Just Asking – Halachic Questions via Text Message

text messages JPGQ: Can I use Scope mouthwash which contains glycerin?

A: Common practice is to assume that since they are not food, mouthwash and toothpaste with non-kosher ingredients don’t fit into the rabbinic prohibition of tasting something non-kosher.

Q: Is a cappuccino made at starbucks kosher pareve when made with soy milk?  What about latte?

A: Both are DE (dairy equipment) and may be consumed immediately following a meat meal.

Q: Is toiveling metal utensils in a mikvah an actual halacha or minhag turned halacha? If halacha, what’s the reason? Why not just boil it? What magical thing does mikveh do to metal we own?

A: Immersing metal utensils that come into contact with food is a Biblical law; one explanation is that it’s like conversion to Judaism which requires a dip in the mikva – it “converts” or sanctifies the utensil for Jewish use.

Q: Do dried apple slices need a hechsher?

A: Yes, due to the kosher sensitive antioxidants that could potentially be used to prevent them from turning brown.

Follow up from last week:

Q: You wrote that roasted almonds don’t need a hechsher. Aren’t only dry roasted almonds OK without a hechsher?

A: That’s true.  So-called “raw almonds” are actually always dry roasted to make them edible (unless they are a rare specialty product).  No oil is used.  Therefore no hechsher is needed. (R. Yisroel Belsky)  The same is true for any dry roasted almonds, but if they are roasted in oil then they do need a hechsher.

Q: You wrote that dried figs are OK without a hechsher.  Don’t dried fruits always need a hechsher?

A: There are different categories.  Banana chips are fried in oil (oil is kosher-sensitive), tropical fruits like mangoes may have added flavorings, and dried apples have the concern mentioned above.  Therefore they generally may only be purchased with a hechsher.  Dried pineapple is soaked in a sugar solution, dried apricots are sprayed with sulfur dioxide, which is synthetically produced, to keep them moist and colorful, and dates can be sprayed with dextrose, a type of sugar.  These fruits, along with figs, can therefore be purchased without a hechsher.  Fruits from Israel always need  a hechsher due to the unique agricultural halachot  (laws) of the Land of Israel.

Due to the 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.

Edited for accuracy. HT R. Chaim Goldberg



Filed under Halachic Issues, Text Message Halacha

6 responses to “Just Asking – Halachic Questions via Text Message

  1. Ariel Rosen

    Such a great idea to do these text messages!!


  2. What about bugs? Figs, and even dates and apricots are notoriously full of undesirable “additional protein”?


    • Reb Yisroel,

      In the US, figs and dates need a cursory inspection to rule out obvious infestation but apricots are fine even without that (cRc). Thank you for reading!


      • Thank you for writing! Actually, it’s a great idea. Only problem is that a disclaimer should be made on top of each page notifying that due to lack of space and time, anyone who has a real need for a psak should ask their Rav because many a misconception can be had from short responses. The cryptic “Written Law” should be in conjunction with the opportunity for “Oral Law” as well!!

        Also, I then saw the post from the week before in which you mentioned “not infested”; which just proves my point again. Someone reading a short halachic response may not be aware of other aspects of the psak which MUST be taken into consideration for a proper, full psak. Otherwise it’s misleading!

        Yeyasher kochacha, YC


        • That is definitely a concern and that’s why I include this note in every post: Due to the 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.


        • It could be more explicit but I am not sure that it is necessary or ideal. In every single thing that he writes or that he allows others to publish in his name, R. Chaim Kaniefsky insists that it must have a disclaimer that it may not be relied upon halacha l’ma’aseh (for actual practice). But we must view that warning just as we do when the Mesilas Yesharim writes that his book contains no new ideas but it rather just reminds you of what you already know. That warning merely demonstrates R. Luzzato’s humility since there are actually many, many new and original ideas in the book (as pointed out by R. Avigdor Miller in his introduction to the Feldheim Path of the Just version 2.0). R. Chaim is perhaps motivated to include that warning either due to his humility as well, his fear of Heaven, or to follow the custom of his great father the Steipler. But it is obvious that what he writes in his books and when he responds to people’s questions in writing it is not just academic conjecture but rather what he believes is emes and therefore may be relied upon in spite of his warnings.
          As I wrote previously I do agree that some warning is necessary and that is why I include one. But at the same time I think they can be overdone when extra pious practices (middas chasidus) become the norm.


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