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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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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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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