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: Do un-popped popcorn kernels need a hechsher?  It it says on the package that It may contain traces of milk, almonds, cashews, pecans, peanuts, wheat, and soy.

A: No.  Allergen disclaimers are often printed as a stringency and even when the potential trace cross-contamination is well below the threshold of halachic significance.

Q: Do whole frozen green beans need a good hechsher or as long as it has any hechsher?

A: In general, frozen fruit or frozen vegetables don’t need any hechsher unless they are from Israel or unless they are prone to infestation – with the exception of frozen strawberries which even some of the stricter insect policies accept, and a minority opinion allows any pre-washed frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, or kale.  (See here for halachic background.)

Q: Is all scotch kosher?

A: There are four levels of scotch vis-a-vis kosher status.  Some scotch is certified and therefore accepted by all; most is not.  Some do not advertise a special finish (Sherry, Port, Madeira, Oloroso, Sauterne, Shiraz, Dual cask finish, or Double-Matured) and are nearly universally accepted as kosher even though they are not supervised.  Other scotches do list one of the aforementioned special finishes, and this category is subject to unresolved debate – many do not consider them kosher due to the release of non-kosher wine flavor from the barrel walls into the scotch, whereas many others do consider them kosher either because in actuality an insignificant amount of flavor is released or because the amount that is released is halachically nullified.  The final category consists of scotchs that are produced by Jewish-owned companies that do not sell their chametz for Passover.  To the best of my knowledge this category is considered by all to be non-kosher.

Q: Are Snyder’s pretzels with an OU-D actually dairy?

A: According to the OU, Snyder’s pretzels are actually DE (diary equipment) except for the butter flavored variety, and can therefore be eaten even immediately after one has consumed meat.

Q: When hard-boiling eggs, are you always supposed to have an odd number of eggs in the pot?

A: You are referring to the minhag to cook a minimum of three eggs together (I am not familiar with the source of the odd number minhag that you mentioned.  Perhaps you are referring to the Talmud’s esoteric warnings about zuggot – not to do certain activities in pairs).  The three egg practice is based on the fact that if an egg has a blood spot which indicates that embryonic development had begun, it is not kosher due to both the embryo (it’s considered a bird that died without being ritually slaughtered) and the blood since all blood is non-kosher.  If that egg would be cooked in a pot, the pot would no longer be kosher.  If a majority of eggs in the pot were kosher (e.g. the other two) then the pot remains kosher and only the egg with the blood spot is not.  Today, however, when hens are raised away from roosters, blood is merely indicative of a ruptured blood vessel but not an embryo.  Therefore even the egg itself is still kosher, except for the blood spot, and therefore if it was cooked in a pot by itself the pot would remain kosher since the blood-spot is certainly nullified by the egg and the contents of the pot.  Although the three-egg minimum practice is therefore obsolete in contemporary times, many still maintain the custom.

Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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