Eagles to play differently against the Giants.

Max had an interesting rant about Plaxico, suggesting that the Giants could bring him back because they needed him, but that in so doing they would also give Plaxico a feeling that he was needed which could encourage him. Left unsaid on this show, (although previously discussed by Max on previous programs) was that once Plaxico received his big contract and realized his value to the team, his personal conduct became deplorable.

Unlike some other sports talk radio hosts, Max was willing to take calls from callers who were critical of the Giants and even of Max's personal observations. More than one caller reminded Max of his statement that Eli was the best QB in the NFL. Max responded by changing his characterization of Eli to "the best QB with talent around him", while stating that there are other quarterbacks who are better when they have to make plays because they have no talent on their team.

Since my work prevents me from calling in (or even listening to most of the show) I was unable to give my opinion of Eli on the air. Here's something to chew on - maybe Eli had a magical "year" which has now worn off. I use the word "year" in quotes for a reason. Eli went on a roll after the Minnesota game (Louie and Lundberg wrote a priceless fake news piece on the Max Kellerman webpage at 1050 on how Eli was the best Minnesota QB in that game since he threw more TD passes to Minnesota players than the Minnesota quarterbacks). The date of the next game - December 2, 2007 when the Giants beat the Bears 21-16. The Giants went 7-2 from December 2, 2007 through the Superbowl. This roll continued into the current season as the Giants went 11-1 through the end of November 2008. However, starting with the first game of December 2008 (the 20-14 loss against the Eagles) the Giants went 1-4 and Eli threw 2 TDs and 4 INTs. So maybe Eli's magical "year" was just that - a one year event.

Speaking of issues not observed or reported on by the press, I have to speak out about the signs which have been waved at the pro-Hamas rallies in New York and around the world. It seems like every news clip contains a shot of demonstrators waving signs which read "Free Palestine from the River to the Sea." Why is no one commenting about what the sign means? The demonstrators are showing their true colors - they seek the elimination of Israel so that there is a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This hearkens back to the 1948 war when the day after the British left, Israel was attacked from all sides as the Arabs sought to "push the Jews into the sea." Sixty years later its still the same story - those seeking a Palestinian state do not want to see one side by side with Israel - they want to replace Israel with a state of their own.

But the media must have better things to report on...

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Night Suds - He'brew Messiah Bold

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds beer review looks at the He'Brew (the self styled "Chosen Beer") Messiah Bold.

I had heard much about the He'Brew products, but never had one until a co-worker left me a present of a couple of Messiah Bolds on my desk. Well, without the benefit of a shehechiyanu, here is my take on the Messiah Bold.

While they call this beer a Brown Ale, it really seems to be more in the stout family. The beer itself pours a very dark brown and is faintly reminiscent of the Brooklyn Brewery Dark Chocolate Stout. I had some tonight with my wife's bison chili and it was good, but the flavors did not exactly meld. It did stand up well to the spiced chili, but may be better suited to less savory fare.

The Messiah Bold is an unflavored beer which is under the kosher supervision of the KSA. I spoke with a friend who works at the Orthodox Union who did me a favor and checked into the brew for me before I consumed it. This is not the first double endorsed KSA product I have consumed as the Smirnoff Ice (formerly Twisted V) products which bear the KSA have been cleared by the CRC as well.

For the experts' take on the Messiah Bold, click here .

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

Finally, if you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site 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, January 8, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

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 Bereishis 49:14-15, the Torah recites the blessing which Ya'acov gave to Yissachar. The second pasuk (15) is quite interesting as the language seems to be contradictory. The Torah writes "Vayaar menucha ki tov, v'es ha'aretz ki na'ayma, vayeit shichmo l'sbol vayehi l'mas oveid." Translated into English, the pasuk reads - "he saw relaxation was good, and the land that it was pleasant, he bent his shoulder to carry a burden and he became a laborer."

The question which must be asked is - why if the relaxation and land was good would Yissachar then shoulder a burden and work?

R' Frand answered that there are different kinds of menucha. You can go somewhere warm and sit in a hammock with a glass of lemonade and enjoy the breeze with a book. This menucha is a vacation. However, after a period of time, a person would get tired of this and would eventually feel empty. Why? Because a person has a nefesh which needs to be sustained by ruchnius. This is the meaning of the pasuk in Koheles "Gam Hanefesh Timaley" - the nefesh longs for a sense of ruchnius.

Even in the secular world, a person wants to feel a sense of accomplishment and cannot simply sit and relax for long periods of time.

[To interject a thought, I heard an interview this morning with Lou Holtz, the former coach of Notre Dame. He was asked on ESPN's Mike and Mike program as to how he motivated his players before the National Championship game against West Virginia. He said that he told the players that if you have a good steak you feel good for a day, if you go on vacation you feel good for a week, if you buy a new car you feel good for a month, but if you win the national championship game you will feel good for a lifetime. This is another example of R' Frand's concept of the soul's need to feel a sense of accomplishment, even in the secular world].

If a person accomplishes a goal, he feels another menucha - menuchas hanefesh - a sense that he has accomplished something positive in this world. This is the menucha which Yissachar felt which he thought was good.

The Zohar writes that the first part of the pasuk (Vayaar menucha ki tov) refers to Torah shebictav, the second part (v'es ha'aretz ki na'ayma) refers to Torah sheba'al peh and the end (vayeit shichmo l'sbol vayehi l'mas oveid) refers to accepting the yoke of the Torah. This was the way that Yissachar conducted itself, learning Torah and being members of the Sanhedrin and teaching others. This was Yissachar's perception of their role in this world and they took this job as a calling which gave a sense of menucha.

In Bereishis 48:7, Ya'acov tells Yosef about how when he came from Padan, Rochel died on the way and she was buried on the road to Efrat in Bethlehem.

Rashi on the pasuk explains that Ya'acov tells Yosef not to think that Rochel was left in Bethlehem because of laziness. Ya'acov could have brought her to Ma'aras Hamachpeilah. However, Ya'acov was telling Yosef that Rochel was buried there because in the future the Jews will go into exile and they will pass by her grave. The Jews will daven to Rochel their mother to ask Hashem to help them in the galus. This is why Rochel was buried in Bethlehem.

R' Frand connected this to a story from R' Lau's autobiography. R' Lau was invited to meet with Fidel Castro and they met for many hours late into the night. Castro then gave R' Lau a box of Cuban cigars to give to Yitzchak Rabin. R' Lau called Rabin and told him that he had the cigars, but Rabin deferred as he only smoked cigarettes. However the relationship between the two grew.

Later Rabin was negotiating the status of Bethlehem under the Oslo accords. The original agreement was that Bethlehem would be under Palestinian control as it was an arab city, Israel would control Kever Rochel and the Palestinans would control the road into Kever Rochel. When R' Lau heard about the agreement he called up Rabin and asked him to change the agreement as the Jews could not rely on the Palestinians to insure access to Kever Rochel. When Rabin asked why this was important, R' Lau responded "Rochel is our mother and you don't abandon your mother". With this the conversation ended and Rabin asked to be able to sleep on the matter.

After the weekend R' Lau received a call back from Rabin who said that although he was a secular Jew he was touched by R' Lau's words that one can't abandon one's mother and that as a result he would change the agreement so that the street remained in Israel's control.

To this date while we have difficultly accessing Ma'aras HaMachpeila or Neve Samuel, the special road to Kever Rochel is still uniquely in Israel's hands so that we can go and visit our mother.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XXXVIII

Tonight's weird (but true) case analysis looks at Sokolow v. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, 2008 WL 4449480 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2008), a case which examined whether an American court could entertain claims against the current Palestinian governing body.

In Sokolow, various US citizens as well as the estates and family members of US citizens who were injured or killed in terrorist attacks in Israel brought suit against the PLO and the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority (PA). The lawsuit involved claims arising under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 which provides civil remedies to US citizens and their estates in relation to injuries sustained because of acts of international terrorism.

The Defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit based on their contention that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case, arguing that:(1) the ATA could not provide jurisdiction because the attacks did not target US interests; (2) that any lawsuit would be more properly brought in Israel and (3) that political questions should not be resolved in civil lawsuits.

The Distirct Court Judge denied the motion and ruled that the Court properly had subject matter jurisdiction over the case. In so doing the court noted:

The ATA bestows subject matter jurisdiction upon the federal courts regardless of whether or not the victims were specifically targeted because of their United States' citizenship. Additionally, a district court should dismiss an action on the grounds of inconvenience or inappropriateness of the forum where the alternative available forum is shown to be significantly more convenient and appropriate. Defendants have failed to make any showing that an Israeli court is a more appropriate forum in which to litigate this action.

Nor does this case, as defendants contend, involve non-justiciable issues precluding federal jurisdiction under the political question doctrine. Defendants warn that, in addition to potentially poisoning any prospect for peace, judicial determinations, made in the course of this litigation, will “interfere with the goals and efforts of the Executive branch to achieve Palestinian statehood through the promotion of President Abbas and the government vehicles of the [PA] and PLO....” (Defs.' Supplemental Opp'n Mem. at 35).

As one court previously observed, “[t]he PA and PLO repeatedly fail to realize that the non-justiciability doctrine is one of political questions and not political cases.” An action does not lie beyond judicial cognizance solely because it raises questions touching upon foreign relations. In responding to similar political and foreign policy concerns previously raised by the PLO, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in Klinghoffer v. S.N.C. Achille Lauro, 937 F.2d 44 (2d Cir.1991), observed that “[t]he fact that the issues before [the court] arise in a politically charged context does not convert what is essentially an ordinary tort suit into a non-justiciable political question.”
Interestingly, the defendant also argued that the doctrine of sovereign immunity which generally protects foreign governments from suit, would also be a reason that the court should dismiss the suit. This argument was also rejected, as the court noted:
While the PLO and PA argue their sovereignty, they do not claim individual statehood status. Their assertion of immunity derives from the claimed sovereignty of the State of Palestine. Defendants contend that they are essential agencies of Palestine, performing core governmental functions and, as such, are entitled to immunity.

Palestine, whose statehood is not recognized by the United States, does not meet the definition of a “state,” under United States and international law, and hence does not constitute a foreign state for FSIA purposes. Since Palestine is not recognized, under United States law, as a “foreign state,” the defendants cannot derivatively secure sovereign immunity as agencies and/or instrumentalities of Palestine. Similarly unavailing is defendants' alternative argument that, should Palestinian Statehood be found not to exist, the PA is nevertheless entitled to immunity as a political subdivision of Israel.
One final argument advanced by the defendants was that subject matter jurisdiction was lacking because the action is premised on acts of war, which is barred under the ATA, and further is based on conduct which does not meet the statutory definition of “international terrorism.” In so doing, the Defendants contended that "the persistence of violence, between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, constitute 'armed conflict,' under the ATA. They, therefore, conclude that plaintiffs are precluded from maintaining this action because their alleged injuries were sustained in the midst of an armed conflict.

This argument was also rejected, as the Court observed that
Six of the seven subject attacks occurred in Jerusalem. There has been no showing that the situs of the attacks were in any combat or militarized zone, or were otherwise targeted at military or governmental personnel or interests. Rather, plaintiffs allege that the attacks were intentionally targeted at the civilian population. They were purportedly carried out at locations where non-combatants citizens would be known to congregate, such as in the cafeteria on the Hebrew University campus and on a commercial passenger bus. Additionally, the use of bombs, under such circumstances, is indicative of an intent to cause far-reaching devastation upon the masses. The “benefit” of such weaponry is its merciless capability of indiscriminately killing and maiming untold numbers in heavily populated civilian areas. Such claimed violent attacks upon non-combatant civilians, who were allegedly simply going about their everyday lives, do not constitute acts of war for purposes of the ATA. Furthermore, such alleged acts of violence do not fall outside the statutory definition of “international terrorism” as a matter of law.
The lawsuit was permitted to continue beyond the motion to dismiss stage. Time will tell as to whether the Plaintiffs will recover any money from the defendants.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Max Kellerman's Monday Musings Vol XXXVII - The Real MVPs, Eagles and Eggs

Today's Max Kellerman show (in my opinion) was less about the games played this weekend and more a preview on next week's Giants - Eagles game (sprinkled with the usual dose of satire).

Max opened with an observation that "the real MVPs" will be playing in the upcoming game between the Giants and the Eagles. He identified the NFL MVPs in the order of importance - Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Donovan McNabb (evidently no one who plays outside of the NFC East merits recognition). He later talked about how Desean Jackson of the Eagles "scares" him because much like Devin Hester he is a game changer.

Since the Dolphins were eliminated by the Ravens there had to be some mention of Chad Pennington who now may be forever linked to Brett Favre. Max again revisited the issue of how Brett Favre had a stronger arm than Chad, but that Chad stayed healthy and played smarter than Brett in leading his team to the playoffs before he turned into Brett in the Raven game by throwing four interceptions.

There was also an interesting take on the important players on a football team. Max floated the idea that the most important player on a football team is the quarterback, but the 2nd most important player is the back up quarterback. In so doing he made reference to the value of Jeff Hostetler to the Giants in the 1980s.

No Max Kellerman show would be complete without two things - Max picking on Louie Gold and his injection of his personal life into the show. Today, Max told Louie that G-d hates him (I can only guess this was in reference to his being a Mets and Jets fan). Max then told Louie that he was like Job, to which Louie responded - who?

Max also talked about the difference between when his wife makes eggs and when he does the cooking. This came within the context of a discussion about nursing and whether Erin really needs to take as long as she does. Having gone through that phase four times (and with my wife now sitting next to me) I cannot possibly comment.

But back to eggs, Max talked about how when Erin makes eggs they taste better than when he does, but that it takes much longer and he's starving before he can eat them. He mentioned that when she asked him to cook she had all these instructions (which either were not shared with the listening public, or maybe I just was not paying attention) which made the process so much longer than when he normally makes the eggs (but had much better results).

Regular readers of this post know that I usually find some way to derive a Torah thought from Max's Monday musings. However, today's post will not contain such thoughts (although if you want, you can probably discern it from my take on the show above). Instead, I would like to talk about the victimization of Israel in the press - a topic not discussed by Max in today's program.

Why write about this in today's post? Partially because I received an anonymous comment on a prior Max Musing column which I have chosen not to publish because it was off topic and anti Semitic. Also partially because the lack of even handed reporting is really starting to get to me.

While the loss of life in Gaza is certainly a tragedy, the news reports are totally silent about the cause of the incursion into Gaza and what is going on in Israel today. Over the last year there have been thousands upon thousands of missiles and mortars which were launched from Gaza into Israel. Picture yourself sitting at a dinner table in Sderot or in your factory in Ashkelon when a rocket comes through the window or roof. The rockets were never launched at military targets as all the thugs in Hamas were interested in was making sure that the rocket or mortar struck somewhere in Israel.

Why were these rockets being launched? Because Israel had withdrawn from Gaza in 2005 and uprooted its citizens and army and forcibly resettled them in Israel. Once the Israelis left Gaza, the Palestinians were left to their own devices to govern their territory. What resulted was a coup in which Hamas deposed the Palestinian Authority and then began to indiscriminately fire mortars and rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

The results were predictable. Those who had the ability to leave the southern part of Israel did so and as a result the population in the area has dropped 25% according to the Israeli Consul General. Eventually Israel began to strike back and after a number of months, the international community brokered a six month truce. What happened during this period? For a while, life was somewhat calm as the number of missiles launched from Gaza dwindled to the single digits per week. Then towards the expiration of the "truce" hundreds of missiles began to rain down on the Southern towns on a daily basis. More importantly, the missiles penetrated deeper into Israel as "the truce" had allowed Hamas to rearm with Chinese and Iranian Grad missiles.

So finally Israel reacted and began the air strikes and ground invasion. Predictably, the world objected. Why? Because Israel as a victim is acceptable, whereas Israel as an aggressor is not. Its laudable that Israel has been able to ignore the international pressure because the bottom line is this - its not French or German or Dutch homes which were struck by thousands of random projectiles over the last three years. As such, its not for them to pontificate on the appropriateness of a response to these attacks.

Simply put - stop telling us to lie down and die quietly -- that game ended sixty four years ago.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

Tonight's Sunday Night Suds continues the survey of flavored winter warmer beers by evaluating the Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic.

For those who are regular readers of this site, you are undoubtedly aware that no lambic has been previously reviewed. This is largely because most lambic's are flavored (thus requiring hashgacha in order to be consumed by those who follow the kosher dietary laws). The Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic is the only lambic which I know to be under kosher supervision and since it only available in the Samuel Adams winter collection mix box I was unable to review it until now.

So what is a fruit lambic? The good folks at Beer Advocate define it as follows:

In the case of Fruit Lambics, whole fruits are traditionally added after spontaneous fermentation has started. Kriek (cherries), Frambroise (raspberries), PĂȘche (peach)and Cassis (black currant) are common fruits, all producing subtle to intense fruit characters respectively. Once the fruit is added, the beer is subjected to additional maturation before bottling. Malt and hop characters are generally low to allow the fruit to consumer the palate. Alcohol content tends to be low. Some breweries opt to use fruit / sugar syrups vs. whole fruits, producing very untraditional sweet versions of the style.
The Cranberry Lambic places a dageish chazak (loosely translated as an exclamation point) on the last sentence of the BA fruit lambic definition. It is overwhelmingly sweet and cannot be consumed on its own. I recall the first one that I had a few years back. It was so strong in flavor that I had to pour it down the sink (and I almost never do that unless the beer has gone bad due to age).

This evening I figured that I would have to take one for the team, while still hoping that the 2008/9 version was better than previous years. I poured mine into a Banks ("the Beer of Barbados") pint mug and sat down to try it with my supper (take out from Gan Eden in Great Neck - high quality kosher Asian food and superb prices). The results were decidedly mixed. I can report that it goes well with with sushi (this was confirmed by my wife's discerning palate as well) although for the life of me I cannot figure out why the flavor blends so well. Having said that, the quaff which I had on its own between the fish and the meat brought me back down to earth quickly and it was barely drinkable as an accompaniment to lo mein and kung pao chicken.

Verdict - if you like overly sweet beer or can imagine the taste of wheat beer + cranberry juice as acceptable, give this a shot. Otherwise, steer clear and be glad that this does not come in six packs.

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

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

Finally, if you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site 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, January 1, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayigash

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 Bereishis 46:29, we read of the reunion of long separated father and son as Ya'acov comes to Egypt and meets Yosef. The Torah indicates that when they met, Yosef cried on Ya'acov's neck. Rashi explains that Ya'acov did not reciprocate the gesture since Ya'acov was saying Shma.

The obvious question of course is - why was Ya'acov the only one saying Shma? If this was the proper time to say Shma, then both Yosef and Ya'acov should have been saying Shma!

The Gur Aryeh explains that Ya'acov's recitation of the Shma was an expression of gratitude to Hashem. Ya'acov had been living for decades thinking that his favorite son was dead. After Ya'acov had given up hope of ever seeing Yosef again he suddenly was told that Yosef was still alive. Upon seeing Yosef, Ya'acov became so happy that he recited Shma as an expression of gratitude to Hashem.

R' Frand then quoted R' Yehoshua Hartman who explained that Ya'acov had a greater degree of happiness in seeing Yosef than Yosef did in being reunited with his father. This was because Ya'acov had a greater degree of pain prior to the reunion and happiness which follows a troubling time is greater than the happiness at an event which was not preceded by troubles.

R' Frand then stated that he was always bothered by the concept of tears of joy. Tears of pain are logical as are tears which accompany troubles or frustration. But why do people cry when happy events occur.

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Hutner. He said that if a person finds out that he won the lottery he would be happy, but would not cry tears of joy. On the other hand, after the birth of a child, or at a child's bar-mitzva (and especially) at the wedding of a child, the parent will cry tears of joy. Why? Because the sh'ar hadimaos (gate of tears) for the pain of getting to this point has not completely closed. The parent went through many agonizing times which caused him or her to cry about the future of their child. Now that the happy moment has been reached, the crying is the expression of the left over tears which formerly were expressed in pain, but now are being shed in happiness as the troubling time is over and the child has achieved the parent's dreams for him/her.

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