Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemini

The following is a brief summary of some of 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.

This week's parsha contains the tragic story of the deaths of two of Aharon's sons - Nadav and Avihu. The Torah recites in Vayikra 10:4 that after their deaths, Moshe called Mishael and Eltzafan in order to remove the bodies from the Mishkan. 

R' Frand quoted the Da'as Zekeinim M'Ba'alei Tosfos which cites the Toras Kohanim which explains that we learn from here that Kohanim cannot be mitamei to the dead. The Da'as Zekeinim asks two questions on the Torah Kohanim: (1) we have a pasuk in Parshas Emor which explicitly teaches that the Kohanim cannot become tamei, so why is this cited as the source for the law, and (2) since Elazar and Itamar were regular Kohanim (as opposed to the Kohen Gadol) they were allowed to be mitamei to relatives!

The Da'as Zekeinim answers these questions by stating that we learn from the appointment of Mishael and Eltzafan that a Kohain on the day that he is first anointed and performs his first service has a halacha like the Kohain Gadol. Since this was the first day for Elazar and Itamar as well as their (deceased siblings) they were not permitted to be mitamei to dead relatives. Furthermore, this explains what the Toras Kohanim meant by saying the law is novel.

R' Frand next quoted R' Asher Dicker of Lakewood, NJ who had relayed to him some thoughts on this vort, including R' Elyashiv's take on the issue. He first stated that we learn from this that the beginning of a process (like in this case, the appointment of the Kohanim and the dedication of the Mishkan) needs to be perfect. So if the process for Elazar and Itamar would have included their becoming tamei on their first day (even for a legitimate reason) the beginning of their time as Kohanim would have been less than perfect. 

He also tied this into the Pnei Yehoshua's famous question about the miracle of Chanukah. The Pnei Yehoshua asks - if the entirety of the Jewish people were tamei, why could they not have lit the Menorah with tamei oil, since tumah is hutrah (permitted) when the congregation is entirely impure? R' Dicker answered based on  this vort --it was because it was the first day after they recaptured the Beis Hamikdash from the Greeks, so the oil for the lighting of the Menorah needed to be perfect.

He also opined that this may be the meaning for the Hebrew expression - Kul Haschalos Kashos - all beginnings are difficult. Its not that things are difficult in the beginning, but rather that in the beginning we try as hard as possible to make it a perfect start.

He also quoted R' Elyashiv who discussed how a Kohain on his first day of service brought a special flour offering - the Minchas Chinuch. While he only brought that offering on his first day, the Kohain Gadol brought one every day. Why? Because for him, every day needed to be like a perfect first day.

R' Frand closed the vort by quoting to Beha'alosecha in which it states (Bamidbar 8:3) in connection with the Menorah, "Vaya'as Ken Aharon" that Aharon did this act. Rashi explains that we learn from the pasuk that Aharon never deviated from the way it was to be done. Many meforsim ask about this Rashi --of course he did not deviate, he should never deviate! R' Frand answered that Rashi's intention was that Aharon never changed his attitude and treated each time as if it was the first day, and wanting it to be perfect.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday's Matza Crumbs - the Rasha

I recently heard a great shiur from Rabbi Mansour on Pesach which I would like to share. The shiur can be found on www.learntorah.com and is called Pesah/The Rasha/Timeless Misvot. Same ground rules as always apply. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Mansour.

R' Mansour asked the famous question about why the Rasha is criticized for asking "what is this service for you" and the hagaddah responds to the Rasha - tell him that "because of this Hashem took us out of Egypt" --referring to the Karban Pesach.

R' Mansour asked - how does this answer the question? The Rasha is not uneducated and he knows that there is a Karban Pesach. So how does pointing to the Karban Pesach answer the question?

R' Mansour began the answer by quoting the Ibn Ezra who asks - what came first - the mitzva of eating Pesach, Matza and Marror or the Jews being in Egypt? The answer that we give the Rasha is literally - because of the mitzva of the Karban Pesach, Hashem took us out of Egypt, which implies that the mitzva pre-existed the time in Egypt.

R' Mansour then quoted the Beis HaLevi who expanded on the Ibn Ezra. He explained that the Rasha had been in yeshiva, but turned to the apikorsim because he was looking for reasons for the mitzvos. Why is this problematic? Because they try to find reasons when they are not given and then once the reason is no longer relevant, they believe that the mitzva does not apply anymore either.

R' Mansour then digressed to discuss the reason for the Karban Pesach. He noted that the zodiac sign for the end of the month of March and beginning of April (in which Nissan often falls) is Aries which is a sheep. The zodiac views this month as the first of the months of the year and as such the Egyptians worshiped the sheep as the mother of all symbols. Furthermore, the constellation was at its greatest on the 15th of the month. And Hashem took the Jews out of Egypt on the greatest day of the Egyptian's greatest month, after the Jews took the sheep on the 10th of the month, slaughtered the sheep on the 14th and ate it on the 15th.

[R' Mansour noted parenthetically that we call the season Aviv because it is the father of the twelve (Av of yud bet)].

After the Jews left Egypt they continued to observe the Karban Pesach as during the time that the Beis Hamikdash was standing, the Jews would bring the Karban Pesach there on the 14th and then eat it at the seder on the 15th.

R' Mansour now returned to the Beis HaLevi's discussion of the Karban Pesach. The Rasha sits at the table and asks - why is there still a Karban Pesach? We needed it when we left Egypt to show that the sheep that the Egyptians worshiped is not in control - so we needed to slaughter and eat it. But now, you (the "lachem") - why do you need to keep doing this, its not relevant to us anymore. We live in America and are not under control of the Egyptians. There it was important to show that we were not under the control of the idol worship, but now no one worships idols, so why do you need to keep observing the Karban Pesach?

The Beis HaLevi explains that the answer to the Rasha's question is to ask him - which came first the chicken or the egg, or more to the point, which came first, the Karban Pesach or the Jews time in Egypt? The answer is that the Karban Pesach came first. The gemara discusses that the reason that Ya'akov went to get two goats for Yitzchak on the day that he received the berachos was because it was Pesach and Yitzchak ate one as the Karban Pesach and one as the Karban Chaggiga. Similarly, Rashi explains that the reason that Avraham asked Sarah to knead "cakes" when the angels came to visit is that it was Pesach and she was making matzos to give them.

The Beis HaLevi then sums up the answer to the Rasha - the mitzvos are timeless and existed both before and after the event that they are related to. The mitzvos preceded the creation of the world and the reason that we eat matza is because Hashem commanded us to do so. How do you explain that Avraham ate matza and Yitzchak ate the Karban Pesach before there was an exodus in Egypt? Because Hashem commanded us to observe these mitzvos. Thus you tell the Rasha - because of the mitzva of Karban Pesach which existed before there was an exodus in Egypt, Hashem took us out of Egypt. This mitzva is not because of Egypt and is not linked to the event, so regardless of which event occurred, the mitzva still exists.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Coffee Black Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Coffee Black Lager.

The Coffee Black Lager is the last of the three new beers in the American Craft Lagers Variety Pack, which also includes Kellerbier (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2018/01/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams.html), Smoked Lager (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2018/02/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams-smoked.html) as well as old friends Boston Lager, Fresh as Helles and Noble Pils.

The Coffee Black Lager is classified by the gurus at BA as a schwarzbier which they define as

Schwarzbier ("shvahrts-beer"), is simply German for black beer. It doesn't mean that it's necessarily heavy or light in body, although they tend to lean towards light. Unlike other dark beers, like porters or stouts, they are not overly bitter with burnt and roasted malt characteristics that the others tend to depend on. Instead, hops are used for a good portion of the bitterness. Very refreshing and soul lifting beers, they also make a great alternative for the Winter. Especially when you are looking for a lighter beer, but one with depth of colour and taste.

The Coffee Black Lager is the latest iteration of coffee flavored beer produce by Samuel Adams (see review of the Coffee Nitro Stout reviewed here earlier this month http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2018/03/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams-nitro.html).

This beer attempts to merge a black lager with a coffee infused beer and I have certain mixed feelings about it. The beer is low on the alcohol side (4.9% abv) and that's ok when you are having a lager. Especially when its a black lager which when done well has interesting subtle flavor notes. But in this case they are masked by the coffee added to the brew. That's not to say that the coffee is unpleasant or even over the top and the beer is an easy drinking brew. But it could have been so much more.

The Coffee Black Lager is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the bottle. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/304883.

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).

Lastly, 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, March 22, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Tzav

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Dovid Heber on the parsha this evening, as R' Frand did not give the final parsha shiur before Pesach as is his custom. Same rules as usual apply - 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' Heber.

In Parshas Tzav, the Torah introduces the sacrifice known as the Karban Todah. As we know from the laws of sacrifices which are recited in the morning, this sacrifice was permitted to be eaten for one day and one night and whatever was left over the following morning needed to be burned.

R' Heber asked - why are the laws of sacrifices different than most other Jewish law in which the days follows the night?

R' Heber answered by quoting R' Nissim Alpert who explained that in general a person sits "in the dark" when he begins an endeavor. He does not know whether he will be successful and he waits to see how it will turn out. Our days similarly begin at night as we wait for morning to be able to see. The Chofetz Chayim teaches that even our week has a night component as the week begins as chol and ends with Shabbos.

In contrast, Heavenly events do not have a night component - they begin with the day because they are clear and we see and are confident that they will be positive. Thus the karbanos all begin during the day.

The Medrash quotes a pasuk in Tehillim which states that a person who brings a Todah will honor Hashem. The word in the pasuk in Tehillim uses a multiple for honor and the Medrash teaches that the person who offers the sacrifice will bring honor after honor.

The Chasam Sofer explains that one form of Todah is brought by a person who was previously in danger. The person brings the Todah and blesses on being saved from the trouble. In so doing, he recognizes that all that Hashem does is for the good, including the danger from which the person was saved. He then blesses Hashem, both for bringing the danger and for saving him from it and allowing him to recognize Hashem.

R' Heber closed out the vort by quoting the Netziv who notes that the Todah had a lot of food, but was eaten in a short time since it was only one day and one night. The reason for the large volume of food and short period is so that the person bringing the sacrifice can invite others to partake of the food with him. The following day, any remnants will be Nosar and will need to be burned. Therefore the person invites others to join with him and see his appreciation for Hashem. This is another reason for the double language in the pasuk in Tehillim - when I bring others to join with me, I have simcha for me and with them.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vayikra

The following is a brief summary of some of 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.

It states in Vayikra 5:1 "V'Nefesh Ki Secheta...Im Lo Yagid V'Nasa Avono" from which we learn that a person will sin if he knows civil testimony and does not testify.

R' Frand told a story about the Mittle Rav (former Lubavitcher Rebbi) who was told by his doctor that he needed to go to Czechoslovakia to a spa center for his health. On the way, he stopped in Pozen and asked a question of R' Akiva Eiger. He asked - there is a pasuk in next week's Haftorah (Shabbos HaGadol) which states (Malachi 3:6) "Ani Hashem Lo Shinisi ..." -- I am Hashem and have not changed and you have not been destroyed. The Rebbi asked R' Akiva Eiger to explain the pasuk. 

R' Akiva Eiger explained by first making reference to the pasuk in Vayikra and noting that it spells the word Lo as Lamud Vuv Aleph instead of just Lamud Vuv. The Rambam explains that the reason for this is that the only time a person sins is when the litigant asks him to testify and he refuses. But if no request is made to him, he does not sin by not testifying. Thus when there is a Lo (spelled with a Vuv) meaning the demand is made to testify, then he has sinned. But if he does not ask, there is no sin.

R' Akiva Eiger then made reference to the pasuk wherein it states "Ha'Idosechi Bachem Hayom Es HaShamayim V'Es Ha'aretz" --Hashem makes the Heavens and Earth witnesses to testify if the Jews don't keep the mitzvos. But why are we still around when there were many generations when the Jews did not keep the mitzvos? He answered that it is because Hashem did not summon the Heavens and Earth to testify.

R' Akiva Eiger then returned to the pasuk "Ani Hashem Lo Shinisi." He explained that Hashem was saying that the reason that the Jews have not been wiped out is because Hashem has changed the Lo in the pasuk and it is now like the Lo in Parshas Vayikra. Because Hashem has changed the Lo so that only if He summons them will the Heavens and Earth testify, the Jews have not been destroyed.

R' Frand also said a second vort he heard from his son Ya'akov as quoted from the Sefer Tzror HaMor. The pasuk in Parshas HaChodesh states "HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Chadasim" - which commonly translated as -this month is the first or head of the months. But the Tzror HaMor explains that the Egyptians also set their calendar based upon the moon, but their Rosh Chodesh was when the moon was at its fullest. This was not only astronomical, it was philosophical. Things are only positive when the moon is full, not when its just a sliver. But by the Jews, the sliver is positive, because we see the potential for what it can grow into. Jews don't need to see the complete full moon, only that it is new and can become great.

He used this to explain the pasuk in Va'era - V'Samti P'dus ... L'Machar - the difference between Jews and Egyptians is L'Machar. The Jews see the machar differently than the Egyptians. Similarly, when Moshe tells Yehoshua when they are preparing to fight the Egyptians - "V'tzai HiLachem Machar" - go fight the Amalakeim about Machar - because we see tomorrow differently. Lastly, the pasuk which differentiates the Chacham and Rasha in the four sons is the Ki Y'shlacha Bincha Machar - his use of the word Machar which symbolizes that he sees that there is a Machar.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout.

The Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout is one of two Samuel Adams beers which come in the nitro can packaging. (The other beer is the Nitro White Ale which was reviewed here - http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2017/06/sunday-night-suds-samuel-adams-nitro.html).

Unlike many other coffee stouts, the Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout actually has coffee added, which should be unnecessary when you are brewing a beer intended to be this kind of stout. The website explains that the Nitro Coffee Stout derives its flavor from the dark roasted malts in combination with Sumatran & Indian Monsoon Malabar coffees. It was odd to me, since when I poured the beer into the glass (see picture above) it looked and smelled like a Guinness Stout.

The beer was not overwhelming coffee in flavor, nor was this anywhere as thick as a traditional stout. The widget in the can gave the beer some thinness, perhaps shooting for the effect of the rocket widget in the Guinness bottle, but again this was not Guinness. But it was a pleasant light stout with some chocolate and coffee notes and I could see having this again, perhaps with a coffee rubbed flank steak.

The Nitro Coffee Stout is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the bottle. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/186736.

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 are reading this post more than six months after it was written, please note that it is possible that the product is no longer still certified kosher. To verify that the product is still certified kosher, please click on the kosher beers list link on the top left corner of the blog.

Lastly, 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!