Category Archives: Kashruth

A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

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.

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


Q:  The OU Passover Guide has a list of Almond milk with OU non-Passover certification that they say can be used on Pesach for infants and those that are ill.  Why can’t healthy adults use them?

A: On page 100 of the 2016 OU Passover Guide it says that the products may contain kitniyot.  Almonds are not kitniyot and if the Almond milks had even a 49% kitniyot content, the kitniyot would be considered to be nullified and the product could be used on Pesach by anyone.  It also says that some of the products may contain minor ingredients that are possibly, though unlikely, produced from chametz-based raw materials.  This is a more serious concern.  However, due to the following factors, it is difficult to understand why the Almond milk would only be permitted to infants and those that are ill (at the very least, if purchased before Passover).  If it is unlikely that these minor ingredients are produced from chametz-based raw materials, it would seem that one could rely on the majority and assume that they are permitted in the first place.  Even if they are actually chametz-based, chametz is nullified before Passover with a ratio of 1:60, and although Ashkenazim are strict to say that nullification is reversed once Pesach begins (“chozer v’neior) it would not apply in this case since the components are indistinguishable from one another (Rama 447:4).  Perhaps the OU’s position is based on policy rather than letter-of-the-law halacha (they may only give a full Pesach endorsement to products that they have determined with 100% certainty to be free of any chametz/kosher concerns even if the product is halachically permitted, but they are nevertheless willing to give a limited endorsement in certain situations).


Q: Why do dried dates need a special Kosher for Passover certification?

A: They are often sprayed with dextrose, a type of sugar – which requires Passover supervision (Shulchan Halevi p 107).


Q: Do vitamins have to be kosher for Passover?

A: Although the strict opinions on this issue are prevalent, the basic halacha is that if you can’t get a kosher/kosher for Passover version of a particular vitamin, as long as they are swallow-able they are OK.


Q: My family gets really hungry at the Seder.  What is the earliest time I can start?

A: In normal circumstances, one may not make kiddush on the first two nights of Pesach until nightfall (i.e. the same time Shabbat is over) since Kiddush has to be made during the time that one may fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah, and that mitzvah doesn’t commence until nightfall (like its partner mitzvah of the Pesach offering).  Additionally, all of the four cups (one of which is the Kiddush cup) must be consumed at night (Shulchan Aruch 472 with MB).


Q: Since Sefirah is coming, I want to get my haircut before Passover at the latest possible time.  When is that?

A: Due to halachic noon (midpoint of the day between sunrise and sunset) on Erev Pesach being the earliest time to bring the Pesach offering in the time of the Beit Hamikdash, that time and later is treated with a quasi  Chol Hamoed status.  Therefore a Jew may not cut hair after halachic noon but one may still get a haircut from a Non-Jew as long as Yom tov has not yet begun (Shulchan Aruch 468 and MB).  The same would apply to trimming one’s beard or shaving with an electric razor (but it’s possible that shaving would be permitted even after halachic noon according to those that permit it on Chol Hamoed).


Q: I washed and cut the tops off of strawberries using a chametz knife (all cold and clean). I have extras and want to freeze them. What is the status of the strawberries? Are they considered chametz or can I use them on Pesach?

A: A chametz knife can only transfer its status to food in three ways.  1. There is chametz adhered to it which transfers to the food; even if it is clean 2. if it is hot it will transfer chametz flavor which is absorbed into the knife; 3. even if it is cool and clean nevertheless if it is used to slice a sharp food like raw onions.  In this case, 2 and 3 do not apply, the only possibility would be 1.  Ideally, since we are generally strict about questions of chametz on Pesach and especially in this case when there’s no financial loss involved since you can save the strawberries for after Pesach, you should buy new strawberries for Pesach.  If you know that the knife and cutting board were spotlessly clean, then it would technically be permitted but as a precaution the strawberries should be thoroughly washed.

 

 

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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: Does it matter what order I eat foods with different brachot?

A: If you want to eat a particular one first, then you do so no matter which bracha it is, and you have in mind that the bracha should apply to all of the foods you plan to eat with that same bracha. On the remaining foods if one has no preference, (or if one has no preference initially), one should follow this order: Hamotzee on bread; mezonot on cake/other foods made by baking flour; mezonot on cooked grains/flour (pasta, oatmeal); mezonot on rice; Haeitz on 7 species fruit; Haeitz on other fruits; Haadama on vegetables (or fruits that require Haadama like strawberries or bananas); Shehakol on liquids; Shehakol on beverages. So for example if you are eating mushrooms and drinking snapple, and you don’t have a preference, you make Shehakol on the mushrooms with intention that it should cover the Snapple rather than vice versa.  If you want to eat pineapple (Haadama) and blueberries (Haeitz), you would make the Haeitz first on the blueberries and then Haadama on the pineapple. This is all summarized very well in Guide to Halachos by Nachman Schachter.


Q: Is singing zemirot mandatory on Shabbos?

A: It is part of enjoyment of Shabbos which is a Mitzvah but the way you choose to fulfill that Mitzvah is your personal choice


Q: Someone told me that dried figs must be cut open and checked for insects individually.  Is that true, it seems like a lot of work?

A: They just need to be examined to make sure they are not obviously infested (cRc).


 

 

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Kashruth, Text Message Halacha

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

A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

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.

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


Q: Are there any requirements other than listening to the megillah reading on Purim night?

A: The night of Purim should have a festive atmosphere, and one should have a festive dinner by adding special food in honor of the holiday (but bread is not required like a typical Shabbat or holiday meal).  In addition it is customary to eat legumes like beans and rice or seeds since that’s what Esther did to maintain observance of Kashrut while she lived in the palace of Achashveirosh.  (S.A. 696)


Q:  Is there a specific time of day that I am required to eat my daytime Purim seudah (festive meal)?

A:  Beginning of Seudah:  It is best to eat it in the afternoon, after one has already davened Mincha, but one may have it any time of day if necessary.  End of Seudah:  The majority of the meal should be finished before the end of the day. (S.A. 695)


Q: I have dairy silverware from my grandparents that hasn’t been used in about 50 years.  Can I kasher it and use it for meat?

A: Normally to prevent confusion in the kitchen we customarily do not change the status of a utensil from meat to dairy or vice versa.  In this situation it is permitted to kasher it from milchig (dairy) to fleishig (meat) (or vice versa) since it is more than year since it was used and since some opinions hold that all utensil absorption is diminished after that amount of time has elapsed and may be used for fleishig even without kashering.


Q:  To you have to tovel (immerse in a mikvah) the cup of a new blender in the mikvah since the blade is metal?

A: Yes, since the blender is often used with food that is ready to eat.


Q:  (I have a hunch about the answer to this but…) what happens if a fleishig glazed earthenware coffeee mug was placed in a dairy microwave to boil water for coffee and then milk was added while the contents were yad soledes bo (greater than 160 F)?

A: As long as the mug hasn’t been used in the last 24 hours and was clean, the coffee is permitted.  Regarding the mug, earthenware cannot be kashered because it is assumed to be a one-way street – it absorbs but cannot be purged like metal and some other materials.  Even though this mug is glazed, most authorities are nevertheless of the opinion that is no-longer kosher, since the glaze does not prevent milk absorption into the earthenware interior which would then become non-kosher when the two absorptions intermingle.  If it is a special situation there is room to be lenient.


Q: Can you kasher Corelle?

A: Corelle is considered like any other glass: it cannot be kashered for Pesach, but it can be kashered if it becomes non-kosher.


 

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Kashruth, Text Message Halacha

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: Can I send out cards on Purim instead of mishloach manos?

A: Although it is good to support a worthy cause that sends out Purim cards as a fundraiser, the mitzvah must be fulfilled by giving two different foods to at least one person.  A card will therefore not do the job.


Q: Do the two foods of Mishloach Manot have to have two different berachos?

A: No (despite the common myth), as long as they are not identical, e.g. two types of meat (Aruch Hashulchan 695:14) & even white and dark meat chicken are considered different (Letter from R. SZ Auerbach).


 

Q:  May one write vowels and trop in a megillah to make it easier to read on Purim?

A:  No – and it is better to read it without trop than to write the trop in (Aruch Hashulchan 691:14).  If it was done, however, the megillah is not disqualified and may be used.


Q: I have a colonoscopy scheduled for the day after Purim, and on Purim I will be restricted to a clear liquid diet until I drink the prep beverage in the early evening.  Will that conflict with celebrating Purim?

A: If a colonoscopy must urgently be done due to medical considerations then it obviously cannot be delayed due to Purim.  However if one has flexibility as to when it may be done, then it would seem that it should not be scheduled in this way since it would preclude one from having a festive meal on Purim which is one of the mitzvot of the day.


Q: Can an avel (someone in mourning) attend a Purim seudah?

A: The widespread practice is for an aveil to make the Purim seudah in his home, however there is a legitimate opinion that sees Purim celebration as an exception to the usual rule and permits participation even outside the home without reservation (שו”ת אור יצחק).


 

Q: If someone gives me mishloach manos, do I have to give them back a reciprocal gift?

A: It is nice to do so but not necessary (see Guidelines).


Q: Does sea salt need a hechsher?

A: No, as long as it doesn’t have any added flavorings.


 

 

 

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Kashruth, Text Message Halacha

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 have a wall that encloses the front of my home, and it has a gate.  It has no top bar crossing over it.  Does it need a mezzuzah?
A: Only doorways with lintels need to have mezzuzos.


Q: One of our doorposts in the house has doorposts and a lintel but the lintel isn’t directly above the doorposts.  Does it need a mezzuzah?

A: No, only if they line up – even if the doorposts don’t actually reach all the way up to the lintel.  In other words, they have to at least potentially reach the lentil if they were taller.  (Chovat Hadar 7:10)


Q: Our roof overhangs the front of our house, and there are a few pillars that support the edge of the roof.  When you enter through the front door, you have to pass through them.  Do they each need a mezzuzah since they have the shape of a doorway?

A: They do not since they are for support/decoration (Chovat Hadar 7:9).


Q: I know you are supposed to start the seven clean days of niddah before sunset of the day before, but I was a couple of minutes late.  Does it still count?

A: First of all, you must verify that it was actually after sunset.  If it was, the vast majority of authorities are strict regarding this issue, but in pressing circumstances according to R. Moshe Feinstein one may be lenient if it is a very short time afterwards.  It is worthwhile to discuss particular circumstances with your rabbi.


Q: I’m making pasta in a parve pot and by mistake used a meat wooden spoon not used in 24 hrs. What is the status of the pasta and the pot. Ty

 A: Both are pareve

Q: Is a vanilla ice coffee from Starbucks kosher?

A: Yes – even though some are strict due to the possible contamination in the dishwasher if the Starbucks location serves non-kosher food, it is customary to be lenient.


Q: How do you usually go about finding out if a kosher symbol is reliable?

A: Unfortunately, determination of reliability is anything but straightforward. The basic question is this: Does an organization follow the (somewhat flexible) baseline set by the big 4 major national kashrus organizations?  Does it have sufficient resources to properly enforce that baseline?  The easiest is to check if cRc recognizes it publicly on their website. But if they don’t recommend a particular symbol, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything – they have very narrow criteria for their list.  You can often get more information by calling them directly or speaking to a kashrus professional.  Hechshers.info is a fantastic resource for identifying obscure symbols – once you know what an organization is called and where it is located, you can research its reliability.  Also you can google the kashrus magazine list of non-Orthodox hechsherim as well which is helpful since in that case you can assume that they wouldn’t follow that baseline in most cases (though there may be some exceptions).  Sometimes I have first-hand experience with an organization from working together with them.  It also depends on the sensitivity of the product in question. I can send you links to a couple of articles if you want that can give you more context.


 

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Filed under Halachic Issues, Kashruth, Text Message Halacha

A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

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.

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

Q: Dairy knife not used in past 24 hrs cut onions on a parve cutting board. Is the cutting board still parve?

A: Yes, but shouldn’t be done ideally


Q: I cut onions with a meat knife (not used in the last 24 hrs) and then used my pareve food processor to dice them.  Is the food processor still pareve?

A: Yes, but shouldn’t be done ideally


Q: For a mourner, when does the shloshim end – at the end of the thirtieth day, or at the beginning like shiva?

A: Observing mourning laws for part of the 30th day (the night and a little bit of the morning) is considered observing for a day therefore it ends in the morning like the 7th day of shiva.


Q: Nesquick Chocolate powder is OU-D, but doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients.  Is it actually pareve?

A: According to the OU, it is currently DE (dairy equipment), which means it can be consumed immediately after meat, but not simultaneously.


Q: If a vegan restaurant really doesn’t have any meat or fish ingredients, would I be able to eat there?

A: It is possible but not very practical.  Here are a few reasons: There are several products that don’t contain meat, fish or dairy ingredients that are nevertheless not kosher like wine or wine vinegar.  There are some vegetables that may require washing and checking to ensure there is no insect infestation.  There are some vegetables and foods that require a Jew to be involved in the cooking or else they are not kosher, like eggplant or potatoes for example.


 

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