Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports, Munich, London and Pieces of Cake

A sports story which has touched me deeply and continues to fester is the issue of the moment of silence at the Olympic Games.

As most of the world is aware, in 1972, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were killed after being attacked by Palestinian terrorists in the Olympic Village during the Summer Olympics in Munich. As this was the forty year anniversary of the tragedy, a movement began to convince the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence during the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. This movement was supported by politicians in the United States, Israel and Germany. However, the President of the IOC, Frenchman Jacques Rogge, refused to allow the moment of silence as it was either "an inappropriate time" and he had planned an alternative to remember the Israelis. Despite numerous high profile requests, including a petition with 100,000 signatures, calls from some of the widows of Munich and a request by President Obama, Rogge was unwilling to yield.

I was unaware of the history of the request for a moment of silence, but apparently there have been numerous requests which have fallen on deaf ears. As reported by the AP, at Montreal (1976) the families were told no because the Arabs would leave. At Barcelona (1992) they were told that the IOC was unwilling to bring politics to the games. At Atlanta (1996), the reason was protocol. At Athens (2004), organizers said it was not the appropriate time.

In defiance of the IOC, Bob Costas of NBC held his own moment of silence during the Opening Ceremonies. Even more impressive was the fact that he announced that he was going to do it and NBC did not convince him to refrain from doing so.

Although the IOC was unwilling to change its position on the moment of silence, the body which governs the judo competition at the Olympics had no issue with changing their stripes when they were pressured by the Arab bloc.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia sent female athletes to the Olympic games, including Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, a woman who competes in the 172 pound Judo weight class. When she first announced that she would only compete if she was allowed to wear a hijab, the ruling was that she could not wear it because it was dangerous. However at the very beginning of the Games, the ruling was reversed and she was permitted to wear the hijab.

Rogge's refusal to allow the moment of silence because it was an "inappropriate time" simply cannot be reconciled with the permission for the wearing of the hijab, notwithstanding it being dangerous. While Rogge can claim that he is observing tradition, in reality he is using it as a shield to protect the IOC from doing something unpopular - showing compassion for Jews who were killed for being Jewish.

Rogge is hardly the first person to have ulterior motives for his action or inaction, but it reminded me of a vort I heard in a Rabbi Mansour shiur about Og, the King of Bashaan. The Torah recounts in Sefer Bereishis that Palit came and told Avraham that Lot had been taken captive. Avraham went to war and saved Lot from death. Later in Sefer Devarim, Moshe is concerned about going to war with Og because Moshe is aware that Og had zechus (merit) because he informed Avraham of the Lot kidnapping.

R' Mansour asked - why did Og's name change from Palit to Og? He answered (I don't recall his source) that Og told Avraham about Lot because Og was interested in Sarah and hoped that Avraham would be killed in battle. He is then called Og because he is like Oogah - cake. A cake is not bread and those who work dough cakes in order to make them into matza must constantly remind themselves that they are making them for the purpose of matza. If done for the wrong reason, the matza will not be proper for the Seder. Much like Og who acted like he was doing things for a legitimate reason, Rogge has pretended like he was observing tradition, but it is fairly obvious that he refused the moment of silence for nefarious reasons.

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Belated Sunday Night Suds - Lakefront Riverwest Stein Beer

This week's belated Sunday Night Suds looks at Lakefront's Riverwest Stein Beer, an all malt amber lager.

Yes SNS fans, I did not have a beer after the Tisha B'Av fast ended. Nor did I make havdalah on beer, although because Tisha B'Av was a nidhe this year, no one was required to use beer for havdalah since wine and grape juice were acceptable due to the shifting of the fast from Shabbos to Sunday.

Instead, I waited until I got home this evening to try the highly regarded Lakefront Riverwest Stein Beer. While waiting for a beer is hardly ever an endeavor that can be deemed worth it (except perhaps the first post Pesach beer), this rare visitor to NY was certainly enjoyable.

For those who are unfamiliar with Lakefront brews, there is good reason for your lack of experience with Lakefront --- these beers don't generally find their way to the East Coast. Indeed, I have seen these beers on rare occasions in some of the beer beer stores like Shoreline, Beverage Barn (Garden City Park), Peekskill Beverage and American Beer on Court Street, but usually a few styles and often with older vintages.

To my surprise, I have now seen Lakefront in the 8 count mix pack available in a number of places including DeCicco's in Brewster and the hidden gem of a beer store - Sam the Beer Man in Binghamton.

The 8 pack is a great tool if you are looking to try many different varieties or if you are just looking to find one that you like without buying multiple six packs. I hope to post reviews of many of these brews over the next few months.

So why is the Riverwest Stein Beer so highly regarded? First you need to look, taste and smell the malt in the brew. The first few sips were all bready malt with a little balanced hops so that the beer's character is not forgotten. The beer is not highly carbonated but by no means flat and the lesser fizz allows the beer to be enjoyed, even when served on the colder side.

This is not a beer for a steak, but I would like to try it with some lighter stews or chicken dishes. If you have experimented with pairing this brew with food, please let me know your thoughts.

Lakefront Brewery Riverwest Stein Amber Lager is under the kosher supervision of the Star-K(there is even a Star-K on the label). For the experts' take on the Riverwest Stein Amber Lager, please click here

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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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I have continued with my usual summer practice of substituting a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.

R' Mansour quoted a gemara which asks why does the parsha begin with the phrase these are the words that Moshe spoke to the Jews? Are these the first words that Moshe spoke? Moshe had been speaking to the Jews for thirty nine years! Rather the gemara explains that when Moshe spoke previously, Hashem spoke through Moshe's throat. Now, Moshe was speaking on his own (albeit inspired through ru'ach hakodesh).

R' Mansour noted that previously Moshe had spoken with a lisp, but the meforshim write that Moshe's speech impediment was cured now. This was because Hashem decided that since Moshe was now going to speaking on his own, the lisp was no longer needed to remind people of the source of the statements. Therefore the pasuk states that since Moshe spoke on his own for the first time, Hashem could heal his tongue.

These first statements that Moshe made were a rebuke. Moshe learned this from Ya'akov who waited until he was on his deathbed in Parshas Vayechi to tell his sons what they had been doing wrong. While a person is still alive and well, such statements could engender harsh feelings. Ya'akov's lesson which Moshe learned, is that when a person gives tochacha at the end of his life, it will generally be much better received.

R' Mansour noted that Moshe's rebuke to the Jews was very "pareve", meaning that it was mild and not meant to embarrass anyone in particular. The first pasuk of the parsha contains numerous places or landmarks which on the surface are meant to identify where the speech took place. However, if one were to review Parshas Matos, it would become evident that none of these places exist. The pasuk identifies places such as Lavan, Chatzeiros, Di Zahav and Mul Soof, but these locations are not found elsewhere in Chumash.

R' Mansour explained that Lavan was meant to remind the Jews about their complaints about the manna which was white. Rather than lacing into the Jews and telling them in detail about how wrong they were to complain about the manna, Moshe just says "white."

The use of the term Di Zahav (enough gold) was also meant to be a subtle reminder of sin. The Jews had enough gold, but they did not save it for a positive purpose. Instead, the Jews used the gold to construct the egel - the golden calf.

Another term used by Moshe was Mul Soof - you were by the splitting of the sea. However, this was meant to remind the Jews that they cried and complained and wanted to go back to Egypt before the sea was split.

From here one sees the importance to retain respect for people. Even when giving a rebuke,a person must be careful not to make it personal and to allow the recipient a measure of self respect.

R' Mansour then hypothesized that Moshe's respectful manner of rebuking the Jews might be the reason that Devarim is read before Tisha B'Av. The second temple was destroyed for not treating fellow Jews with respect. Moshe's lesson to the Jews is to not publicly rebuke others in a way that will embarrass them.

Rabbi Mansour then tied this to the Kamtza/Bar Kamtza story. The victim in the story was a malshin - a person who would turn over Jews to the government. Yet the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because this malshin was not given a measure of self respect and was forcibly removed from the party.

R' Mansour also related this concept to the story of Korach. After Korach and his followers challenged Aharon with their own attempts at offering Ketores, two hundred and fifty people were killed. After the story ended, Hashem commanded Elazar to clean up the mess. R' Mansour asked - why Elazar and not Aharon? R' Mansour answered that if Aharon had cleaned up the mess, it would have looked like he was gloating - I lived and you died! Therefore, Elazar was commanded to clean up after the others were killed.

Another vort that R' Mansour said had to do with a pasuk from Moshe's speech to the Jews where Moshe says that Hashem has caused the Jews to multiply "Larov". R' Mansour noted that the cholam is missing from this word and it appears to be read "Larav."

R' Mansour quoted the Ben Ish Chai who explains that every night a person's soul goes up to heaven and recounts the aveirot which were performed that day. The soul is damaged by any sins committed that day and the soul tells Hashem about the acts. While a person may have performed mitzvos that day as well, the good angels created by the mitzvos don't get to speak at night as they can only testify before a Beis Din which will not open until the next day.

R' Mansour then quoted a gemara which states that if a person comes and voluntarily admits that he is liable to pay a fine, he is exempt from paying the fine. As such, when the soul testifies that the acts occurred, it exempts the person from the fine. Who is the author of this opinion in the gemara? Rav. However, Shmuel says that if the person admits the act which causes the fine and then witnesses later come, he is still responsible to pay the fine.

R' Mansour, quoting the Ben Ish Chai tied this into a statement by Bilaam where he says "mi yichyeh mi sumo (k)el." This can also be read as - who can live if Shmuel is correct. B'H, the halacha is like Rav.

R' Mansour also quoted the pasuk from Tehillim, "v'slachta lavonoseinu ki rav hu" - Hashem will forgive us because he is rav. This can also be read as we will be forgiven because the halacha is like Rav.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday Night Suds - Modelo Especial

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Modelo Especial.

Although not widely known, there are many Mexican beers which are under kosher supervision. Past Sunday Night Suds columns have reviewed some more well known Mexican brews like Corona (click here to see the review) and some not so well known brews like Negra Modelo (click here to see the review). The odd thing is that after Corona, the Modelo Especial is their next "best selling" beer, yet it is widely unknown outside of the Latin community.

The experts at BA have labeled the Modelo Especial an American Adjunct Lager, but I find this beer to taste less of corn or cereal filler and more like the true Pilsner which it purports to be. The beer poured a pale gold with a small amount of foam which quickly dissipated. The first few sips were quite refreshing and tasted of standard lager with a little something else which I can't really define. Maybe there is a little corn, but nothing rising to the level of Rolling Rock or Heineken in which the corn dominates all the other possible flavors of the brew.

The Modelo Especial is a good nine days beer in that it would go well with most substitute meat fare. Besides the obvious pairing with dairy nachos, refried beans or chips and salsa, I would very much consider having one of these with a spicy veggie burger or even pizza.

Modelo Especial is certified kosher by the OK laboratories as are many other beers produced by Compania Cervcera Del Tropico S.A. de CV. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Negra Modelo, please follow this link

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.If you'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, July 19, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Matos Masei

The following is a brief summary of two thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios back in 2010. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiurand should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Matos begins with Moshe telling the heads of the tribes about nedarim. This is out of the ordinary as a parsha usually begins "and Hashem told Moshe to say [to the Jews]." However in this parsha Moshe speaks directly to the roshei matos without the Torah specifying that the source was from Hashem. The language of roshei hamatos is also unique as the Torah usually describes the people as nesi'im, not as roshei hamatos.

Rabbi Frand quoted R' Alpert who cited the Rashbam in Chukas about the maa'aseh meriva. In this parsha, Moshe is told to pick up the mateh and then later told to talk to the rock. Ultimately, Moshe is punished for using the staff, rather than speaking to the rock. But why is he told to pick up the staff in the first place? The answer Rabbi Frand gave is that Hashem was trying to teach Moshe a lesson about how to interact with the Jewish people. Hashem instructs - there are two ways to interact and influence the Jews, either by speaking to them or by hitting them. This time, the lesson is that the pen (or in this case the spoken word) is mightier than the sword.

When Hashem tells Moshe to take the staff, Hashem is saying take the staff, but then go and talk to the Jews. Hashem attempts to teach Moshe a lesson that every leader and Rebbi or Rov must know - you don't need the stick. You can have as much impact by speaking.

Matos is a parsha about speech - nedarim. A person can have a Rabbinically certified kosher meat sandwich, but if he has sworn that that he will not eat meat, then it is as great a sin to eat the sandwich as if he has eaten not kosher food. This is the power of speech. Therefore the parsha begins with Moshe telling the roshei hamatos, because Moshe has learned the power of speech and he can then instruct the leaders of sticks that they can lead with power or with speech, but leading with speech is much more effective.

A second vort was said over about Parshas Masei. R' Frand again quoted R' Alpert who remarks that the parsha recites the 42 stops which appear to be ancient history and almost irrelevant. So why are the mas'aos mentioned? Indeed, many of the locations mentioned were mile markers where things did not go well for the Jews. Chazal teach that Refidim marked the location where the Jews washed their hands of Torah (rafu yideihem) and therefore they were attacked by Amalek.

Another location was Kivros HaTavah where they complained about the food they were eating.R' Frand asked - how do people look back on their less than stellar past? They usually try to forget it. The Torah however tells us, remember your past that you did not act properly, but you were able to pull yourselves out of it and move on. The Torah then teaches 42 locations to show that there were glorious moments and not so stellar times. The message is that the Jews should be aware of their mistakes, not repeat them and at the same time see how they overcame them.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Why Life is LeGrand and the Pinchas Perspective

While driving down from Camp M, I spent an engaging few hours listening to the Mike & Mike in the morning program. Unlike most of the last few weeks, the show was actually hosted by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, instead of one and occasionally two, fill in hosts.

The show had a couple of interesting discussion points, including the Monday 4PM deadline for signing franchise players to multi-year deals. The guys debated which of the marquee players were worth mega buck long term contracts and whether a player would pass up the franchise year salary and sit out the year in order to avoid possible injury and its possible impact on his ability to cash in down the road.

There was also an interesting discussion about the Jeremy Lin saga and whether the NY Knicks would be willing to match the Houston Rockets offer sheet for Lin. The Mikes correctly noted that while the purported sticking point was the third year of the deal and the luxury tax penalty, the Knicks should not have been worried about it because: (a) if Lin was performing at All-Star level in the 3rd year he would be worth the money; (b) the Knicks would still be raking in merchandise dollars, even if Lin turned out to be only a slightly above average player. and (c) if Lin turned out to be a bust in the expensive third year, he could still be a valuable trade chip as teams desire expiring contracts and the Knicks could move Lin at that time for a more useful player.

But the discussion from the show which I really would like to focus on involved Eric LeGrand and kickoffs. For those who are unaware of LeGrand, he was a Rutgers college football player who suffered a devastating spinal injury and is currently unable to walk. The injury occurred during a play when LeGrand was covering a kickoff and fractured two vertebrae while attempting to make tackle. Although he was paralyzed from the waist down, he has now been able to sit up and has vowed that one day he will walk again. He has also recently publicly stated that when he does walk, he will go back to the spot at New Meadowlands stadium where he was injured, lie down and then stand up again.

Besides discussing his rehab and future plans, LeGrand also discussed his views on kickoffs. Although unrelated to LeGrand, last year the NFL moved the location of the kickoff up 5 yards to reduce the number of kickoff returns and minimize player injury. There has since been a movement to further limit or possibly eliminate kickoffs altogether.

Last week, LeGrand voiced his opposition to changing kickoffs and even to the 5 yard movement from the previous fall. LeGrand opined that for some players, the coverage team is their only way to earn a spot on the team. He also stated that the old form of kickoffs was more exciting.

The fact that nearly two years post accident, LeGrand could look back on his injury and express an opinion that kickoffs should go back to the way they were pre-2011 changes made me think about the Torah reading for the last two weeks and what I will call the Pinchas principle.

Although last week's parsha was called Pinchas and contained a description of his reward for bravery, it was not the beginning of the Pinchas story. Rather, the story began in the last part of Parshas Balak, where the Torah recites that Pinchas killed Cozbi and Zimri. The question asked by many meforshim is, why does the Torah wait until the next parsha to discuss Pinchas' reward? Couldn't the Torah finish the story in Parshas Balak with a description of the reward.

The answer which I heard in a Rabbi Mansour shiur which I downloaded from is that the Torah intentionally waited for the following parsha to discuss the reward in order to demonstrate that some actions must be judged before determining whether they were proper. It would be easy to jump to conclusions and call Pinchas a hothead for his act. By waiting until the next parsha to discuss the reward, the Torah shows that in order to properly consider whether a person has acted for the sake of heave, one needs to step back and analyze the acts taken.

To my mind, there is no way that in the weeks and months immediately post injury, LeGrand could have made the statement that kickoffs should not be altered in the name of player safety. However, now that he has commenced rehab and had time to consider the injury, LeGrand can step back and properly review and comment on the play.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Night Suds - Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Lager Plus Bonus Nine Days Havdalah Guide

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Leinenkugel's Fireside Nut Brown Lager and also provide a 9 days havdalah guide.

The Fireside Nut Brown Lager is a winter beer which the Leinenkugel folks include in their beers of winter box. Having said that, it is not a typical winter brew, since notwithstanding the color of the beer, it is not a heavy or dark beer.

The Fireside Nut Brown Lager poured a rich, dark brown which made me think of some of the finer dark lagers when I saw it in my cup. Unfortunately, that is where the resemblance ended. The beer has a strong artificial taste which I can't put my finger on, but I assume is meant to make one think that the beer has a nutty flavor which is supposed to be derived from the malt. However, the flavor is not reminiscent of nutty malts and is more akin to light liquid smoke or other additive. The result is a beer which is slightly syrupy and smoky, but with no body or complexity.

Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Lager is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, although the product currently in the marketplace does not yet have an OU on the label. If you would like a copy of the LOC please contact me via email.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Lager, please follow this link

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.If you'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 - Nine Days Havdalah Guide.

In years past, I would receive numerous email and cell phone messages prior to Shabbos Chazon (the Saturday within the summer nine days mourning period) with questions as to what would be a good choice to make havdalah on. Since this year the Shabbos of the Nine Days actually falls one week early, I have presented the annual Nine Days Havdalah guide in this email to allow people to get an early look at alternatives to wine.

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 or the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. Please be aware that not every flavor of Smirnoff is certified Kosher. Indeed, the last time I looked at the CRC list, only the following flavors were certified kosher: Green Apple, Mango, Passionfruit, Pineapple, Pomegranate Fusion, Raspberry Burst, Watermelon and Wild Grape (I am unaware of whether there is actual grape in this beverage). For the complete list of those Smirnoff products and other alcopops approved by the CRC, please click here .

Another alternative to beer would be hard apple cider. For the first time that I am aware, there is a hard apple cider which is certified kosher. As you may have noticed in the picture which is at the top of the post, I have placed a bottle of Angry Orchard Apple Ginger flavored hard apple cider next to the bottle of Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown lager which is reviewed above. The Angry Orchard brand is a division of Samuel Adams and there are three varieties which are certified kosher by the Star-K: Traditional Dry Cider, Crisp Cider and Apple Ginger.

Since this blog is devoted to beer, I will not provide a full review of the Apple Ginger. However, suffice it to say that this would be a tasty, sweet havdalah alternative, suitable for those who prefer Moscato wines.

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 or some of the better Summer Ales. 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.

Again, I would stress that you consult your halachic authority before selecting a havdalah alternative. My Rav advises me that beer would be the first choice, followed by malt beverages and then hard apple cider. I did not ask about how the non alcohol options fit into the list.

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.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

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

In introducing tonight's vort, R' Frand explained that his vort could be equally applicable to Pinchas, Matos-Maasei or Devarim. He further noted that since he does not give shiur during those weeks, it was perhaps appropriate to give this vort tonight.

R' Frand observed that the story which commences Parshas Pinchas is the conclusion of Pinchas' fight in the end of Parshas Balak. However, the end of the story which is war with Midyan which the Jews engage in, does not happen until Parshas Matos when Hashem tells Moshe to go to war with Midyan before he will die.

When the Jews do go to war with Midyan in Parshas Matos, they kill off the men and bring the women back. Moshe gets mad at this since the women were the cause of the tragedy. Then Elazar tells the Jews that the possessions of Midyan need to be kashered before they are used. Rashi explains that the parsha is taught by Elazar because Moshe forgot the halachos of kashering utensils when he got mad at the Jews for bringing the women back. Rashi also cites other incidents where Moshe forgot because he got angry, including when Moshe forgot to talk to the rock after getting mad at the Jews and calling them rebels.

R' Frand then skipped to Parshas Devarim and quoted its first pasuk. He quoted Rashi on the first pasuk, wherein Rashi paraphrases the Sifri, who explains that the places named in the pasuk were actually meant as mussar and did not really exist. These locations reminding the Jews of how they got Hashem angry in the midbar, complained about Yam Suf, complained about the manna.

R' Frand then quoted a sefer called Me'or V'Shemeh. He stated that every time the word "aleh" is used, it is meant to exclude what came before. When Moshe uses V'aleh to start Devarim, he is admitting that he had been too harsh in the past. Moshe in Devarim says, I am going to give mussar, but subtly. A person can ask "How could you do THAT" which means that the action is horrible. When a person asks "How can YOU do that" it is less critical and meant to invoke thought.

R' Frand next quoted a Shela on Mishlei which states - don't give mussar to the cynic, give it to the wise man. The Shela explains that each person has both a foolish and wise aspect. When giving mussar to a person, appeal to his wise side, not his foolishness. This lesson is what Moshe is teaching here - I used to attack the fool. Now I appeal to his wiser side.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Catering to the Fans or Doing Your Best to Irk Them, a Pirkei Avos Perspective

This morning, I spent the long drive down from Camp M, listening to substitute Mikes (Mike Hill and Michael Smith) host the Mike and Mike in the Morning program on ESPN Radio. While these two Mikes were not quite as entertaining as Greenie and Golic, they did have two interesting themes which I will attempt to review and comment on in this post.

The first topic which dominated the show had to do with the selection of the players and all-star starters for the upcoming MLB All-Star game. For those not familiar with the esoteric rules, here is a nutshell version. The fans vote for the starters at each fielding position. The manager then gets to select most of the bench as well as the pitchers. Also, the manager chooses the starting pitcher for the game. Finally (and the most controversial element) is the rule that every major league team must have a player who represents them on the team.

This year, the NL Manager is Tony LaRussa, whose Cardinals won the World Series last year. After winning the World Series, LaRussa retired from the Cardinals and now works for MLB. There were quite a few individuals and teams which were unhappy with his selections, including the Reds who felt that they were snubbed in retaliation for a brawl with the Cardinals which occurred in 2011. More relevant to this post is the anguish of the Marlins. Just prior to the All-Star game, the Marlins announced that their All Star selected by LaRussa, Giancarlo Stanton, would be unable to participate due to injury. Rather than replace Stanton with another Marlin, LaRussa selected Nationals' phenom Bryce Harper to fill the spot.

The substitute Mikes were up in arms over this as they felt that LaRussa was not making selections for the good of the team. They underscored the point by noting that LaRussa was not currently a manager in the league and therefore had no stake in the outcome of the game. However, other managers might have managed or selected players differently because they could benefit if their team made the World Series and was awarded an extra home game. Although not mentioned by the substitute Mikes, it is ironic that the Cardinals won the World Series in 7 games and therefore were able to take advantage of the extra home game.

The hosts also pointed out that the Marlins fans were cheated and might be less apt to the watch the game since they had no local player to watch or root for in the contest.

The second topic addressed by the Mikes was Ray Allen's signing with the Miami Heat. For the last few years, Allen played for the Boston Celtics. In both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the Celtics were eliminated in the playoffs by the Heat. Notwithstanding this fact, or perhaps because of it, Allen signed as a free agent with the Heat.

The story behind the story which made this a controversial issue for the substitute Mikes is that Allen took less money then he could have received from some other teams to sign with the Heat. The Mikes felt that this was a slap in the face of the Celtics fans as they saw their beloved player go to an arch rival, but not for the money. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Heat offered Allen the best chance to win an NBA title.

The twin perspectives on the motivation of LaRussa and Allen reminded me of a mishna in the 5th perek of Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers). The tenth mishna in the perek recites that there are four types of people. A person who says what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours is an average person. A person who says what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine is (as explained by Kehati) an ignorant person because he cannot discern any property as personal. A person who states what is mine is yours and what is yours is yours is a pious person. Finally, a person who states what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine is an evil person.

The Mikes issues as to the motivation of Allen and LaRussa reminded me of the issue of perspective in the mishna. If a person were to simply say - what's mine is yours, you might believe them to be generous...until you realized that he also meant that no one should have personal property. Similarly, if you heard a person say what's yours is yours, you might believe them to be selfish and motivated by a need to protect his own items...until you realize that the person was also willing to share his goods.

While LaRussa may want to bring a phenom to a big stage in choosing Harper, he might also want to insult the Marlins or Reds. Although Allen may want to punish the Celtics by going to the Heat, he might also be thinking of his legacy. It's all a matter of perspective.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Night Suds - Keystone Ice

This week's post fast edition of Sunday Night Suds looks at Keystone Ice.

When you have completed one of the longest non twenty-five hour fasts of the year, you generally try to stay away from certain foods. I learned in my early thirties that I could no longer tolerate heavy meat dishes after a long fast. But even when you opt for lighter post fast fare, there could still be a place for a lighter beer. Unfortunately, Keystone Ice may not be a good choice among the lighter options.

Keystone Ice is what most would call an adjunct lager. These beers are brewed with cereal grains such as rice and corn. By substituting these grains for barley, the breweries are able to cut their costs and pass the savings along to the consumer. However, the reduction of the barley content can (and usually does) result in a diminution of flavor.

The Keystone Ice poured a pale yellow, although not as light as some "lite" beers. Perhaps due to the temperature or maybe just because, there was little lacing after the foam settled.

The Keystone Ice had a faint beer taste, but was more influenced by corn than anything else. The beer reminded me a little of Rolling Rock, although the corn flavor is much stronger in the true Pennsylvania brew.

The Keystone Ice is higher in alcohol than the average macrolager, as it touts itself as 5.9% abv. This combined with the price of the beer and the volume of the cans demonstrates the intended market of this brew. V'hameivin Yavin.

I cannot recommend the Keystone Ice to be paired with any particular food, but if you are looking for a beer which will not clash with your meal or a beer which sacrifices flavor for cost, this beer is for you.

Keystone Ice is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and there is an OU on the can. For the experts' take on Keystone Ice, please click here .

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, please feel free to click to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Night Suds - Uinta Hop Notch IPA

After a week off for traveling and moving the family up to camp, Sunday Night Suds returns with a review of Uinta's Hop Notch IPA.

One of the nice perks of having a satellite office in another county, is the opportunity after work to stop in the local beer stores and load up on brews which are not offered near me. Although the beer stores in Westchester County, NY, are slightly more expensive (OK, maybe a little more than slightly) than the beer stores in Long Island, they carry their own special mix of brews which are not available close to home. Over the last few years I have occassionally touted Peekskill's Beverage World on this blog as it has a great selection and very friendly and knowledgeable staff. Another beer store which I have visited occassionally and which has a great selection (but with very high prices and staff which may be chained to the sales counter) is Portchester Beer on North Main Street in Portchester, NY.

One "store" which I have been rapidly warming up to is the DeCicco chain of supermarkets. DeCicco is a chain of supermarkets in the Westchester and Putnam County area which is slightly more upscale than your generic A&P or Stop & Shop. Each store carries a diverse selection of beer and I always come away impressed by their selection, but I don't generally purchase all that much because as a supermarket they do not allow you to break up six packs.

This past Friday, I stopped in the DeCicco in Brewster and found that they had remedied my problem of how to mix sixers in the supermarket. The seemingly endless coolers still have signs on them which warn the shopper not to break up six packs. But they have also added a six door cooler in the back of the stores which has a fantastic selection of craft brewed singles. I instantly found five which I had never sampled before and placed them in my shopping cart. While the price for these beers was roughly 1/4 the price of a six pack, I did not mind paying the premium as it saved me from having to buy five six packs of beer.

After this overly long introduction, perhaps it would be time to talk about the beer which I featured in the picture above. The Uinta Hop Notch IPA is a classic India Pale Ale with a floral scent that hits you in the nose before the glass makes it to your lips. I shared the Hop Notch with Mrs KB and a friend who is a big fan of IPAs this past shabbos afternoon. We all agreed that the hops were prominent and the pine was present and accounted for. However, as "hoppy" as this brew was, it was not overly bitter and was quite drinkable. I would definitely consider buying more of this "Top Notch" IPA in the future.

Uinta Hop Notch IPA is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and bears an OU on the label. For the experts' take on the Uinta Hop Notch IPA please click here

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).

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