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Lesson II - The Law Part I

This Lesson is the first of two lessons on the laws of kashrut. This lesson will start with the basics of the laws and then cover some of the laws in depth. Most of these laws are inconsequential in day to day kashrut. As long as you buy kosher /salted meat and use hechshered products you will run into few day to day applications of this lesson. Lesson III is where we go into those areas which will effect you as you use a kitchen everyday.

I. Disclaimer

Many of the categorizations are my own, so beware. Also in many cases I will say 'the Orthodox believe' or 'the Conservatives believe'. This does not mean that all Orthodox or Conservative Jews believe these. It means that the core philosophy of the organization defines their belief a such. Many Jews who identify themselves as Orthodox and Conservative Jews do not believe or practice the core system as defined by their group.

In many places I will tell you both the Conservative and Orthodox positions on kashrut questions. I do this for several reasons. First I think the differences (though generally minor) are interesting. Also it is important to know the differences, and how and why they vary in order to practice properly. Also, you should be able to explain your own practices and how and why they differ from someone else's.

As with any complex area of practice, any question that arise should be addressed to a Rabbi or competent layman.

II. Sources of Law

There are 4 major sources of law in the Jewish religion

  1. Torah - This is the original writing of the law, and from which all laws are based.

  2. Oral Law - Tradition states that at the time of the Torah, an Oral Law was delivered at the same time - but not written down. Tradition also states that each Oral Law can find a base in the written law. The term Torah actually refers to both the written and oral portions of the law, and Orthodox and Conservative Jews considered both oral and written law as one. Oral Law was later written down by the Rabbis and forms the Mishna portion of the Talmud.

  3. Rabbinic Law - The Pirkot Avot says one should "build a fence" around the law. One of the many interpretations of this statement is that we should formulate rules which help us avoid violating the law. The early Rabbi's did this, formulating laws to prevent violation of core law. Much of the law we practice today is of rabbinic origin.

    Rabbinic Law begins with the Gamara portions of the Talmud, and continues past the closing of the Talmud. The active tradition of rabbinic courts formulating law died out soon after the Talmud . Later Rabbi's created Rabbinic Law through responsa and letters on particular issues, legal codas (like Rambam 's Mishneh Torah and Karo's Shulchan Aruch) and herems (like R. Gershom's prohibition of polygamy and divorce against the woman's will around 1000 C.E.)

  4. Tradition - The Torah defines the Jewish people as a holy corpus. As such our practices and traditions themselves become holy. Long standing practices can then take on the power of law. Traditional practices may or may not be based on a law.

A good measure of how these affect practice is seen in the eating of milk and meat. The Torah prohibits cooking of a kid in its mother's milk. The Oral Law expands this to mean any mammal meat can not be mixed with milk. Rabbinic Law widens this loop still further, forbidding milk with bird meat in order to avoid confusion. Tradition dictates how long one must wait before one can have milk after eating meat.

The Orthodox believe that all four of the levels are strongly binding. They believe that Torah and Oral Law are divinely given and are immutable. Rabbinic Law is a gift of the sages, and that we neither have the wisdom or knowledge (or in many cases a greater court) to add or change it. Similarly, traditional law can not be changed without a competent rabbinic court. They do recognize a hierarchy in the law. For example when given a choice to violate a rabbinic or an oral injunction, it is better to violate the rabbinic one.

The Conservatives also believe that Torah and Oral Law is divine, and thus binding. Rabbinic Law and tradition are not considered as binding, but must be considered and understood before being amended. To perform this function the Conservative organization has set up the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) which defines and revises Rabbinic Law and tradition.

The Reform believe that none of these laws are binding. However since these practices are part of Judaism, they options for observance by the modern Jew.

III. Law is regulation of meat, but...

Kashrut laws only apply to items considered food. The ability to eat non-food items because kosher laws do not apply to them might seem crazy, but it should be pointed out that many of our additives are derived from sources which we do not consider food. The Talmud comes up with many criteria on what is a food. One of the first line tests is whether a dog would eat it. If a dog would not eat it is not considered a food (Those of us who own dogs and see what they will eat recognize this as a good minimum test.)

As stated in the last lesson, kashrut is the regulation of eating meat. Almost all kashrut laws put restrictions on eating meat in one form or another. Remembering this might help in practice of certain laws. I can only think of four rules that apply to non-meat products, all of which are rabbinic in origin.

  1. Grapes (particularly grape juice products) - Because of the long standing practice to grow grapes (particularly wine) for idolatry, the Rabbis prohibited the eating of grape and grape products if they were grown by an unsupervised non-Jew. Grape juice must not be in the possession of a non-Jew unsupervised unless it is made unfit for idolatry by boiling (Thus most kosher wine is quick boiled to allow non-Jewish middle-men to handle it). The Orthodox adhere to this strictly. The Conservative CJLS recognizes (under a teshuvah of Rabbi Silverman) that this is no longer a problem and have relaxed this prohibition to allow general use of grape and grape products, but supervised grape products are still to be used for ritual purposes. A recent investigation by Rabbi Dorff has shown that treif components might be used and wine production. As a result a change in this policy to only allowing supervised may soon take place.

  2. Milk - Because the practice of mixing the milk of clean and unclean animals used to be prevalent (and to increase the Jewish dairy trade), the Rabbis decreed that milk should only be used if produced by a Jew or under the supervision of a Jew. The Modern Orthodox recognize that government regulation is sufficient to prevent bad mixing, so in many Western countries milk is considered OK to drink. This is also the Conservative position. There are still some Orthodox groups who (as a chumra or "stringency" to guard the law) don't follow this.

    Next time you are in Williamsburg or Crown Heights look for signs in restaurants which say/ "Chalav Yisrael" or Jewish milk.

  3. Cheese - Not only is there the problem with mixing, there is a problem with rennet (the enzyme used to separate milk into curds and whey). Rennet originally derives from the stomach of an animal and is thus a meat product. As such it must come from a halachicly slain animal. Since the rabbis saw this as a problem, they decreed that only Jewish supervised cheese can be used. The many Orthodox adhere to this. Milk for strict Orthodox cheese is separated with kosher rennet, in non-rennet based ways or (as is now more common) using vegetable based rennet. The Conservative CJLS has ruled that in processing, rennet becomes a non-food and thus kashrut does not apply to it. Therefore the CJLS has ruled that all cheese products can be eaten.

  4. Health - Jewish law strickly forbids behavior that are dangerous to one's health. Food that will harm your health can not be eaten. This provision can be interpreted widely or narrowly, although a fairly narrow definition is generally used (i.e. fatty foods can be eaten (Yeah!) unless you are restricted by a doctors order). One behavior this rule has been applied to recently has been to smoking. Many of the major Orthodox groups now ban smoking. Also it was (in ancient and medieval times) thought that eating meat and fish together was back for one's health. Eating this combination was banned at that time. Many Orthodox Jews still practice this tradition.

There are five areas of practice that affect the food. These are :

  1. Challah - in baking bread (of wheat, oats, spelt, rye or barley) one must take a portion and burn it in the oven reciting the proper blessing. This portion is known as challah (not the bread). This is not necessary for bread baked by non-Jew or dough in very small amounts (less than 3 lbs). Any bread made without this blessing is not considered kosher. Because of the question of what is a small amount, dough between 3 and 5 lbs. should have challah taken, but no blessing should be done. (Note OU says the weights are 2 lbs. 10 oz. and 4 lbs. 15 oz. - Pollock says anything over 3 lbs requires blessing).

  2. The reciting of blessing - All meals must be accompany by the proper blessings.

  3. The breaking of a mitzvah in the preparation of food traditionally renders that food unkosher. This means food cooked (as opposed to reheated) on Shabbat is unkosher (with exceptions). Both Orthodox and Conservative positions on this are the same.

  4. Chametz owned over Pesah is not kosher and can not be used or sold.

  5. Extremely fine food prepared completely by non-jewish hands. The food we are talking about are literally stated as those fit for a king. The key word he is completely. The Ashkenazi custom is that as long as a Jew does as little as light the stove, the food is kosher. The Sephardic custom is more stringent.

It should be noted that violation of these rules does not unkasher the appliance used, only makes the food prepared unfit.

IV. Permissible and unpermissible meat

One of the major limitations on meat is the limitation to "pure" animals for meat. Animals are divided into four major categories for permissibility.

  1. Mammals - Mammals must have both cloven hooves and chew their cud. This includes many domesticated animals including cows, goats and sheep. It also include a few non-domesticated animals as in many types of deer and even giraffes. If they have one but not the other they are not clean. Specifically mentioned in this category are pigs, camels, rabbits, and the rock coney.

  2. Fish - fish must have both fins and scales. To have one without the other renders the fish unclean. This means many commonly eaten water animals such as shellfish, crab, shrimp, lobster, shark, marlin, catfish are unkosher. I refer you to the guide in your book for a complete list. There are two fish worth mentioning. These are swordfish and sturgeon. Both of these fish have scales as young fish, but lose them later in life. The Orthodox say these two fish are unkosher for this reason, the Conservative CJLS permits them to be eaten.

  3. Insects - The Torah lists four types of locust that are considered kosher. As Hertz says in his commentary on Leviticus 11:22, "None of the four kinds of locust mentioned is certainly known. For this reason also, later Jewish authorities, realizing that it is impossible to avoid errors being made declare every species of locust to be forbidden." I can only think forgetting which locust were meant was more than accidental.

  4. Birds - The kashrut of birds is tricky. The Torah only lists certain birds as being kosher and the Oral Law does not expand it. The kosher birds include chicken, turkey, duck, goose, dove, and pheasant. The Rabbis deduced four rules on what makes up a kosher bird.

    1. It is not a bird of prey.

    2. It does not have a front toes (or tearing talon)

    3. It must have a craw and a double lined stomach that is easily separated.

    4. It can catch food thrown in the air, but it must lay it down and tear it with its beak before eating.

    Most Orthodox subscribe to these rules. There are some groups who as a chumra will only eat those birds listed in the Torah. As a result while most Orthodox will eat Turkey, these Orthodox will not.

Oral Law states that only products (milk, eggs, etc.) from clean animals can be eaten. This means sturgeon caviar is considered kosher by the Conservative but not by the Orthodox. There are two exceptions to this rule. These are :

  1. Honey - which is mentioned specifically in the Torah, and

  2. Mother's milk - for logical reasons

While eggs are considered pareve , it should be pointed out that unlaid (bird) eggs are considered meat.

V. Laws of blood and slaughter

Jews are forbidden to eat blood. These strictures are given to Noah and are further enhanced in Leviticus (17:11, 17:14, & 19:26)

Blood is initially drained at shechita by the shochet. Later the remaining blood is removed by one of two methods :

  1. Broiling - preferred by the Talmudic Rabbis,

  2. Salting - preferred by the Jewish taste buds,

In handling and processing un-de-blooded meat, all utensils should be used only for that purpose, and not for general cooking.

Broiling is the best method of removing blood. Certain meat where blood is prevalent (liver and already ground meat (which wasn't deblooded before grinding)) can only be prepared this way. Ground meat that is mixed with non-meat material can not be kashered this way. The broiling method is as follows:

  1. Rinse the meat. (The vessel receiving the bloody water should not be used for another purpose)

  2. Slightly salt (with coarse salt) the meat on all surfaces (including internal surfaces)

  3. Cook on a open grill above an open flame (an electric burner is considered an open flame for these purposes). The grill and the drippings pan must not be used for any other purpose.

  4. Must cook till a crust forms and the meat is half done.

Salting is the most popular method of kashering meat. This method uses salt to raise the blood and remove it from the meat. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that only a moderate amount of sodium is left residue in the meat. The procedure for salting is as follows:

  1. The meat can not sit raw for more than 72 hours, nor can it be washed in hot water or frozen before being salted. As in broiling, all utensils used for salting should only be used for this purpose.

  2. Rinse the meat thoroughly.

  3. Soak in cool (not hot or cold) water for 1 hour.

  4. Lay meat on a smooth incline in a special vessel salt completely inside and out with coarse "kosher" salt ("Kosher" salt is not more kosher than any other salt, but receives it name because of its use.)

  5. The gizzard and heart must be cut open and salted on the inside.

  6. Leave salt on for 1 hour.

  7. Rinse the meat thoroughly three times.

As can be seen - it is easier to buy your meat from the butcher presalted. Most kosher butchers will provide this service, many with no additional charge.

Eggs carry two rules that must be followed concerning blood.

  1. Eggs found in a bird are meat and must be salted

  2. Eggs carring a blood spot are considered unkosher. If such an egg is encountered in cooking the food is considered treif, but if there are more eggs without blood spots than with, the utensil is not unkashered.

In addition to blood there are two other parts of the animal that are not eaten. These are :

  1. The sciatic nerve (gid hanoseh). This is due to memorialize the battle between Jacob and the angel, where the angel lamed Jacob. The Ashkenazi Jews believe that the removal of the nerve is from the hind quarters is uneconomic, effectively making it impossible to get kosher meat from this area of the animal (Tenderloin, etc.). The Sephardic have specially trained butchers who know how to remove this nerve.

  2. The fat around the major organs (Chelev). This fat was reserved for the sacrifice in the Temple.

Meat that is to be eaten must be slaughtered in a particular way (Deuteronomy 12:20 states that slaughter method will be taught to us, and the Oral Law supplies the method). A special prayer is recited before the act. The animal must be slaughtered in a way so that they feel little pain. A razor sharp knife with no nicks is used to cut the esophagus, the trachia, the caratoid arteries, and jugular vein in one cut. The animal is then raised so that the blood flows free. The blood then is covered with dirt (as a show of respect as in the Temple sacrifice). Failure to do any of these renders the animal unfit to eat. Because of the complexity of kosher slaughter a specially trained person (shochet) usually does the ritual.

Hunting animals is thus forbidden by Jewish law. Since the animal is not killed ritually, it is unkosher, and it is considered cruel to kill an animal just for sport.

Another requirement is that the animal be of good health and well taken care of. After slaughter, the shochet will examine the internal organs of the animal for adhesions and disease. Any of abnormality will render the meat unfit. There is a question of minor lesions in the lung. Ashkenazi authorities hold that these lesions are allowable and the meat can be eaten. Sephardi authorities hold that the lung must be smooth ("glatt"). Many Ashkenazi Jews follow the Sephardic practice as a chumra. This practice is the origin of the term glatt kosher.

The animal also must be well taken care of. The practices of mass farming of animals (as with chickens) and the gross mistreatment of animals for food preparation (as with veal industry) renders animals unfit for use. The Torah (and Talmud) are rife with regulations to prevent animal cruelty (e.g. you must feed your animals before you yourself eat, you must not slaughter a parent before the young or vice versa, you can not harness an ox and a donkey together, you can not muzzle an animal being used to tread grain, etc.). Because of kashrut's identification as a reverence for life, these laws are often studied as part of kashrut.

Lesson III - The Law Part II

Lesson II covered the basic ground work of many of the basic kashrut laws about permissible meat, blood and slaughter. While a few of these laws you can run into in day to day kitchen operation (bloodspots in eggs, milk and cheese, etc.) most do not have everyday application. Lesson III will cover the rest of these laws and these laws are the one you need to know to work and live in a kosher kitchen.

VI. Milk and meat

One of the strictures most identified with kashrut is the separation of milk and meat. These find their origins in the Torah where it says three different times (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21) not to cook a kid in its mother's milk. The Oral law expands this to the complete separation of milk and meat, and the Rabbis in the Talmud extend this to include bird meat. There are many reasons given for this practice. Rambam attributes it as a prevention of an idolatrous and superstitious practice. Others attribute as a discouragement from a mean practice. This practice has many possible explanations; we should not try to stick the reason to any one.

This triple repetition of the warning in the Torah is taken to mean three types of prohibition.

  1. You may not cook such an admixture

  2. You may not eat such an admixture

  3. You may not benefit (in any way) from such an admixture

The Rabbi's interpreted the separation very strictly. No meat product can come in contact with any milk product in any way. The term milchig (or chalav) designates food made from or utensils used with such food. Fleishig (or basar) designates food made for meat or utensils used with such food.

There is a third category called pareve or stam. This is a food that is not derived from milk or meat and is not cooked with a milchig or fleishig utensil. This food can be eaten with either milk or meat (although in certain circumstances use of a milk or meat utensil will render the food milchig or fleishig). Pareve foods include all vegetables, grains, fruits, eggs and fish. Originally birds were considered pareve (when was the last time you saw a chicken give milk?), but the Rabbis ruled that bird meat should be considered fleishig to avoid confusion.

Milchig and fleishig food can not be eaten together. There is a waiting period (depending on your tradition) of 70 minutes to six hours after eating meat before it is permissible to eat milchig food. No waiting period is required after eating milchig food before eating fleishig food. The way to remember this is that kashrut is a prohibition on eating meat, not milk. To this end, a food cooked in fleishig utensils, but is in all other ways pareve , require no waiting period before eating milchig food. Although in these two situations (milchig before fleishig and pareve fleishig before milchig) no wait is necessary, a small wait is preferable to make sure the mouth is clean. There is a rule that one must wait an hour after hard cheese for just this reason (a hard cheese being defined as a cheese that has sat for six months or more). It is permissible for two people to eat together, one eating fleishig; the other milchig, as long as there is a definite separation between the two.

Along with not eating milchig and fleishig food together, they also can not come in contact while cooking. Again this is fairly strict. Any utensil that is used with fleishig food can not come in contact with milchig food or milchig utensils, and vice versa. The net impact of this is two separate sets of utensils. One for fleishig food, and one for milchig foods. This also means a separate set of dishes. It is best to store fleishig and milchig utensils separately, and mark utensils so that they are clearly differentiated (like red nail polish on fleishig utensils). Food cooked in the wrong pot is unkosher. Many Jews have separate condiments to avoid mixing (since food and condiments often come in contact).

There are in the typical kitchen several areas of overlap. These are :

  1. Glassware - glass was considered non-absorbent by the Rabbis. As a result glass can be used interchangeably between milchig and fleishig as long as it is well cleaned. The custom among Askenazic Jews is to soak the glass 72 hours before interchanging, the Sephardic say soaking is unnecessary.

  2. Sinks - There are two ways to handle the sink. If you have a double sink (which is stainless steel - so it can be rekashered if needed), one half can be used for milchig and one half for fleishig. If this is impractical (due to the way you use your kitchen - or if you have a garbage disposal on one side), then you should treat you sink a treif. Utensils and food should then not touch it (for they would become unkosher). Individual dish racks (one for milchig the other for fleishig) should be used in the sinks to avoid contact. In treif sinks, you may not soak utensils or food. A separate - kosher - basin must be used.

  3. Ovens and ranges - It is not necessary to have separate ovens and ranges for milchig and fleishig. If the same oven is used for milchig and fleishig great care should be taken to avoid spills and splatters. Milchig and Fleishig food should not be cooked in the same oven at the same time. Grills used for one can not be used for the other without kasher ing. When cooking on top of a range milchig and fleishig food, food should be covered, and great care needs to be taken. It is best to specify which burners are fleishig and which are milchig, covering the unused side when the other is in use with a towel. Many people avoid this problem by having separate ovens.

  4. Dishwashers - A dishwasher can be used for both milchig and fleishig dishes, but not at the same time. Dishes should be well rinsed before being put in the dishwasher. Between milchig and fleishig loads, a rinse cycle should be used. Also it is preferable to have separate racks for milchig and fleishig loads. Many people make this easier by using the dishwasher for either milk or meat, and hand washing the other.

  5. Towels - Towels that are freshly clean can be used either milchig or fleishig . Once they are used for one or the other, they must be washed before use with the other. It is best to have different towels for each to avoid confusion.

This prohibition from benefiting from mixing milk and meat is generally interpreted fairly strictly (so buying a cheeseburger for a non-Jewish friend is forbidden). It should be pointed out that the mixing of milk and meat only applies to meat made from clean animals (so you can buy your friend a ham and cheese sandwich). Also the stricture is stronger for cooked food than uncooked food (as can be deduced from the Torah statement). Milk and meat that accidentally mixed - but is not cooked - can be sold or given away. Milk and meat that is mixed and cooked must be thrown out.

VII. Kashering

If a mistake is made it does not necessarily render the utensil unkosher. And even if it does render the utensil unkosher, you do not have to throw it out. Most kitchen equipment can be rekashered.

Items can be unkashered by using unkosher food in them (like forbidden meat) or by accidentally using a milchig utensil for fleishig food (or vice versa). The food and the utensil becomes immediately unkashered if either the food or the utensil is hot. The food and utensil becomes unkashered after 24 hours if both the food and utensil are cold. Traditionally hot spices and pungent vinegar (and I guess jalapenos) are consider always hot in this respect. There is a rule called batel beshishim that states that accidental mixing of up one sixtieth part is considered too small to unkasher food or utensils (This is accidental, intentional mixing renders unkosher).

There are two traditional ways of kasher ing. By boiling or by flaming. The first required immersing the vessel in boiling water; the second by heating. Utensils used for liquids are kashered by boiling, those use for dry foods are kashered by flaming. There is a third traditional way of kashering called planting. This is done by placing the utensil in the ground for a prescribed amount of time. This method is non-halachic and hould not be used. Since this is a traditional practice of some roups, those groups do consider this a valid method of kashering.

To kasher by boiling the following steps are used:

  1. The item to be kashered must first be thoroughly cleaned and scoured.

  2. The item (and the vessel it is to be immersed) must not be used for 24 hours.

  3. Boil water in the immersion vessel til it roils.

  4. Totally immerse the vessel in the immersion vessel. The vessel must not touch the sides on the immersion vessel. Let go of the vessel (so water can get to where you are holding it).

  5. If the vessel to be kashered (like a very large pot) does not fit in another other vessel, boil water in it til it roils so water spills over it sides. It is traditional to put an object heated to over 212 F (traditionally a rock) to cause to water to overflow without cooling the water.

  6. Remove the vessel and rinse in cold water.

  7. The pot used for kashering should then be rekashered (step 5)

Items that are to be flamed are kashered similarly, only are heated til red hot.

Items of metal, enamel, wood, teflon, and plastic can be kashered. Items with loose handles and deep crevices must be carefully cleaned before kashering.

Glass is considered non-absorbing, and thus does not have to be kashered. This means it would be all right to use glass plates for milchig and fleishig foods, but this is frowned upon. Pyrex (and other cooking glass) is a special category. The Orthodox believe that glass might absorb at high temperature and do not use it for both. The CJLS has (with the help of that disinterested third party Corning Glass) determined that pyrex does not absorb, and can be used for both. Rabbi Sack's (and also my) policy is not to use pyrex for both.

China, porcelain, pottery, and earthenware can not be kashered. There is an exception (which I mention with great trepidation). China of great personal worth (Grandma's for example) can be set for one year and be considered kosher. You MUST consult a rabbi before doing this.

Metal sinks can be kashered by scouring and then pouring boiling water in them. Some say the sink should be filled with boiling water. In either case, care must be taken to make sure the whole sink is affected. Make sure the water is still boiling as it hits all parts of the sink.

Formica and metal counters are kashered by first scrubbing, then, after a 24 hour wait, pouring water on them. Wood counters are first scrapped or sanded.

Ovens are kashered by scouring clean and then leaving at their highest temperature for over 30 minutes. Use of a blow torch are only for fanatics. Ranges are first scoured, then have their burners turned on till they glow or till a piece of paper will singe if touched to the burner. Selfcleaning ovens can naturally kasher themselves. There is a question whether continual-cleaning ovens do.

Small appliance should have the parts that might contact the food kashered by boiling. The body or motor of the appliance should be carefully cleaned. Special attention should be paid to the crevices.

VIII. Hechshers and contents

Food brought into a kosher kitchen must be kosher to begin with. While many foods are obviously kosher, prepared foods need to be cooked by kosher means in order to be used. To this purpose various organizations called Vaad Hakashrut have been established to certify the kashrut of foods. These organization will put their mark (known as a hechsher) on the products they certify. There are over 2500 hechshers in the United States. The most famous on is that of the Union of Orthodox Rabbi's (the u inside the o). See the sheet of attached hechshers for some major examples.

A side note should be made about items marked with the bare letter 'K'. A single letter is not trademark-able. As a result any kashrut organization can use it. You usually can call the company and find out more about their certification to see if it is alright (K is often used by local rabbis who do not do certification fulltime). It is best to use a regular hechsher otherwise, only if not such product can be found should you use this. It should be noted that many Rabbis have started Vaads, and their standard may not be yours (a good example recently seen on the shelfs, kosher for Pesah candy with corn syrup).

The rule of thumb to follow is first use a hechsher. If you can not find the product with a hechsher, use one with a 'K' (after checking the contents). Finally, if all else fails, you can check the ingredients. It be noted that by conservative standards products with 'K' (which is not verified through the company) and products verified through contents are not considered safely kosher. As a result, using these should be done with care, and you must check with the Rabbi before bring any such product into the synagogue kitchen.

Because of the nature of kashrut, most Vaads are Orthodox. This is economic. Certification is also big business. Vaads usually charge a percentage of sales for each item bearing a hechsher. There is not enough extra business to justify a Conservative hechsher, (as most Conservative Jews will rely on an Orthodox hechsher, the only added business will be Conservative Jews who keep kosher). Another result of the large cost of hechshers is that there are products out there that are inspected but do not carry a hechsher. This is because the company believes it is not worth the costs to carry the seal (many Vaads charge for carring the seal on top of the inspection) but worth being inspected. Hershey chocolate and Sunshine cookies are two good examples. The only way to discover these is through the kosher trade publications. There have also been scandalous behavior by various organizations when important accounts moved from one organization to another.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, sugar, flour, pure juices (except grape in certain circumstances), coffee, tea, and other "pure" products. Canned vegetables canned in water need no hechsher (although one is preferred). Canned vegetables in syrup, tomato and blended juice, sauces, and other processed canned food require a hechsher. So does all prepared food. Also things used with food, such as dish soap, aluminum foil, etc. need hechshers. It should be noted that raw vegetables should be inspected and cleaned of insect life.

Be aware. Non-dairy does not mean pareve. Many non-dairy products use milk derived cassin.

Hechshers without an accompanying mark are usually pareve (except where obvious like ice cream). Hechshers on milchig products usually have a 'D' for dairy. On fleishig products they usually have a 'M'. 'P' usually means kosher for Pesah. Every once in a while you will see a 'F'. This stands for fish. Some Orthodox Jews follow a practice of not eating fish and meat together (from a Talmudic aside that it might not be healthy). You sometimes se ME or DE meaning meat equipment or dairy equipment (but otherwise parve).

Checking kashrut by ingredients is not a perfect way to do it. First, many chemicals have animal origins and have questionable kashrut. Also, nonkosher products can be used in processing and not show up on the label (like lard used to grease pans).

Things to watch out for when checking the contents. Look out for whey and other milk products in bread. These breads can not be used with meat. Shortening must say vegetable shortening, otherwise it has animal shortening and is not kosher (not that vegetable shortening guarantees kashrut, often animal based shortening and emulsifiers are added for stability - and these will not always be listed on the ingredients.). I refer you to page 97 of your book for a more complete list of chemicals.

One special exception is gelatin. This product is of animal origins. It is made of the bone, which is not considered a food in many respects. As a result, the CJLS has ruled that gelatin, in its processing, stops being a food and is kosher. The Orthodox are mixed on their opinion of this.

IX. Eating outside the home

This section is still in note form. Will have updated notes soon.

X. Some Shabbat Food Preparation Rules

This section is still in note form. Will have updated notes soon.

XI. glossary

A Jew that lives in the Northern European areas of Germany, Poland, Austria, and Russia, or is descended from such a Jew.
Hebrew - "meat"
Hebrew - "inspection" or "search". The search the shochet does of the internal organs to insure the animals fitness for consumption. Bedikah Chametz is the search for Chametz (unkosher for Pesah food) before Pesah.
Birkot Hamazon
Hebrew - "Blessing of the Food". The blessing recited after eating.
Committee on Jewish Law and Practice
Hebrew - "new". The new harvest of grain, that in Israel can not be eaten til after Pesah. In the Galut opinion differs on whether it can be eaten (usual practice is that it can).
Hebrew - "milk"
Chalav Yisrael
Hebrew - "Milk of a Jew"
Hebrew - The dough that is separated in reminder of the portion of dough brought to the Temple (also called challah). The special bread baked of Holidays has assumed this name because of this procedure.
Hebrew - The fat located around the major organs. Reserved for the Temple sacrifice and thus forbidden as food.
Hebrew - "severity" or "restriction". A extra rule or practice one voluntarily takes on as a personal fence around the Torah.
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS)
Committee set up by the Conservative RA to interpret and revise Rabbinic Law and tradition.
Hebrew - "blood"
Greek - "dispersed". The Jews living outside Israel (dispersed by the destruction of the second Temple).
Yiddish - "of meat". Describing food that contain meat products, or the equipment that is used with fleishig food.
Hebrew - "exile" or "captivity". The Jews living outside of Israel.
Hebrew - from gamar - "to complete" - The rabbinic portion of the Talmud that discusses the Mishna.
Gid Hanaseh
Hebrew - "sinew of the sciatic". The sciatic nerve. Reserved for the Temple sacrifice and thus forbidden as food.
Yiddish - "smooth". Used to describe meat that does not have lung lesions (thus is smooth). Also used to describe anyone is extremely strict in their practice (sometimes pejoratively).
Hebrew - "supervision". Rabbinic supervision of a food product or facility
A Symbol or seal (originally always a seal with the Mashgiach's name) placed on a preprepared product certifying its kashrut.
Hebrew - "to be kosher" - verb. To make of meet the requirements of being kosher.
Hebrew - "fit". adj. being ritually fit.
Hebrew - "fitness". The term to generally describe the laws of food.
Hebrew - "overseer". The person who supervises the preparation and serving of Kosher food.
Yiddish - "of milk". Describing food that contain milk products, or the equipment that is used with milchig food.
Hebrew - "study (by oral repetition)" - The Oral part of the Torah law (as found in the Talmud).
Hebrew - "carcass" or "carrion" - Meat that comes from an animal not killed by ritual means (Shechita). Not fit for consumption.
Yiddish - "neutral". Describing food that contains neither milk or meat, or equipment used with such food.
Pirke Avot
Hebrew - "Saying of our Fathers". Talmudic collection of saying of our great sages.
Rabbi Moses ben Maimon or Maimonides. Sage of 12th century. Born in Spain and lived in Morocco and Cairo. Wrote "Mishneh Torah" and "Guide to the Perplexed". First great codifier.
Greek - "response". A rabbinic review and decision on a particular question of religious practice.
A Jew from Spain, Africa, Asia, Southern France, Yugoslavia, Greece or Turkey, or a Jew descended from such a Jew.
Hebrew - "slaughtering". The practice of Kosher slaughter.
Hebrew - "slaughterer". A person trained in the rituals of slaughter, who is allowed to perform shechita.
Shulchan Aruch
The last major codification of Jewish law agreed on by all sects. Written in the mid 16th century by Joseph Karo and Moses Isserling.
Hebrew - "fat". The general term for fat which is permissible to eat (as opposed to chelev).
Hebrew - "neutral". Describing food that contains neither milk or meat, or equipment used with such food.
Hebrew - from taraf "to tear". Unfit food. Literally from meat torn from a living animal.
Hebrew - "pure" or "ritually clean".
Hebrew - "decrees". Rabbinic rulings in the middle ages generally forbidding a practice allowed under Jewish law.
Compilation of the Oral Law (mishna) and the original rabbinic ruling on it (Gamara).
Hebrew - "impure" or "ritually unclean".
Tevilat Kaylim
Hebrew - "ritual immersion". The consecration of metal and glass utensils in a mikvah or a stream. Sometimes referred to as "toiffoling"
see T'refah
Va'ad Hakashrut
Hebrew - "committee of kashrut". A group or organization that performs mashgiah. Sometimes known as a Va'ad for short.

XII. Bibliography

The following bibliography is presented for further reading for those who are interested. It is derived from the Jewish Reading List periodically post to the soc.culture.jewish group of internet. This list is just the most relevant informati for this class from that list. Those entries that are asterisked were referenced for these notes.

This list is maintained by Daniel Faigin. It was originaly developed by Rob Levine from to posting to the newsgroup and bibliographies of books in the list. postings as well as the bibliographies of some of the books on this list. This original list has been augmented based on bibliographic research done by D. Faigin at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, as well as contributions from readers of soc.culture.jewish, mail.jewish, and mail.liberal-judaism. It is also based on suggestions found in the excellent _Jewish Catalog_ [**] series, which would serve anyone well as a sourcebook on Judaism. Contributions to the list have also been made by: Steven Abrams, Michael Allen, Rabbi Charles Arian, Jim Eggert, Ari Epstein, David A Guberman, Douglas Jones, David Kaufmann, Evelyn Leeper, Jack Love, Hillel Markowitz (both alone and in consultation with Rabbi Yirmiyahu Kaganoff of Baltimore), Rabbi Josh Segal, Steven Seidman, Andrew Tannenbaum and Steven Weintraub.


[Rot72]*Roth, Cecil, Ed. _Encyclopedia Judaica_. 16 Vols. Keter, Jerusalem. 1972.

[Sie73]*Siegel, Richard; Strassfeld, Michael; Strassfeld, Sharon. _The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It Yourself Kit_. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA. 1973.
[Catalog 1 covers Symbols of the Home, Kashrut , Candles, Kippah, Tallit, Tefillin, the Shofar, Jewish travel, the Jewish year cycle, Weddings, Tumah and taharah, Death and burial, scribal arts, gematria, music, film, the Jewish press, creating a jewish library, and relationships between man, women, and the community]

[Ste47]*Steinberg, Milton. _Basic Judaism_. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York. 1947. ISBN 0-15-610698-1. [Conservative]

[Str76]*Strassfeld, Sharon and Strassfeld, Michael, eds. _The Second Jewish Catalog_. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA. 1976. [Catalog 2 covers the life cycle in more depth, aspects of study, synagogue and prayer, and the arts. The Jewish Yellow Pages are out of date, quite likely.]

[Str80]*Strassfeld, Sharon and Strassfeld, Michael, eds. _The Third Jewish Catalog_. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA. 1980. [Catalog 3 covers justice, community, genealogy, dispersion, exile, surroundings, and israel. It also talks about how to be a mentsh, and includes a cumlutive index to all three catalogs]

[Tel91]*Telushkin, Joseph. _Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About Judaism_. Morrow, New York. 1991.


[Gol63]*Goldin, Hyman E. (trans.). _The Code of Jewish Law_. Hebrew Publishing Co., New York NY. 1963. [This is an English translation of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which is a completely different work from the Shulchan Aruch . The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch was written in the late 1800's by Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried and is a summary collection of Halachah for every day practice divided into categories. The Jewish Catalog cautions against using the _Kitzur Shulhan Arukh_ of Shlomo Ganzfried, which it states is "a collection of ultrastringent views often without firm basis in halakhic sources". However, other contributors think it provides lots of information on specific practices, but can be overwealming. As usual, it is probably best to ask your Rabbi.]


[Don72]*Donin, Hayim. _To Be a Jew: A Guide to Jewish Observance in Contemporary Life_. Basic Books, New York. 1972.


[Dre59]*Dresner, Samuel H and Siegel, Seymour. _The Jewish Dietary Laws_. Burning Bush Press, New York. 1959. [Not universally accepted, but many recommend it. May be more of Conservative/Modern Orthodox viewpoint]

[Eps81] Epstein, Rabbi Joseph D. _Mitzvot Habayit: The Precepts of the Jewish Home_ (translated by Gershon Taschman). Torath HaA dam Institute, New York, 1981. [Translation of the introduction to the author's comprehensive work of the same name in Hebrew.]

[Gre83] Greenberg, Blu. _How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household_. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1983.

[Kit63] Kitov, A.E. _The Jew and His Home._ New York: Shengold, 1963.

[Lev64] Levi, Shonie and Kaplan, Sylvia. _Guide for the Jewish Homemaker_. Schocken Books, New York. 1964.

[Lub89] Lubavitch Women's Organization. _Body and Soul: A Handbook for Kosher Living_, Lubavitch Women's Cookbook Pub, NY. 1989. [Short introduction to kosher basics.]

[Lub90] Lubavitch Women's Organization. _Spice and Spirit: Complete Kosher Jewish Cookbook_. Lubavitch Women's Cookbook Pub, NY, 1990. [Contains detailed information about the laws of kashrut and holidays from the Lubavitch point of view and thus follows Lubavitch customs regarding Kashrut ; for non-Lubavitch, use in conjunction with other Kashrut references. Lots of traditional recipes that tend not to fail, if followed. Good section on Passover baking.]

[RCA72]*Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Rabbinical Council of America. _ Kashrut h: Handbook for Home and School_ UOJCA, New York. 1972.

[Ros91] Rosenberg, Ehud. _Meat and Dairy, an illustrted guide for the Kosher Kitchen_. Mesorah, NY. 1991. [Uses pictures to teach about kashrut .]

[Sym88] Syme, Daniel. _The Jewish Home_. UAHC Press, New York. 1988. [Reform]

[Zev57] Zevin, Rav Schlomo Yosef. _Moadim b'Halacha_. Abramahm Tsioni, Tel Aviv. 1957.


[Kle75]*Klein, Isaac. _ Responsa and Halakhic Studies_. KTAV 1975

[Kle79]*Klein, Isaac. _A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice_. Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. 1979.

[Sie77] Siegel, Seymour ed. _Conservative Judaism and Jewish Law_. Rabbinical Assembly, New York. 1977.

Subject: XI.1.b General Interest Periodicals focused on Tradition and the Home

Jewish Family
FOCUS: Jewish family education, non-Orthodox perspective
PUBLISHER: Alef Type & Design/Los Angeles A division of Torah Aura Productions/(800)BE-TORAH

The Jewish Homemaker
FOCUS: The traditional Jewish home.
FREQUENCY: Bimonthly, except for July and August
SUBSCRIPTION ADDRESS: The Jewish Homemaker/705 Foster Avenue Brooklyn NY 11230-9803/(800) BESAD-04
PUBLISHER: The Committee for the Furtherance of Torah Observance 1372 Carroll Street/Brooklyn NY 11213/(718) 756-7500
COMMENTS: * Incorporates Kosher Food Guide

FOCUS: Kosher products, Kosher food alerts, Kosher foodscience
FREQUENCY: Five times a year
SUBSCRIPTION RATES: (USA) $15/1yr $27/2yr $36/3yr
SUBSCRIPTION ADDRESS: Kashrus Customer Service Department P. O. Box 17305/Milwaukee WI 53217
PUBLISHER: Yeshivas Birkas Reuven/581 Kings Highway/Brooklyn NY 11223 * Provides annual guide to hechshers in use.

Kosher Outlook: The Magazine for Kosher Living
FOCUS: Kof-K Kashrut Information
SUBSCRIPTION ADDRESS: Kosher Outlook/1444 Queen Anne Road Teaneck NJ 07666

XIII. Acknowledgments

I wish to thank the following people for their help. First my wife, Tina Huckabee, who extensively edited these notes and gave me countless suggestions on the class and teaching techniques (not that any of it sunk in). I also want to thank Rabbi Sack and Michael Churgin for reveiwing these notes. Finally I want to thank the posters in the internet group soc.culture.jewish and countless Jewish mailing lists for discussion on this (and countless other) topics with me over the last 10 and a half years. I specifically want to thank the posters :

for their specific comments on these notes.
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