Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Being in Control or Being a Control Freak

It happens every Sunday in the fall and winter. There are stories galore from the NFL about players who clash with their coaches. More often than not, its the player trying to dictate terms to the coach, or the player showing unhappiness about being relegated to the second team. But yesterday, a story broke involving Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano which leads me to question whether he was exercising control or being a control freak.

After a nondescript college career, Schiano first drew media attention when he was the head coach of Rutgers University. Although Rutgers had not been known to be a Division I power, after a few years as coach Schiano led them to an upset of Pittsburgh and subsequently to bowl games and national rankings in 2006-2008. Some of this was certainly due to having star talent such as Ray Rice and Kenny Britt. But Schiano also drew praise for his leading of the team and the attitude that he infused into his players.

Following the 2011 college season, Schiano accepted a job as the Head Coach of the Bucs. Not long after Schiano began coaching the Bucs, stories began to percolate about Schiano, many of which were not complimentary. Within the first few weeks of the 2012 season, Michael Silver of Yahoo sports broke a story about how Schiano was hated by NFL scouts while Schiano was at Rutgers, because he would deal with the pro scouts in a condescending manner and left them to wait for no apparent reason. (The full story can be found here - http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl--buccaneers-coach-greg-schiano-regarded-as-bully-around-nfl-well-before-kneel-down-incident-20120921.html). 

The Silver story followed the infamous kneel down or victory formation incident at the end of a game between the Bucs and the Giants in the second week of the season. As the Giants were taking the final snap in victory formation, Schiano ordered his players to crowd the line and as result a Giants O-lineman was pushed back into Eli Manning. While technically not illegal, it was certainly in violation of the unwritten rules of the game and it garnered Schiano much negative publicity, also in large part because he was unrepentant and defiant.

The most recent story involving Schiano took place this weekend and involved his former star QB - Josh Freeman. As the Bucs were winless in their first three games, Schiano made a change at QB and inserted rookie Mike Glennon as the starter. However, rather than relegate Freeman to the bench in order to chart plays or serve as a sounding board for Glennon, Freeman was seated in the press box. The how and why Freeman wound up in the press box is far from clear. As reported by Jay Busbee of Yahoo's Shutdown Corner blog, while Schiano claimed that it was a mutual decision that Freeman not sit on the sidelines, Freeman claimed that he was given no choice by Schiano. (The full story can be found here - http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/josh-freeman-banished-suite-watch-tampa-bay-loss-005414871--nfl.html).

Whether parent, teacher, boss or coach, one needs to be aware of the difference between giving direction and dictating terms through the exercise of absolute control in humiliating fashion. At times, one must know when to step away or ease off so that the student/player/child does not feel put down. 

The concept of not requiring absolute control to the bitter end can be seen in the end of Sefer Bamidbar and the beginning of Sefer Devarim. In Parshas Va'eschanan, Moshe prays 515 prayers that he be allowed to enter the land of Israel, but Hashem says no. Chazal teach that Moshe even offered to be just one of the people, rather than the leader, if he would only be allowed to enter the land of Israel. Again, Hashem denies Moshe's request and instead tells Moshe that he would be allowed one more mission and then he would die. One would think that if Moshe really wanted to hang onto control he would have prolonged the battle or even pushed off the war, so that he could lead a little longer. However, Moshe took to the battle quickly and did not try to use his position to his advantage. Indeed, the following sections of the Torah recount the history and Moshe's final speech to his people, before he allowed Joshua to take over as leader.

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, September 29, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium Rampant - Imperial IPA.

Picked this one up at Binny's (Skokie) where it was in the mix a six pack section. Stuck two of them in the six pack holder along with some other New Belgium, Shiner and Samuel Adams brews. Can't beat the price of $9.99 for six quality brews. Stay tuned for the reviews of the other new beers in future SNS posts.

The Rampant Imperial IPA falls within a category which is also sometimes known as an American Double. As defined by the experts at BA, an Imperial IPA is created when you...

Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name.

Enjoyed my first of these in the Sukkah in Chicago with a stuffed veal roast with spicy stuffing. While a lesser brew might have been overwhelmed by the mixture of herbs and strong flavors of the roast, the Rampant not only was equal to the task, but it actually melded well with the meat. This might have been due to the character of the brew, but it also could have been due to the alcohol content of the brew (8.5% abv).  Although the alcohol flavor was a little more prominent than I would normally like in a brew, the flavor actually worked as an advantage.

New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA is 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 Rampant Imperial IPA, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/90410. 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!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Uinta Punk'n Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Uinta Punk'n - Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

This year we made our (nearly) annual Sukkos pilgrimage to...Chicago, home of the Heineken Man and many of Mrs KB's relatives. As I have mentioned before, Chicago is one of the best beer towns in America, since many brewers from the Far West and Midwest have distribution points in the greater Chicago area. Taking advantage of the situation, I stopped in at Binny's (Skokie) a couple of hours before YT and browsed the incredible stock of beers before mixing a six of non East Coast beers and picking up a separate six pack of the Uinta Punk'n Ale.

The proliferation of pumpkin beers in September and October is obviously seasonal as anything pumpkin is a big seller this time of year. Earlier this week, I heard a piece on a Mike & Mike in the morning show on ESPN Radio and they were discussing whether pumpkin flavor belongs in mainstream products.  While Golic was in favor of anything pumpkin (he named pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pie and pumpkin donuts), Greenie was complaining that pumpkin does not taste like anything. Obviously Greenie is wrong, because pumpkin has its own flavor, but I could see his point that the pumpkin is usually augmented by spice as well. 

The Uinta Punk'n Ale has some nutmeg, cinnamon and clove added to the brew, but the pumpkin influence is also prominent. The resulting brew has a great marriage of flavor to the hops in the ale and is a great accompaniment to savory meat YT leftovers. Don't get me wrong, the beer would go well (and did go well in our sukkah) with fresh meals, but it hit a home run with leftover roast, stuffed cabbage and meatballs. If you want to try it with your meals for the last days of YT, click on http://www.uintabrewing.com/map.php and see if you can find it near where you live.

Uinta Punk'n - Harvest Pumpkin Ale is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and bears an OU on the label. For the experts' take on the Uinta Punk'n Ale please click here www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1416/33405

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!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Leinenkugel Hoppin Helles


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Leinenkugel's Hoppin' Helles Lager.

This year's fall mix box from Leinenkugel features two new beers - the Orange Shandy (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/09/sunday-night-suds-leinenkugel-orange.html) the Hoppin Helles Lager, along with old standbys Oktoberfest (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2011/10/sunday-night-suds-leinenkugel.html) and the rebbetzin - Honey Weiss (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2010/09/sunday-night-suds-leinenkugel-honey.html).

The Hoppin Helles is a Munich Helles Lager which the experts at Beer Advocate explain came about because:

When the golden and clean lagers of Plzen (Bohemia) became all the rage in the mid-1800's, M√ľnchen brewers feared that Germans would start drinking the Czech beer vs. their own. Munich Helles Lager was their answer to meet the demand. A bit more malty, they often share the same spicy hop characters of Czech Pils, but are a bit more subdued and in balance with malts. "Helles" is German for "bright.

The Leinenkugel Hoppin' Helles is true to its name as the beer has significant hop bite for a lager. But having said that, there is a generous amount of malt which does not let you forget the character of the beer. The resulting beer is a creamy lager which sneaks up on you and leaves an aftertaste of hops. I enjoyed two of these with Mrs KB with different meals and each time the beer was a nice accompaniment. I could see pairing this beer with poultry or lighter beef dishes.

Leinenkugel Hoppin' Helles is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and has an OU on the label. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Leinenkugel Hoppin' Helles, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/710/98159

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, September 12, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts on Teshuva - aka The Erev Yom Kippur Recap of R' Frand's Teshuva Derasha

The following is a summary of some of the thoughts said by Rabbi Frand in his teshuva derasha which was recorded Tuesday Night, but played tonight in the NY area. Same rules as usual apply. I have attempted to summarize many of the thoughts to the best of my abilities. Any inconsistencies are the results of my transcription and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand started the teshuva derasha by saying that the derasha was unlike any other teshuva derasha and that it would be more appropriately called "what I did on my summer vacation." He explained that this past summer he had spent some time as the Scholar in Residence for a Jewish group which toured Italy. In connection with this task, R' Frand did considerable research on the Jews of Italy. As such, R' Frand commenced his derasha with a little of the history of the Jews of Italy.

The Jews of Rome pride themselves as the longest uninterrupted Jewish Community in the world. They have been in Rome continuously since 130 of the Common Era, but the Golden Era of Jews in Italy was in the 1500 and 1600s. Many old seforim show that they were printed in Venezia - Venice.

The Jewish population in Rome exploded after the Spanish Inquisition and jews were given the choice of converting or leaving Spain. Many Jews left for Italy, while others stayed behind in Spain as conversos - jews who pretended that they had converted, but in reality they stayed Jewish in hiding.

R' Frand talked about the sacrifices of those who were conversos. These Jews could not outwardly keep the mitzvos, so they made certain personal sacrifices so that no one would know they were shomrei Torah U'mitzvos. R' Frand gave the example of people who ate no leaven products all year long so that no one would suspect them of eating matza on Pesach. They would tell their neighbors that they could not stomach leavened products and they would go the whole year without bread, cake or pasta, just so that they would not be suspected for eating matza on pesach.

Other Jews performed their own bris millah because of a concern that the mohel might be a government informant. Or others who would go up into the hills on Rosh Hashana so that they could blow/hear shofar in caves and away from the ears of the government. R Frand said that this might be the source for the gemara in Rosh Hashana which discusses the halacha of one who blows shofar into a cave. Other Jews did not light fires during the winter so that they would not be accused of keeping Shabbos.

These were the Jews who allegedly were "not committed enough" and are referred to in the pejorative term "marranos."

R' Frand mentioned visiting the Jewish ghettos in Sienna, Padua and Venice. The section of Venice was seven acres - about the size of five football fields and four thousands Jews lived there. They would have been allowed to leave if they converted, but they chose to stay Jewish and live in cramped conditions.

R' Frand talked about visiting the ghetto of Rome, where every Shabbos the Jews were forced to go in the morning after davening to hear a harangue about why they should convert. The Jews used to pack their ears with candle wax, just so that they would not have to listen to the speeches. It is for this reason that there is a custom until today in Rome that there are no derashas in shul on Shabbos morning, to avoid bringing back the memory of the speeches. 

R' Frand talked about a book written by Sarah Reger, a descendant of R' Simcha Zelig Reger (the Brisker Dayan) which was about the Jews of Italy. The book is entitled, "The most tenacious of minorities" and it discusses the Jews of Italy. R' Frand remarked that the title of the book is not only descriptive of the Jews of Rome, but of the entire Jewish people.

How did the Jews have the strength to keep up their resistance for millenniums? R' Frand answered by quoting an essay by R' Elya Lopian ztl in which he addresses the issue of the perception of Jews. He noted that a Jew is stereo-typically viewed as pushy and aggressive and he just can't wait. R' Elya asked is this perception of Jews true? He answered Yes - and it is not necessarily a negative thing.

The world of nature has flowers and creatures with defense mechanisms. Skunks when threatened will spray and porcupines will shoot quills. Chameleons will change colors. R' Elya observed that the defense mechanisms exist in the human world as well - on a national level. Jews have lived under the boots of governments which wanted to crush them. What was the Jewish defense mechanism? The Jews are referred to in Chumash as Am K'shei Oref - a stubborn and obstinate people. Chazal teach that the Jews have the most chutpah, audacity, boldness, impudent.  This is what allowed the Jews to survive until this day - strength, grit, obstinate and chutzpah.

The gemara observes that these terms are a badge of honor. R' Elya stated that this is what gave Channya, Mishael and Azaryah the strength to stand up to Nevuchadnezzar. When told that they must worship idols, they called him a dog and they were thrown into a fiery pit. It was this holy strength that allowed the Jews to survive. 

And this is how the Jews of Spain and Italy, Morocco and Tunisia, Poland and Russia, survived oppression for so many centuries.

However, R' Frand observed, the strength/chutzpah, when unchecked and unrefined by Torah, allow Jews to be perceived as pushy, aggressive and assertive. There must be a thirst for Torah which works with the strength to allow Jews to survive for "almost" the last 2,000 years. R' Frand explained that it is almost 2,000 years, because Jews have been blessed to live in America, a land which R' Moshe Feinstein ztl described as a Kingdom of Chessed - a land where Jews can practice as Jews without fear of punishment or reprisal. Jews today did not have to make the decisions of generations ago, of being told if you don't come in on Saturday, don't come back on Monday.

R' Frand noted that like any other muscle, the middah of gevura will atrophy from disuse. But, the middah does require use, especially in certain circumstances.

R' Frand told a story about a derasha that he gave in a shul in Israel before mussaf. The derasha was the Shabbos of Parshas Eikev. The story of Moshe breaking the luchos is retold in the parsha and the Torah uses the term "asher sheebarta" - that you broke. The gemara learns from these words yashe koach shesheebarta - good on you for breaking them.

R' Frand stated that Moshe's act of breaking the luchos might be one of Moshe's greatest accomplishments. He quoted a Rashi in the end of V'Zos HaBeracha which states on the words "leinei kol yisrael" that Moshe's greatest act was breaking the luchos. Why? Because Moshe invested his life into the luchos. Moshe spent 40 days and nights in heaven without food, drink or sleep. Moshe could have said, I will do something because of the Golden Calf, but I will not break the luchos that I invested so much energy in. But Moshe did break the luchos and this remains his crowning acheivement.

R' Frand also quoted a similar thought in the name of R' Gifter. The gemara discusses Shimon Ha'amsuni who learned every "es" in the Torah, until he got to the pasuk which says "es" to fear Hashem. Shimon was stuck on how to explain the es. So he said to the assembled crowd - I am wrong, so my prior teachings are wrong as well. They asked him, what will happen to all the teachings. Shimon responded - I received reward for teaching them, I will receive reward for walking away. But the story does not end there, as R' Akiva said to Shimon - "es" teaches that one must respect and fear Talmidei Chachamim.

R' Gifter asked - what is it that R' Akiva saw that Shimon did not, which allowed R'Akiva to learn this "es"? R' Gifter answered that R' Akiva saw Shimon, who was willing to walk away from the entire limud and that inspired him to say that Talmidei Chachamim are deserved of respect as well.

R' Frand said that the next day he was stopped on the street by a man who said to him that he had heard the derasha and decided that he would make a difficult choice and would have the strength to tell his family that they would not swim in mixed areas again. R' Frand said that in this time, we need to look at various things that we do and ask the tough questions - are we doing the right thing?

R' Frand next quoted a Rav who asked why we strike out heart with a fist for "al cheit?" He answered that they used to catch monkeys by putting food in a hole in the ground. The monkey would put his hand in, but once he had the food in his fist, he could not get his hand out of the ground. But the monkey will not let go of the food. This is why we strike out hands as fists as against our hearts. Because we are sinning in refusing to let go of certain things.

R' Frand also quoted R' SR Hisch who discusses the two goats which are brought on Yom Kippur. The one goat was a sacrifice, while the other was thrown off the cliff. These two goats were identical in appearance and bought together. R' Hirsch explains that these two goats have different ends - one appears to be sacrificed, but the other is thrown off the cliff. R' Hirsch explains that the goat which is thrown is l'azazel, which can be read as az azal - the strength left. We can learn from here that one whose strength has left him will go off the cliff. If we are unable to make the sacrifice, we can be headed for that destination, heaven forbid.

There were more stories and messages about gevurah which were told by R' Frand in the shiur. I hope iyh to blog more on this shiur in the near future.

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, September 8, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Leinenkugel Orange Shandy



This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Leinenkugel's Orange Shandy. 

In this time of year, Jews have introspection and examine their deeds. They make resolutions that the new year will not see them commit the same infractions again. They approach others and admit and apologize for wrongs committed. It is with this very heavy heart, that I apologize to the beer community for trying the Leinenkugel Orange Shandy...and admit that I actually found a shandy that I (cough, cough) like. 

Yes, I freely admit it. I have expressed to all who care to listen and some who just politely pretended not to hear me, that lemonade and beer were not meant to be mixed. I mean, short of Joey Tribbiani and the infamous trifle, there truly is no worse combination than lemonade and lager.

So the Leinenkugel folks decide to throw a shandy curve ball at me, by adding orange flavor to the brew instead of lemonade. The resulting beer is not exactly an American Wheat, especially since the citrus flavors do not emanate from the wheat as they have been added later in the process. However, the beer does have some light refreshment value and it went well with the poached salmon on Rosh Hashanah.

Leinenkugel Orange Shandy is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and has an OU on the label.  
To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Leinenkugel Orange Shandy, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/710/92216

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!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day 2013 Kosher Beers List

As a community service, Kosher Beers publishes a list twice a year of the beers which are known to be certified kosher. The list will be updated periodically until the next edition (Purim 2014). For the Labor Day 2013 edition, I will again be using scribd to upload and maintain list. All newly added beers are in bold.


Kosher Beers List Labor Day 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday Night Suds - Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Ale


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer.

As reported in a February post on this blog, Boulevard is one of the most recent breweries to elect to "go kosher" and they are supervised by the Va'ad of Kansas City. Although the brewery itself is less than twenty-five years old, it has a sterling reputation in the Midwest and they have been expanding their distribution in the Northeast.  Although Boulevard is not yet in New York, I have been able to find it in Maryland, and most recently, in Massachusetts.

[Stay tuned for announcements in the near future about other breweries on the cusp of being certified kosher. I have been in touch with a number of kashruth agencies who are in the process of approving new products and breweries. Looks like 5774 may be a banner year for kosher beer!]

The Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Ale is bottle conditioned, which means that the brewery leaves some yeast in the bottle in order to allow for fermentation to continue in the bottle. When pouring bottle conditioned beer, the consumer has the choice to add some or all of the yeast from the bottle to the end product in the glass. When pouring tonight, I went full bore and poured most of the yeast into my glass. Since Mrs KB is not big on yeast or unfiltered beers, I tried not to pour any of the yeast into her glass.

The beer was very light for a wheat ale, with subtle hops and only a hint of fruitiness. Although the beer was consumed after the earliest suggested date, I did not find the flavors to be as strong as I expected or hoped. Having said that, it was crisp and light and I could see drinking more of these if I was not trying to pair this with a dish with strong flavors.

As mentioned above, the Boulevard Brewery Unfiltered Wheat Ale is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not yet have the certification mark on the label.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/423/1260.

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!