In Israel, there was an innovative column in the dvar Torah sheets available in shul each week that featured a selection of text messages. They were messages sent by a rabbi in response to questions about Halacha, Judaism, Torah, and life that were texted to him. It was fascinating to see the types of questions that people asked, and it was always interesting to see how the rabbi was able to squeeze his answer into a short message. It is difficult to express anything in a text message; Torah, with its breath, depth, and subtly, is especially difficult to express with limited space, and the risk of oversimplification and error is great. Nevertheless, when text messaging became a standard, everyday form of communication, it was inevitable that it would be used for Torah as well.
Due to the aforementioned space limitations of a text message, please note that it is particularly important to read carefully, pay close attention to the context of the question, and use the answers as a springboard for further study.
To submit a question, text Rabbi Isaacs or leave a comment below (text messages with personal or sensitive questions will obviously not be published).
Q: I’m sick and have to take a medication that contains gelatin. Do I have to find one without gelatin?
A: If the pill is taken by swallowing it is permitted.
Q: Can I buy roasted almonds and sesame seeds in bulk from the grocery store?
A: Yes, they do not need supervision.
Q: Do dried figs need a hechsher?
A: They are OK as long as they don’t come from Israel and don’t look infested.
Q: I put a deli roll (meat) in a dairy microwave and the cover popped off the container. Are the food and microwave still kosher?
A: Yes, we can assume that a deli roll would not emit steam.
Q: Can I buy fish in a non-kosher fish store or counter?
A: You can buy salmon or red trout (OU) if you rinse and thoroughly scrub it (Aruch Hashulchan YD 96:21). Generally speaking, other species are only permitted if you see the scales before cutting.