Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Rex Survives Black Monday- Right Place, Right Time?

As the Jets season drew to a close, there was rampant speculation about whether Rex Ryan would keep his job as Head Coach of the New York Jets. In truth, the controversy did not apply solely to Rex, as many coaches whose teams did not make the playoffs were faced with the spectre of being fired on "Black Monday."

In what lately has become a trend, the Monday after the end of the regular NFL season has become a day when coaches and occasionally GMs are terminated by dissatisfied owners. This year, one team (the Cleveland Browns) did not even wait until Monday as they released first year Head Coach Rob Chudzinksi on Sunday evening. As today wore on, four other teams terminated their head coaches - the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. And the day is not over yet...

Any time that a team has a losing season and particularly when the team has multiple losing seasons in a row, the head coach's job is in jeopardy. In Rex's case, the Jets had winning seasons and advanced to the AFC Championship game in each of his first two years. Then in 2011, Mark Sanchez drove the team into the ground in his final three games, throwing for a combined 5 TDs and 500 yds, but also losing two fumbles and throwing seven INTs.

The following year, Sanchez was a turnover machine, throwing for 13 TDs, but also giving the ball to the other team twenty six teams (18 INTs and 8 fumbles). Granted, he had less talent around him, but his epic failures and the creation of a new word in the lexicon after he collided with Brandon Moore's posterior, doomed the team.

This year, the Jets had the least collective offensive talent of Rex's career. However, with a stout defense and a new Offensive Coordinator, the Jets were 5-4 and looking at a possible playoff spot after nine games. But the Jets played poorly in getting blown out in their first three games after the bye week and rookie starting QB Geno Smith was benched in the second half of two of the games.

But a funny thing happened after Geno was removed in the team's first game against the Miami Dolphins- Geno's play started to improve. Although the Jets did not make the playoffs, Geno started making better decisions with the football and severely curtailed his turnovers. During this stretch, the Jets went 3-1 and their one loss was by ten points to the #2 seed in the NFC - the Carolina Panthers.

When NY Jets owner Woody Johnson announced in the Jets locker room after yesterday's win in Miami that Rex would be returning, the players cheered loudly. This was not a forced reaction -- the players really do like playing for him and would run through a wall if he asked them to. Now, a coach should not be retained solely because his players like him, no more then a CEO should be kept on at a company which is hemorrhaging money simply because  the staff adores him. But I wonder to myself, was Rex kept on because of the job he did with an admittedly poor talent base, or because the Jets braintrust knew that there was no one better on the market who could fill his position?

I can't imagine that the Jets will ever publicly answer my question, but the query can be asked in many forms. Take for example the King of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah. When Jonah finally arrives at Nineveh, he tells the King that Hashem has decreed that the city will be destroyed if they do not repent. While most rulers would dismiss this as the rantings of a lunatic, the King of Nineveh took Jonah seriously, and he and the people of Nineveh repented. Why did the King of Nineveh listen to Jonah and change his ways and those of his whole land? 

The answer lies in the Medrash which teaches that the King of Nineveh had a previously job - he was Pharaoh who fled Egypt after the Egyptian army was drowned at Yam Suf. When faced with the real possibility/probability of swift and real punishment, the King listened to Jonah and the land was saved. 

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter.

Leinenkugel first introduced this take on a porter last winter, but I did not see it in the NY area until I found it at Beverage Barn in Garden City Park earlier this month. This is another of the new Leinenkugel varieties that has an OU on the label.

The Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is a lighter version of the style. The beer poured a dark brown with a small amount of tan foam. I did not taste much in the way of malt and there was almost no hop bite. There was some coffee/chocolate notes, but they were masked by the vanilla which was infused into the brew.

Although the Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is on the high end of the alcohol scale for a Leine (6.0% abv), the beer does not have a heavy alcohol taste. The beer is actually quite drinkable and would be a good accompaniment to a dessert course, or to be consumed on its own. However, this is not the kind of beer you would drink with a heavy main course.

Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and as mentioned above, it has an OU on the label. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/710/86776

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Va'era

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The first pasuk of this week's parsha (Shemos 6:2) states that Hashem came to Moshe and told him that He was Hashem. This comes immediately after the end of Parshas Shemos (5:22-6:1) where Hashem tells Moshe (in response to Moshe's questioning) that now Moshe will see what Hashem will do to Pharaoh. 

The mefarshim ask why is this necessary as it appears on the surface to be redundant. The mainstream answer is that the difference between the two pesukim is that in this week's parsha, Hashem speaks to Moshe sternly by saying it with the middah of din. 

R' Frand then stated that beyond the simple pshat, we can learn from the parsha that there are things in life which occur which are extremely painful and may provoke a reaction or feeling that Hashem has abandoned the person. However, Hashem has not abandoned the person and (however difficult) the person must use his emunah and bitachon to understand that Hashem has a master plan and that everything will work out for the best.

Hashem's message to Moshe in Va'era is that you may think that I am being harsh, but everything comes from the same source and it all comes from the middas harachamim. 

The twin concepts are seen in the Shema which R' Frand remarked that a Jew says almost like a pledge of allegiance. The language of Shema has a middas hadin and a middas harachamim component, but we must know that Hashem is one.

Similarly, the Jews who went through the crucible of Egypt were being given a message that although there are times that one would question, it is all for the good.

R' Frand quoted the Sanzer Rebbi who cited to the gemara in Berachos where we learn from Rebbi that one should cover the eyes when saying Shema. Why do we do this? The Sanzer Rebbi explained that the lesson is that Hashem is both middas harachamim and din and they all come from the same source. We can't see now that it is all for the good, so we cover our eyes. When going through troubles, we can't see that it is all for the best. Thus we cover our eyes to demonstrate our acceptance that it is all for the best.

R' Frand quoted the introduction to the Sefer Kol Aryeh which discusses how Ya'akov was afraid to go down to Egypt because he foresaw the slavery of Egypt. Hashem had to convince Ya'akov to go down to Egypt and that in the end, it will be the salvation of the Jews. The Torah explains in Bereishis 46:4, that Hashem convinced Ya'akov by making reference to Yosef covering Ya'akov's eyes. The symbolism was - just as the story of Yosef seemed like a terrible thing, in the end it all worked out for the best. So too you, Ya'akov, although you see that there will be travails in Egypt, "Yosef" will cover your eyes and when the Jews leave Egypt they will be better off because of the experience.

R' Frand next said a different vort where he noted that the four languages of geula are in the parsha (Shemos 6:6-7) - v'hotseisei, v'hitsalti, v'ga'alti, v'lacachti. The Rashbam in Pesachim teaches that the four cups at the Seder corresponds to these four languages of geula.

R' Asher Weiss notes that a person can eat and drink between the first and second and between the second and third cups, but no one can drink between cups three and four. Why? Because the first three languages of geula are all about freedom from enslavement, things that everyone approves of. But the fourth language requires the Jews to submit to Hashem being their king. The message of eating/drinking between any of the first three cups is that there is no problem with drinking or otherwise separating between the cups because they are all the same. But once the freedom has been completed, there cannot be any separation between the freedom and accepting Hashem. Why? Because there cannot be freedom on its own as that would be anarchy. The freedom of Egypt must include an acceptance of the will of Hashem.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Decoction Concoction Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac's Decoction Concoction Lager (DCL).

The DCL is the last new beer I have tried from Saranac's 2013-2014 Beers of Winter Box. The mix box also includes Saranac's flagship Pale Ale (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html); two relatively new beers, the 4059 Porter (reviewed here -kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-4059-porter.html) and the Belgian Pale Ale (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/12/belated-sunday-night-suds-saranac.html) and three new beers - the DCL, the Moonshadow Black IPA (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-moonshadow.html) and Rudy's Spiced Christmas Ale (reviewed here - http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/12/sunday-night-suds-saranac-rudys-spiced.html);.

I was confused by the title of this tasty, but oddly named brew. I went to the Saranac website for some insight on the choice of name and learned very little. The website stated that the beer is dry hopped and that its flavor comes from "boiling mash being added back into the brew." This of course is what happens when a beer undergoes the the process of decoction (which is defined by the www.homebrewtalk.com website) as "Water is added to the grist to reach the initial mash temperature. Once the first temperature rest is complete, a portion of the grain and water is scooped or shoveled out of the mash tun and into the kettle or another heated vessel, where it is brought to a boil. The portion removed, which can often be as much as a third of the grist, is called the decoction."

However, I was still left with the question - is this the only beer that Saranac makes which undergoes decoction? I don't have an answer to the question, but I do know that the Saranac DCL is tasty for a lager with some floral pine, a bit of nuttiness and some malt.

Saranac's DCL is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac has begun to brew some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the DCL, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/101803.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The first pasuk of this week's parsha states that "These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt..." The pesukim which follow (1:2-4) contain a list of all of the sons of Yaakov who came down to Egypt.

Rashi comments that even though the sons of Israel and their offspring were specifically counted in Sefer Bereishis when they were still alive, they were counted again after their death, to show how dear they were to Hashem, much like the stars. Hashem named all the stars to show how dear they are to Hashem, so too the Jews are dear to Him.

R' Frand quoted R' Leib Baks (sp?) who asked - why are the stars dear to Hashem? He answered by quoting a Rashi in Bereishis which mentioned a medrash that the sun and moon were originally the same size and had the same luminescence. The moon then came to Hashem and said - how can two wear the same crown? Hashem responded to the moon - you are right, go and diminish yourself. However, Hashem did not want the moon to feel bad, so Hashem created the stars to assist the moon in lighting the night sky.

R' Frand stated in the name of R' Baks that we see that the stars were dear to Hashem because they assisted someone or something which felt bad. Hashem loves people who are sensitive to others and make them feel better. The Jews are compared to stars because they too help to make others feel better.

R' Frand closed this vort by mentioning the Rama who writes that there is a minhag that people should get married outside under the stars so that they should have children as multiple as the stars. R' Frand said that he once heard a vort that the children should be like the stars - they should be zoche to have the sensitivity for others like the stars had for the moon.

The second vort that R' Frand said related to Amram's taking Yocheved back as a wife. The gemara in Sotah 12 states that after Pharaoh made his decree that all the male children should be thrown into the Nile, Amram divorced his wife Yocheved. His reasoning was that if no more children were born, they would not be subject to death.

Amram is now approached by Miriam who says to her father - you are worse than Pharaoh - since Pharaoh only decreed against the boys and you have decreed against all children. Pharaoh only decreed death in this world and you are causing death in the world to come. Rashi explains this by saying that a person who is not born, cannot get to Olam Haba, but once a person is born, even if the person lives for a few moments, he can earn Olam Haba.

R' Frand further explained the second half of Miriam's statement by making reference to a gemara in Sanhedrin which recites a dispute as to when a person is zoche to Olam Haba. R' Chiya says that a person can earn Olam Haba from birth. But Ravina says that it is from the moment of conception. R' Frand quoted a teshuva from R' Moshe Feinstein wherein he states that we paskin like Ravina. Thus if a woman (c'vs) has a miscarriage, the embryo can still go to Olam Haba and her pregnancy and pains were not for nothing.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting a story about the Vilna Gaon. The Gaon had a student who tried for many years with his wife to have a child and after much time, they finally had a child, but the child died as an infant. When the Gaon came to console his student and his wife he said - your child was the gilgal of a certain Polish Nobleman named the Graf Potutski (sp?) who converted to Judaism and abandoned the privileges of his noble birth. The Polish rulers were unhappy and said - renounce your conversion or die. The Graf refused and was burned at the stake in Vilna's public square. The Gaon said to his student - your child was the gilgal of this man and the few moments that he was alive completed his neshoma.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Bully! Porter

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Boulevard's Bully! Porter - the beer with a bulldog on the label.

When fall turns to winter and the Friday Nights get longer, I often turn to beers that can be sipped after a meal. For nights like these, you really can't beat a porter.

As explained by the good folks at BA:

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

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

The Bully! Porter was out of a mix box that I bought in Chicago and had a best by date of August, but that had no impact on this beer. The beer had the initial coffee notes of a Guinness, but some additional complexities, with a hint of vanilla and some other earthy tones. I have one more left from the mix box and I intend to let it cellar for a few more months.

Boulevard Bully! Porter is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not have the certification mark on the label. If you would like the LOC from the Va'ad, please let me know and I will email it to you.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/1262.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayechi

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In this week's parsha is the famous story of the blessings that Yaakov gives to Yosef's sons, wherein Yaakov switches his hands and put his right hand on Ephraim's head and gave him the better blessing, even though Menashe was the older son.

The Chizkuni asks - why is it that Yaakov switches his hands, why did he not just ask the boys to switch sides?

R' Frand mentioned four answers to this question. The first answer was the Chizkuni's answer to his own question (also mentioned by the Maharshal) which was that Yaakov did not want Menashe to feel bad. Yaakov knew that Ephraim was more deserving of the better blessing, but he did not want Menashe to suffer the public indignity of being moved around. As a result, he only switches his hands in order to minimize the possibility of hurting Menashe's feeling.

R' Frand noted that the words of the pasuk support this answer, as the Torah in Bereishis 48:14 uses the words "Sikeil es Yadav Ki Menashe Habechor." Although the word Sikeil is usually translated as switch, R' Frand explained that Yaakov used Sechel (wisdom) because Menashe was the first born and he should get the better brocha, but Yaakov did not want him to feel any additional pain.

The second answer given by R' Frand came from the Ksav Sofer, who explains that the way that Yaakov did this, Menashe did not realize that there was any problem. R' Frand surmised that the boys had their heads down when the brochos were given. As a result, Yaakov's wisdom in moving his hands rather than moving the boys, prevented Menashe from even realizing that he was not getting the better brocha. 

The third answer was given in the name of the Ma'adanei Asher. R' Frand noted that the gemara in Taanis states in the name of R' Yosi that a place does not give honor to the person, the person gives honor to the place. Whether a lesser man sits in a good seat, or a greater man sits in the back - it makes no difference. This was the message to Menashe - its not where you sit, its what you do with the seat.

The fourth answer was mentioned in the name of the Imrei Emes, who says that this the most important lesson in chinuch - teach the child based on where he is. Yaakov did not move the children around - he moved himself because the teacher must go to the child and teach him based on his own way, and not to pigeon hole based on the teacher's own thoughts.

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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Rudy's Spiced Christmas Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Brewery's Rudy's Spiced Christmas Ale (or RSCA for short).

Found this beer in the 2013-2014 Beers of Winter Box, which which also includes Saranac's flagship Pale Ale (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html) along with three new beers - the Moonshadow Black IPA (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-moonshadow.html); Decoction Concoction) and two relatively new beers, the 4059 Porter (reviewed here -kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-4059-porter.html) and the Belgian Pale Ale (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/12/belated-sunday-night-suds-saranac.html).

The RSCA bills itself as a spiced ale and in the capacity it is true to form. There is a great deal of spice in this brew, albeit somewhat muddled. I had a difficult time isolating any of the spices, notwithstanding the description on the Saranac website that the ingredient list reads like a Christmas cookie. 

However, the larger problem that I had with this beer is that it just does not taste like an ale. There are no hops and the alcohol content is not really present (although BA claims that it is 6% abv). There is a generous serving of malts, but that just does not say ale to me.

Overall, this is an OK beer if you like spiced beer/winter warmers, but I would not rank this among my favorite Saranac products.

Saranac RSCA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac has begun to brew some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the RSCA, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/101533.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayigash

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

When Yosef accuses the brothers of stealing his cup at the end of Parshas Mikeitz, Yehuda responds in Bereishis 44:16 with a statement of contrition. However, when the story continues at the beginning of Parshas Vayigash, Yehuda is less apologetic. In fact, Yehuda cautions Yosef in Bereishis 44:18 that Yosef should not get angry at him. Rashi explains that the reason that Yehuda says this to Yosef is because Yehuda spoke harshly to Yosef at this time.

R' Frand then asked the obvious question - what changed from Mikeitz to Vayigash which could explain why Yehuda was now speaking more harshly to Yosef?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Or Hachayim HaKadosh, who explains that until now, the brothers felt that their ordeal was a punishment for how they treated Yosef. As such, they accepted that this was their penance and they did not push back. But after Yosef told them that they can all go and only Binyamin should stay, they realized that this was not from Hashem. They perceived that Yosef was being an achzar and they changed their tune to be more confrontational.

R' Frand next quoted the Vilna Gaon who observed that the trop (the cantellation marks) on the first pasuk of Vayigash is Kadma V'azla Revi'e Zarka Munach Segol. These notes tell the story that Yehuda, who was the fourth son (revi'e) got up and went (kadma v'azla) to Yosef. Why did Yehuda do this? Because he had previously promised Yaakov that if he did not bring back Binyamin, he would forfeit his place in the world to come. This can be translated as zorek (thrown out) from munach (resting with) segol (the Jewish nation).

R' Frand's final vort discussed the story of how Serach, the daughter of Asher, hinted to Yaakov that Yosef was still alive. The Medrash explains that Serach played a musical instrument and sang a melody to Yaakov of "Od Yosef Chai." The Sefer HaYashar explains that the brothers were afraid that if they told Yaakov outright that Yosef was alive, the shock could have killed Yaakov. By having Serach sing this song to Yaakov, when the brothers showed up later to tell him that Yosef was still alive, Yaakov was not as shocked.

R' Frand quoted R' Pa'am who said that we learn from this that a person needs to be careful about how to discuss things with others. He quoted a R' Yaakov Bender, a principal in a local yeshiva, who had a rule for contacting parents. When he called a parent, he always began the conversation, I am Yaakov Bender and your son is fine. This immediately put the parent at ease as a call from a principal can be stressful enough. 

I personally had a moment like this about eight years ago, when I was informed by my secretary that the principal of Penina's school was on the phone and "she had to talk to me." When I picked up the phone, the principal began the conversation by saying,  "I had to call you to tell you something very important." My heart began racing and I had all sorts of thoughts. The principal continued, "your second grade daughter just told the most incredible dvar Torah." My heart calmed down and I was struck by a sense of relief and pride in my daughter and ... a feeling that I wanted to kill the principal.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Breaking up chemistry or making sacrifices?

Like most sports fans, in all of the sports that I follow, I have a favorite team that I root for and follow. Each of my favorite teams has at least one bitter rival which always brings out the best in my team...or is the seeming cause of my team's downfall. In baseball, I root for the Mets, but they are always done in by the Phillies or Braves. In football, I root for the Jets, but they are frequently bested by the Patriots. In basketball, I root for the Nets, but its not a strong rooting interest and they have no bitter rival as of now. But of all the teams that I follow, its only the NY Rangers that I actively root for bad things to happen to their rivals, the NY Islanders.

Perhaps the cause of my enmity for the Islanders (or Icelanders to quote the Gaon S' Somers) came from growing up on Long Island and watching them win four Stanley Cups in a row in the early 80's. It could also have come from watching players I thought were nasty/dirty who got away with injuring my beloved Ranger players.

Over the last twenty years or so, the Ranger-Islander rivalry has diminished, largely due to the Islanders dismal performance under the management of the team under Mike Milbury and now Garth Snow (five playoff appearances since 1994 and zero playoff series victories). But even though the Islanders have been a weak sister for nearly twenty years, I still relish watching the team flounder.

Earlier this season, the Islanders made a splash in the trade market by trading Matt Moulson (at the time one of their top line players) and two draft picks to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek. If one examined the trade purely from the perspective of trading one player for another, it would appear that the Islanders got the better end of the deal as Vanek is a pure goal scorer and an upgrade over Moulson. But the Islanders also traded two high draft picks and that would seem to tip the scales towards Buffalo. But that is not even the tip of the iceberg.

Besides being a top line scorer, Moulson was also close friends with Islanders' team captain John Tavares. It was reported on NHL Radio that Tavares went to Moulson's house to help him pack and that while it was understood that this was "part of the business of sports", Tavares was upset about the deal. Since making the deal, the Islanders who previously were 6-2-3 have gone 2-13-2 and are living in the basement of the Metropolitan Division. So was the addition of the better player at the sacrifice of team chemistry really worth it?

The discussion of making sacrifices for the sake of achdus can be found in the Torah reading for Chanukah. Each day of Chanukah we read about one of the sacrifices brought by a Nasi. The Torah reading comes from Parshas Nasso where the sacrifices are repeated twelve times, with little to no variation in the verses as each Nasi brought the same sacrifice.

I recently heard a shiur from R' Mansour on www.learntorah.com where he asked why the Torah needed to recite the same sacrifice 12 times? Couldn't the Torah have just said it once and then given an "ibid"?

R' Mansour answered by quoting the Medrash which explained that when the miskhan was dedicated, each nasi was allowed to come up with his own formula for the sacrifice. However, after the first sacrifice was brought, the second Nasi said - we should all do exactly the same sacrifice because that way there will be no one upsmanship games. Surprisingly, all the other Nessiem agreed and they all brought the same sacrifice. This showing of achdus was so impressive to Hashem that he decided that each sacrifice would be written in the Torah, even though they were all repetitive. Indeed, even though at least one nasi offered his sacrifice on Shabbos (when individual sacrifices are not permitted), they were permitted to proceed on Shabbos because of the achdus of the gesture.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Dark Truth Stout


For weeks prior to Thanksgiving, people were asking me which beer I was going to have with the turkey & latkes. I thought about it for some time, before deciding that the best beer would be the Boulevard Dark Truth Stout. And then I forgot to chill the beer and only realized it as the turkey was being served. 

So here I am days later, trying the Dark Truth Stout and I am struck by two thoughts: (1) this is a great rich stout and (2) it would not have gone well with the turkey (or latkes).

The Dark Truth Stout has loads of coffee and a significant kick from the 9.7% abv in the brew. But this beer is more than just a coffee like stout. There are complexities and flavors within the brew which need to be sipped and enjoyed. The beer poured dark black, but with many inches of foam that looked almost like a chocolate milkshake. The first sips were coffee and then the alcohol flavor kicked in, followed by warm spice and more bitterness.

This is not a beer for those who prefer lagers or lite beers. But if you like stouts with full body, this is worth spending the $3.49 for a bottle.

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not have the certification mark on the label. If you would like the LOC from the Va'ad, please let me know and I will email it to you.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/56469.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Mikeitz + Chanukah

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha + Chanukah this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bereishis 41:51 it says that Yosef called his eldest son Menashe because Hashem helped him forget his father's house. Thereafter it says in Bereishis 41:52 that Yosef called his son Ephraim, because Hashem gave him children in the land of his affliction.

R' Frand asked two questions - why is it good that Yosef forgot his father's house? Also, isn't the blessing of having children a greater kindness, so why does Yosef use this as the name for his second child?

R' Frand quoted the Sefer Beis Pinchas who says that when a person is harmed by another person, it does not only have a momentary impact. When someone says something not nice to another person, it stays with the person for a while and causes pain for days, weeks or years. When the person who injured the other goes up to Shamayim at the end of his time, he will have to pay for both the initial statement and the pain that stayed with the man. It is for this reason that the Beis Pinchas says that if someone says something that hurts another, he should be proactive in seeking him out to apologize.

Yosef knew that his brothers had inflicted great pain on him and that the longer he was in pain, the greater the price his brothers would have to pay. R' Frand quoted the Meshech Chachmah who says that this was the ultimate sin of ben adam l'chavero and that every year when a person does teshuva, there is an element of teshuva for this sin.

Yosef wanted this punishment of the brothers to end, and he recognized that Hashem helped him forget the pain of being away from his father. He is not saying that he forgot his father and the Torah of Yaakov. Rather, it was the pain that left him and this was so important that it was the name of his first child.

R' Frand next spoke to the name Ephraim, which the Ba'alei Tosfos says is the combination of two ashes - the ashes of Avraham who said that he was afar v'efer as well as the ashes of Yitzchak who was willing to become on the altar at the akeidah.

We see that the Jews pick up this name Ephraim as the pasuk states "Haben Yakir Li Ephraim Im Yeled Sha'ashuim." We get the name Ephraim because it is related to the ashes that Avraham and Yitzchak compared themselves to.

R' Frand also quoted R' Leib Shtaiman who gives another reason for the name Ephraim. He notes that Yosef rose from the dungeon of Egypt to be the second in command in the country, if not in the world. When a person rises that quickly, it often goes to his head. Yosef built in a defense mechanism so that this would not happen, by remembering the ashes.

R' Frand closed his shiur by quoting a Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah 4:12 which states that the mitzva of lighting candles is important in order to publicize the miracle. Later in the same halacha he talks about how it is important to add to the praise to Hashem for the miracles that he performed. Why is it that the Rambam uses both the singular and plural form of miracle?

R' Frand next quoted R' Daniel Lander of Monsey who noted that in the Maoz Tzur we mention four oppressions from which we were saved - Egypt, Bavel, Purim and Chanukah. But when we sing the Shoshanas Yaakov we only mention Purim. Why is it that on Chanukah we mention other times that Hashem saved us?

R' Frand answered by quoting the gemara in Megillah which observes that there is a fundamental difference between the holidays, since we say Hallel on Chanukah and not on Purim. The gemara offers many different reasons why this is so, but one which R' Frand seized on was that on Chanukah the Jews were free and were not enslaved to anyone. However, on Purim the Jews (although saved from Ahasverus) were still under the rule of another. Because the Jews in Chanukah were free they were able to say shirah and we say Hallel. The Jews of the Purim story continued to be under the control of another nation, so there was an obligation to publicize the miracle, but not to say shirah.

This is the meaning of Chanukah and the mixed use of singular and plural. Because we were free in Chanukah, the Jews were obligated to sing and give praise. Once this obligation kicked in, there was an opportunity to thank Hashem for all that he did and all the times that we were saved. 

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Blue Moon Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Blue Moon's Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale.

First introduced in the beginning of 2013, the Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale is Blue Moon's substitute for the relatively bland and tasteless Pale Moon (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/02/sunday-night-suds-pale-moon.html).

As defined by the experts at BA: 

Belgian Pales consume the Belgian brewing scene, and were initially brewed to compete with Pilseners during the WWII time frame. They differ from other regional Pale Ale varieties, by traditionally being less bitter, using aged hops for a delicate hop finish, and boasting sweetish to toasty malt overtones. They should be decanted properly, leaving the yeast in the bottle. This will showcase their brilliant color range from pale straw yellow to amber hues. Most will be crowned with thick, clinging, rocky white heads. Flavors and aromas will vary. Some have natural spice characters from yeast and hops, while others are spiced. 

The Rounder Belgian Style Ale does not draw its spice notes from yeast and hops as the beer is brewed with hibiscus and orange peel which the bottle says have been added for a "rounder taste." Having said that, the beer is a smooth "lite" wheat ale with an ample amount of sweetness which is not cloying or over the top.  I enjoyed mine this evening with left over Shabbos sweet and sour meatballs and the flavor went well with the sweet cranberry and marinara tang of the dish.

Blue Moon Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. For the experts take on the Blue Moon Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale, please click here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/306/90228.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com/ to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeshev

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Bereishis 37:25-27, the Torah writes about how the brothers sold Yosef into the pit and that shortly thereafter, a caravan of Ishmaelites who were carrying spices passed by. Yehuda had the idea to sell Yosef to the Ishmaelites and so it was done.

Rashi on the pasuk asks - why did the Torah have to tell us what the caravan was carrying? Rashi answers that the spices were a reward to Yosef and a recognition by Hashem that Yosef was a tzaddik. These caravans usually carried oil and pitch and Yosef would have been forced to smell it for days. Hashem takes mercy on Yosef and gives him the pleasant smell.

R' Frand then asked - why does this matter to Yosef? His brothers threw him into a viper pit and then hauled him out in order to sell him into slavery. Why does he have any comfort that the slave drivers are carrying spices?

R' Frand quoted a sefer called Nachal Eliyahu which quoted the Ilui of Telshe, who explained that there are two types of ways that Hashem can punish a person. A person can be abandoned by Hashem and left to the "statistics of the world" [where it seems that his punishment is a random act of violence]. The second form of punishment is directly from Hashem and the person recognizes that it is coming from Hashem. It is this second form of punishment which gives a person comfort, because he knows that it is coming from Hashem.

R' Frand next quoted R' Yonasan Eybeschutz in the sefer Ya'aros Devash that King David said a mizmor when he was fleeing from his son Avshalom. The gemara in Berachos (7b) asks - why is this a mizmor, it should have been an elegy! The gemara answers that David knew that Hashem was going to punish him with an evil from his own household because of the sin that he committed. David thought that the punishment would come from a soldier or a servant of the household, but when he saw that it was Avshalom he was happy. The Ya'aros Devash explains that it is not natural for a sun to rebel and usurp the kingdom, this must be from Hashem and Hashem still cares and is involved with me.

R'  Frand said that this is the explanation of Psalm 23 where David says that your rod and cane will comfort me. How does a striking rod give comfort?  Because sometimes a potch is a showing that there is a connection.

Yosef recognized that he could have been in a normal caravan with foul smelling items. However, since he was in a caravan carrying spices, he knew that Hashem cared and was administering the punishment with love.

R' Frand next quoted a gemara in Nedarim (50) which talked about how R' Akiva and his wife were destitute and slept on straw because they had no beds. One night Eliyahu HaNavi showed up dressed as a poor man and asked for some straw because his wife was in labor and they had no beds and no straw. R' Akiva gave him their straw and then remarked to his wife - see, there are people who are more poor than us.

R' Frand asked - once Eliyahu HaNavi is coming, why not have him appear as a millionaire and let him give them money so that they could live comfortably? The answer is that for His own reasons, Hashem wanted R'  Akiva to learn Torah while poor. But Hashem wanted R' Akiva to understand that there were people worse off than him, so that R' Akiva would continue to learn.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Moonshadow Black IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Brewery's Moonshadow Black IPA.

For this year's Beers of Winter Box, Saranac has produced a mixed box which includes its flagship Pale Ale (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html) along with three new beers (Moonshadow Black IPA; Christmas Ale; Decoction Concoction) and two relatively new beers, the 4059 Porter (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-4059-porter.html) and the Belgian Pale Ale (kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/12/belated-sunday-night-suds-saranac.html). 

Although Saranac has been brewing quality beer for 125 years, they are somewhat late to the "black party."  While other breweries have been rolling out Black IPAs and other dark versions of traditional ales, Saranac has held back until now. While some might say "better late than never", I would subscribe to the Jewish rule of thought - the last is best, because this beer is very, very good.

Mrs KB and I tried this with out simple meat and pasta dinner Thursday night and it was spectactular. The beer has the hop bite of an IPA, but an additional richness and even some malt. The flavor melded well with the garlicy meat and I would suggest that it would do equally well with rich and hearty stews, making this a prime cholent beer (by this I mean drinking with, although it might go well in the cholent too).

The only negative to this brew is that it only comes in the 12 pack beers of winter box and there are only two in the box. 

Saranac Moonshadow Black IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac has begun to brew some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the Moonshadow Black IPA, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/101802.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayishlach

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In this week's parsha, Yaakov takes certain steps to prepare to meet with Esav. As part of his preparation he sends emissaries to Esav with a message that Yaakov has become small. Part of the message is found in the pasuk where Yaakov says to Esav, I lived with my father in law, Lavan (32:6). Rashi on the pasuk offers two explanations for what Yaakov was telling Esav. The first explanation is that Yaakov was telling Esav that he was a temporary resident by his father in law and had not amassed anything as a result of his time there. The second explanation (which is more famous) is that Yaakov told Esav - I stayed with my father in law, but I kept the Torah and I did not learn from Lavan's ways.

R' Frand quoted the Klei Yakar who noted that the explanations are contradictory. On the one hand, Yaakov says to Esav, I am nothing and accomplished little when I was by Lavan. Yet according to the second explanation, he is telling Esav - I kept the Torah while I was with Lavan, so stay away from me because I am powerful.

R' Frand quoted an answer given by R'  Leib Gurwitz to this seeming contradiction. He explains that Yaakov was telling Esav,  I lived with Lavan and kept the Torah, but I did not learn from Lavan's ways and his enthusiasm for doing things. 

R' Frand gave a parallelism to explain the concept. He noted that soon it will be Thanksgiving and with it, the black Friday sales. People will be leaving their turkey dinners and football early in order to line up in the parking lots for the doorbuster sales. R' Frand said that while there is nothing that could motivate him to camp out in a parking lot, there are people who will do it in order to take advantage of the possibility of buying a large screen TV for $150.

This was the message that Yaakov was giving Esav. I stayed with Lavan and saw how fanatical and enthusiastic he was to do certain things. I was able to keep the Torah while I was with Lavan, but I did not pick up his enthusiasm and was not energetic in my keeping of the Torah and its mitzvos.

R' Frand also said a vort on the words "Vayichan es Pnei Ha'ir" which are found in Bereishis 33:18. R' Frand quoted the sefer Pesikta Zutrasi who explains this pasuk as Yaakov showed his sense of gratitude (HaKaras HaTov) to the people of the City for their kindness. As such, Yaakov sent presents to the leadership of the City. Yaakov also built marketplaces and sold goods for low prices so that people would have things. The Yerushalmi explains that Yaakov built bath houses for the people of the City. Why? Because the greater the man, the greater he will express his appreciation for the kindness of others.

R' Frand told a few stories which illustrate this point. One of the stories involved R' Gustman (sp?) who was the Rosh Yeshiva of a Yeshiva called Netzach Yisrael in Jerusalem. It was observed by the boys in the Yeshiva that the Rav used to personally all the plants and trees in front of the Yeshiva. They asked him why he did it and they were given the following explanation.

When the Rav was living in Europe before WWII, he lived in Vilna and spent time with R' Chaim Ozer. Periodically, R'  Chaim Ozer would take him for walks in the woods and he would point out to him the trees with edible berries and those which were poisonous. 

Years later, Rav Gustman used those lessons that he learned from R' Chaim Ozer when R' Gustman was hiding out from the Nazis in the forest. As a sign of his HaKaras HaTov for the trees and bushes, Rav Gustman took it upon himself to water the ones around his Yeshiva, even though the trees in Israel were clearly not the same trees which sustained him in the forest.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - The Public Side of Power a/k/a Incognito no More, the Korach Story

Over the course of the last week, a minor story in the world of professional football has snowballed to the point that it has led to a national (and perhaps international) referendum on team athletic activities.

On October 30, 2013, it was reported that Miami Dolphins Offensive Lineman Jonathan Martin had left the team. The official word from the team was that Martin had left for personal reasons, but that quickly devolved into inquiry as to Martin's mental state when the press began reporting that Martin left for "emotional reasons."

Although professional football players make a base minimum salary of more than half a million dollars, it is not uncommon for football players to leave their teams for "personal reasons". Although not widely reported, last week John Moffitt, an Offensive Lineman for the Denver Broncos, left the team because he was unhappy about being a bench player and wanted to move on to "new things." Similar to Martin, he was a relatively high draft pick in a recent draft (Martin was a 2nd Round pick in 2012, Moffitt was a 3rd Round pick in 2011). But no one outside of Denver speculated publicly as to why Moffitt was leaving the team.

Not long after the Martin left the team, news began to circulate that Martin had been purportedly harassed and or the subject of mental abuse which was inflicted through what has been commonly called hazing. I don't know if hazing has a pure form, but it is generally viewed as rituals which a new player needs to go through in order to become "of the guys." 

The problem is that there is no normal for hazing. In the wake of the media storm about what fellow Dolphins Offensive Lineman Richie Incognito purportedly did to Martin, there have been so many stories from present and former players in every sport as to what was done to them rookies. These stories range from being duct taped to the goalposts after practice, to being forced to sing their college team's fight song at team meals, to having to carry a more senior team member's pads after practice or even being compelled to pay for team dinners. 

But those are some of the more benign hazing rituals. College and even High School sports have had too many unfortunate stories about student athlete and sorority/fraternity initiation rites and hazing which have resulted in serious injuries and even death.

The added level of complexity to the Martin story is that the perpetrator and the victim are highly compensated professional athletes and grown men. This would lead one to ask, why would anyone do this to another grown up in their profession and why did Martin not stick up for himself?

I believe that the answer may lie in that old adage, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Incognito has earned a reputation as a player who lives on the edge and he was famously labelled as one of the dirtiest and most hated player by his fellow professional football players. But it seems that he also was looked at as a leader and there were even reports (officially denied of course) that coaches on the Dolphins asked him to "toughen up" Martin. 

So here is Incognito, looking at himself as a veteran and team leader. He sees a player who is perceived as weak. He believes that it is his responsibility to toughen up Martin and because of who he is, he cannot see the line between acceptable behavior to motivate a player and bullying.

The story reminds me of a famous medrash involving Korach which relates to last week's parsha. But what does Korach have to do with Sefer Bereishis? As told over by R' Mansour on a recorded shiur on www.learntorah.com, when Yaakov dreams about the angels going up and down the ladder, he sees Korach at the bottom of the ladder and Moshe at the top. The meforshim explain that sulam (the hebrew word for ladder) has a gematria (numerical addition of letters in a hebrew word) of 136 as does the word mammon (the hebrew word for money). Korach and Moshe were two of the riches men at the time that the Jews were in the desert. However, what they did with their money and their personal desire for honor were completely different. While Moshe was an anav and lived modestly, Korach had an incredible desire for power. For Moshe the money and the power were not things that he desired, but they corrupted Korach and were the source of his downfall.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Boulevard Brewery's Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

I must admit, that a year ago I had never heard of the "Farmhouse" style of beer. But after having tried three different versions over the last six months (Blue Moon's Short Straw Farmhouse Ale, reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/06/sunday-night-suds-blue-moon-short-straw.html and Shiner's FM 966 Farmhouse Ale, reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/05/sunday-night-suds-shiner-fm-966.html), the style is starting to grow on me.

I shared the Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale with Mrs KB and a few friends who joined us for Shabbos lunch. The beer had been in the 'fridge for about 36 hours, so it was the right temperature for serving and drinking. The beer poured a pale orange, somewhat lighter than I was expecting. There was about an inch of foam in the glass which did not dissipate quickly. As I brought the glass to my lips, I was struck by the cloves/phenol and I expected a witbier type flavor profile. But as I consumed more of the beer, I realized that it was a bit sweeter than a witbier and I began to appreciate the complexity of the flavor. Towards the end, I even began to detect grapefruit and hop bite, but again it was somewhat subdued.

The only true bite to this beer is the price. It can be found in 22 oz bottles for around $5 a piece or in four packs of 12 oz bottles which run anywhere from $10-12 a pack. I only purchased one as part of a mix four pack that I picked up in Massachusetts. Yes, just like all the other Boulevard products, this beer is not yet available in New York. Maybe now that it has been bought by the parent company of Ommegang they may start importing it into NY. Stay tuned.

Boulevard Brewery Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not have the certification mark on the label. If you would like the LOC from the Va'ad, please let me know and I will email it to you.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/50570.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayeitzei

The following is a brief summary of two of the three thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Rabbi Frand's first vort on the parsha took a different look at the story of the stones which served as Yaakov's pillow when he dreamed about the angels ascending and descending the ladder. The Torah states in Bereishis 28:18-19, that Yaakov took the rock and made it a matzeivah in the city of Luz. The Ramban states that Yaakov did not actually place the rock as a matzeivah where he slept, instead Yaakov took the rock to Luz and set it up there.

R' Frand asked - why did he have to take the rock with him to Luz? It was a big rock! Couldn't he just have made a matzeivah in Luz with the rocks that were there? 

R' Frand answered that we see a truism from the story. If a person puts off doing something, he might not actually do it. Yaakov knew that people may become inspired, but the inspiration sometimes wears off before they get a chance to act. Therefore, Yaakov took the rock with him to Luz so that he would be able to follow through with his desire to make a matzeivah.

An additional vort that R' Frand said on the parsha dealt with a story at the end of Vayeitzei. After Yaakov leaves Lavan's house, Lavan chases after and catches up to Yaakov. Once he reaches Yaakov, he asks - why have you stolen my idols. Yaakov allows Lavan to search his tents and then when Lavan is done, Yaakov explodes in anger at Lavan (Bereishis 31:36-43). 

R' Frand asked - why did Yaakov choose this moment to get mad at Lavan? After all, Lavan had tricked and frustrated him in much more significant ways over the course of twenty years. Lavan switched Leah and Rachel. Lavan played games with Yaakov's compensation while Yaakov worked for Lavan as a shepherd. So why did Yaakov choose this moment to finally vent at his father in law?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Yosef Salant who explained in the sefer Be'er Yosef that the context had changed. Until this point, the problems between Yaakov and Lavan were personal. When Lavan switched the brides, it was just between them. When Lavan played games with compensation, it was also only between them. 

But now, Lavan has chased down Yaakov with a posse full of people. When Lavan accuses Yaakov of theft in front of all the people, Yaakov explodes and says - go ahead and look. After Lavan does not find what he is looking for, Yaakov lets loose with a recitation of all that Lavan has done wrong to him. This occurs because Lavan has crossed a red line by publicly accusing Yaakov of dishonesty. This is too much for Yaakov to quietly tolerate, so he finally explodes at Lavan.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Pumpkick


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's Pumpkick.

I picked this beer up at Binny's in Skokie where they let me add it to a mixed six pack. Although there have been rumors that New Belgium will begin to manufacture on the East Coast, this quality brewer from Fort Collins, Colorado still found mostly in the Midwest. So until such time as New Belgium begins to market its products in New York, I will try to snag some of these whenever I see them.

The New Belgium Pumpkick is a very different kind of pumpkin ale. While many pumpkin ales are made with cinnamon, nutmeg or other similar spices, this beer adds a flavor dimension through an infusion of cranberry juice. The result is a beer that has the full sweet earthiness of pumpkin and a little bit of tang from the cranberry juice.

I enjoyed this beer at Shabbos lunch with corned beef. Predictably, the Pumpkick was a good match for the sweet and tangy corned beef. I shared this with Mrs KB and a friend who said that he does not generally like pumpkin beer. Maybe it was Mrs KB's cooking or maybe it was just the superior quality of New Belgium brews, but our friend now has a pumpkin beer which he does like.

New Belgium Pumpkick under the Kosher Supervision of the Scroll-K of Colorado. Although the beer does not bear the kosher symbol on the label, I have verified its kashruth with the Scroll-K and it is listed on the LOC. Please note that not every brew produced by New Belgium is under kosher supervision. For a list of the New Belgium brews currently under supervision, please click on the link on the left side of my home page for my latest Kosher Beer List.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about New Belgium Pumpkick, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/97291. 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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Toldos

The following is a brief summary of some thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In discussing Yaakov and Esav as young men, the Torah states in Bereishis 25:27 that Esav became  an "Ish Yodea Tzayid" (a man who knows trapping) and "Ish Sadeh" (a man of the field), whereas Yaakov was an Ish Tam who sat in the tents.

Rabbi Frand asked - why does the Torah's description of Esav include the use of the word "Ish" twice, while Yaakov is only called "Ish" once?

Rabbi Frand answered by quoting a sefer called Mishchas Shemen, which in turn offered the following introduction to its answer. In the early 1960's, President Kennedy talked about how they wanted to put a man on the moon. A certain person asked the Shutzer Rebbi if man will ever walk on the moon. The Rebbi answered by quoting a pasuk from Tehillim which states that the heavens are for Hashem and the earth is for man.

After the lunar landing in 1969, the person again sought an answer as to how man could walk on the moon. As the Shutzer Rebbi had passed away years earlier, the man approached the Bialer Rebbi and asked - was the Shutzer Rebbi wrong? The Bialer Rebbi said no - he was not wrong. The fact that a man can walk on the moon does not mean that the moon was a place that he could live. The astronauts who are walking on the moon need to have oxygen pumped into their pressurized suits. The astronauts cannot dwell or live on the moon without assistance, they are permanently tied to the Earth.

The Mishchas Shemen explained that Yaakov was a man of the tents. Everywhere that Yaakov went, he had a connection to his simple lifestyle from his Torah learning. It is for this reason that Yaakov was a shepherd, again a tie to a simple Torah lifestyle.

On the other hand, Esav was an Ish Yodea Tzayid - he was a man who trapped people by pretending to be something that he was not, a simple man of the field. Esav used his outer appearance to try to trick people and take advantage of them.

R' Frand next quoted a letter written by Rav Hutner to one of his talmidim. The former student had written to Rav Hutner to express his concern that the student was living a double life, since the man was in the professional world and was no longer sitting and learning full time. Rav Hutner responded, no you are not living a double life. Your secular life is being sustained and supported by the learning that you did while you were in the Beis Medrash and the learning that you find time to do now.

R' Frand closed this portion of the vort by telling a story about Dr Wallach who was previously involved with Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem. There was a story about a man who was on a gurney, waiting to go in for surgery. The man was approached by Dr Wallach, who asked him his name so that he could daven for the man. The story was related to a gadol who said - how wonderful it is that Dr Wallach can make a kiddush Hashem by having his Torah life influence his public persona.

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Miami Meets its Fate or Why the Sanhedrin Got it Right

Last week, I was driving back from Court one day when I heard a story about how the University of Miami had learned of its punishment after a nearly three year investigation by the NCAA. The radio host (I think it was Collin Cowherd) was talking about how the punishment was nowhere as severe as the punishment meted out by the NCAA to some other schools. Still, the radio host thought it was more than fair, because the punishment had been delayed for so long. As I cruised the LIE through rural Suffolk County, I thought that the radio host was right and that he had been channelling Gemara Sanhedrin.

Approximately, two and a half years ago, a story broke about a Miami booster named Nevin Shapiro, who had access to student-athlete recruits and who influenced them with illegal gifts. As detailed in a timeline created by Yahoo sports (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaa-timeline-miami-scandal-140949730--ncaaf.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CSweHBSFA4AU31NbK5_) in 2009, Miami reported the incident to the NCAA. Thereafter, Miami punished itself by refraining from participation in bowl games for two years. Additionally, during the process, the Miami administration advised potential recruits that the school was the subject of an ongoing investigation and could be the subject of potential sanctions. 

Finally, the NCAA issued a report last week which contained its sanction - the school would lose nine scholarships (three a year for the next three years) but would not be suspended from bowl activity. As reported by Tim Reynolds of the AP (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/decision-day-miami-ncaa-saga-071905438--ncaaf.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CSweHBSFA4AVn1NbK5_) Miami called the punishment tough, but fair. But more importantly to Miami, it meant that the investigation was finally over and they could move on with the business of the university.

This was the point that the radio host had been making last week. For the last three years, every recruit who came to the school was warned - there may not be football here next year. You might play for use, but the team might be suspended from playing in a bowl game. But then again, nothing might happen. This was the reason why (in his opinion) the NCAA did not mete out a more severe punishment on Miami. The NCAA was aware of what Miami had been experiencing due to the delay in concluding the investigation. As a result, there would be no additional severe punishment.

The story reminded me of the halacha on judging cases according to Jewish law. No cases are heard at night and cases are not presented near nightfall so as to be sensitive to the emotions of the accused. The NCAA and Miami, that's a different story.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Ruby Mild


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Ruby Mild.

This year, the Boston Beer Co (a/k/a Samuel Adams) has produced a special fall line of beers which they call the Harvest Collection. The beers in this box include Octoberfest, Latitude 48 (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2011/01/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams-latitude.html), Harvest Pumpkin, Hazel Brown, the standard Boston Lager (reviewed here - kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams-boston.html) and new for 2013 - Ruby Mild.

The Ruby Mild is an ale unlike any other ale that I have ever tried. The hop profile is very subdued and the malts are prominent. When I went to BA to look up the style of beer, I found that it is classified as an English Dark Mild Ale, which they define as:

The quintessential British session beer, like its name suggests, a Mild is known for its low level of hops character. Alcohol content is traditionally very low. Grainy to toasty malts might be present, but expect some body from the high dextrins produced in brewing. Low carbonation with a near still, bubbly head. Colors can range from gold to dark brown. Traditionally a draft beer made popular in London and the Midlands of England.

My first drink of the Ruby Mild was all malt. I shared some with Mrs KB who thought the beer a tad sweet. I did not think that it was sweet, but there was a good deal of caramel in the brew, so I can see why she had that impression. I enjoyed the beer on its own, so I have no pairing experiments to suggest. Feel free to hit the comments with your personal experiences.

The Samuel Adams Ruby Mild has a Star-K on the label, but is not listed on the September 2013 LOC on the Star-K website. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/97114.

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 www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chaye Sarah

The following is a brief summary of some thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Rabbi Frand started his vort on the parsha by quoting to a Ramban on Parshas Lecha wherein the Ramban writes that the purpose of the book of Bereishis is not merely to recites stories, but are episodes which serve as a templates or guideposts for the generations (ma'asei avos simanim l'banim). He gave the example of the story in Parshas Lech Lecha where Avraham went down to Egypt and Pharaoh abducted Sarah. This story had multiple impacts on the Jewish future as is seen from the stories of Ya'akov going down and the Jews' subsequent exodus from Egypt. I have attempted to list some of these examples below:

Much like Avraham who went down to Egypt because of the famine in the land, Yaakov also went down to Egypt because of the famine. After Avraham went down to Egypt, he was stuck there for a time as Sarah was being held by Pharaoh. After Yaakov went down to Egypt, the Jews were stuck there for a time as Pharaoh did not allow them to leave. When Pharaoh took Sarah he was struck by many nega'im (blemishes). When the Jews were stuck in Egypt, the Egyptians were struck by many plagues. When Avraham left Egypt after the episode with Pharaoh, he left with great wealth. After the Jews left Egypt after having been enslaved there, the Jews left with great wealth. Even the story of Pharaoh taking Sarah foreshadowed the troubles which would befall the Jews in Egypt as Pharaoh's decree was that all the male children would be killed, but the females could be kept alive for the Egyptians.

Rabbi Frand then sought to apply this principle to the story of Avraham buying the Ma'aras Hamachpeilah for the burial of Sarah. Many meforshim explain that the story of the purchase of machpeilah was actually Avraham's final test. A link to this can be found in the gemara in Bava Basra 16, which discusses a conversation between Hashem and the Satan. The Satan comes to Hashem and says that he has searched the entire world and has not found a tzaddik like Avraham. He explains that Avraham had been promised by Hashem that Avraham would have all of the land of Israel. Yet when Sarah died, Avraham could not find a location in his land which was suitable to bury Sarah. Instead, Avraham went and bought the Machpeilah cave from Efron. At this point Avraham could have complained to Hashem that the land was his and why did he need to buy the cave. But he did not do so.

Rabbi Frand linked this to a Medrash quoted by Rashi on Parshas Va'era, wherein Hashem says to Moshe, you are complaining about your role, but look at the trouble that the Avos went through and they never questioned me. I said to Avraham you could have all of the land of Israel and yet when it came time to bury Sarah, he had to buy a plot. Yet, he did not question Me.

Again, the proof to Moshe circles back to a story from Sefer Bereishis.

R' Frand then quoted R' Isaac Bernstein who asked - why did Avraham have to buy the cave of Machpeilah? After all, when Avraham first approached the people of Cheit, he was told that he could bury Sarah there for free. It was only after Avraham insisted that he wanted to buy the cave that Efron began to negotiate the sale for an exorbitant price. But the whole transaction would not even have been necessary, had Avraham accepted their offer of free burial! So why do these medrashim harp on Avraham's purchase of the cave when it is a voluntary act?

R' Frand tied the answer to this question into a Medrash quoted in the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, which linked the story of the burial of Sarah with the meeting of Avraham and the angels in the beginning of Parshas Vayera. The Medrash states that when the angels came to Avraham, he went to get a cow to slaughter to feed the angels. When he tried to catch the cow, it ran away and sought shelter in the cave of Machpeilah. Avraham chased after the cow and entered the cave where he saw Adam lying peacefully with Chava in a room with nice candles and a pleasant scent. When Avraham saw them lying this way he decided that he needed this place for burial for himself and Sarah.

Acting on this thought, Avraham went to look for someone to buy the cave from. The Medrash states that he went to the people of Yevus and said that he wanted to buy the cave. But why Yevus if the land belonged to the Hittites? The answer was that the city was called Yevus and it was located in the land of the Hittites. 

When Avraham approached the people of Yevus they agreed to sell him the cave, on condition that he would swear to never forcibly take their city. Avraham agreed and there were documents made which memorialized the transaction. These documents were recorded and copper signs containing the promise were hung around the city for all to see. 

The ma'asei avos simanim l'banim aspect of the story took place much later. The city of Yevus was actually Jerusalem. When the Jews later came to the city when they were conquering the land of Israel, they were unable to do so because of the promise. In the end of Sefer Shmuel, David Hamelech had to pay Aram Hayivusi to purchase Jerusalem. This was the only way they could get it.

Now three thousand years later, we are still fighting to own and keep Jerusalem. This is the maasei avos simanim l'banim - we have constantly needed to bargain and work to get Jerusalem. It is even now the subject of "peace talks" which involve negotiations on the status of many things in Israel. 

Finally after thousands of years we finally got some of Jerusalem. Iy'h we will get all of it and keep it, as it is the undivided capitol of Israel.

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