Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Devarim

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

In Devarim 1:17 the Torah states that a Judge should not fear any man who is litigating before him because the judgment is Hashem's.

R' Mansour told a story which tied into this pasuk. There was a young Rabbi named R' Rephael who was named Chief Rabbi of Hamburg. Soon after he was named Chief Rabbi, a man came before him and complained that he was the victim of a fraud which had been perpetrated by the president of the shul.

After hearing the man's tale of woe, the Rabbi summoned the president to appear for a din Torah. The president did not answer the summons. The Rabbi then sent a second summons and again the man did not show up. The Rabbi next threatened the president with excommunication if he failed to appear on the third court date. However on the third court date, the President did appear...and when he did he told the Rabbi this was all a sham. The president explained that although R' Rephael had been chosen as Chief Rabbi, the people were still concerned about his ability to determine issues. As such, they concocted the fraud story in order to see if the Rabbi was strong enough to threaten the President if he failed to appear at a din Torah.

The president concluded that since the Rabbi made the proper decision to threaten the president if the president failed to appear for the din Torah, the people of the community were certain that the Rabbi was fit to lead.

R' Mansour gave a second explanation of the pasuk. He stated that if a Judge slants his decision because of a personal affinity for one of the litigants, he causes Hashem to work harder. Hashem had made a determination before Rosh Hashanah as to how much money each of the litigants should have for the year. If the Judge slants his decision and causes the transfer of money against the weight of the testimony, Hashem must work harder (kiviyachol) to make sure that the improper winner loses that money in some way and that the improper loser regains the sum of money which was taken from him. Thus when reading the pasuk, we see that Moshe was stating fact - don't fear any man and make an improper decision, because the Judgment is Hashem's and He will then have to fix what you have slanted.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Megillah 18

On the bottom of Megillah 18b, there is a discussion as to whether Torah scrolls and other seforim can be written by a sofer without a source document. The question arises in the context of a discussion about how R' Meir traveled to a location where there was no Megillah, so he wrote one by heart.

At the end of the discussion, the gemara draws a distinction between seforim (such as a Torah) and mezuzah and/or tefillin. The gemara explains that tefillin or mezuzah can be written without reference to source materials since everyone is familiar with the pesukim.

For many years I have been receiving via email, R' Adler of the Beechwood Kollel's Daf Notes (also available on dafnotes.com). R' Adler had a great teshuva from R' Elyashiv in today's daf notes which illustrates this point.

Reb Elyashiv, cited by Chishukei Chemed ruled on the following inquiry and he derived his ruling from our Gemora.

A person residing in Eretz Yisroel developed a heart issue and he was required to undergo a risky heart surgery. The local doctors said that they do not perform this type of surgery frequently, but they are ninety-five percent confident that the surgery will be a success. There is an expert surgeon outside of Eretz Yisroel who performs this surgery daily and he said that if he would perform the surgery, he would be successful ninety-five percent of the time.

Should this individual travel outside of Eretz Yisroel to have the surgery performed by the expert surgeon? Reb Elyashiv ruled that he should go because that doctor is more accustomed in performing this type of surgery.

The Gemora in Taanis 15a states regarding a communal fast: They would send a chazzan to lead the prayer who was an elder and fluent in the prayers. Rashi explains: One who is fluent in his prayers will not make a mistake.

Our Gemora states that one who is fluent in the words of the Torah will not make a mistake when he is writing the Torah without copying from a text.

This is why it would be preferable to travel to the doctor outside of Eretz Yisroel even though the percentage of success is the same. Someone who is more accustomed to performing this type of surgery will not make a mistake. 

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer plus Bonus Nine Days Havdalah Guide

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Innis & Gunn's Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer. Additionally, because this is the last Sunday before the Nine Days, I have republished the Nine Days Havdalah Guide, updated for 2014.

Many years ago, I tried the Innis & Gunn original, a Scottish Ale which first was distributed in the NY Metro Area in 2006. I remember liking the beer, but also thinking that it had a strange aftertaste which reminded me of the docks in Freeport (LI). Although I had consumed the beer based on the chazkah, I was concerned about the nature of the beer and possible additives, so I wrote to the brewery to ask whether they used any grape extract, shellfish or animal by-products. They wrote back that no such additive were used in the beer, but I still felt uncomfortable about the aftertaste and did not purchase any additional I&G products.

Recently, the CRC expanded their kosher beers list based on a significant amount of research into various breweries which had not contracted for kosher supervision of their products. Having spoken to R' Niehaus who is quickly establishing himself as the young dean of kosher alcohol, it is my understanding that the CRC researched breweries to ascertain that the chazakah should apply to their products. The results of their labor is a twelve page list which contains three designations - beer which is certified kosher (along with the designated agency); beer which is recommended based on the CRC research and beer which is not recommended. Oh, and they also now certify a brewery - Minhas Brewery. I can't say I ever heard of Minhas and their products are not available on the East Coast, but I will try to find their products the next time that I head west.

I tried the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer this past shabbos afternoon, following daf yomi. It was offered to me by the camp Rav, Rabbi B, and the quiet Tzaddik of Camp M and I shared the .750 liter bottle along with Rabbi B as we traded stories of emunah and bitachon (appropriate for the three weeks). The beer had a sweetness from the rum infused oak chips which almost masked the odd I&G aftertaste. The beer has a 6.8% abv, but it is actually low for the style of beer (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy). In fact, the beer was not overly dark and was perfectly drinkable on the porch on a warm shabbos afternoon.

As mentioned above, the Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer is not certified kosher, but it has been checked out and approved by the CRC. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/10272/39258


Bonus section - Nine Days Havdalah Guide.

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

By way of introduction, on Saturday nights after the evening prayer is said, Jews have a special set of blessings that are said by which we separate between the holy shabbos and the rest of the week. There is a custom to say this prayer on a cup of wine, however this custom needs modification when the Saturday falls during the nine days of mourning.

As noted by the Orthodox Union on their website:

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition.Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of "mourning for Jerusalem". Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.

Should your local Rabbi direct you to utilize non-wine in your havdalah, there are multiple options to use to fulfill the havdalah requirement. Indeed, my father in law will use diet soda (or as he says "diet pop"). I recall as a child seeing my father on one occasion use hard alcohol for havdalah (and then burn the decorative plate my sibling made when he tried to put out the candle).

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

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

The easiest solution is not to have beer, but instead to make havdalah on what is commonly called alcopop. These are malt beverage drinks with some similarities to beer and a beer-like 5% alcohol content by volume, but do not have the beer taste. Some examples are the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) Twisted Teas or the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. Please be aware that not every flavor of Smirnoff is certified Kosher. Indeed, the last time I looked at the CRC list, only the following flavors were certified kosher: Green Apple, Mango,Raspberry Burst Pineapple and Wild Grape (I am unaware of whether there is actual grape in this beverage). For the complete list of those Smirnoff products and other alcopops approved by the CRC, please click here http://www.crcweb.org/liquorList.pdf.

Another alternative had been hard apple cider, but as of the present date there are no kosher hard apple ciders. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that for a time the Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider was certified kosher by the Star-K, but they ceased their supervision of the product almost eighteen months ago.

However, there are a number of fruit flavored beers which bridge the gap between alcopop and true beer. These include the Miller/Coors line of Redd's products, including Apple Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/02/sunday-night-suds-redds-apple-ale.html), Strawberry Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/01/sunday-night-suds-redds-strawberry-ale.html), Blue Moon Blackberry Tart Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/05/sunday-night-suds-blue-moon-blackberry.html), Samuel Adams Blueberry Hill Lager (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams.html) and Saranac Blueberry Blonde Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/04/sunday-night-suds-saranac-blueberry.html).

If you do like beer, or would like to drink something that is more manly than alcopop, the next step up would be an American wheat beer or some of the better Summer Ales. Many of these beers have been reviewed on the pages of this blog and you can search through prior Sunday Night Suds reviews to find one that might appeal to you.If you are a beer aficionado, you obviously won't need this post to tell you which ale or lager you should crack open for havdalah.

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

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

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Masei

Normally, the Thursday night parsha post on this blog slot contains a thought said over by R' Frand in his satellite shiur. Since the shiur is now on hiatus through Elul, I will be substituting with divrei torah found in other sources. This week I have attempted to summarize a vort from R' Mansour which can be found at www.learntorah.com and have tied it into a thought I wrote on years ago. As always, if the p'shat appears to be incorrect, it is a result of my efforts to convey the thought that I found in the sefer or shiur.

R' Mansour then began a fascinating discussion wherein he connected the Jews travails in Egypt and the desert to the four exiles. R' Mansour tied each of the exiles to the first four words of the parsha - Eleh Masei B'nei Yisrael: Eleh begins with an Alef which signifies Edom; Masei begins with a Mem which signifies Maddai; B'nei begins with a Bet which signifies Bavel and Yisrael begins with a Yud which ties to Yavan.

R' Mansour then explored this concept more deeply by looking at the trup on the first pasuk. The word Eleh has an (azla) geresh - showing that the Jews would be exiled. The word Yisrael has a revi'i, signifying that the Jews would be exiled four times. However, the Jews also pray for the redemption from galus on a daily basis in shmoneh esreh. We say three (and sometimes four or five) times per day - u'mavi goel l'vnei b'neihem - mavi is spelled Mem Bet Yud Alef - Hashem, the goel will redeem us from the galuyos of Madai, Bavel, Yavan and Edom.

R' Mansour also tied his discussion into the exile of Egypt. We mention yitzias mitzrayim in our prayers in the morning and evening and have many mitzvos to remember the leaving of Egypt. Although Egypt is not listed among the four exiles, it actually was the paradigm of exile and each of the four exiles are an offshoot of the exile in Egypt. R' Mansour explained that on the night of the seder we drink four cups, to signify one of the four exiles. It is well known that the four cups connect with the four languages of redemption which appear in chumash. On the surface the words all appear to be similar - you took us out, you saved us, you redeemed us from Egypt and you brought us. However, these l'shonos are not merely redundant - they are symbolic of the four exiles that we will be in - each very different and the four times that we will be saved from exile (bsd).

R' Mansour quoted the Belzer Rebbi who noted that we went down to Egypt four times and we left four times. The brothers of Yosef went to Egypt to get food, then they went back to get Binyamin, they then came down again with Binyamin and left again to get Ya'akov, they went down a third time with Ya'akov and left to bury Ya'akov. They came back from burying Ya'akov (the fourth trip down) and left the fourth and final time when Hashem redeemed the Jews from Egypt.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - Unwritten Rules

On Sunday a story broke about Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis, who lost his cool after Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus laid down a bunt when the shift was on. Lewis explained afterwards that Rasmus has broken one of the "unwritten rules of baseball" but no one seems to have bought it.

In addition to the overstuffed official rule book of baseball, there are certain "unwritten rules" which have developed over time. Some of these rules are gentlemanly, such as don't bunt to try to break up a no-hitter. Others are more like rules of engagement - if you hit one of our guys with a pitch, we will hit one of yours. Still others are superstitious, such as - don't mention a no-hitter while it is still in progress.

While the above mentioned rules are well known, the Colby Lewis rule of not bunting to the opposite side while a shift is in process is simply foreign to me. If a team is going to put all or most of its fielders on one side of the infield because the hitter has a tendency to hit to that side, why shouldn't the hitter force the issue by bunting the ball the other way.

I can recall how when my daughter Yael was in little league, she would hit everything to the left of the outfield. The coach of our rival team began to deploy all his fielders on the left side from the edge of the outfield grass and back a good forty feet. Although Yael and I practiced directional hitting, they were able to contain her by keeping the fielders on the left side...until the championship game when she hit the ball to the right and easily scored.

Its ironic to me that in a sport where the rule book is so thick and is constantly updated when players try to bend the rules, there is such high regard for the unwritten rules. To draw a parallel to Torah, there are halachos (laws) and there are minhagim which are customs that developed over time. The minhagim are not biblical or rabbinic laws, but people seem to honor the customs almost more than the laws themselves. Indeed, there is a statement which I have heard attributed to more than one Rabbi that if "Do not steal" was a custom, it would be more widely kept...

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Big Eddy Imperial IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Big Eddy Imperial IPA.

As I have written before, the name Big Eddy does not conjure images of class or refinement, yet this is the name chosen by Leinenkugel for their premium line of beers. I know that it may seem that I am fixated with this topic, but its tough to take a beer seriously when it makes me think of a bald old bus driver I had, but I digress...

I picked up this beer in the Total Wine store in Delaware. Total Wine is one the better national chain beer/liquor stores as they have a fantastic selection with decent prices, no matter which state that you shop in. When leaving Baltimore on a Sunday I could not stop in my Total Wine store of choice (Towson) as they observe blue laws and do not open on Sundays. But since my GPS informed me that the Claymont, Delaware store was not far off I-95, I made a stop in and loaded up on quality beer at excellent prices.

The Big Eddy Imperial IPA poured a very dark orange with a decent amount of lacing. The hops were present and they melded well with the complex alcohol flavor that comes with a beer which is 8.2 abv. The beer is not the kind of brew that you would drink quickly as it is meant to be savored. I tried mine with Andrew S. (aka the Tzaddik of Camp M from prior years' posts) on a Shabbos afternoon. As we had this after a post lunch shiur, there was no accompanying food, but I could see pairing this with a good steak.

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Imperial IPA is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, and has an OU on the label. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this beer, please follow this link http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/710/35806

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Matos

Normally, the Thursday night parsha post on this blog slot contains a thought said over by R' Frand in his Thursday Night shiur. Since the shiur is now on hiatus through Elul, I have reprinted my summary of a prior year's shiur that R' Frand gave on Parshas Matos. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

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

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

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

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

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - If James is a King, is Melo Gold?

For the last two weeks, basketball fans were waiting to see which way the ball would bounce. Two all world players - Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony had become free agents and the potential suitors were lining up. Meanwhile, there were many other good players who had also become free agents, but teams were not jumping to sign them as the league was waiting to see where James and Melo would land.

On late Friday afternoon, James announced that he had decided to go back to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, even though he was "leaving money on the table" since the Miami Heat could have paid him more money had he stayed in Miami. But for Lebron, this was not about the money alone. In announcing his decision to return to Cleveland, Lebron penned an article for Sports Illustrated wherein he explained his need to return to his hometown. One of the more poignant statements he made was:

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

In sharp contrast to Lebron James is the story of the ultimate me first player, Carmelo Anthony (why do the Knicks seem to be a magnet for these types of players). Melo has never won a championship and has not even gotten out of the second round in the three years that he has been a Knick. Yet when faced with a chance to leave for the Chicago Bulls, a team with a real possibility of reaching the NBA Finals, Anthony opted to take the team offering the most money (the NY Knicks) even though they may not even make the playoffs next year.

The idea of making choices based on ideals vs money is hardly a new concept. But at some point, one needs to ask - when is it enough money? When can the player make a sacrifice in order to join a team which has a chance to win the ultimate prize?

The concept of making tough choices, even with the possibility of losing financial status is a central concept in Torah thought. I recently heard a shiur from R' Mansour on learntorah.com wherein he observed that Yocheved had the most nachas (loosely translated as pride in the acts of one's children) of anyone in the Torah. Indeed, Yocheved saw her children become the leader of the Jews, the Kohain Gadol and a significant prophetess. Why did Yocheved merit this reward? Because she risked her life to deliver babies in Egypt. But the question can be asked - what kind of life could the children have if they were born into slavery? The answer could be that even though the life ahead for these children was tough, the selfless act of delivering the children in the face of certain punishment and giving the children the chance to live as Jews and do Hashem's will merited a great reward.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - New Belgium Summer Helles Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at New Belgium's Summer Helles Lager.

As has mentioned here before, the style of beer known as Helles is actually short for Munich Helles Lager. The experts at BA explain that Helles arose:

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 American Summer Helles which I have tried have uniformly lacked the hop character of a Czech Pils, but do have some other similarities to pilsners as they are bright yellow in color with a crispness which cleanses the palate. The New Belgium Summer Helles Lager follow along this track as it poured a pale yellow, almost straw in color. The beer lacked much in the way of bite (hop and/or alcohol) but was crisp and refreshing.

I enjoyed the New Belgium Summer Helles with a bag of NoTatoes Cassava Tortilla Chips. The beer meshed well with the salty cassava chips and provided the perfect late snack following an intense zimriyah at Camp M.

New Belgium Helles 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. Often times, a kosher symbol can be found on the bottom of the six pack holder for New Belgium products. Unfortunately, I did not buy a six pack of this beer, so I could not verify that it is found on the bottom of the Helles Lager six pack holder.

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 Helles Lager, please follow this link beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/116586. 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, July 10, 2014

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Pinchas

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.

Those who are familiar with the general format of R' Frand's Thursday Night Shiur are aware that there is usually a 40 minute halacha portion followed by 20 minutes of parsha vorts. Tonight R' Frand began his shiur with the 40 minutes of halacha, but then introduced two stories from the shiva for Naftali Frankel o'h before R' Frand spoke about the parsha. I have summarized the stories below following the parsha vort.

R Frand quotes Bamidbar 25:17 which states that the Jews should take revenge against the Midyanim. The Medrash observes that a person who causes a person to sin is worse than killing him. A person who kills causes the victim to lose his life in this world, but the victim keeps his reward in Olam Haba. A person who leads another to sin hurts the victim both in this world and in Olam Haba.

The Medrash observes that there are two sets of enemies who are treated differently. Egypt and Edom are subjected to punishment but are not banned because they attacked the Jews physically, but there is no requirement to hate them. However, Amon and Moab are on the permanent enemies list and they are rejected by Hashem because they attempted to seduce the Jews.

The Medrash then says that a person who has mercy on an Amoni or Moabi will be pained and suffer as a result. (R' Frand remarked - don't be frummer than the Torah). The Medrash notes that David went against the rule and was mencachem aveil by Chanan ben Nachash, an Amoni. David was later punished and his emissaries attacked by Amoni. The lesson was - don't make your own decisions to go further than the Torah.

R' Frand closed this part of the vort by making reference to a story a told in Otzros HaTorah about when R' Moshe Feinstein ztl was living in Luban in Russia. There was a man in the city who was a moser and would routinely turn Jews over to the communist government. When the man died, he left a letter which contained a request that the burial society not give him a proper Jewish burial. He wrote that he felt bad about how he acted during his lifetime and that the lack of proper burial would be a way to atone for his acts.

The members of the burial society came to R' Moshe and asked what they should do. He responded that the Torah requires that all Jews receive a proper burial. The members of the society protested that this man was evil and that he did not deserve the burial and that if he wanted this to be an atonement they should do as he requested. R' Moshe stood firm and said that you cannot go against the Torah.

A few days after the burial, the Russian government sent representatives to the cemetery and asked to have the man exhumed. The cemetery complied and the man's body was removed, studied and then reburied. 

It was later learned that the man had left a letter for the Russian government wherein he wrote that the Jews have no respect for the government and that they would be punishing the man by not giving him a proper burial.

But R' Moshe prevented this action by following the tried and true rule - you don't go against halacha. 

The levaya stories follow below:

R' Frand read an email that he received from someone who had been present at the shiva and heard  the following story. When the boys were still missing, someone suggested that they perform the Goral Ha'Gra in order to locate the boys. A Rav Elyashiv (possibly R' Elyashiv's grandson) was selected and he performed the goral and it landed on Sefer Shoftim 15:9. The pasuk there says that the Philistines came up to the land of Judah and they spread out in a place called Lechi.

Now that they had the location they needed to find the place called Lechi. Unfortunately, no one knew where Lechi was. Mr. Frankel contacted a tanach authority - R' Yoel Ben Nun. Rabbi Ben Nun said that he checked his tanach and he had a question mark next to the place Lechi, and that he did not know where it was. Mr. Frankel then said, "now sadly we know where Lechi was."

R' Frand also told a story which was heard from Mrs Frankel during the shiva. Mrs Frankel related that their son had always been vigilant to daven daily and to always wear proper tefillin. Mrs. Frankel said that during the 18 day period that the boys were missing she was very upset. Once the boys had been found and she learned that the boys had been killed immediately, she had a nechama as her son died without missing a day of davening with tefillin.

Hashem Yinkom Dameihim.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Ta'anis 27

On Ta'anis 27b, the gemara discusses the Torah reading for the people of the ma'amad who would read daily from Ma'aseh Bereishis during their turn as anshei ma'amad. Within this discussion, the gemara indicates that the Torah portion would be broken up into three parts - one each for the Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisraelim.

The gemara asks - but what about the first day of creation? The Torah portion cannot be broken into three as the first portion of the reading is fiver verses and there is a rule that there can never be less than three verses per aliyah. The gemara offers answers from Rav and Shmuel wherein they suggest that a verse from the first aliyah be repeated in the second portion or that the third pasuk be split in two.

In discussing Rav's proposal of using a pasuk from the first aliyah in the second reading, Tosafos (d'h Rav) observes that this is the system which we use for Rosh Chodesh, wherein we commence the second aliyah with a repetition of the last pasuk from the first aliyah. (This was my thought as well and I wondered why the gemara did not expressly address the question). 

Tosafos asks - why do we repeat the verse? Couldn't we just start reading the first aliyah a little further back in the parsha? The question is quite timely as we will read Parshas Pinchas (where the reading for Rosh Chodesh is found) this coming Shabbos.

Tosafos reinforces the question by noting that on Shabbos Chol Hamoed, we being the reading from Parshas Ki Sissa by going back to Moshe's conversation with Hashem in 32:12 wherein he asks Hashem about His direction to take the Jews up. Tosafos opines that the reading related to Chol Hamoed should have started from the discussion of Moshe being told to form new tables which is found in pesukim starting at 33:1.

Toasfos answers by stating that the prior portion in Ki Sissa is connected with the reading for Chol HaMoed as it is the same story. However, the prior pesukim in Parshas Pinchas are unrelated to the Tamid and Rosh Chodesh, therefore there is no option but to start with the proper reading and repeat one verse.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Dry Hop Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Dry Hop Lager.

The Saranac Dry Hop Lager is one of the inserts in this past spring's mix box which also includes the new Prism IPA (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-prism-white.html), Red IPA (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/12/sunday-night-suds-saranac-red-ipa.html), Forbidden Dry Hop Lager (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/05/sunday-night-suds-saranac-forbidden-ipa.html ) and old standards Irish Stout (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2010/01/sunday-night-suds-saranac-irish-stout.html) and Pale Ale (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html).

The Saranac Dry Hop Lager simply tastes like no other lager. There are strong hop notes and a creaminess that makes you ask how is this a bottled beer? The beer pours a deep gold with great lacing that forms rings after each sip. The beer does not have the backbone of an IPA as the deep hop flavor does not last beyond the opening sip, but it is a very interesting combination and flavor profile. Its almost like a lager that wants to be a IPA.

I would pair the Dry Hop Lager with spicy chinese food or other light spicy dishes. If you have enjoyed this beer with other types of food, please leave a comment below.

Saranac Dry Hop Lager 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 brews 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 Dry Hop Lager, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/90332.

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!