All posts by admin

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.


 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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.


 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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.




Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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.


 

 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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).


 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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: HELP! I wasn’t in shul today and couldn’t put on tefillin.. when is the latest I could put on and if I did it in the afternoon would I daven mincha?

A: You have to put it on before sunset and yes you can daven mincha with them (that is actually optimal).

Q: We  inadvertently left some labels on when toiveling dishes and glasses and used them.  Do they need to be toiveled again (labels removed)?  If so, toivel with or without a bracha?

A: Unless the stickers are inconspicuous and you would only remove them for toveling, you would need to remove the stickers and tovel them again with a bracha.  It is considered like it was never toveled before since the unwanted stickers prevented the water from reaching part of it.  Just like if the handle of a mug, for example, was not dipped beneath the surface of the water.  

 Q:   Someone gave me some of their kitchen utensils.  Although their house was strictly kosher, they never toiveled anything.  What should I do with them, toiveling-wise?
A: They would have to be immersed, with a bracha.
Q: Can a non Jew drink from the kiddush?
A: Of course!
Q: Is a Jew allowed to visit an Arab country on vacation?
A: Yes as long as it is generally considered a safe vacation spot.
Q: If you want to buy items from Amazon that total less than $35, is it OK to add something to your cart that you will just return afterward to bring the total to > $35 in order to get the free shipping?  If it’s technically OK, it still feels wrong to do this. Is that founded?  I.e. I’m trying to figure out if it’s in the category of “well, it’s technically allowed, but you still shouldn’t do it”
A: I don’t know if it’s OK or not but I would assume not. Even if it is technically OK I do not think it is right. It is definitely founded in my opinion.
Q: If I make something pareve in a plastic lined slow cooker usually used for cholent, can I eat it with dairy?  In case it matters, the cholent is usually made using a plastic liner as well, though there are times that I didn’t use a liner.
A: Is there any condensation or other liquid in between the liner and the inner wall of the pot?
Q: Yes, you need to put water because the plastic is quite thin
A: You wouldn’t be able to cook something pareve in order to eat it with dairy, but something pareve that has already been cooked in it may be eaten with dairy.
Q: Ah ok, so it has the same law of a regular meat pot. I was wondering if the liners made any difference. The water transfers the ta’am (flavor) even though it’s the other side of the liner?  Or is the concern that the liner isn’t leakproof
A: If there is a significant amount of liquid between two hot containers/pots then ta’am is assumed to transfer

 

 

 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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: What do you do if you can only daven before the earliest time?

A: Ideally one should don Talis and Tefilin and recite Shema no earlier than Misheyakir (approximately 50 minutes before sunrise) and recite the Shemoneh Esrei at sunrise.  If that is too late, one may don Talis and Tefilin recite Shema and the Shemoneh Esrei after Alot Hashachar (72 minutes before sunrise) (Shulachan Aruch O.C. 58:3).   If even that will not be possible and one will not have an opportunity to put on Tefilin the entire day, they should be put on even earlier after waking up ( even when it is still night) with a bracha but Shema and Shemoneh Esrei cannot be recited until after Alot (Iggrot Moshe O.C. I:10).


Q: Hi Rabbi, would you agree with this article [that says that there is no source for “bouncing” after taking the three steps back at the conclusion of the Shemoneh Esrei]?  I see people doing this all the time, but I’ve never seen anything about it

A: It is correct there is no source for bouncing at the end of the shemona esrei


Q: My wife baked eggplant in the oven at the same time we were baking our Thanksgiving turkey. The turkey was closed in a roaster. She now wants melt cheese over the eggplant to make eggplant parmesan. Is that allowed?

A:  Since the turkey was covered the eggplant is not affected and it would be at least be permitted once the eggplant was already cooked (S.A. Y.D. 108).


Q: I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, can’t fall asleep immediately but intend to go back to sleep before morning. In the meantime, I want to learn. Should I say birchat HaTorah or not? If I do, do I repeat it by shacharit?

A: You would definitely recite Birkat Hatorah upon waking up in the middle of the night before studying Torah (S.A. 47:13 and M.B. 28), and you would only repeat the bracha in the morning if you really went back to sleep again (but not if you just took a short nap.  R. A. Nebenzal in the name of RSZA on M.B. ibid, and R. Chaim Kaniefsky in Sheilat Rav Part II 3: 21).


Q: Does Sushi have to be eaten in a succah?
A: If it doesn’t contain any flour it would only be an optional/praiseworthy mitzvah to do so rather than an obligatory mitzvah.  If it is a variety that does contain flour (e.g. tempura) it is likely that it doesn’t contain enough to change its halacha.

 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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 one say a bracha when tasting food to see if it’s still good?
A:  You would not make a bracha as long as it is a small amount.  Shulchan Aruch 210

Q: Is Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce recommended?  It has a hecsher I don’t normally use.

A: Canned cranberry sauce is OK even without a hechsher

Q: I was over in the gas station Circle K [in AZ] and didn’t recognize any of the slurpee flavors. How can I find out what’s kosher?  Already tried the cRc Kosher app

A: Experience shows that the flavors displayed at Circle K can’t be assumed to match the actual product being used so you would have to check in the back with the help of an employee until you become familiar with the store.  The Vaad has a list of kosher flavors.


Q: How does one kosher granite countertops?

A: 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.  They can be kashered via irui (pouring boiling water on every surface).



Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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: Are basil leaves that are pureed used for pesto the same as strawberries used in a smoothie? Are they ground to a point where we would consider them useable without checking?

A: Yes


Q: We haven’t used our China in over 8 yrs, it used to be used for dairy.  Would we be allowed to repurpose it for meat at this point or is it doomed to always be dairy?

A: China may only be kashered when there is a compelling reason not to buy new dishes.  In addition, normally the minhag is not to change something from dairy to meat or vice versa.  But in this case some hold that the glazing material is impervious to absorption and they don’t even have to be kashered before using with meat.  Therefore if there is a compelling reason to kasher them, it is OK to do so to change them to meat in this case.  For instructions on how to kasher them, see last week’s question here.


Q: Is there anything codified about pursuit of mitzvos that are far outside the realm of one’s usual existence? Is it encouraged to find mother birds? I know that one is not required to build rooftop fences if you don’t have a flat roof, but is there any merit in procuring a flat roof to build a fence?

A:   There is a subculture of people that seek out obscure mitzvos to fulfill.  I think the mainstream approach is to view fulfillment of obscure mitzvot as perhaps a useful and engaging educational tool based on their novelty but not part of our central mission.  This also perhaps relates to two differing philosophies of Judaism, the technocratic mitzvah centric mindset that sees fulfillment of a maximum number of ritual acts as a pivotal aspect of perfection as opposed to an intellect centric/rationalist approach that sees perfection as a function of depth of spirituality, understanding of Torah and character growth.


Q: How can I tell if a piece of fish actually has scales?

A: Scales easily detach from the skin when you scrape them with the edge of a knife against their grain (from the back of the fish towards the front).  Even when looking at a fish that is already descaled if it hasn’t been skinned its skin will have tell-tale sockets that demonstrate that it once had scales.


Q: Pareve ladle got used in a meat soup. What’s the status of the ladle now?

A: It only becomes a meat utensil if the soup was heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or above.  Otherwise it remains pareve.


Q: Actually got that wrong, it was used in a pareve soup in a meat pot.
A: It remains pareve even if the soup is above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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: May one apply clear lip gloss on Shabbos?

A: Colored lip gloss is considered like painting and therefore not allowed.  Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was of the opinion that even though clear lip gloss doesn’t change the color nevertheless since it creates a shine and brings out the original color  it is also considered like painting (tzovea), just as one may not apply oil to shoes on Shabbat for the same reason.  There may be opinions that are lenient but to the best of my knowledge they are not well documented.


Q: Can ceramic plates be kashered if they were fully non kosher before?

A: It’s best to get rid of them and buy new ones. If there’s a compelling reason to keep them, they should be immersed in boiling water, then again in fresh boiling water, then a third time in fresh boling water (Iggrot Moshe 2:46). This should ideally be done after they were not used for a year.


Q: I just read online that some beer is not acceptable for vegans since it is filtered with fish gelatin and trace amounts of it inadvertently remain in the product.  Does that create a kosher problem if the gelatin comes from non-kosher fish?  I thought all plain beer is kosher?

A: It is still kosher – first of all, the gelatin may not be from non-kosher fish.  Secondly, it is nullified since the amount that remains in the product is negligible.


Q: On Friday night, is it permitted before Shabbat begins to leave fully cooked food to stay warm in an oven that is turned on and then remove it for dinner after Shabbat has already begun?

A: It is permitted to open the oven to remove the food as long as an oven light doesn’t turn on when the door is opened, even if the heating element is eventually activated by the cold air that is let in.

 


Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog