Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Metzia 94

Bava Metzia 94 contains the end of the seventh perek of Bava Metzia (HaSocher es HaPoalim) and the beginning of the eighth perek (HaShoel es HaParah). I would like to briefly discuss two points which I found intriguing.

On Bava Metzia 94b, the gemara begins an analysis of the four shomrim and their roots in the chumash. This is odd (to me) because the analysis begins "Tena'an Hasam" (it was taught there) and makes reference to the last mishna in the seventh perek (found on Bava Metzia 93a). Tosafos on 94b (d'h "tena'an) asks why the gemara chooses to mention this here? Tosafos answers that since a prior piece of gemara on 94b mentions the verse "im ba'alav imo", it was appropriate to get into a discussion of the elements of each class of shomer.

I am not comfortable with the answer given by Tosafos. While the reason for reference here may link to the pasuk previously quoted on the page, it does not explain to my satisfaction why the discussion also was not contained immediately after that mishna on 93a and why it only follows the new perek. If anyone has other ideas as to the reason for the division, please comment to this post and I will b'n publish it, if it is on-topic.

The other point has to do with a discussion as to why a sho'el (borrower) pays regardless of fault or act taken in relation to the item. [Yes, Tosafos d'h "Shomer" states that this does not include the animal which dies while it is being used for its borrowed purpose].

The gemara asks on 94b, why is the borrower responsible to pay the owner if the animal is forcibly kidnapped? The gemara answers that one cannot compare it to where an animal dies or breaks a leg after it is borrowed, as these events are forseeable to the borrower, whereas he cannot anticipate that it might be forcibly kidnapped.

It was interesting to me to see the forerunner for the modern rule of law that forseeability plays an important role in the rules of liability.

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, July 27, 2009

Monday Musings on Sports - Michael Vick, Pete Rose and the train

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. As Max has resigned from 1050 and has not yet resurfaced on the NY area radio waves, I have decided to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

During the hall of fame induction ceremonies this past weekend, the inevitable reference was made by at least one luminary to Pete Rose, who is still suffering through his (agreed upon) lifetime ban from baseball due to gambling on the sport. (I am told that Pete Rose actually was in Cooperstown earlier in the week, although my source was unaware of whether Charlie Hustle had stayed through the weekend).

People tend to have rather strong feelings about whether Rose should or should not be banned and whether his betting on games impacted on the integrity (if not the result) of the games. Still, there is no dispute that he was one of the greatest ball players of all times and his records (unlike those of the steroid era) will not be tainted by asterisks.

At the same time as the Rose discussion, came news from the NFL that now that Michael Vick has completed his sentence for dog fighting involvement, the league would conditionally reinstate him after he served a six game suspension. Again, this topic brought up strong feeling on both sides, as the PETA type people (no, I am not referring to the People Eating Tasty Animals group, see generally http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_for_the_Ethical_Treatment_of_Animals_v._Doughney ) feel that Vick should not be given another chance to play professional football, while others are not of that opinion.

The disputes about whether Rose and Vick can be forgiven for their transgressions and permitted to return to their chosen societies made me think of a story I heard from R' Frand and R' Zev Cohen on two different occasions. As told by R' Frand - there is a boy who when he graduates high school announces to his parents that he wants to see the country. His father argues with him and tells him that he needs to go to college. The son disagrees and is adamant that he wants to travel cross-country. The father then says - if you leave, the door is closed to you forever.

The son leaves and begins to travel across the country, doing odd jobs to make money. Eventually he tires of touring and begins to hitchhike back to the east coast. When he is in Iowa he writes a letter to his mother asking her whether he could return home. He says that he knows that his father was upset, but if he has changed his mind and would allow him back, the son is ready to do so. He asks his mother to hang a white towel from a certain tree that adjoins the train track near his hometown if the father will take him back.

The son eventually gets on the train which will pass by his hometown. However, he is too nervous to look to see if the towel is in tree. He confides in the guy sitting next to him on the train and asks him to look whether there is a towel in the tree. After the train has passed the spot, the boy asks the other passenger whether there was a white towel in the tree. The man responds that there was not one white towel in the tree. Rather, there was a white towel hanging from every limb of the tree.

This story is symbolic of the Jews relationship with Hashem. If we are willing to take the step of genuinely asking for forgiveness, Hashem will welcome us back with open arms.

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Sunday Night Suds - Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale


This week's (belated) Sunday Night Suds column looks at Lake Placid's 46er Pale Ale.

[I would like to apologize to the loyal kosher beers fanatics for my inability to post the Sunday Night Suds column in its regular slot. Although there are weeks where I will miss a post or two, I have been endeavoring to always post a weekly Sunday Night Suds column so as to broaden the kosher market's understanding and appreciation of good beer. Unfortunately, due to some travel and technology restrictions, I am unable to post the SNS column on Sunday. Rather than skipping the post for the duration of the summer, I will be posting it on Mondays instead.]

Lake Placid is one of those breweries that relishes in the fact that they have a cult following. I guess there is no reason that they should not, since they make good beer and their clientele tolerate and/or appreciate their quirkiness.

So where do they get their names from? Yes the beer names are not as over the top as some other craft brewers who seem to put more into giving their beers creative names then into thinking through the brew process. Still, between the Ubu Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/07/sunday-night-suds-lake-placid-ubu-ale.html ) and the 46er Pale Ale (named for the purported 46 Adirondack high peaks), it does make you wonder.

Regardless of what you think of the beer names, the brewery does produce some really good brews. The 46er Pale Ale is a true English Pale Ale with a generous hop flavor and excellent carbonation and lacing. The beer would go well with steaks, spicy chicken or bbq (even if you need to wait another week to have the combo).

Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale is under the kashruth supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit, as are all other beers bottled at the FX Matt plant in Utica (yes they contract bottle for Lake Placid). If you would like to see the LOC which identifies the 46er Pale Ale as under the Va'ad, please send me an email and I will forward it.For the experts' take on Lake Placid 46er Pale Ale, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1888/6752.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

If you have seen this post being carried on another site 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, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Metzia 87

Bava Metzia 87 continues the agaddic discussion about Avraham and Sarah. Within the discussion, the gemara recounts the angels visit to Avraham in the beginning of Parshas Vayeira. The gemara comments that the angels say to him (Eilav) where is Sarah your wife and that the word Eilav has dots above the alef, yud and vuv. R' Yosi (as interepreted by Rahi) teaches that the dots are there to teach "derech eretz" that it is polite to ask about your hostess' welfare.

Tosafos (d"h Lama) is bothered by Rashi's interpretation as the dots should have said Ayeh not Ayo. Instead, Tosafos learns in the name of R' Azaria that the angels both asked Avraham about Sarah's welfare and then went to Sarah and asked about Avraham as well.

The story in the gemara brought back to me a vort R' Frand said last fall on this conversation between Avraham and the angels (according to Rashi anyway). R' Frand told a story in the name of a Rabbi Friedman who had said the story over in the name of Rabbi Shalom Wallach [I may be a bit off with these names]. The story involves a R' David Hershwitz who had learned in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Europe before WWII and then eventually moved to America. Forty years later, R' Hershwitz travelled to Israel to visit the Mirrer Yeshiva which had now migrated to Israel via Shanghai. When he arrived, he met with R' Chaim Shmulevitz who greeted him warmly. R' Chaim asked him whether he wanted to join them for lunch and (after asking permission from his wife) invited R' Hershwitz to come to his home for lunch.

When they arrived at the house, R' Chaim asked his wife what was for lunch. She answered that she had made chicken and rice. He ate the chicken with gusto and then commented on the quality of the food before asking as to the spices his wife had used in making the meal. She answered him and then he asked for (and received) a second helping. He ate this as well and commended her on her cooking.

When the meal was done, R' Hershwitz asked R' Chaim what had happened? The boy that R' Hershwitz remembered from yeshiva used to have to be reminded to eat because he was so absorbed in his learning that he forgot about meals. Indeed, at times he even needed to be reminded to bentch, because he got back into learning and forgot that he had eaten. How could this same person now be discussing the finer points of his wife's cooking and taking seconds?

R' Chaim answered - I am the best maggid shiur in Israel. I am not being haughty in saying this - my shiurim were developed over forty years and I have fine tuned them to the point that they are at right now. However, when a 17 year old student comes over to me after a shiur and tells me that it was a "nice shiur" it makes my day. The student does not know the hard work that went into the shiur and the time it took for me to develop the thought, but it still thrills me nonetheless that he enjoyed it.

R Chaim then explained - my wife's cooking is her shiur. She has worked hard at making this meal and my asking about it and commending her on her cooking makes her day. By praising her for her cooking, I show my appreciation for her dedication.

I can recall seeing a similar incident at the home of my Rebbi, R' Goldvicht when I was twenty years old. I had a meal in their apartment on 186th Street on Shavuos. After the meal, R' Goldvicht praised his wife for her cooking and said "If I knew Torah as well as my wife cooks, I would be the Gadol Hador."

The statement seemed cute to me at the time, but now with the benefit of twelve+ years of marriage I can tie it together. Spouses need to know they are appreciated and anything that an outsider can do to raise the level of respect that one spouse has for the value of the other can only help to further cement the marriage.

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, July 20, 2009

Monday Musings on Sports - Old Timers Games and Evolution

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. As Max has resigned from 1050 and has not yet resurfaced on the NY area radio waves, I have decided to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

While listening to the radio today, I heard a remarkable thing said by a Sports Radio host. Brandon Tierney, an unabashed Yankee lover who generally has a warped view of New York baseball teams said that the Yankee Old Timers Game had lost some of its appeal to him. He remarked that he used to like to watch these games to see the old Yankees which were brought back, but that the players at the most recent Old Timers game did not evoke the same thoughts.

In contrast, about two week ago, I heard a different Sports Radio host talk about how the Mets don't do a regular Old Timers game and that while they don't have the history of the Yankees, there are certainly some old timers who the fans would want to see. Fast forward to yesterday, when I heard an ad on 660 (WFAN) for a Mets promotion where the fans can donate money for a specific charity (I don't specifically recall which one) and the fans would have an afternoon with former 1969 Mets including Seaver, Koosman and Nolan Ryan and then get tickets for that evening's game.

The interesting differences in views on the Old Timers games made me realize that its a matter of perspective for the fans. As a child, you read or hear about former players and there is an element of mystique and perhaps even reverence for former players. As the person gets older, or in Brandon Tierney's case, more used to seeing regular players now that he is starting to become accepted as (I shudder) a sports journalist, the view of those same players changes.

The two outlooks remind me of the story involing R' Yaakov Kaminetsky and a plane ride. During the flight, R' Yaakov's grandchildren periodically came over to ask him if needed anything. The man sitting next to R' Yaakov was an elderly secular professor who was amazed that this older man was getting such attention from these young teens. The professor turned to R’ Kaminetzky and asked, “Why is it that your grandchildren take such good care of you but my grandchildren ignore me?” R’ Kaminetzky answered, “You believe that man is descended from apes, so, to your grandchildren, you are closer to an ape. We believe that we are descendants of people that received the Torah from G-d at Sinai, so my grandchildren respect me because I’m closer to Sinai.”

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 Night Suds - Saranac Amber Wheat Ale + BONUS Nine Days Havdalah Guide



This week's (belated) Sunday Night Suds column looks at Saranac Amber Wheat Ale and also gives some suggestions for the vexing problem of havdalah during the Nine Days.

[I would like to apologize to the loyal kosher beers fanatics for my inability to post the Sunday Night Suds column in its regular slot. Although there are weeks where I will miss a post or two, I have been endeavoring to always post a weekly Sunday Night Suds column so as to broaden the kosher market's understanding and appreciation of good beer. Unfortunately, due to some travel and technology restrictions, I am unable to post the SNS column on Sunday. Rather than skipping the post for the duration of the summer, I will be posting it on Mondays instead.]

The Saranac Amber Wheat Ale is another example of an excellent beer which can only be found in mix packs. The Amber Wheat Ale is classified by Beer Advocate as an American Dark Wheat Ale (as opposed to the more traditional American (Pale) Wheat beers such as Blue Moon, Samuel Adams Summer Ale or most American Hefeweizens). In creating the subcategory of American Dark Wheat Ale, the experts at Beer Advocate explain:
An Americanized version of a Dunkel Weizen, these beers can range within the brown to garnet range. Often cloudy with long-lasting heads. Light to medium body with high level of carbonation. Hop characters will be low to high with some fruitiness from ale fermentation, though most examples use of a fairly neutral ale yeast, resulting in a clean fermentation with little to no diacetyl. Flavors of caramel and toasted malts might be present.
The Saranac Amber Wheat Ale certain tends towards the deeper color as it is a molasses brown in color. The head on the beer also lasts significantly longer than any other Saranac I have experienced, although like most Saranac brews it has an excellent level of carbonation.

I would recommend the Amber Wheat Ale to anyone looking to move beyond the macro brews as the beer has a little more character, but without an overwhelming hoppy bite. Actually, if this was more readily available I would recommend it as a Nine Day havdalah beer (see bonus section below) as it is easy enough to drink on its own after a long shabbos. However, since you need to buy a 12 pack of Saranac Summer Brews just to get two of these Amber Wheats, you might be better off picking something else up for your havdalah options.

Saranac Amber Wheat Ale is under the kashruth supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit, as are all other beer produced by Saranac. For the experts' take on Saranac Amber Wheat Ale, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/48543.

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

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).
_____________________________________________________
Bonus section - 9 days Havdalah Guide

In years past, I have been approached in shul on shabbos chazon (the Saturday within the summer nine days mourning period) and asked what would be a good choice to make havdalah on. By way of introduction, on Saturday nights after the evening prayer is said, Jews have a special set of blessings that are said by which we separate between the holy shabbos and the rest of the week. There is a custom to say this prayer on a cup of wine, however this custom needs modification when the Saturday falls during the nine days of mourning.
As noted by the Orthodox Union on their website:
Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition.Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of "mourning for Jerusalem". Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.
Should your local Rabbi direct you to utilize non-wine in your havdalah, there are multiple options to use to fulfill the havdalah requirement. Indeed, my father in law will use diet soda (or as he says "diet pop"). I recall as a child seeing my father on one occasion use hard alcohol for havdalah (and then burn the decorative plate my sibling made when he tried to put out the candle).

To me, the simplest answer to the havdalah dilemma (and one that is widely recommended by rabbinic authorities) is to use beer, which in the time of the talmud was called chamra d'medina - the wine of the masses. This brings us to the reason I get more summer phone calls and email around this time every year - which beer would I recommend?

The number one problem with the question is that most people who ask it don't generally drink beer, so they need to have something to use for havdalah that won't have them making faces in their attempt to drink the halachic minimum level for the blessing. The second problem is that since the havdalah cup is imbibed on its own (i.e. without the benefit of food) people who might be inclined to have a beer with a meal will still have problems finishing their cup when the beer is consumed on its own.

The easiest solution is not to have beer, but instead to make havdalah on what is commonly called alcopop. These are malt beverage drinks with some similarities to beer and a beer-like 5% alcohol content by volume, but do not have the beer taste. Some examples are the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) Twisted Teas and the Zima beverages produced by Coors. Another example would be the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. However, caution is urged as not every flavor is certified Kosher. Indeed, the last time I looked at these in the beer store, most of the Smirnoff's were not certified kosher. For the complete list of those Smirnoff products and other alcopops approved by the CRC, please click here http://www.crcweb.org/kosher/consumer/liquorList.html#Beer .

If you do like beer, or would like to drink something that is more manly than alcopop, the next step up would be an American wheat beer (such as the Blue Moon line, Saranac's Hefewiezen or Pomegranate Wheat) or some of the better Summer Ales such as Brooklyn Brewery's or Sam Adams' Summer Ale. Many of these beers have been reviewed on the pages of this blog and you can search through prior Sunday Night Suds reviews to find one that might appeal to you.

If you are a beer aficionado, you obviously won't need this post to tell you which ale or lager you should crack open for havdalah.

May the world have a tikkun from our three weeks/nine days observances and may tisha b'av soon be transformed to the holiday that the gemara tells it will be in the times of moshiach bimheira biyamenu.

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, July 14, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Metzia 80

Bava Metzia 80 continues the perek's general discussion about the use of animals or objects in ways which were not contemplated by the rental agreement. While the Mishna on 80a contains a discussion of whether the renter is responsible if he uses a rented ox and plow in a location which was not covered by the rental agreement (think Hertz making you declare you will only stay in the area when you rent the car), the gemara asks - what if you used the items in the location covered by the rental agreement, but the plow breaks anyway?

In answering this question, the gemara brings the opinion of R' Papa who says that it is the person holding the cow's reins who is responsible as he did not properly guide the cow. The gemara then mentions R' Shesha's opinion that the one manipulating the plow in the ground is responsible as he did not properly set the depth of the blade. The gemara then concludes that the one manipulating the plow is responsible.

The gemara then follows the above conclusion with the "odd" statement that if the land was known to be rocky then both people are responsible to pay for the broken plow. Rashi states that this obligation falls because it is an object which is "mutal b'safek" and therefore both must pay.

During my daf group tonight, a friend (who also happens to be a lawyer) asked me why the halacha was this way and I responded "res ipsa loquitor" - the legal concept that these things don't happen by themselves, so let the tortfeasors fight out who should be on the hook for the damages. My friend then asked, but what about hamotzi ma'chavero alav haraya (one who wants to take from another must prove his entitlement)?

The answer to the question can be found in Tosafos (d'h "V'ee") which explains that we don't say hamotzi ma'chavero alav haraya because they both are truly responsible. Tosafos explains that since we know that the area is rocky, the employees must make certain that they act accordingly when performing their individual tasks and also that they keep an eye out for their coworker to make sure that he too is making accommodations for the terrain. Since the plow broke, each is responsible - either for his own action or the failure to keep an eye out for the other employee.

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, July 13, 2009

Monday's Musings on Sports - Judging a book by its cover, an athlete by his performance and treif meat

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. As Max has resigned from 1050 and has not yet resurfaced on the NY area radio waves, I have decided to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

As the All-Star game is in St. Louis, I have been thinking about the hometown favorite son - Albert Pujols. Universally regarded as a good guy and tremendous athlete, Pujols lately has been forced to answer questions about performance enhancing drugs, even though he has never tested positive for, and not a single person has come forward to say that Pujols was supplied with drugs. Still, because Pujols has consistently put up solid number year after year, there are always the whispers of drug use, because so many of our heroes have been exposed as users. Pujols adamantly denies his use of steroids, but people continue to whisper.

The Pujols scenario reminds me of a story I recently heard from R' Goldvicht which he said that he confirmed with R' Reuven Feinstein.

The story involves a man who was walking to the subway when he passed a kosher butcher store. The man saw a treif meat truck parked outside the store and the driver was entering the store. As the man watched, the driver entered the store and was allowed to walk behind the counter. Moments later, the driver exited the store with a smile on his face.

The man then called up the Rav Hamachshir for the store and asked him to pull the kosher certification. The Rav asked - did you see the driver take anything into the store? No, was the answer. Did you see him carry anything out of the store? Again, the answer was no. The Rav Hamachshir said - well then I have no reason to take away the hashgacha.

The man was not happy with the attitude of the Rav and decided that he would no longer shop at the store. He also told all of his friends about his decision and the reason he would no longer buy there. Soon, many people stopped buying at the store, although the owner was never told the reason that his customers were not returning.

A number of months later, the store owner died and his family tried to take over the store. However, within two years they realized they could not make the store profitable and the store was closed.

Approximately six months later, the same man was walking outside the now closed store when he saw the treif meat truck parked outside. The man approached the driver and asked why he was there. The driver answered that he had a flat tire and was waiting for AAA. The driver then said - what ever happened to the store that was here? When the man said that it was closed, the driver responded that it was a shame. The driver then related that years earlier his truck had broken down outside the store. He went inside and was greeted warmly by the owner who invited him behind the counter and let him use the phone. The driver said that the owner was a very nice guy and it was a shame the store was gone.

The man became very distressed and approached R' Reuven Feinstein and asked whether there was some way to remedy the situation. He was told that there was no way to get complete teshuva in this world. However, he could take a minyan to the grave of the store owner to ask mechila. Additionally, he could take on the financial support of the widow and children for the rest of his life.

This is the danger of jumping to conclusions and judging people based on outer appearances. While Albert Pujols may not have done anything wrong, he is stuck trying to distance himself from unsubstantiated rumors when there is no proof to the allegations against him. When one views things from the outside without completely investigating the situation, bad assumptions can occur and the repercussions can be terrible.

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 Night Suds - Lake Placid Ubu Ale

This week's (belated) Sunday Night Suds column looks at Lake Placid's Ubu Ale.

First, I would like to apologize to the loyal kosher beers fanatics for my inability to post the Sunday Night Suds column in its regular slot. Although there are weeks where I will miss a post or two, I have been endeavoring to always post a weekly Sunday Night Suds column so as to broaden the kosher market's understanding and appreciation of good beer. Unfortunately, due to some travel and technology restrictions, I am unable to post the SNS column on Sunday. Rather than skipping the post for the duration of the summer, I will be posting it on Mondays instead.

But back to the Ubu Ale. The name itself evokes memories of Family Ties, an eighties sitcom which always ended with a picture of a dog and the legend UBU Productions, accompanied by the line"Sit Ubu Sit, Good Dog."

Although not visible in the picture on my post, the back label of the Ubu Ale tells the story of the famous Ubu. The label states:

The mountain village of Lake Placid was once home to a legendary chocolate lab named UBU, the biggest dog you've ever seen with an uncanny nose for great beer. Deep garnet red in color, this English Style Ale is a tribute to the legend of Ubu. It features a smooth rich maltiness complemented by just the right amount of hops

While I am unaware of the legend of Ubu, I can certainly vouch for the hoppiness of the Ubu Ale. It tastes like Pete's Wicked Ale (coincidentally bottled in the same plant) but with a little more oomph. The beer also packs a punch in the alcohol content as it 7% abv.

The Lake Placid website recommends pairing the Ubu Ale with red meats or anything charcoal involved, including grilled veggies. I would certainly believe that the Ubu could stand up to those flavors.

Lake Placid Ubu Ale is under the kashruth supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit, as are all other beers bottled at the FX Matt plant in Utica (yes they contract bottle for Lake Placid). If you would like to see the LOC which identifies the Ubu as under the Va'ad, please send me an email and I will forward it.

For the experts' take on Lake Placid Ubu Ale, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1888/6751.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

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

Wednesday's Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol L

This week's weird (but true) legal case looks at another case of an insurance company which was called on the carpet for putting itself before its policyholders.

In State v. Merchants, 109 A.D.2d 935, 486 N.Y.S.2d 412 (3d Dept. 1985), the Appellate Division dealt with a matter wherein New York State had retained Merchants Ins. Co. of New Hampshire to insure its snow plows. As sometimes occurs, a state snowplow was involved in an accident with a pickup truck which resulted in the death of the pickup driver. The estate of the pickup driver filed suit against New York State in the Court of Claims and the State tendered the matter to Merchants.

As discussed in the decision, after the accident there was communication between the estate and the insurer, but no settlement was reached. The estate's lawyer thereafter sent a letter in which he indicated that the matter could settle for $90,000, a figure within the policy's $100,000 limit of coverage. However, the insurer was not interested in settling at that figure and did not offer more than $45,000. Following a trial, the estate was awarded $179,000 and the State brought a bad faith claim against Merchants for failing to settle within the policy limits.

As noted by the court in its decision, Insurance Law §2601(a)(4) which describes unfair claims practices and is the basis for bad faith claims, states that:

[i]t is an unfair practice for insurers 'not to attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims submitted in which liability has become reasonably clear'. A complaint adequately sets forth a prima facie case against an insurer for liability in excess of policy limits where it is asserted that “an insured lost an actual opportunity to settle the negligence claim against him within the coverage limits of his policy by reason of the insurer's purported ‘bad faith’.
The court then ruled that the insurer had engaged in bad faith in making the $45,000 offer since the offer was "unrealistic." The court observed that the:

Decedent was survived by her husband and two children. At the time of her death, she was in her mid-30s and was employed outside the home. It was readily foreseeable that a verdict would reach or exceed the policy limits. Yet, defendant never made a higher offer. Neither did defendant respond to a later signal that the case might settle for $75,000.

The record before us supports the view that defendant was well aware that its proposed $45,000 settlement figure was substantially lower than the liability it could reasonably expect to incur. The jury could reasonably have reached the conclusion that defendant exercised bad faith in failing to protect the interest of its insured by coming forth with a reasonable and fair settlement offer, as it was contractually and statutorily required to do.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Bava Metzia 73

Bava Metzia 73 continues the discussion of various business arrangements and whether they violate the rules of rabbinical ribbis. Two of the scenarios were interesting to me and I will address them in this post.

On Bava Metzia 73a, the gemara discusses the business deals of donkey drivers who would take money from people in cities where the price of wheat was expensive and then buy wheat in other cities where the wheat was cheaper. These donkey drivers would charge their buyers the lower city price, thus delivering wheat at a significant discount.

The gemara relates that these donkey drivers did not violate the rules of rabbinical ribbis, either because (according to R' Papa) they got a business advantage because the wheat sellers in the lower price city would open their stores to them because they had cash on hand. The alternate reason (suggested by R' Acha) is that the wheat sellers in the cheaper city would cut them a discount as they were aware that the donkey drivers were selling the wheat for cost and the sellers wanted to make sure that the donkey drivers kept coming back. I was quite impressed with how advanced the factoring system was in those times and that the amoraim knew how to regulate commerce.

The other interesting point relates to the government tax system as discussed on Bava Metzia 73b. The gemara mentions a question of Ravina to R' Ashi as to wine which was produced and sold to him. Ravina asks whether he can accept the wine as he is concerned that the farmers did not actually own the land and were merely working it by dint of the government. Rashi explains that there were wealthy people who saw that the landowners were fleeing their property rather than paying the land tax. These people would subsequently pay the tax to the king and then work the land. Ravina was concerned as the land did not actually get transferred to them by virtue of paying the tax. The gemara relates that R' Ashi told Ravina that it was not a problem since the king ties the land to the tax and the king had declared that whomever pays the tax is entitled to the produce of the land.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Helles

This week's (belated) Sunday Beer Review looks at another new offering from Saranac (courtesy of their Beers of Summer Box) the Saranac Helles.

I have to admit, although I have tried many styles of beer, the Helles style was foreign to me until this week. When I first saw the style listed on the side of the Saranac box, I wondered whether the Helles was more of an inside joke than beer style.

To follow up on my suspicions, I looked to the experts at Beer Advocate and found that there was a class of beer called Munich Helles Lager, which was explained as:
When the golden and clean lagers of Plzen (Bohemia) became all the rage in the mid-1800's, M√ľnchen brewers feared that Germans would start drinking the Czech beer vs. their own. Munich Helles Lager was their answer to meet the demand. A bit more malty, they often share the same spicy hop characters of Czech Pils, but are a bit more subdued and in balance with malts. "Helles" is German for "bright."
The Saranac Helles does not exactly meet the classification above as it did not taste like it had a spicy hop flavor. This is not to say that I disliked the beer, to the contrary, I found it to be one of the better lagers I have consumed in recent memory.

The beer poured a light gold and that perfect carbonation which Saranac's generally possess. It also had a good degree of dryness to the lager (unlike macro lagers) which may be one of the main reasons that I enjoyed it. I had the Saranac Helles on its own, and could probably have consumed more if the box had contained additional bottles (there were only two in the box and I had one in the fridge).

Saranac Helles is under the kashruth supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit, as are all other beer produced by Saranac. For the experts' take on Saranac Helles, please click here http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/48541.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday' Weird But True Legal Cases - Vol XLIX

Tonight's Weird (but true) legal case analysis asks whether a doctor who is performing an independent medical examination truly the patient's doctor? This was the question recently asked by the New York Court of Appeals in Bazakos v Lewis.

In Bazakos, a litigant who had brought a suit related to an automobile accident visited a medical doctor who was hired by the defendant in the lawsuit conduct an "independent medical examination" (IME). During the IME, the doctor injured Bazakos by taking Bazakos' head in his hands and forcefully rotating it while simultaneously pulling.

As a way of background, under NY law a claim for ordinary negligence is governed by a three year statute of limitations. By comparison, a claim of medical malpractice is governed by a two year and six months statute of limitations.

In the Bazakos matter, Bazakos filed suit against the doctor who performed the IME, two years and eleven months after the IME. Following service of the lawsuit, the IME doctor moved to dismiss and the trial court granted the motion, ruling that the claim was governed by the two year and six months statute of limitations applicable to medical malpractice claims. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed, finding that no physician patient relationship existed between Bazakos and the IME doctor and that the claim was one for ordinary negligence with its three year limitations period. As summarized by the Court of Appeals in its decision, Bazakos argued:

medical malpractice is a breach of a doctor's duty to provide his or her patient with medical care meeting a certain standard; that Lewis was not Bazakos's doctor, and Bazakos was not Lewis's patient; and that therefore the negligence of which Lewis is accused cannot be medical malpractice. He points out that the relationship between the doctor and the person the doctor examines at an IME is essentially adversarial; the person examined is required by law to submit to a procedure performed for the benefit of a party seeking to defeat that person's legal claim.

In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that there was a physician patient relationship. In explaining its position, the majority explained that:

[T]he relationship between a doctor performing an IME and the person he is examining may fairly be called a "limited physician-patient relationship" — indeed, this language is used in an American Medical Association opinion describing the ethical responsibilities of a doctor performing an IME ...

Bazakos's claim here is that Lewis breached his duty "to perform the examination in a manner not to cause physical harm to the examinee." That is a claim for medical malpractice, and it is governed by the 2 year, 6 month statute of limitations. Therefore, Bazakos's lawsuit was not timely.

In his sharply worded dissent, new Chief Judge Lippman took issue with the majority opinion, explaining that there was no basis to afford the IME doctor the benefit of the shorter limitations period as his:

duty towards his examinee was no more extensive than that of refraining from harming him during the exam; he had no medical duty competently to diagnose, inform or, indeed, to treat the subject of his exam. Such an extraordinarily limited scope of professional responsibility stands in sharp contrast to the enormous risks and obligations routinely encountered by physicians providing actual patient care and treatment.
Judge Lippman then took issue with the notion of the duty imposed by the majority and the creation of a relationship, explaining that:

The very limited duty arising in this situation bears not the slightest resemblance to the very much more comprehensive set of responsibilities devolving upon a practitioner engaged in treatment — the defining set of responsibilities contemplated by the Hippocratic injunction to do no harm. The duty here implicated does not arise from what is reasonably susceptible of characterization as a doctor-patient relationship, i.e. a treatment relationship; it is simply an instance of the general obligation, frequently enforceable in tort, to refrain from causing foreseeable harm. That is ordinary negligence. It is today denominated "medical malpractice" only by dint of an exercise in judicial artifice untethered to any law or to the actual nature of the transaction known euphemistically as an "independent" medical examination. These exams, far from being independent in any ordinary sense of the word, are paid for and frequently controlled in their scope and conduct by legal adversaries of the examinee. They are emphatically not occasions for treatment, but are most often utilized to contest the examinee's claimed injury and to dispute the need for any treatment at all.

If you would like to see the opinion, it is available free of charge at http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2009/2009_05199.htm .

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