Friday, September 29, 2006

Parshas Haazinu

From R' Frand:

The verse from which we derive the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah [Devorim 31:19] says "And now write for yourselves this song...". We see the Torah refers to itself as a "Song" (Shirah). Why is Torah called Shirah?

Rav Herzog once gave the following explanation: With virtually all fields of study in the world, one uninitiated in that discipline gets no pleasure from hearing a theory or an insight concerning that field of study. For example - physics. If one tells over to a physicist a "chiddush" in his field of expertise, he will get great pleasure from it. If, however, one shares this same insight with someone who has never studied and never been interested in physics, he will be totally unmoved by it. The same applies to many, many other disciplines.

However, this is not the case with music. When Beethoven's Fifth Symphonyis played, regardless of whether one is a concert master or a simple person, there is something one will get out of it. The overwhelming majority of people admit to getting something out of a professional symphony. Music issomething that everyone on their own level can enjoy and have a relationship to.

This is precisely the reason that Torah is referred to as a song, as a Shirah. Torah, like a Beethoven symphony, is something that everyone can appreciate. Just as it doesn't matter whether one is a musical expert and can appreciate the absolute genius of the work, or whether one is a simpleton and may not be able to say anything else besides "I like that", there's a place in Torah for everything. Whether one is in kollel and learns 10 hours a day, or is an accountant and pulling 60 hours a week, there's a niche out there for everyone. The accountant that works 60 hours may get just as much reward as the guy in kollel that learns for a living.

In the upcoming year we should all, hopefully, find our niche in the Torah world.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

TO Suicide Attempt

I'm sure most of you have heard, as it is the top sports story of the day, that Terrell Owens, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, claims to have tried to commit suicide last night. I'm sure many are going to share their opinions on the matter, so I couldn't be left out.

What do I think? I in no way think that TO wanted to kill himself. TO is a man's man. If he really wanted to kill himself, he would've blown his head off which a gun. That reminds me of an interesting statistic I learned in criminology class a few years back: women attempt suicide 3X as often as men, yet men are successful 3X as often as women. Basically, that's because (as a general rule) when women want to kill themselves, they do things like try to OD on pills or slit their wrists - highly uneffective. Men, on the other hand, are much more likely to grab a shotgun and blow their head off. There's no doubt in my mind that if TO really wanted to kill himself, he would've succeeded. After all, he's succeeded at everything he's done in life.

Why did he do it? Attention, obviously. Most people probably think, "He's crazy and all, but I really don't believe he'd do that just for attention." I do. This is the perfect way to get attention: "attempt" suicide, yet still be able to take the field within a couple of weeks and garner attention on that medium as well.

My diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And no, this isn't a joke - it actualy exists, and is a very serious thing. After reading the symptoms below, I think it is obvious that someone would attempt suicide just for a little attention:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love (3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) (4) requires excessive admiration (5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations (6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others (8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

UPDATE: I spoke with a clinical psychologist here and she said that it is unlikely that someone narcisstic would attempt suicide. Oh well. Most people around here think he's Borderline.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Liberal Music

On the way in to work this morning I was listening to a new mix that I had made; specifically. I was listening to John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." I happen to be a fan of his music, and because I have listened to this song many times, I found myself singing along. I realized that often we memorize lyrics without fully understanding the message that is in them. In this case, I was singing the lyrics:

"Now if we had the power - to bring our neighbors home from war - they would've never missed a Christmas - no more ribbons on their door."

I don't know too much about politics, and don't think I've ever posted about American politics before, but this seems like a pretty liberal set of lyrics. Children, who presumably also memorize lyrics by rote (as I did), may listen to these lyrics and have these liberal sentiments placed in their mind without themselves even realizing it. Kids don't realize that it is because soldiers miss Christmas' that we are able to live as a free country. Maybe we should bring all the soldiers home every Christmas? Come on. We all know that's ridiculous. But these are the things being placed into to the minds of the naive. Another song, by another artist I'm a fan of; Wyclef Jean's "If I Were President":

"An old man told me, instead of spending billions on the war,we can use some of that money, in the ghetto."

These lyrics mimic Wyclef's known anti-war beliefs. I believe it may be tough for children to differentiate between the artist and their beliefs. Kids like Wyclef. Wyclef is anti-war. You get the point. They may be too naive to realize that it is possible to like an artist and their music, but not necessarily agree with everything they believe. Subtle and not-so-subtle liberal messages are rampant on college campuses, and apparently in music too. Is it not possible that certain wars are necessary? But, you don't hear those lyrics. Think about it: when was the last time you heard a song that was PRO-war?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosh Hashana

In last week’s parsha, Nitzavim/Vayelech, we already discussed that the Torah goes through great depths to explain a mitzvah and tells us things like, “It is not far from you”, and “It is not in heaven/Lo ba’Shamayim Hee.” To summarize, Rashi holds that this mitzvah is that of Talmud Torah/learning, and these verses teach us that even though we are lowly creatures, we are still able to learn torah. However, the Rambam explains in a more timely fashion for us, telling us that this mitzvah is that of teshuva/repentance. How exactly the aforementioned verses go well with this explanation can best be described with the following story:

R’ Shimon ben Lakish, or more commonly known as Reish Lakish was a bandit in his early years. He and two buddies would go around robbing and looting. All in all, he wasn’t a great guy. But, we don’t hear about Reish Lakish in the gemara so often because he is such a bad guy. Obviously, he found the proper path at some point in life and became a respectable Jew.

At the end of their days, Reish Lakish’s buddies went to hell, and Reish Lakish went to heaven. His buddies saw that Reish Lakish was in heaven and said to Hashem, “How could we be here in hell but Shimon is up in heaven?! He robbed just as much as we did!” Hashem responded with the obvious answer, explaining to them that Reish Lakish had done teshuva and became a good guy. They then told Hashem that they wanted a piece of this teshuva stuff, to which Hashem replied, “Lo Bashamayim Hee/it is not in heaven.” Hashem explained to the friends that teshuva/repentance is something that can only be achieved on earth.

Every day, minute, second, etc, that we wait to do teshuva is one moment closer to the time that we will pass on to the next world. Every second that we wait is one closer to the point at which we will no longer be able to atone for that which we have done wrong. Let’s take this upon ourselves this Rosh Hashana so we won’t have to be begging for an impossible repentance at the end of days.

I wish to all those reading a Shana Tova and that you’re Teshuva should be teshuva shelayma/complete repentance. It should be a sweet year for you, your families, and all of Klal Yisroel. Finally, all Jewish blood that has been spilled in the past year should be redeemed speedily.

Screw You Pete

We are not an asbestos case.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Modern Orthodox

The truth is, it's tough to post about something that you aren't really sure what the definition is. I've heard it called "MO", "Modox", or simply "Modern". Some people may say that it's a level of frumkeit and say that they don't do so-and-so or wear such-and-such because they are Modern Orthodox. I tend to think of it less of a level of frumkeit and more a level of integration into the society that surrounds us. I think that if we imagine what life was like back in Europe, we imagine small communities heavily saturated with Jews (oh wait, I live in one of those), whose population went to the Jewish butcher, Jewish blacksmith, etc. I think Modern Orthodoxy speaks to the increase in individuals integrating themselves with the world and society around them. But, maybe I'm wrong.

While I think it's hard to post about MO because I'm not sure exactly what it means, I feel as though I can post about it because I know what it isn't. "Modern Orthodox" is not an excuse to do things against halacha, nor is it an excuse to not do things in accordance with halacha. I've heard people say, "Oh, I eat dairy out because I'm Modern Orthodox". A friend recently told me of a scene in NY which is loaded with singles, and he said that a good number of them go back to their apartments at night with a member of the opposite sex, and wake up the next morning and put Tefillin dates. I thought Tefillin dates were just something you heard about; apparently they really happen. Ahhhh, but they're MODERN, so it must be OK. No! In ordered to be considered MO, there needs to be an O. Maybe this gets in to a much greater question of what exactly "orthodoxy" is, but I think we would all agree that eating at a non-kosher restaurant or shtupping before marriage goes against whatever definition you have.

If we rationalize that which we know to be wrong because we're Modern Orthodoxy, then where does it stop? Where's the line between still being able to attach that O to the end of MO? I'd imagine that 500 years ago the overwhelming majority of Jews couldn't fathom eating at a non-kosher restaurant. Well, these are the times that we live in. We need to be careful, as the things that we could never fathom being associated with orthodoxy may, in a couple of hundred years, be the norm.

Listen, I do things that I shouldn't. We all do things we shouldn't. We all pick and choose, to a certain extent. But I'm not going to lie to myself and say that it's OK because I'm MO. No, I do things that I shouldn't, and that's that - I don't make myself believe that it's OK. By telling onesself that what they are doing is OK because they are MO, they risk the title of "MO" one day turning into a lonely M.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mike McDermott

I didn't know Matt Damon could say such things...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Parshas Nitzavim - Vayelech

The two hardest parts of Judaism for me are the concepts of Moshich and Teshuva. I heard a great d'var Torah this morning from R' Baruch Simon of YU which made me think that I wasn't so helpless in the Teshuva process after all...
כי המצוה הזאת אשר אנכי מצוך היום לא נפלאת הוא ממך ולא רחקה הוא
לא בשמים הוא לאמר מי יעלה לנו השמימה ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה:
ולא מעבר לים הוא לאמר מי יעבר לנו אל עבר הים ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה:
כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשתו:
"For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today; it is not abstruse to you nor is it distant. It is not in heaven, [for you] to say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and acquire it for us, and inform us of it, and we will fulfill it?" Nor is it overseas, [for you] to say, "Who will travel overseas for us, and acquire it for us, and inform us of it, and we will fulfill it?" For the matter is extremely close to you; in your mouth and in your mind to fulfill it. "

The simple understanding of this mitzvah which the Torah tells us is an easy one, as described the Gemara in Eruvin, is the mitzvah of Talmud Torah/learning. G-d is teaching us that no matter where we are, Torah is not our of our reach. However, the Ramban understands differently, and says that this mitzvah which the Torah is discussing is that of Teshuva/repentance. Explains the Ramban – lest one think that Teshuva is an impossible task, the Torah is teaching us that this is not the case; no matter where you are in life (physically or spiritually), repentance is possible.

The Shinover Rav, Rav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam (who, interestly, according to this website, was anti-zioism) contrasts the language used in these verses to the language used in the first paragraph of Shema. In the first paragraph, it says that we should “love Hashem with all our hearts, soul, and might”/l’vavcha, l’nafshecha, m’odecha. Rashi, explaining these 3 terms, says that your heart/levavcha is your yetzarim (yetzer hara/yetzer tov – evil/good inclinations). Basically, one should attune these drives in order to best serve Hashem. L’Nafeshcha/your soul is self-explanatory, and M’oedcha, says Rashi, is with all of your money; meaning, one should be willing to incur financial loss for Hashem, etc. etc.

The Shinover contrasts this order of priorities with that of our pasuk. As noted in the last verse quoted above, it first mentions “M’od”, then “B’Ficha/your mouth”, then finally, “L’vavcha/your heart.” As an aside, he explains why B’Ficha refers to Dibbur/speech, and what the strong connection is between “Nafshecha/your soul” and Dibbur – it’s not for now, but take my word for it. So, if this is the case, the order of priorities of Teshuva (as we learned from the Ramban) in our parsha is completely OPPOSITE from those listed in shema! What gives? He explains that over there, in Shema, the Torah is talking about a Tzadik Gamur/a completely righteous person. For him, it’s just as easy to ask for forgiveness with his hard as it is with his soul and his money. But, explains the Shinover, for us, who are not all tzaddikim/righteous, the order changes. For us, we start small. Let’s say I damaged the property of someone that I hated. The easiest level of repenting for our sin would be to pay this guy back (M’oedcha). The next higher level would be apologizing, and asking for forgiveness from the person (Dibbur/Nafshecha). And then, of course, the highest level of repentance would be to truly feel sorry in our hearts. For us, the 3rd level is not as easy as the first, so the verse couldn’t have ordered the words as it did in Shema; we need to work our way up.

He brings a beautiful connection from a Gemara in Bava Kama which really drills home the idea of not feeling helpless when faced with the daunting task of Teshuva. The gemara over there says that if I want to make an object “hekdesh/holy”, I can do so by simply saying that, “I want X and X to be Hekdesh”; and the object immediately attains a higher level of holiness. However, this is assuming that two criteria are met: a) that the object is yours and b) it is in your possession. The gemara explains that if my pen is stolen from me, even though it is still technically my pen, since it is not in my possession, I can not make it Hekdesh. Similarly, the robber can’t make it Hekdesh; even though it’s in his possession, he doesn’t own it, so both men are up the creek. But, this set of circumstances is the case as long as we haven’t been “Meyayeish/given up”. If we’ve given up on the object, it is considered ownerless, and the robber now effectively owns the pen and can make it Hekdesh himself.

Explains the Shinover; Teshuva is something that we view as being “stolen” from us, and something that we need to get back. As long as we are not meyayeish, and we don’t give up, the item (teshuva in our case) is technically ours, and the robber is holding an item that isn’t his. But, if we view teshuva as the kind of thing that is out of our reach and unattainable, the Yetzer Hara wins and our repentance is a guaranteed failure; as it is in his possession. The advice given by the Torah, as evidenced by the order of things in this parsha is that we shouldn’t give up, and we should start small, and work our way up to bigger things.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ambulances

Obviously, when someone gets hurt bad enough to necessitate the use of an ambulance, they should be able to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. There are always going to be times, however, where there is no lane available for the ambulance to go through. In times like this, it is incumbent upon the drivers on the road to do whatever possible to get out of the way, securing a clear path for the ambulance to travel on. I don't think anyone would disagree with these statements.

Commuting 2.5 hours (roundtrip) on a daily basis, I see how many idiots are on the road. One thing that absolutely baffles me on a regular basis is the way people freak out when they see an ambulance coming. Again, if you're in the way, you gotta get out of the way; nobody's questioning that. But if you're not in the way, there's no reason to SLAM on your breaks, from the other side of the highway. I've seen this happening, causing a chain reaction of people slamming on their breaks, due to this one moron's overreaction to the impending ambulance. Ambulance drivers, while trying to get where they need to go as quickly as possible, realize that there are other people around, and wil slow down if necessary. Therefore, we don't need to clear all lanes, on both sides of traffic, for the ambulance

Unncessary freaking out when an ambulance is coming could actually lead to more accidents. Avoiding an ambulance like it's carrying the Ebola virus is excessive What may start out as a person's willingness to help an ambulance may actually necessitate more of them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11

I had not originally planned on a 9/11 post, but due to the overwhelming number of 9/11 post on the J-blogosphere, I didn’t want to miss the party. Anyway, I have no crazy stories about what happened to me on 9/11. I wasn’t in NY, as best evidenced by the fact that I can count on two hands how many times I’ve been in the state. I recall that it was my freshman year of college at UMD, and it was a Tuesday morning. As luck would have it, I had Tuesdays off, and I would frequently come home Monday evening and return to school on Wednesday morning. I completely slept through most of the days events. I arose at about 11am to the sound of my mom screaming on the voicemail to stay inside and not go anywhere, because “bad things are happening in the world.”

So, 5 years later. Now what? During the aftermath of 9/11, I heard many Jews say that American’s would now understand what Israel goes through on a weekly basis. While I think that the government and those affected now sympathize with what Israel goes through, I do not believe that this message has reached the general American public.

NEWSFLASH: these people, the terrorists, they would slit your throat if they had the chance. Not only Jews, but Christians as well. Slit your throat. Dead. Heck, if they really wanted to make a spectacle out of you, they’d cut off your head and send the video to all of the American news agencies. Why should you care? Not because you should sympathize with what another democratic country faces regularly, but rather, because they would terrorize you and your family if given the opportunity.

They don’t burn American flags, or cheer in the streets of Gaza/East Jerusalem on 9/11 (see below) for show. Sure, they’re anti-Israel and anti the “Zionist enemy.” But according to them, America harbors the Zionist enemy. And guess what; you’re American. In their mind, you harbor their “Zionist enemy.”

I, in no way, want to make it sound as if us American’s should/do live with the constant fear of our bus blowing up, like Israelis often do. However, these animals have shown what they’re capable and willing to do to you, Mr. Regular Joe Schmoe American. We should all reflect upon those lost and affected by the attacks of 9/11, and do what we can to support those who in the business of ridding the world of these people; the true enemy.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Parshas Ki Savo

This weeks Parsha, Parshas Ki Savo starts out with the commandment of Bikkurim - that one should bring his first fruits to the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. The Mishna in Bikkurim explains the entire process involved with the bringing of these first fruits. It explains that the fruits were brought in vessels, according to how wealthy one was. It says that the rich would bring the fruits in gold or silver vessels, while the poor would bring their fruits to Yerushalayim in wicker or reed baskets. Furthermore, the Sifrei writes, the reed or wicker baskets would be given to the Kohanim to keep, while the gold/silver baskets of the rich would be returned to their owners.

Intuitively, this makes no sense. If anyone could spare their vessels, it would certainly be the rich people! The poor people could not afford the loss of any of their posessions, however small it may be. So why would the Torah require the poor people give up their vessels, but the rich get to walk home with theirs? Interesting, the Talmud says that this ritual is an example of how, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

R' Aharon Boxt answers that the Torah, while seemingly demonstrating insensitivity, is actually demonstrating the opposite - sensitivity. He explains that the rich had many more "first fruits" to bring than the poor, as they could afford to harvest and take care of more plants. Therefore, when the Kohen received the fruits from the rich on the gold/silver vessel, the fruits alone were enough to impress the Kohen. However, if the kohen were to receive the paltry amount of fruit from the poor person and nothing else, the poor person would be extremely embarassed by his gift. Therefore, the Torah requires the poor to give the basket together with the fruit, thus making the present to the Kohen look more impressive, and thus saving the dignity of the poor person. So what, at first glance, appears to be insensitive, is specifically done out of sensitivity. While the person may be out of a wicker vessel, he is left with his dignity. One can work a little harder to make the money back, but nothing can be done with a lost sense of dignity.

We clearly learn from this the lengths that Hashem goes to preseve a man's (or woman's) dignity. Basically, we are ants compared to Hashem. Nonetheless, he still finds dignity important enough a issue to single out in this lesson of this weeks parsha. If Hashem finds this important enough to emphasize, obviously then, us, as fellow ants should do our utmost to act with others in a dignified manner - poor and rich alike.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Men Invented Everything

I don't want this blog to turn into one that is nothing but videos that people send me - but there are a few that are just so worth your time...including this one.



WARNING: There is a semi-racy bit in here, from about 38 sec. until 40 sec.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikes!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thanks Dennis

I would like to publicly thank Dennis Leary for his Mel Gibson rant. It took me 5 months to get to 10,000 hits, but only 5 months and 15 days to reach 20,000. Over 96% of those visiting my blog were there to watch the video - it's being linked to on various message boards across the world. Who knows if any of these people will come back ever again...

Oh yeah - if you haven't seen it, it's a must see.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Parshas Ki Seitzei

No time this week to make something of my own, unfortunately. The D'var Torah this week is copied directly from R' Eli Mansour's weekly thoughts on the Parsha, of which I am a big fan. It's mainly about parenting - something I have no experience in, so I hope his points are not off base:

We read in Parashat Ki-Tetze the law concerning the "Ben Sorer U'moreh," the disobedient child (Devarim 21:18-21). The Gemara explains that the Torah refers here to a 12-13 year old child who steals his parents' money and spends it on small amounts of meat and wine. The parents take this boy to the local Beit Din (Rabbinical court), who then sentences the child to execution.

This law is very difficult on various levels, particularly in light of the Gemara's comment that no situation of Ben Sorer U'moreh has ever occurred. The conditions for the application of this law are so particular that it is all but impossible for this to happen. The Torah nevertheless presented this law, the Gemara explained, for the purpose of "Derosh Ve'kabel Sachar" - so that one can earn reward by studying this material.

The obvious question arises, is there not enough Torah for us to learn and thereby earn reward? Do we need this theoretical law to ensure that we have enough Torah material to study?

The answer, as several Rabbis explained, is that by studying this section one earns the "reward" of proper parenting. From the laws concerning the Ben Sorer U'moreh one can extract invaluable lessons in parenting, and thereby be deserving of immense reward.We present here several important lessons that emerge from these laws:

1) The Torah tells that when the parents come before the Beit Din, they say about their son, "Einenu Shomei'a Be'koleinu" - "He does not hearken to our voice." Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (head of the Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland, 20th century) noted that the Torah here employs the term "Koleinu" - "our voice" - rather than "Devareinu" - our words. The parents tell the court that when they admonished the child for his inappropriate conduct, he didn't hear any words; he heard only a "Kol," a voice. Children often relate to their parents' instructions and guidance as but a "Kol," meaningless noise. They see their parents as outdated and out of touch, and thus look upon their advice as irrelevant. As much as parents are required to provide instruction and guidance in as clear a manner as possible, children, for their part, must realize that their parents have valuable insight and experience, and must never dismiss their parents' admonition as just a meaningless "Kol."

2) The Torah describes the Ben Sorer U\'moreh as a child "who does not hearken to the voice of his father or the voice of his mother." The Gemara deduces from this formulation that this law applies only if the two parents have similar voices. (This is one of the conditions that make it practically impossible for this situation to occur.) How are we to explain this condition? Why is it necessary for the father and mother to have similar voices for the law of Ben Sorer U\'moreh to take effect? The Rabbis explained that a child can be blamed for his rebelliousness only if he received a unified message from both parents. If a child is raised with conflicting messages, if a father encourages him to act in one way while the mother urges him to act differently, he will likely become rebellious and have little respect for authority.

3) Another condition requires that both parents must have their vision intact for their child to attain the status of Bein Sorer U\'moreh. If one parent is blind, the law cannot apply. This condition, too, reflects an important lesson in parenting. A parent who is "blind" to his child\'s unique needs and tendencies will provide him with a standardized education, rather than molding a personalized program and devising an educational technique that suits the child\'s particular needs. Judaism recognizes the fact that no two children are the same, and each requires individualized attention and an educational approach that suits his character. If a parent is blind, the child cannot be blamed for his wayward conduct, and thus cannot become a Ben Sorer U\'moreh.

4) Finally, there is much to learn from the parents who, as the Torah describes, take the drastic measure of bringing their child to the Beit Din. Rather than dismissing the child\'s misconduct and saying, "Well, he\'s just a kid," they recognize the seriousness of the problem and give it their full attention. Especially in our society that encourages physical indulgence, where a child can so easily be led astray, it behooves parents to keep a watchful eye on their children and give serious attention to any signs of wayward conduct. It is irresponsible for a parent to ignore these indications or dismiss them as but a passing phase. Parents bear the obligation to carefully monitor their children\'s progress and ensure their proper development into proper, Torah-observant adults."

Bailey's Irish Cream

A major Kashrus concern is the general ignorance in dealing with kosher liquor. A lot of uninformed people assume that anything alcoholic is acceptable, which is certainly not the case. Of note are alcoholic beverages that are flavored (ie. flavored vodka). Because not all companies reveal the source of the their flavorings, the general rule to follow is that if it is flavored, it either needs a hechsher or a kashrus organization vouging for it. As such, when reading lists of acceptable liquors/liquers from different organizations, most will note that flavored liquors/liquers need certification; if not, they fall under the category of "not recommended".

One such drink is Bailey's Irish Cream.

Interestingly, when we were in Israel, both places we were for Shabbos had Bailey's. I assumed they were not aware of its problematic status and I, therefore, refrained from consuming them. After thinking about it though, I decided to look into the matter a little more. One of my friends that I stayed by with for Shabbos had heard that it was acceptable in London; but that's all he knew. I spoke with the London Beis Din Kashrus organization, which confirmed that it is, indeed, OK to drink (which I later saw on their website).

But, just because something is kosher in one country doesn't necessarily mean it is kosher in all places. Often times, major companies have more than one production/bottling plants. Obviously, if the different plans are altering the ingredients, even slightly, it would be problematic. But assuming the ingredients are the same, it still does not guarantee that the product is OK. The plants in different countries would each need to be checked by a mashgiach or kashrus agency, as there are other kashrus issues aside from the ingredients themselves.

I then called Diageo, who owns Bailey's Irish Cream, for clarification. They informed me that all production happens in one place, in Dublin, Ireland. Furthermore, the same machines used to make the UK Bailey's are the exact machines used to product the US Bailey's. She told me if I bought a bottle in the US it would be the exact same thing, from the same machines, as if I bought a bottle from the UK.

However, the Star-K, CRC, and Montreal Kashrus organizations all list them as not recommended. I realized, however, that this is not because of their worry about flavorings; rather, because of the fact that they do not certify products that are not Chalav Yisroel.

I, of course, cannot speak for your local rabbinic authority. All I can do is report that the product sold in the UK, which is 100% kosher, is the same product, from the same machinery, as the contents of a bottle that you can find in your local liquor store here in America. Cheers!