A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

photoDue 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.

If you would like my phone number to submit questions, please leave a comment and I will send it to you.


Q: I know some people get rid of all their chametz and don’t leave any over before Passover that they have to sell.  I will definitely have some left over to sell.  If I see chametz on sale before passover that I want to save to save and use after, can I buy it?

A:  Once you are already selling some chametz (which is certainly common practice) it doesn’t matter how much you sell.


Q: I am an avel (in mourning) and my son is getting married.  Am I allowed to attend the wedding?

A: According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Iggrot Moshe YD 2:169), an avel is allowed to attend their child’s wedding even though they cannot attend other weddings throughout the mourning period.  Although there is a chumra (stringency) that one may not sit down at a table to eat with everyone else and is only allowed to informally snack on the wedding food instead (as explained by R. Feinstein in Iggrot Moshe YD 2:171), the basic halacha is that one may fully participate in the wedding like anyone else.


Q: May I attend our shul’s weekly kiddush while I am an avel?

A: There are two valid opinions regarding this issue.  While the common practice of refraining from attending kiddush while in mourning is understandable and one is certainly permitted to do so (Rabbi Nota Greenblatt considers this approach to be correct on a meta-halachic level), according to R. Moshe Feinstein one may attend a shul kiddush as usual since it is does not qualify as the type of joyful/special social gathering (“seudat re’eim”) that an avel cannot attend (Masores Moshe I:363).


 Q: There are kosher cheeses that are readily available in a supermarket near me but I have been told their kosher symbols are not recommended.  Is this just political or is there an actual difference between this cheese and cheese certified by the OU, Star-K, etc.A:  There is a rabbinic law that says that even when all of the ingredients are kosher, it is a universally accepted halachic fact that cheese is not considered kosher unless a Jew participates in its production.  There is however a legitimate but unresolved debate regarding just how much Jewish participation is necessary.  Most contemporary kosher organizations require a masgiach to actively participate in the beginning of the production of each batch of cheese, while others allow the mashgiach to just witness the production.  Some organizations will verify that all equipment and ingredients are kosher, but visit only intermittently.  This standard is not recommended since it is highly questionable if it meets the required level of Jewish participation even according to the lenient approach mentioned above.


Q: We used a blender to puree canned hot peppers (and some other kitchen equipment) that we later found out did not have proper supervision.  Does the blender need to be kashered?

A:  You should kasher any equipment it was used with either while hot, or with a blade/knife (including the blender) and also plates/cutting boards even while cold


Q: Can you kasher a warming oven that doesn’t reach a very high temperature?  Does it even need to be kashered?

A:  If the oven reaches at least 120° F, it would need to be kashered.  The walls of the oven would have to reach a minimum temperature of 375° F in order to kasher them without a direct flame according to OU Kosher.   At that temperature, the inner oven walls would be kosher after remaining at that temperature for at least two hours.  If the walls reach 550° F then one hour is sufficient.  If the equipment cannot reach 375° F, the heat can be increased by using sternos.


 


 

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Kashruth, Text Message Halacha

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