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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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 an empty glass milk bottle that I would like to keep and re-use.  Is it dairy?

A: Yes since the milk was in it for more than 24 hours.  However it can be kashered using the technique called milui v’irui.  It should be filled up with (ambient) water and simultaneously submerged in water for 24 hours.  That water should then be emptied and it should repeated for another 24 hours, then emptied and then repeated for another 24 hours.


Q: Do serving trays that were used with non-kosher food need to be kashered before being used with cold kosher food?

A: They do not need to be kashered.  If they were never used with hot non-kosher food, then they are still kosher.


Q: How do you check strawberries for bugs?

A: Technically, strawberries don’t need to be checked at all – but they do need to be washed well.  There are two ways to wash them effectively.  You can gently scrub each one in a strong stream of water, or you can soak them for a minute in bug/vegetable soap/wash then rinse.  Regarding cutting off the tops with the leaves, contrary to what many people think the matter is not clear cut.  Although the cRc and others do require removing the tops, according to Star-K guidelines it is preferable to do so but not necessary if the leafy area is included in the washing procedure.  This is particularly relevant when presentation is important or when the strawberries are being dipped in a chocolate fountain.


Q: Do frozen strawberries need to be checked?

A: This appears to be an unresolved issue between the Star-K that doesn’t allow it due to insect infestation unless they have a hechsher or are being blended, and the cRc that allows them even without kosher supervision or any additional washing.  Since 1. strawberries don’t need checking anyway, just washing and frozen fruit is thoroughly washed and 2. this is only a rabbinic issue, one may use them.


Q: Does peeled garlic from China need a hechsher?

A: Peeled garlic doesn’t need kosher supervision, and I’ve never seen a differentiation between China and anywhere else.  Canned fruit from China is not recommended, even though it does not need a hechsher when canned elsewhere.


 

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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:  We were invited to a Shabbat meal at someone’s house that is beyond the Eruv boundary.  Can someone that’s not Jewish that’s coming with us push our baby in her stroller?

A:  One is permitted to ask a non-Jew to do something that is forbidden only rabbinically on Shabbat for the sake of performing a mitzvah, for example to bring the instruments needed for a bris to where a baby is located (when there is no Eruv and carrying is a rabbinic prohibition).  The case of the Shabbat meal which can also be eaten at home, however, is comparable to a situation where the bris can be carried out where the baby is currently located, and one would not be allowed to ask a non-Jew to transport the baby to a shul for the bris.


Q: I used soy milk that is OU-D in a meat frying pan while making french toast.  I am not going to eat the french toast but do I have to throw out the pan?

A:  Some people treat OU-D soy milk as completely pareve, and according to some opinions that is legitimate and it may be eaten with meat.  Most people, however, follow the position of the OU itself.  According to the OU, the soy milk is not actually pareve but diary equipment so one would not be allowed to eat it with meat.  But if it was used in a meat pan with pareve food, the food is certainly permitted and the pan is not affected.


Q: Is this product kosher?  100% PREMIUM COCOA BEANS ROASTED AND GROUND TO CREATE A RICH DRINK THAT PROVIDES LONG-LASTING ENERGY AND WHOLE-BODY WELLNESS.  Richer and more robust than hot chocolate, it brews just like coffee. But unlike coffee, it supplies you with long-lasting energy without the crash or other negative effects of caffeine.

A: Yes since it may be assumed that the company itself must ensure that any non-kosher contaminants are kept out of the product since they would compromise its quality.


Q:  I know that one may not switch cutlery or pots from meat to dairy or vice versa, since there is a concern that it would cause confusion.  Would this apply to an oven as well?  I only have one for both meat and dairy.

A: First of all, there are halachicly valid ways to use one oven for both milk and meat (e.g. covering the food, and non using it simultaneously for both, etc.).  Regarding the Ashkenazic custom of not kashering from meat to dairy or vice versa, common practice is to treat ovens as an exception, likely due to the practical challenges of using only one oven for both.


Q: Is Starbucks kosher?

A: No, but most of the drinks are.  There are actually several opinions regarding this issue.  www.kosherstarbucks.com is an interesting resource regarding this topic.  Some people won’t even order regular coffee in a full-service Starbucks since the non-kosher food cooked on premises can potentially contaminate the coffee equipment during dishwashing.  Common practice however is to assume that the equipment does not become contaminated and that any drink with kosher ingredients may be considered kosher.



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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: If i want to reuse a glass food jar after the original contents are used up, should i tovel it?
A: Iggrot Moshe holds that you don’t need to immerse a glass food jar after its contents are emptied since we consider the (Jewish) purchaser to be the one making it onto a keli.  (YD 2:40)


 

Q: Would the Greek yogurts that are blended with steel cut oats have a bracha of mezonot?

A: Are the oats raw?

Q:  I’m not sure if they’re raw. The container just says steel cut oats.

A: It appears that the oats are raw and their bracha would then be ha’adama when eaten on their own and since it’s a minority ingredient of the yogurt the bracha would be like the bracha of regular yogurt.


 

Q: Food at coffee bean [in AZ] isn’t kosher correct? The sign says only drinks but someone said the pastries are kosher but I didn’t think so

A: Some of them may be but the particulars are unknown and subject to change to the best of my knowledge.  See here for a little more information.


 

Q: Can I have seudah shelishet before I daven Mincha?

A: Yes if you normally attend mincha on Shabbat at a regularly scheduled minyan which alleivates the concern that the meal might make make you forget to daven.


Q: A rabbi told me that I can immerse new kitchen utensils in a swimming pool instead of a mikvah.  Have you ever heard of that before?

A: Although there is a maverick opinion that holds that a pool is a valid mikvah, it seems to be completely rejected by the vast majority of contemporary authorities.


 

 

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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: If I got a non kosher bottle of wine as a gift can I re-gift it to a non-Jew?

A:  There is a difference of opinion if one is allowed to benefit from non-kosher wine but Ashkenazim are strict unless a significant monetary loss is involved.  A gift is considered beneficial for the giver since the recipient feels a debt of gratitude towards him.  This would not be an issue with other rabbinically prohibited foods.


 

Q:  How do you kasher a quartz counter top?  Here’s some info: Their primary ingredient is ground quartz (about 94 percent), combined with polyester resins to bind it and pigments to give it color. For some designs, small amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks are added to the mix. The resins also help make these counters stain and scratch resistant—and nonporous, so they never need to be sealed. Compare that with granite, the reigning king of high-end counter tops, which typically requires a new protective top coat at least once a year.

A:  Nonporous makes it sound like meikar hadin (according to the letter of the law) there is no non-kosher flavor transferred to the counter in the first place.  It makes sense to me that at least for non-Pesach use, regular irui would be sufficient (it’s made of rock and plastic, both of which may be kashered).  As I’ve written before, counters technically do not need kashering at all since they don’t intentionally come into contact with hot food.  It is nevertheless customary to kasher them in case hot food does touch the counters.


 

Q: What is the rule regarding pouring hot water from a kli sheni into a cup of freeze dried noodle soup like Tradition or Geffen brand on Shabbos?

A: According to R. Moshe Feinstein who allows making tea in a kli shelishi, it would be allowed to pour from a klei sheni into a soup cup containing freeze dried noodles/vegetables and spices since pouring from a kli sheni is considered a kli shelishi.


 

Q: How ‘dry’ does a piece of cooked chicken need to be when placing on a blech for Shabbos lunch? Most chicken has at least a bit of some kind of congealed sauce on it from the night before after it’s been chilled overnight. That sauce will melt on the blech, so are we prohibited from putting it on to warm?

A: Congealed sauce is considered “dry” for the halacha of reheating cooked foods.  Even if there is actual liquid sauce on a food, as long as it is only a small minority of the total food being reheated, it is also OK even according to some of the stricter poskim (halachic authorities).


Q: Can you cover a stroller with a plastic rain cover on Shabbos?  Is it considered like making a temporary tent-like enclosure?

A: It can be used as long as the stroller sun shade is opened first (which is the normal way of using it anyway).


 

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