The Prohibition of Blood and Salting of Meat

The prohibition of eating blood applies to cattle, beasts, and fowl, but not to less developed species such as fish and grasshoppers who feel less pain * Meat cooked without blood being removed – prohibits the entire piece of meat * The different ways of kashering meat * Most poskim do not hold like Rambam that meat must be scalded after salting, but this is an important hiddur * Following comments to the previous column about vegetarian restaurants abroad: Vegetarians can also be dishonest as long as there is no proper supervision * A kashrut certificate is required also due to concern of shratzim and wine of goyim

The Prohibition of Eating Blood and its Meaning

Along with the heter (halachic permission) to eat meat outside the framework of a korban (ritual sacrifice), we were forbidden to eat the blood, as written in the Torah: “When God expands your borders as He promised you, and your natural desire to eat meat asserts itself, so that you say, ‘I wish to eat meat,’ … you need only slaughter (shechitah) your cattle and small animals that God will have given you in the manner I have prescribed. You may then eat them in your settlements in any manner you desire. Be extremely careful not to eat the blood, since the blood is associated with the spiritual nature, and when you eat flesh, you shall not ingest the spiritual nature along with it” (Deuteronomy 12: 20 -23). In other words, blood has a special purpose, to sustain the soul of the animal, and thus, even though the Torah permitted us to eat meat, it did not permit the blood to be eaten.

The Species Included in the Prohibition

The prohibition of eating blood applies to the developed species: cattle, beasts, and fowl (Leviticus 7: 26; Keritut 21b). But on the less developed species, such as fish and grasshoppers, there is no prohibition of blood. In other words, the prohibition of blood applies to the species requiring shechitah, and not to species that do not require shechitah. One of the reasons for the mitzvah of shechitah is to minimize the pain of species whose meat we consume, and the mitzvah applies to species whose brain and nervous systems are more fully developed, and therefore, also feel more pain. But the less developed species, such as fish and grasshoppers feel less pain, and therefore, there is no obligation to perform shechitah on them and there is no prohibition of eating their blood.

Blood Absorbed in the Flesh

Blood absorbed naturally in the flesh is permitted to be eaten. Therefore, it is permissible to eat a piece of raw meat. Nevertheless, since while cutting meat blood is liable to splatter on the area cut, it must be washed, and only then may it be eaten raw without additional kashering (S. A., Y. D., 67, 1-2).

Meat that has Not Been Kashered

When cooking meat that has not been kashered – the entire piece of meat is forbidden to be eaten because of the blood excreted and re-absorbed in it when cooked. And if this piece of meat is cooked in a pot of stew for instance, since we cannot estimate how much blood it contains, we are machmir (stringent) and consider it as if it is entirely blood, and if the entire cooked dish is not pi shishim (sixty times greater) than the piece of meat – the entire cooked dish is forbidden (S. A., ibid, 69:11).

Therefore, meat must be kashered before cooking. However, in the opinion of the vast majority of Rishonim and Achronim, the kashering of meat is intended to prevent a rabbinical prohibition of our Sages, since blood that is cooked or salted is forbidden only by Divrei Chachamim (rabbinical ordinance) because it is inherently altered, and not suitable for sprinkling on the altar.

Ways of Kashering Meat from Blood

Basically, there are four ways to kasher meat from blood absorbed in it: 1) melicha (salting); 2) tzliya (roasting); 3) chalita (scalding) in boiling water; 4) chalita in vinegar wine. Melicha and tzliya are intended to draw the blood from the meat, while chalita in boiling water or vinegar is intended to lock in, or solidify blood in the meat, to the point where the blood absorbed in the meat can no longer move from its place, even in cooking. Since there is no prohibition of blood absorbed in meat, after chalita, the meat may be cooked.

However, the Geonim forbade kashering meat by means of chalita, lest chalita not be done properly. This is because chalita in boiling water depends on being able to constrict the meat with a strong stroke of heat, but if the water is not sufficiently boiled, or if the meat is not placed into the water at once, or the boiling water is lower in volume than the meat – they will not be able to constrict the blood in the meat. And as for chalita in vinegar, there is concern that the vinegar will not be strong enough. There is also concern that the vinegar will evaporate a bit, and this is a sign that chalita was unsuccessful and the blood was not solidified, and thus, the meat and vinegar are prohibited, and may go unnoticed (Chulin 111a; S. A. 67:5; 73:2). Therefore, someone who wants to cook meat is obligated to kasher it first by means of melicha or tzliya.

Melicha and Chalita According to Rambam

Melicha and tzliya are designed to remove blood from meat. Melicha does this by a process called osmosis. In other words fluids, including blood, seek that their salinity content be equal, and when blood “senses” a lot of salinity on the surface of the meat, it is drawn to the salt, and leaves the meat.

However, even after melicha is completed, red fluid may still flow from the meat. According to Rambam and Ra’ah it is blood, since melicha draws blood only from the outer parts of the flesh, but on the inner parts, blood still remains. In their opinion, so that the blood is not emitted from its place and prohibit the meat, after melicha it is obligatory to perform chalita on the meat in boiling water, so that the blood is constricted and will not emit, and consequently, will not be prohibited.

The Benefit of Melicha without Chalita

However, in the opinion of the vast majority of poskim, it is not necessary to perform chalita on meat after melicha. Since we find that even after melicha, blood still secretes from meat, this ostensibly poses a problem for these poskim. There are two main explanations for this:

First – this liquid that secretes from the meat is not considered blood but “chamar (wine) basar (meat)” (Rashba, Terumah, and Chinuch). In truth, it is hard to define what blood actually is, since blood has red and white cells, and presumably, the red ones are referred to as blood, but they also are not in a permanent state, for melicha drains some of its fluids, and the question is, how to define what remains. According to this explanation, the red liquids remaining in meat after melicha are not considered blood, but mohel (water-based juice).

According to the second explanation, which apparently is most commonly accepted by the majority of Rishonim, even if the chemical composition of the mohel secreted from meat after melicha is similar to blood, as far as halakha is concerned, it is not judged as blood. This is necessarily so, since it is impossible for the prohibition of blood to apply to blood that cannot be humanly extracted from meat, for the Torah was not given to the ministering angels. Therefore, on the red liquids that remain in the flesh after melicha and tzliya the prohibition of blood does not apply. And after melicha was performed according to halakha, there is no longer any prohibition on the blood left in the meat and may be cooked, and if it flows out, one is permitted to drink it.

The Minhag Regarding Chalita

In practice, the common minhag (custom) is not to take concern of Rambam’s opinion, and not to perform chalita on meat in boiling water after melicha (Rema, Bach, Lavush, and Pri Chadash). Only among Olei Teman (Yemenite immigrants) are there some who are machmir to perform chalita on meat as Rambam said.

Some poskim say that the obligation of chalita according to the opinion of Rambam is only when melicha was done to the meat for only eighteen minutes, but if the meat is put in salt for an hour as is customary today – all the blood is secreted or solidified in the meat, and even according to Rambam, it is not necessary to perform chalita on the meat in boiling water afterwards, and even if red liquid is flows from it, it is not prohibited (Aruch HaShulchan 69: 36-40). Even Yemenites who are customary to be machmir and perform chalita on meat may rely on this b’sha’at ha’tzorech (in time of need).

However, chalita according to Rambam is an important hidur (embellishment of a mitzvah), and all members of the various ethnic communities who wish to embellish the mitzvah, especially Olei Teman, should do so, as Rambam wrote. And this is our custom in the kitchen of our Yeshiva in Har Bracha, where we try to perform chalita on meat before cooking it, in order to also fulfill the mitzvah according to the opinion of Rambam, and the minhag of many Olei Teman.

Vegetarian Restaurants without a Kashrut Certificate

I received a number of questions about the previous column, where I explained that it is forbidden to eat in a non-Jewish vegetarian restaurant that does not have a kashrut certificate, because of the prohibition of bishulei goyim. Indeed, Rabbi Prof. Dror Fixler wrote on the basis of certain opinions, that there is no prohibition of bishulei goyim in the food of these restaurants (Techumin 39). However, the principle of the matter goes according to the majority of Rishonim and Achronim, that many foods in these restaurant are included in the prohibition of bishulei goyim, which applies to all foods that are not eaten raw and are served on a kings table – since flour, grain, and legumes, and some of the hearty vegetables such as potatoes are not eaten raw. They are also served on a kings table, i.e., it is not a disgrace to serve them before distinguished people.

I also added that even when it comes to a cooked dish of foods that people are used to eating raw, like most fruits and vegetables, there is concern that even restaurant owners who claim that all of their products are vegetarian, may deceive their customers and mix into the food gelatin produced from skins and bones of animals, which are meant for thickening and hardening of foods. Even more, there is concern that glycerin, an animal fat derived from neveilot (kosher animals that died without shechitah) is mixed in, for it is extremely inexpensive, and beneficial for adding taste and thickness to foods.

Regarding this, readers asked: How can I raise such a concern, seeing as the principle of vegetarians is that there is no animal product in the food? How can it be that they mix in animal gelatin or glycerin? However, the concern does exist, as we know from our own kashrut system: although in general, religious and traditional Jews are careful to eat kosher – when they are engaged in the food trade, there is concern that greed or economic hardship will cause them to go astray, and deceive. Therefore, while in principle, we rely on an individual who attests to the foods he has prepared as being kosher, when he sells them, we do not rely on him without a certificate of kashrut (see, Rambam, Laws of Prohibited Foods, 11:25-26; Rema, Y.D. 119:1; Aruch HaShulchan 119:3-4). Thus, as long as there is no system of supervision that gelatin and glycerin and similar items are not mixed in products, their kashrut cannot be relied on in even for foods that do not have the prohibition of bishulei goyim.

There were others who justifiably maintained that one should also be concerned about the prohibition of shratzim (vermin), which, if the vegetables and fruits are not checked as required, may have shratzim in them. And even according to the lenient opinion regarding tiny shratzim not visible to the naked eye, there is concern that if the restaurant staff are not aware of the prohibition of shratzim, they may not even remove visible shratzim from the vegetables and fruits. There is another concern as well, which Rabbi Prof. Fixler also mentioned, that even when it comes to foods that clearly do not fall under the category of bishulei goyim, one must check that they do not mix into the food, wine, or wine vinegar, which is prohibited because of stam yainum (wine which might have been poured for an idolatrous service).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Vegetarian Restaurant Abroad – Is It Kosher?

Vegetarian restaurants do not use animal products, so seemingly, there is no problem with milk and meat; the main question concerns bishulei goyim * Our Sages forbade bishulei goyim to prevent assimilation and erasure of Jewish identity * To be included in the prohibition, the dish must be from food not consumed raw, and can be served at a respectable meal * In the opinion of most poskim, the prohibition also applies to restaurants and not just private homes * In conclusion, one should not eat abroad in vegetarian restaurants that do not have a kashrut certificate * Aside from halachic reasons – without kashrut supervision, there is no certainty that the restaurant owner is honest

Non-Jewish Cooking in Vegetarian Restaurants

Q: May a Jew eat abroad in a non-Jewish vegetarian restaurant that does not have kashrut supervision? Vegetarians take great care, for moral and health reasons, not to mix a shred of animal food in what they eat, and thus, apparently, the foods prepared by them contain no prohibitions. After all, most of the caution about forbidden foods is related to foods from animals – not to eat wildlife and unclean animals such as pigs, horses and lions; not to eat impure birds such as ostrich, eagle and hawk; not to eat unclean fish like catfish; not to eat crawling creatures like a frog, and seafood like shrimp and lobster. Even when it comes to pure animals, if they are mammals or poultry, they need to be slaughtered according to halakha, and if not, they are considered a neveilah, and are forbidden. Even after being slaughtered according to halakha, one has to be careful not to mix meat with milk. And as far as milk goes, it is forbidden to drink the milk of a non-Jew, out of fear they might mix pure milk with milk from unclean animals. And with fruits and vegetables, terumot and ma’asrot (tithes) must be taken, but only in Eretz Yisrael, while abroad, there is no obligation to take tithes. Only if there is wine or wine vinegar in some food is it forbidden because of the prohibition of yayin goyim (non-Jewish wine).

The main question remaining, then, is whether foods cooked in a restaurant are prohibited because of the issur (prohibition) of bishulei goyim (the prohibition of eating food cooked by a non-Jew). I will first explain the fundamentals.

The Foundation of the Decree – Fear of Assimilation

Our Sages decreed that it is forbidden for Jews to consume the wine, bread, and cooked foods of non-Jews, in order to prevent assimilation. This does not mean that our Sages feared that the first time a Jew ate food cooked by a non-Jew – immediately, he would be overcome by his desire to assimilate; rather, their intention was to place a fence and a warning sign before the possibility of heartfelt connections between Jews and non-Jews which were liable to lead to assimilation. And, as our Sages said, in the matter of bread, oil, and wine: “They decreed … against their bread and oil on account of their wine; against their wine on account of their daughters; against their daughters on account of another matter” (Avodah Zara 36b). The meaning of “another matter” is idolatry. Seemingly, if the fear is that a Jew might become an idolater, our Sages should have said from the start that they made the decree on bread, oil, and wine because of idolatry. Rather, they wanted to teach that the fear was of assimilation, for if the fear was only that a Jew might transgress the prohibition of marrying a non-Jew, or only transgress the prohibition of idolatry – while still maintaining his Jewish identity – they wouldn’t have made a decree against eating food cooked by a non-Jew. But since the chances are that due to inter-marriage, a Jew might become an idolater and assimilate amongst the Gentiles, it was necessary for our Sages to establish a set of restrictions.

Fear of Assimilation and not from Forbidden Marriage

Therefore, it is not forbidden for a Jew to eat food cooked by another Jew who he is forbidden to marry, such as a mamzer (bastard) or an eshet ish (a married woman), because there is no fear of assimilation. On the other hand, even though the decree was intended to prevent marriage ties, it also applies to non-Jews to whom there is no fear of marriage, such as the elderly, eunuchs, or priests who pledged not to marry, because our Sages did not make distinctions in their decree (Responsa of Rashba 1: 248; R’ma, Y.D. 112:1). We see then that the overall intention of the decree is to educate Jews to guard their uniqueness, and to avoid things that may express a heartfelt personal connection that may eventually lead to assimilation. For even a heartfelt connection with a person who one cannot marry, may lead to a wedding with his relatives and acquaintances.

The Cooked Foods Included in the Prohibition

The prohibition of bishulei goyim only applies to cooked foods that are of some importance and can be served at a respectable meal, and consequently, are liable to lead to heartfelt connections. Regarding simple foods, however, there is not much of a concern, since their cooking process is insignificant, and therefore, one is permitted to eat them.

There are two rules in defining important cooked foods: first, that they are not eaten raw; rather, cooking is what prepares them to be eaten. Second, they are served on the table of kings as a relish with bread, but if they are cooked foods that only ordinary people normally eat, they are not prohibited (Avodah Zara 38a; S.A., Y.D. 113:1).

The First Rule: Not Eaten Raw

The first rule: food that people do eat raw, rather, cooking is what prepares it to be eaten, and as a result, its cooking plays a significant role – if cooked by non-Jews, it is forbidden. Consequently, most of the foods cooked in vegetarian restaurants are included in the prohibition, since varieties of wheat, both as grains and flour, are not eaten raw, and cooking is what prepares them for eating. And varieties of legumes, such as rice, lentils, and corn are not eaten raw, and therefore, it is forbidden to eat them cooked.

Determining whether food is eaten raw depends on its condition before cooking. For example, in the past, people were accustomed to eating raw wheat kernels, therefore if they were cooked, they would not be prohibited. But if the wheat kernels were ground into flour, seeing as flour is not eaten raw, any cooked food made from it is forbidden. Nowadays, we are not accustomed to eat raw wheat, and the prohibition of bishul goyim also applies to it.

However, most fruits and vegetables are not prohibited since they are eaten raw, but most of the filling dishes served in vegetarian restaurants are based on grains, legumes, and vegetables that are not eaten raw, and fall under the prohibition.

The Second Rule: A Respectable Meal

The second rule is that the food “is served on the table of kings as a relish with bread.” In other words, it is eaten as part of a meal, as the main dish intended to satiate, or as a tasty dish served as dessert at the end of a meal. That is to say, even a cooked dish of a food that is not eaten raw, if it’s not eaten in a respectable meal, the prohibition of bishulei goyim does not apply to it.

According to this rule some poskim wish to be lenient, claiming that foods served in popular restaurants, as long as they are not normally served on a kings’ table, or before highly distinguished people, are not prohibited. There were even rabbis who were in contact with the British royal kitchen, and called to find out about any foods they had doubts over, to find out whether it was served on the queen’s table. However, the Queen of England’s customary table practices do not determine the law, rather, the meaning of a “kings table”, is a meal of respected people (Issur ve’Heter Ha’Aroch 43:2; Chaim Sha’al, Vol. 1, 74; Ben Ish Chai, Shana Shni’ah, Chukat 9). In the past, when society was more divided into classes, there were cooked foods that poor people used to eat, such as small fish and porridge, which, if served before ministers, would be considered an affront to their dignity (Avodah Zara 38a). Nowadays, these foods are also served at respectable meals, because today thanks to the variety of foods and the openness of society, all foods that people are used to cooking are considered respectable, and ministers normally eat them at meals. What’s more, in a democratic society, most ministers grew up in ordinary homes, and are fond of foods they ate in their parents’ home, and with their friends.

Consequently, this rule excludes from the prohibition only highly inferior foods, or foods normally not served in a meal, such as sweets, chocolate, roasted nuts, and other snacks. But breakfast cereals and rice crackers fall under the category of bishulei goyim, since people normally eat them for a filling breakfast. Additionally, any cooked dish that restaurants are not ashamed to serve – is considered a respectable food.

Vegetables Dependent on Minhag

There are foods that in some places are eaten raw, and in others, are eaten only cooked. Regarding this, the poskim wrote about following the minhag ha’makom (custom of the place), and not taking into consideration the minhag of individuals (Maharikash, 113:3; Shiurey Bracha 1; Chochmat Adam, 66:4, and others). Today, geographical location is not the defining definition of one’s perception, for people move from one place to another, and in every place, people of different cultures live; therefore, the concept of makom must be defined as the surroundings in which one lives. One’s surroundings include family, friends, and neighbors with whom one has contact. In other words, our Sages prohibited cooked foods that have importance, and the importance for each person is determined by his familiar surroundings, and not according to what he heard about people’s customs in other places.

Therefore, in general, bishulei goyim is prohibited as far as potatoes, zucchini and eggplant are concerned since in most places they are not eaten raw. Even a person who heard that there are some people who eat them raw, as long as in his environs they are not normally eaten raw, even rarely, the prohibition of bishulei goyim applies to him. However, someone who lives in a place where those around him eat these vegetables even when they are raw, for instance, they mix slices of them in salads, the prohibition of bishulei goyim does not apply to him.

Bishulei Goyim in a Restaurant

Some poskim are of the opinion that just as our Sages were lenient in sha’at ha’tzorech (times of need) to buy bread from a paltar goy (a non-Jewish baker) since personal relations are less intimate regarding pastries baked for the public at large, similarly, we should be lenient for a non-Jewish cook who cooks for a number of people, such as a cook in a restaurant who has no connection with the diners, that in a sha’at ha’tzorech, food cooked by him is permitted to be eaten (Maharitz Yishanot 161). However, in the opinion of the vast majority of poskim, the heter (halachic permission) to eat pat paltar is unique for bread because people’s lives depend on it, but as far as cooking is concerned, our Sages did not make a distinction in their decree, and the prohibition applies whether cooking is done at home in one’s kitchen, or in business or public kitchen (Tashbetz 1:89; Shiurey Bracha 112:9; Erech HaShulchan 3; S’de Chemed, and many more).

However, when bishul goyim is done in an industrial factory whose products are bought in stores, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wrote that, since the distance between the cooker and the buyers is much further away, many people are accustomed to be lenient, and they should not be remonstrated (Iggrot Moshe, Vol.4, Y.D. 48:5).

Practical Summary

From what we have learned, most foods cooked in vegetarian restaurants are prohibited because of bishulei goyim, since they are made from foods that are not normally eaten raw, and are served on a king’s table and to distinguished people.

Even if the cooked dishes are made from foods that are also eaten raw, so that the prohibition of bishulei goyim does not apply to them, there is concern that even restaurant owners who claim they use only vegetarian products, may be cheating on their customers and mixing in gelatin or glycerin (obtained from neveilot) for food certification or taste, or wine or wine vinegar, and no one will be aware because there is no kashrut supervision.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Soap and Kashering Utensils: Answers to Responses

Since it was claimed here three weeks ago the fact that nowadays utensils do not absorb and emit tastes is due to the invention of soap, and involves halakhic implications – I received numerous comments * This claim does not contradict common halachic practice, since our Sages already permitted utensils that a non-Jew actually checked and said have no taste * Publication of the claim also does not contradict common halachic custom, and consultation with the public in general refines study in the Beit Midrash * A letter from a chemist explains: The significant change in the use of soap which made the removal of fats much more effective, occurred less than a century ago

Summary of the Previous Column on the Subject

In a column published in the Torah portion of ‘Matot’, I briefly explained the issue of kashering utensils, while addressing the central question that has arisen in the last generation:  from the words of the Talmud and poskim, it appears that metal vessels absorb and emit tastes, while in practice, we do not discern the emission of tastes from metal utensils. As a result, some poskim claimed that today, metal utensils are exempt from kashering, but in my article, I explained that the obligation of kashering utensils does not depend on the sense of taste, but nevertheless, it is forbidden to use a treif (non-kosher) utensil that was not kashered according to the way it was used – if it was used with something cold, it is kashered by washing it in cold water; if it was used for cooking, it’s kashered by hagalah (immersion in boiling water); if it was used with fire, such as a skewer, it’s kashered by libun (with a direct flame).

However, since we know for sure that after cleaning metal utensils, they do not emit tastes, be’di’avad (ex post facto), if one accidentally cooked soup in a treif pot, even though the pot must be kashered, the soup is kosher. In addition, in all disputes regarding nat-bar-nat (a secondary taste) and charif (a pungent food), in metal utensils, pots and knives, the opinion of the lenient poskim should be followed, since, in actuality, metal utensils do not emit noticeable taste.

On the issue of kashering utensils, I received dozens of questions, objections, and scholarly responses which can be divided into three areas: 1) on the halakha itself; 2) on raising the complex issue – which should be decided by rabbis – before the general public; 3) on the interpretation of actual fact. I will endeavor to answer the questions.

Halakha

Many poskim are of the opinion that even if treif utensils do not emit taste, if they are b’nei yomo (utensils that have not been used for hot food for more than 24 hours), the food cooked in them is prohibited, as the halakha is explained in the Shulchan Aruch (Y. D., 93: 1). Also, nat-bar-nat should be taken into account, i.e., Ashkenazim poskim hold that if one cooked a parve food in a ben yomo baseri utensil, it is forbidden to eat it with dairy, because of the taste absorbed into the parve food (R’ema, 95:2).

However, it seems more likely that these halachot were said in cases where taste cannot be determined, whereas when we know there is no taste – a treif utensil does not prohibit food cooked in it, and a basari utensil does not turn a parve food into being basari. The proof for this is that our Sages relied on a k’feila, i.e. an expert, non-Jew, who, if he said that the cooked food did not have a treif taste, it is permitted to be eaten (Chulin 97a, b). Although, due to various concerns, we do not rely on a k’feila (Re’ma, 98:1), however, all this is in specific circumstances, but when it is clear there is no taste – even R’ma agrees there is absolutely no prohibition (Teshuvot Re’ma 54; Maharsham 3: 377). To reinforce this, a few years ago in classes I gave, I asked the residents of the community Har Bracha if anyone could taste the flavor of food cooked previously in the same pot. Hundreds of people checked this for several years, and no one who had normally cleaned the pot discerned tastes absorbed in them. There were, however, some people who reported traces of tastes, but it turned out it was because they had not cleaned the pot well. Scientific studies also confirm this fact.

This halakha stands by itself, even if we do not know how to explain the differences between utensils in the days of our Sages and the Rishonim, and those of today.

Nevertheless, if be’zadon (maliciously), someone cooked in a utensil that required kashering, even though it does not emit taste, the cooked food is prohibited to the person who cooked it and for those it was cooked for, as many Rishonim and Achronim determined. Although there are lenient poskim, in my humble opinion, it seems proper to be machmir (stringent) in this, in order to reinforce the obligation of kashering utensils.

Presenting the Issue Publicly

Some people argued that it is wrong to present a serious issue that should be debated among the rabbis in a popular newspaper, especially when it comes to conclusions that seem somewhat different from the norm (both for chumra (stringency), in the chiddush that utensils are obligated to be kashered even if they do not emit taste, including glassware, and for kula (leniency), in the case of nat-bar-nat). Others argued that this should have been discussed by talmedei chachamim first.

There are many answers to these arguments, and I will mention one. Torah study has two parts: one – exactness in the methods of the Rishonim and Achronim, which is an issue for talmedei chachamim, and the other – general conjectures and informed explanations from the natural and social sciences. Thanks to presenting the issue to the general public, which is made up of both talmedei chachamim and people knowledgeable in various fields, the Beit Midrash is broadened, and learning becomes tremendously enhanced. In practice, it turns out that I involve the public in many issues, and with the responses of talmedei chachamim, scientists, and the opinions of various people, I reexamine things together with talmedei chachamim from the yeshiva, and consequently, the issue is clarified thoroughly. Below, I will cite an informed letter I received thanks to sharing the issue with the public.

Actual Fact

The question regarding actual fact is difficult: It is clear that our Sages, as well as the Rishonim and Achronim, related to metal utensils as absorbing and emitting tastes, and there is absolutely no doubt that this was the case. On the other hand, from what we now know, metal and glassware do not absorb and emit tastes, because taste molecules are much larger than the spaces between the particles from which the metals are composed. There are lamdanim (Torah students) who are comfortable living with such questions, but in the eyes of ordinary people, such a question requires Torah scholars to investigate and clarify what our Sages said, and the halakha according to the reality they spoke about.

 

Some explained that metals today are composed of different materials and therefore do not absorb tastes, while the metals used in the days of our Sages were cruder and taste particles seeped into them. Others explained that indeed, even in the past it was impossible for taste particles to penetrate metal, but in the context of the metal industry in the past, casting was not uniform and complete, and therefore particles of taste penetrated into spaces left in the metal. By the way, this explanation sounds a little more logical, but still not sufficient, because our Sages said that the absorbed tastes can be as strong-tasting as the volume of the side of the utensil. Therefore, I was inclined to explain that most of the tastes came from what was stuck to the utensil, and the main change that occurred in recent generations is that only about two hundred years ago, the method of industrial detergent production, which is the basic substance for soap, was discovered in France. Gradually, its use became widespread until about a century ago, liquid soap began to be manufactured in Germany, which, within decades of being used, became widespread throughout the world.

Concerning this explanation, others justifiably questioned: why then, only in the last fifty years did we begin to discern that utensils do not emit tastes, and not two hundred years ago? The answer to this, along with an informed explanation, I fortunately received from Yitzchak Yaffin from Kedumim, a chemist who for years worked as manager of a laboratory for cleaning products, who, together with his wife Yehudit, a chemistry teacher, attempted explaining the issue in a relatively simple language.

A Letter from Yitzchak Yaffin

“Thank you very much, Rabbi, for your article on the laws of bli’at kelim. Rabbi, with your permission, I have comments regarding terminology and scientific accuracy. They do not concern the practical and halakhic conclusions.”

“The essence of the argument: Soap has been known for thousands of years as a substance having the characteristics of cleansing and removing fats, but not on a sufficient level. It is true that in 1790 Leblanc discovered an industrial way of producing a substitute for ash, which led to a considerable increase in the use of soap and enabled its mass industrial production, but the efficiency of fat removal was still unsatisfactory. The significant breakthrough occurred in the 1930’s, with the development of much more effective synthetic detergents. It seems to me, Rabbi, you were alluding to this development from about a century ago, and not necessarily the invention of soap, which is not new.”

“In detail: The difficulty in removing fats stems from a well-known phenomenon – water does not mix with oil. However, there are substances that enable the mixture of water and oil. These substances are called “surfactants”, or surface active agents. The secret of the action of these substances lies in the structure of their molecules: The molecules of these substances have two parts – one similar to water, and capable of combining with water, and the other similar to oil, and capable of combining with oil. Thus, these molecules are capable of combining water with oil, and washing it away (some call these substances “detergents”, but the term ‘surfactants’ is scientifically more accurate).”

“Already thousands of years ago, it was known that when oil is cooked with ash, soap is produced, which is a substance capable of cleaning and removing fats. Today, we also know the reason: When oil is cooked with ash, a new molecule containing residual oil is created. This fatty residue is the part of the molecule which is capable of combining with oil. This molecule also has a water-like part, capable of combining with water, and consequently, the soap acts as a surfactant, although, as mentioned, not so effectively.”

“Modern chemistry has developed ways of synthesizing artificial surfactants. These substances allow a much stronger connection between oil and water, which can produce much more effective detergents. Noteworthy, is the first synthetic substance, Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate, which is still used today as a major ingredient in liquid dishwashing soap and other detergents (in the 1960’s it was slightly modified for environmental reasons).

Summary of the Explanation for the Time Being

The change that has occurred in relation to utensils is first and foremost the ease with which we can now clean dishes, because today, soap is of high quality and inexpensive, and every house has running water, and as a result, all utensils that are cleaned normally, do not emit tastes. In the past, however, even when people attempted to clean utensils, since soap was extremely expensive and ineffective, and additionally, houses had no running water, a thin layer of residue of foods almost always remained stuck to the utensils whose taste was highly concentrated, given their liquids had evaporated. The other change which is also significant is that in the past the surface of metal was generally rough making it harder to clean, whereas today, the metal industry has greatly improved, and the surface of metal is as smooth as glass and easier to clean. And certainly, there are no crevices left unfilled in the casting.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Laws for Postponed Tisha B’Av

When Tisha B’Av is postponed, pregnant and nursing women act as they do on the Minor Fast, and any difficulty exempts them from fasting * During Shabbat, mourning should not be expressed, but from sunset, activities which are not necessary on Shabbat should be avoided – we remain in our Shabbat clothes, but we do not eat * When Shabbat is out, Havdalah is done verbally, and at the conclusion of the fast, Havdalah is made over a cup, so that one is permitted to eat and drink * Someone who is sick and has to eat on Tisha B’Av must first make Havdalah * As part of the love and tikkun we strive for during these days, it is also worthwhile to become familiar with the character of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and delve deeper in understanding his positions, which are far from those claimed against him

Pregnant and Nursing Women

In general, pregnant and nursing women are obligated to fast on Tisha B’Av, and are exempted from the Minor Fasts, such as the 17th of Tammuz and the Tenth of Tevet. However, when the fast of Tisha B’Av is postponed, as it is this year, the obligation of the fast of Tisha B’Av is more similar to the Minor Fasts. Nevertheless, because of the importance of the fast, l’chatchila (ideally), when there is no difficulty it is preferable for pregnant and nursing women to fast, but even if a small difficulty arises they are exempt, even though they are not considered sick.

In practice, it turns out that about 90% of pregnant women and those who partially nurse, need not fast. Those who nurse fulltime, or close to it, do not need to fast, in order not to diminish their milk supply.

The Eve of Tisha B’Av on Shabbat

When erev Tisha B’Av falls on a weekday, already at the seudah ha’mafseket, we begin practicing the minhagim (customs) of mourning: we do not eat two cooked items, we sit on the ground and do not sit together with other people, but rather, like a mourner whose deceased lies before him, and sits alone (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 9:1-3).

However, when erev Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, there is no sign of mourning on Shabbat, for indeed, the general rule is there is no avelut (mourning) on Shabbat. Therefore, if Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbat, the fast is postponed to yom rishon (Sunday), and on that Shabbat we eat meat and drink wine and place on the table even a meal fit for a king like Shlomo Ha’Melech, and we sing Shabbat songs as usual, for there is no avelut on Shabbat.

The Intermediate Time between Shabbat and the Fast

However, there is an intermediate time between Shabbat and the fast, during which Shabbat has not yet ended but the prohibitions of the fast have already begun. This happens because we are unsure when one day ends and the next day begins – at sunset or when the stars emerge. Therefore, the period between sunset and the emergence of the stars is ambiguous, being possibly day, and possibly night. It is called “bein hashmashot” (twilight). And since there is a mitzvah to add time onto Shabbat, the holy day continues until a few minutes after the stars emerge. Consequently, the time between sunset and shortly after the emergence of the stars is both Shabbat and Tish’a B’Av. During that time, it is forbidden to do anything that would appear like a custom of mourning, because we do not mourn on Shabbat. On the other hand, after sunset, we avoid doing anything that is not necessary for the sake of Shabbat, like eating, drinking, washing, and anointing.

Seudah Shlishit

Therefore, we eat seudah shlishit (the third Shabbat meal) like we do on any other Shabbat, including the singing of Shabbat songs. However, we stop eating and drinking before sunset (Jerusalem: 19:33, Tel Aviv: 19:31, Haifa: 19:34, Be’er Sheva: 19:29) because there is no obligation – from a Shabbat perspective – to continue eating seudah shlishit after sunset. It is also fitting not to sing joyous songs after sunset, and doing so does not constitute an expression of mourning, for people do not generally sing happy songs every moment of Shabbat.

We also refrain from washing and anointing ourselves after sunset; after all, we do not bathe or anoint ourselves on Shabbat every moment. However, one who relieves himself during bein hashmashot should wash his hands normally, for if he washes as is required on the fast, in effect, he is mourning on Shabbat.

Changing Clothes and Shoes

We remain in our Shabbat clothing, keep our shoes on, and continue sitting on chairs and greeting each other until a few minutes after three, mid-sized stars appear in the sky. Then, we say Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol (Blessed is He Who separates between the holy and the mundane), by which we take leave of Shabbat. Afterwards, we remove our shoes, take off our Shabbat garments, and change into weekday clothes.

Some people have a custom to remove their shoes at sunset, provided that they do so without letting others know that it is for the sake of mourning, for it is one of the things prohibited on Tisha B’Av, and since in any case one is not obligated to wear shoes every moment of Shabbat, it does not constitute a disrespect for Shabbat if one removes them at sunset. But if there are people in the vicinity who think he has removed his shoes for the sake of mourning – this would constitute a prohibition, and therefore the prevalent custom is to remove shoes after Shabbat has ended.

One should wear clothing that was already worn the previous week, because one may not wear freshly laundered clothing on Tish’a B’Av.

Evening Prayer

Many communities have a custom to delay Ma’ariv until around fifteen minutes after Shabbat ends, in order to give everyone time to take leave of Shabbat at home, remove their shoes, change their clothes, and come to the synagogue for Ma’ariv and the reading of Eichah in weekday clothes.

Verbal Havdalah and on Wine

Every Shabbat we make havdalah verbally and over a cup of wine. Verbal havdalah is done by saying “Ata Chonantanu” – in the Ma’ariv prayers, or by saying “Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol” which permits us to do work, and also havdalah over a cup of wine which permits us to eat and drink. Since this Motzei Shabbat the fast begins, it is impossible to say havdalah over a cup of wine. Therefore, we postpone saying this form of havdalah until after the fast, which permits us to eat. Nevertheless, we say havdalah – “Ata Chonantanu” in the Ma’ariv prayers at the beginning of the fast, after which we are permitted to do work (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 9: 5).

Blessing over the Candle

We recite the blessing over fire on such a Motzei Shabbat, because this blessing is not dependent on the cup of wine. Rather, it is an expression of thanks to God for creating fire, which was revealed to Adam on the first Motzei Shabbat. The custom is to recite the blessing after Ma’ariv, before the reading of Eichah, because people light candles at that time.

Women also recite the blessing over the candle. If they are in the synagogue – they should hear the blessing from the chazan (cantor) and enjoy the light of the candle lit next to them, and if they are at home – they should light a candle and recite the blessing over it (see, Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 8:1,1).

Havdalah at the End of the Fast

At the end of the fast one should make havdalah over a cup, and recite two blessings: “Al ha’gefen”, and “Hamavdil”. The blessings over the besamim (spices) and the candle are not recited.

At the end of the fast, it is forbidden to eat before reciting havdalah over the cup.

Havdalah for a Sick Person who needs to Eat

A sick person who needs to eat on Tish’a B’Av, must say havdalah over a cup before eating. If possible, it is preferable to use chamar medinah, such as beer containing alcohol. If one does not have beer, he may make havdalah over coffee, because in the opinion of many poskim, it is also considered chamar medinah (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 8:4). If one does not have chamar medinah, he should say havdalah over grape juice, which, lacking alcohol, does not gladden. And if even that is unavailable, be’di’avad he should say havdalah on wine and drink a cheek full (around 40 ml.).

A minor who eats on Tish’a B’Av need not say havdalah before eating.

Kiddush Levanah

The custom is to postpone Kiddush HaLevanah (the Blessing of the Moon) until after the fast, because the blessing must be recited joyously, and we decrease our joy during the Nine Days.

Many people are accustomed to saying it immediately after the Ma’ariv prayer at the conclusion of the fast, but it is improper to do so, le’chatchilah. After all, it is difficult to be happy then, when we have yet to drink, eat, wash our faces and hands, or put on regular shoes. Therefore, each community should set a time – an hour or two after the fast – for the recitation of Kiddush Levanah, and in the meantime, everyone will have a chance to eat something and wash up. This way, they will be able to say the blessing joyously. Where there is concern that delaying Kiddush Levanah may cause some people to forget to say it, the congregation may say it immediately after the fast.

Mourning on the Day after the Fast

Most of the Beit HaMikdash was burned on the 10th of Av. However, the fast was determined by the time the fire first started, but since most of the Beit HaMikdash was burnt on the 10th, Jews customarily refrained from eating meat or drinking wine on the 10th of Av. The minhag of some Sephardic Jews is that the prohibition continues all day, and the minhag of Ashkenazi Jews and some Sephardic Jews is only until chatzot ha’yom (midday).

In addition, many Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews are customary to refrain from washing clothes, wearing freshly laundered garments, taking haircuts, listening to joyous music, or bathing in hot water on the 10th of Av. Some people are machmir (act stringently) until chatzot, while others are not machmir at all.

However, this year, when Tish’a B’Av falls out on Shabbat and the fast is postponed until Sunday, the 10th of Av, the customs of mourning do not continue after the fast, and one is allowed to bathe in hot water, do laundry, wear laundered clothes, and listen to regular music. However, many Jews are customary to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine that night, because, seeing that everyone fasted during the day, it is improper to immediately rejoice by consuming meat and wine. Others permit the consumption of meat and wine immediately following the fast when it is postponed (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 10:20).

To Increase Love, Deepen Understanding, and Strive for Tikkun

One of the paths of teshuva (repentance) and tikkun (rectification) appropriate for the Fast of Tisha B’Av, is to increase love. There are those who claim that Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh shlita supports violent acts in violation of the law to deter Arab enemies, or that he supports coercion in order to impose Torah laws on the public. Those familiar with him, know that this is not his position, but for those unfamiliar with Rabbi Ginsburgh, here is his official position in the ‘Gal Einai’ newsletter published in Elul 5775 (2015):

“The Prophet Zechariah says: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty’; a significant change will not come about by coercion or violence, but by the power of spirit – by bringing God’s word to the Jewish nation and the world with a bright and welcoming countenance, so that the general public will willingly consent. Bringing the Torah messages to reality in such a way requiring not only to be satisfied with the Torah’s halakhic side, but also a great deepening of the roots of the Torah’s inner facets. In particular, Chasidut teaches that those wishing to bring about tikkun and redemption should focus on the desired future building, and not the destruction of the existing one. The struggle over our public character needs to be done mainly by way of hasbara (explaining) and chinuch (education). There is no room for violent acts of individuals. In general, harsh and aggressive action against Israel’s enemies is the role of the security forces, except in cases of pikuach nefesh (life-threatening situations) requiring self-defense (according to our Sages determination ‘lf someone comes to kill you, kill him first’).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Jabotinsky – Vision, Dedication and Faith

Jabotinsky – Vision, Dedication, and Faith

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who died 79 years ago today, would have become one of the world’s most successful orators, had he not decided to devote himself to act on behalf of the Jewish nation * The Jewish Legion he founded and commanded to protect Jerusalem from Arab rioters, despite British policy, saved many Jews, while he himself paid a heavy price * His brilliance led him to different positions in contrast to his fellow Zionists who attacked him harshly, nevertheless, his accuracy was proven years later – often, too late * Out of his devotion to the nation he later became more traditional, and the warm connection of his followers to Judaism has continued to this day

Ze’ev Jabotinsky

As part of gratitude to eminent Jewish personalities, it is worth mentioning the founder of the Betar movement, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who passed away on the 29th of Tamuz, 5700 (Aug. 4th, 1940), and in his teachings and deeds worked for the redemption of the Jewish nation and its land – matters important to discuss during the days of ‘bein ha-metzarim’ (the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av). In doing so, we will also come to understand the significance of the enormous crises that befell the Jewish people in modern times, which occasionally led great personalities who grew up in assimilated environments, such as Herzl and Jabotinsky, to reconnect in a deep and wonderful way to their people and country, and to make a decisive contribution to the process of Israel’s redemption in the Gathering of the Exiles, and settlement of the Land. This phenomenon was profoundly explained by our teacher and guide, Rabbi Kook, and has important implications to this day.

Jabotinsky was born in 5640 (1880), orphaned from his father at the age of six, and grew up in a home where Jewish tradition was considered as something distant for the elderly. His hometown was Odessa, whose Jews were known for distancing themselves from Torah and mitzvot. Like many of his peers, he began to assimilate into Russian society and culture and was quite successful.

His talents were brilliant. Already at a young age, he became famous as a writer and gifted translator with a bright future ahead of himself. He was also considered one of the best speakers in the world. He mastered nearly twelve languages and was able to write articles and speak fluently in most of them. He also completed law school and was certified as a lawyer. Had he worked as a lawyer, he would undoubtedly have been considered one of the greatest in his field, having status and wealth. But from the moment he became captivated with the national Jewish idea, he dedicated himself to his fellow Jews, leaving nothing for himself.

Zionism and Dedication

During World War I, Jabotinsky worked to establish the Jewish Legion as part of the British army and participated as an officer in conquering Eretz Yisrael from the Turks. He believed that if the Jews participated in the conquest of the Land their right to it would be recognized, thus preparing the political and military infrastructure for the establishment of the state. Indeed, the Jewish Legion had a significant contribution to the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain declared it would work to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.

Establishment of a Protective Force in the Land

In 5680 (1920) when the Arabs began a wave of incitement against the Jews, Jabotinsky warned they were about to start rioting against the Jews. When he saw that the commanders of the British army were indifferent to the situation, he organized the members of the Jewish Legion into a protective force, and openly trained them. This was the foundation for the establishment of the Haganah, which, upon the establishment of the state, became the infrastructure for the founding of the IDF. When the wave of riots and murders all over the country began, Jabotinsky appealed to the commanders of the British army, requesting they assign the army to stop the Arab riots in Jerusalem where the majority of the Jewish population was concentrated. The British, however, stood by and refused to exert force against the Arabs. Seeing this, in contradiction to military orders and knowing he was liable to pay a heavy price for it, Jabotinsky enlisted his soldiers from the Jewish Legion and fought the Arabs. In doing so, he saved the Jews of Jerusalem.

His British commanders put him and his soldiers on trial for refusing orders, looting, and disruption of order. Jabotinsky was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor and lowered to the rank of private, but since he took full responsibility upon himself during the trial, his soldiers were punished with light sentences.

From his prison cell, Jabotinsky waged an international public struggle in which he demanded absolute acquittal. He and his companions embarked on a prolonged and life-threatening hunger strike. The public campaign succeeded – at first, his sentence was shortened to one year, and eventually,  canceled completely. Nonetheless, the Jewish Legion was disbanded.

Jabotinsky and his soldiers, who were imprisoned in the Acre prison, stopped their hunger strike following a letter written to them by Maran HaRav Kook ztz”l: “Our brothers, the pure heroes … dear brothers … do not harm your health … in particular, it is my duty to declare to you my beloved sons,  that what you are doing is forbidden by any way or shape by our holy and pure religion … stay strong, dear brothers, and wait for salvation to come … your faithful brother, who shares your sorrow, and looks forward to rejoicing in your happiness, in your speedy redemption” (Likutei HaRaayah, pages 61–62).

In Exile

Upon intensifying his activities for aliyah and the establishment of a Jewish state, the British expelled him from the country, or to be more exact, after leaving the country in 1929, he was denied his entry visa.

In exile, and out of loyalty to his homeland, Jabotinsky refused to accept citizenship of any country and did not buy or rent a home. For nearly twenty years, he wandered from place to place, speaking about Eretz Yisrael, the Hebrew language, and the return to Jewish history. At the end of his life, he also emphasized Jewish heritage and faith. His wandering for the sake of the Jewish people prevented him from having a routine family life.

In the course of his Zionist activities, he wrote and published articles in some of the world’s most important newspapers. As a gifted writer, he was paid a nice sum of money for his articles and writings. Part of the money he earned he sent to his wife, mother, son, and sister who lived in Eretz Yisrael, and the rest he contributed to the Zionist movement. He left only a little for himself to pay for his stay in cheap hotels.

The Revisionist Zionists

In 1929, Jabotinsky established the Revisionist Movement, which operated as part of the World Zionist Movement advocating mass immigration to Israel, and the establishment of the Jewish state.

When the Nazis came to power (1933), he intensified his efforts. He would travel in Eastern and Central Europe from one city to another and from town to town, slept in trains and cheap hotels, embarked on meetings and lectures advocating for immediate immigration to Eretz Yisrael and the urgent evacuation of Jews from Europe. He felt that a dreadful Holocaust was about to happen to the Jewish people in Europe.

As a result of his efforts, he was vilified and attacked by members of the Left-wing Zionist parties, by the Bund, and by anti-Zionist circles of all sorts. His political rivals in the Zionist Organization were Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion.

After his positions were rejected, he felt he had no choice, and in view of the Nazi danger in Europe, was obligated to act within a new framework. In 1935 he established a massive Jewish organization working to promote immigration and the Jewish state. Within two years, more members were registered in his organization than in the old Zionist Organization. But it was too late. World War broke out, and his positions could no longer save anyone.

Remarkable Analytical Skills Wasted

His socio-political analytical skills were remarkable. In his clear analyzes, Jabotinsky predicted long-term processes way in advance, according to which he formulated positions that over the years turned out to be remarkably accurate.

He did not pursue honor, authority, or money, nevertheless, his rivals, Weizmann and Ben-Gurion, envied him for his talents, did not grasp the depth of his positions, and systematically and flagrantly worked against him.

In the end, many of his positions were accepted, but sadly, only ten years or later, which at times was tragic. This was the case, for example, with his “Iron Wall” policy concerning the Jewish-Arab struggle, which inevitably materialized in Israel’s wars, but had it been accepted beforehand as a formal position, it most likely would have acted as a deterrence, and achieved incomparably better results.

Also regarding the question of independence, he believed that the demand for a Jewish state should be met immediately by the right of privilege, and demand the strict fulfillment of international promises and obligations to the Jewish people. His position was accepted only after the Holocaust.

After the occupation of the country by the British, when the gates of the country were open without restriction, he demanded a call for mass immigration to determine a solid Jewish majority in the country. The Zionist leadership that advocated selective immigration was strongly opposed, and thus, nearly ten precious years passed.

After the British restricted immigration quotas, he called for a vigorous fight and took action despite the ban. In this framework, called “aliyah af-al-pi” (aliyah nevertheless), tens of thousands of Jews immigrated, and thus survived the Holocaust. Only after the Holocaust did Leftist parties join in organizing “illegal” immigration to Israel.

He was in favor of free market initiative in developing the country and its economy (moderate capitalism). His rivals worked to suppress private initiative. Only due to lack of choice was the idea accepted after decades.

His position was to act overtly in international relations, rather than lobbying in back rooms. History has shown overt activity to be more beneficial.

Also, the rebellion against British rule, which led to the establishment of the state, was already planned by him in 1937.

His Attitude towards Tradition

Stemming from the Jewish national issue, Jabotinsky came closer to Judaism. Several times he expressed genuine regret for not having received a traditional Jewish education. When his friends asked him about his changed attitudes concerning religion and faith, he explained that over time he realized that the mysterious foundation of faith and religion was a basis without which life could not be built, and certainly, not a Jewish life.

True, he criticized phenomena that seemed to contradict the values ​​of freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion, but it is important to note that in this matter, although in a different style, he concurred with some of the views of Rabbi Kook, who saw the values ​​of freedom and liberty as important beliefs.

In the constitution of the New Zionist Organization which he founded, he wrote: “The aim of Zionism is the redemption of Israel and its land, the revival of its sovereignty and language, and the rooting of its sacred teachings in the life of the nation. Its ways: Creating a Hebrew majority in Eretz Yisrael on both sides of the Jordan, establishing the Hebrew state on the foundations of civil liberty and the principles of justice in the spirit of Torat Yisrael“.

It is worth noting that in the first version he wrote “the imposing of its sacred teachings in the life of the nation”, but in the end, compromised with the opinion of the majority of the founding members, and wrote “rooting” instead of “imposing”.

These are the foundations that underpin the positive attitude to tradition in the Revisionist Zionist movement in its various incarnations, up to today’s Likud party.

His Attitude toward Rabbi Kook

In an article written at the end of the summer of 1934, after the acquittal of Avraham Stavsky of Arlozorov’s murder, Jabotinsky addressed Rabbi Kook: “From Rabbi Falk (the military rabbi of the Jewish Legion in World War I), I first heard the name Rabbi Kook. The rabbi was living in London at the time, and Falk was one of his students. It is not easy to faithfully describe a student’s attitude towards his rabbi. Rabbi Falk spoke of Rabbi Kook not only as a revered teacher but as a holy guide. For hours, he sat and explained to me Rabbi Kook’s worldview … For the first time in my spiritual life, my heart opened to that same ancient terrain – but new for me – which contains answers to all our deep problems, and stems from our ancient Scriptures … and behind all the revelations hidden in the verses and aggadot, stands a rare and precious human personality, a soul living in a unique world, a world of lofty and noble ideas, a soul that builds its daily life according to an eternal order, a soul that breathes and operates in certain perpetual contact with a supernatural power”. (Mo’adei Raayah, page 395).

Concerning Public Shabbat Desecration

In the name of Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Chechik, related: “It once happened that on a Sunday, Jews whose hearts ached for the desecration of Shabbat, came and told Rabbeinu that on Shabbat some youth had gathered on the field behind the Bukhara houses playing soccer, and transgressed Shabbat prohibitions. Since the youth were members of Betar, whose leader was Ze’ev Jabotinsky, consequently, it would be highly appropriate for Rabbeinu to write a letter of protest to him.

“After Rabbeinu sadly listened to them, he asked me for a piece of paper, and wrote a pleasantly worded protest letter with candid reproach to Mr. Jabotinsky, and asked me to give it to him. When I arrived and handed Jabotinsky the letter and he saw that it was from Rav Kook ztz”l, he asked me to wait until he read it. After reading the letter, he sank into reflection, his face expressing sorrow. Immediately, he asked me: Do you know the contents of Rav Kook’s letter? After I told him I did, he asked me to tell Rabbeinu not to worry, that he would use all of his influence to make sure it didn’t happen again and added that he would also meet Rabbeinu to discuss the matter. He graciously accompanied me to the door, and asked me to send his warm regards to “our dear Rabbi.”

The Attitude of Rav Kook and His Son Rav Tzvi Yehudah towads Jabotinsky

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda supported Jabotinsky’s political positions, and the armed struggle of the Underground movements, Irgun and Lechi, against the British occupation and Arab rioters, and even boasted that he agreed to hide Underground literature in his home.

Similarly, I also heard testimony that Rabbi Kook ztz”l had tremendous appreciation for Jabotinsky’s self-sacrifice for the people of Israel, his correct positions, and the purity of his character traits. I heard that when a letter was brought to Rav Kook from Jabotinsky concerning the libel surrounding the murder of Arlozorov, he said that Jabotinsky was “an angel of God.” No such leader of the Jewish people at that time received such adoration from Rav Kook.

His Last Day

Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s vigorous activities for years that knew no bounds, as well as the feelings of disappointment and humiliation he felt among his Zionist associates, and most of all the missed opportunity – the Holocaust had begun, and all the many Jews he had met and called for their immigration to Eretz Yisrael, were left trapped in Europe – gnawed his heart, and he died of a massive heart attack while visiting a Betar summer camp in New York. In his will, he instructed his bones be brought for burial to Eretz Yisrael, but only by order of the Jewish state that was to be established. Indeed, in 1964, after Ben-Gurion resigned as Prime Minister, the Israeli government, led by Levi Eshkol, decided to bring his remains and that of his wife to Eretz Yisrael, and their resting place is on Mount Herzl, next to the seer of the State of Israel.

On his last day, the 29th of Tammuz, 5700 (August 4th, 1940), while traveling from New York to the Betar camp in the suburbs, he unexpectedly asked one of his companions who was a traditional Jew, to sing for him the “Kol Nidre” prayer, saying that he did not quite recall the words in Aramaic. After he sang it to him once, Jabotinsky sank into deep reflection, and asked him to sing “Kol Nidre” a few more times.

As well-known in Jewish tradition, a person’s last day holds a concise expression of his entire life. Jabotinsky’s cleaving to the “Kol Nidre” prayer,  symbolizing more than any other prayer the sacred day of Yom Kippur, expresses the purity of his actions for the sake of the Jewish nation, its Land, and its spiritual culture.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Have the Laws of Kashrut Changed?

Have the Laws of Kashrut Changed?

Many studies have proven beyond doubt that metal and glass utensils do not absorb flavors, which raises a question about the halakha of kashering utensils based on the assumption that utensils absorb and emit them * The halakha does not change, and the metal utensils have not changed, but it seems that the invention of soap changed reality * From the poskim it has been proven that absorption of flavors stemmed from the layer of grime accumulated on the utensils, but today the widespread use of soap prevents this * In light of this, all the foundations of hilchot keilim remain in place, and only in laws that actually depend on absorption of flavor, has the law changed

 The Basis of the Mitzvah of Kashering Utensils

Three years ago, I shared with the readers the explanation of an important and complex halachic issue that arose in the past generation, and now I will briefly summarize it with its main halachic conclusions.

After Israel defeated Midian and captured their spoils, they were commanded to kasher the vessels as they were used – “k’bolo kach polto” (in the same manner a utensil absorbs, it also releases what it has absorbed). In other words, utensils used for cooking – their kashering is done by hagalah (immersing in boiling water), and utensils used for roasting or baking – by way of libun (kashering with direct fire until the vessels becomes red-hot), as the Torah says: ” This is the rule that God commanded Moses: As far as the gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead are concerned, whatever was used over fire must be brought over fire and purged… that which was not used over fire need only be immersed in a mikveh” (Numbers 31: 21-23).

At the basis of the mitzvah, our Sages explained that the taste of a food cooked in a utensil is absorbed in its walls, and if after cooking a treif (non-kosher) food in a pot, kosher food is cooked, the treif flavor is released from the walls and is absorbed in the kosher food. And our Sages instructed that since we do not know how much taste is absorbed and stuck to the walls, and what strength it has, the walls must be considered as if they are filled with the prohibition. Since the pot contents are almost always not sixty times the thickness of the walls, it follows that whenever a dish is cooked in a pot that has absorbed a forbidden taste, everything that is cooked in the pot will be prohibited. The same applies to a pot in which milk was cooked and then meat, that since in the meat dish there are not sixty times the thickness of the walls that absorbed milk, the meat dish is forbidden. In order to be able to cook in a treif pot, it must be kashered as it is used – “k’bolo kach polto” (Avodah Zarah 74b; 76b).

The halakha goes according to Rabbi Shimon, that if the treif pot had not been used for twenty-four hours, be’di’avad (after the fact), the dish cooked in it is not forbidden, because after a period of twenty-four hours the taste absorbed in the utensil is pagum (defective), and a taam pagum (defective taste) does not make the dish forbidden. But l’chatchila (ideally), it is forbidden to use the utensil without kashering it (S. A., Y. D. 122:2).

The Big Question Nowadays

In recent generations, it has become evident beyond any doubt, according to the experience of many people who have examined it in their home kitchen, as well as scientific research, that metal vessels, similar to glassware, do not absorb flavors and consequently, also do not emit them. In other words, if milk is cooked in a pot, and afterward the pot is thoroughly cleaned, and then meat is cooked in it, the meat will not have any taste of milk. And if treif meat was cooked and then the pot was cleaned well, and immediately afterward a vegetable dish was cooked in it, the vegetables will not have any taste from the treif meat.

Ostensibly, since the obligation to kasher a utensil is to remove the flavors that have been absorbed in it, after it has become apparent that metal and glass utensils do not absorb flavors – the Torah’s commandment to kasher them after treif has been cooked in them, is null and void. On the other hand, however, we have learned explicitly in the Torah that it is a mitzvah to kasher metal utensils?

Have Metals Changed?

At first, I speculated: perhaps metals have changed and in the past, they were less solid and impervious and therefore absorbed flavors, similar to earthenware and wood utensils. However, it turns out that metals of various types are common substances known not to have changed, and unlike clay and wood that have pores through which taste-bearing materials can penetrate into the thickness of the utensil, flavors cannot penetrate metal-bearing materials because the taste molecules are far larger than the spaces between the particles from which metals are made.

If so, the question remains: How is it possible that our Sages said that metal utensils emit flavors from the previous dish cooked in them, but today we do not taste it at all?

The Change Comes From the Invention of Soap

After further study, I discovered that the change that has taken place in recent generations is in our ability to clean utensils. Only a little over two hundred years ago (1790), Nicolas Leblanc, a French chemist, discovered the method used to make detergent, the basic substance of soap, which can dissolve and remove fats and grime. In a gradual process, the use of soap became common, until about 100 years ago, liquid soap, which in time was used worldwide, also began to be produced in Germany.

In other words, in the past, although utensils were washed well, and materials such as ash and burr which work similarly to soap were used, almost always particles of food cooked in utensils remained stuck to their sides. These tastes were called “absorbed flavors” since they became one with the sides, and secondary to them. In addition, metal surfaces are covered with tiny cracks (which can be seen with a microscope) and taste-bearing materials can enter them, and may be considered as actually absorbed in the metal, even though they do not penetrate into its thickness. In earlier times, metal utensils were often coarser, and the holes in their walls were larger.

Nevertheless, as long as soap was not used, even after serious cleaning, there was almost always a thin layer of residue food leftover on the side of the utensil which transferred tastes. And because the liquids in this layer evaporated, the taste-bearing materials remained there in a high concentration, to the point where our Sages hypothesized according to experience that sometimes their taste was equal to that of the thickness of the walls. And since it is a thin layer exposed to air, an accelerated biochemical processes of decay would have occurred, to the point where our Sages hypothesized that if the utensil was not ben yomo (over 24 hours had passed), it was already clear that the taste that stuck to, and absorbed in its walls, were pagum.

Evidence from the Poskim

After understanding this, with the help of Rabbi Maor Cayam shlita, I found that in essence, this is what emerges from the words of the Rishonim, who explicitly wrote that at the time utensils undergo hagalah, the filth and grime emitted from the utensils into the water becomes very thick. Thus, they were speaking about the fats that were stuck to the sides of the utensils which the boiling water had melted until they mixed-in with the water. Consequently, Rabbi Aharon Halevi (Ra’ah) wrote that many utensils should not be immersed in the same water, for fear that “there will be a lot of zohama (filth), and consequently, the power of the water (to extract the tastes) is nullified, and the water changes its form…” (Bedik HaBayit 4: 4); and thus wrote Ran, that many utensils should not undergo hagalah “to the point where the water changes its form due to emitted material from the utensils, for it is as if one immersed a utensil in sauce…” (Chulin 44a, in dapaei Rif), and as explained by many other Rishonim. Today, the water does not change form because utensils are cleaned with soap.

The Obligation to Kasher Remains

In light of this, the obligation to kasher metal utensils used with treif remains in place, since even in the past, metals did not actually absorb tastes within them; thus, the obligation to kasher them is because when they were used with treif, the tastes stuck to their sides. And just as it is obligatory to kasher treif utensils after twenty-four hours have passed, even though the taste-bearing material stuck to them is already considered pagum and not prohibited, similarly, it is also obligatory to kasher utensils after removing all the remnants of food with soap.

If we delve deeper into the words of the Rishonim, we find they differed whether the obligation to kasher after cleansing, similar to the obligation to kasher a treif utensil after 24 hours passed, is from the Torah or of rabbinical ordinance. According to those poskim who believe that “ta’am k’ikar d’Rabanan” (‘a taste is like the entity itself’ is of rabbinical ordinance) (Ramban, Rambam, Ra’ah, Ran, Nimukei Yosef, Ritva, and others), since the tastes that were absorbed and stuck to the utensils are not prohibited by the Torah, thus, the obligation to kasher utensils from the Torah also applies to tastes that became pagum or were removed, or as Ramban wrote that the kashering of utensils is for “a virtuous reason,” similar to the mitzvah of immersing utensils that a Jew bought or received from a non-Jew in a mikveh (Ra’ah, Bedek HaBayit 4: 1). And in the opinion of those poskim who believe that “ta’am k’ikar D’oreita” (‘a taste is like the entity itself’ is from the Torah)” (Bahag, Tosafot, Rabbeinu Tam, Terumah, Ra’zah, Raavad, Rosh, and others), after the taste is removed or is pagum, the obligation to kasher is of Rabbinical ordinance.

The Halakha in Laws Dependent on Taste

According to this explanation, all the fundamentals of the laws of kashering utensils remain in place, and only in laws that actually depend on taste, has the law changed. For example, if one made a mistake and cooked kosher food in a treif pot, just as if 24 hours had passed since the treif was cooked in the pot the food cooked in it is kosher, similarly, if the pot was cleaned with soap, even though 24 hours had not passed since the treif was cooked – the food cooked in it is kosher.

However, if it was done be’zadon (maliciously), in other words, one knew that the pot required kashering, and nevertheless he cooked kosher food in it, from Divrei Chachamim (Rabbinical ordinance), the food cooked is forbidden for anyone who it was cooked for, even though in practice, the pot did not emit forbidden tastes into the cooked food. There are, however, some later poskim who were lenient even for someone who cooked it be’zadon (Tiferet Le’Moshe, Maharam Shick, Iggrot Moshe, and others), but in practice, one should be machmir (act stringently), as many Rishonim and Acharonim wrote (among them, Rashba, Ritva, Radbaz, Knesset HaGedolah, Pri Migadim, Beit Shlomo, Zivchei Tzedek).

Cooking Parve Food in a Basari Utensil (Nat-Bar-Nat)

As well known, the Rishonim differed on the question of whether it is permitted to cook parve food in a basari (meat) pot in order to eat it with chalav (dairy), or vice versa (this law in Hebrew is called “nat-bar-nat d’hetera“). In accordance with the words of the Rishonim, three minhagim (customs) was established: 1) the minhag of some Sephardic Jews, who hold that l’chatchila (ideally), one is permitted to cook in a ben yomo basari pot (a pot that 24 hours have not passed since meat was cooked in it) a parve food in order to eat it with chalav. 2) The minhag of most Sephardi Jews is that, l’chatchila, one should not cook parve food in a basari pot to be eaten with chalav, but if the basari pot is not ben yomo, one can cook a parve dish in it, in order to eat it with chalav. 3) For the minhag of Ashkenazic Jews, even b’shaat ha’tzorech (time of need), parve food cooked in a basari pot that is ben yomo cannot be eaten with chalav, and only be’di’avad (after the fact), if it got mixed in, it may be eaten. And if the basari pot is not ben yomo, b’shaat ha’tzorech it may be eaten with chalav.

According to what we have learned, all this is intended for earthenware utensils that absorb flavors, or metal utensils that have not been thoroughly cleansed with soap. However, in a metal utensil that has been cleansed with soap, members of all ethnic groups can act according to the lenient method.

The Law Concerning Charif

Similarly, the Rishonim differed as to charif (sharp, or spicy) food. Some poskim are of the opinion that the spiciness of the food enhances taste, therefore, if one cooks or cuts a charif food in a basari pot, the cooked dish becomes basari, and the minhag is to take into consideration their opinion (S. A. 91: 1). However today, when pots and pans are cleaned with soap, the lenient opinion should be followed, namely, if one cooked or cut a charif parve food in a clean basari utensil made of metal or glass – the food remains parve, and may be eaten with chalav, or vice versa.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

The Three Weeks: Permitted and Forbidden

17th of Tammuz: Nursing and pregnant women are exempt from fasting, as well as sick people who are bedridden * Weakness and headaches are a natural phenomenon when fasting, and are not a reason for exemption, but someone who is liable to get sick, is exempt * One may swallow medicines without water, and also pills with caffeine for those who need them * Soldiers in operational activity are exempt from fasting, but soldiers in training must fast * What kind of music may be heard during the Three Weeks * What is forbidden to buy during the Three Weeks and the Nine Days * Vacations are permitted until Rosh Chodesh Av, while maintaining strict rules of caution

Pregnant and Nursing Women on the Minor Fasts

Pregnant and nursing women are exempt from the Minor Fasts (where the fast is only during the day), because when Israel accepted to fast on the Minor Fasts, they did not accept it for pregnant and nursing women, because fasting is more difficult for them. In Germany (Ashkenaz), many pregnant and nursing women had a custom to act strictly and fast on the minor fast days.  Perhaps they did so because of the harsh decrees that the Jews suffered there.  In any event, the prevalent custom today, even among Ashkenazi Jews, is that pregnant and nursing women do not observe the minor fast days.

The Two Years after Birth

Some poskim exempt all women from fasting for 24 months after giving birth, because in their opinion the exemption does not depend on nursing but on the hardships of childbirth, from which it takes 24 months to recover (Maharasham and Yichevei Da’at 1:35).  In practice, most poskim rule strictly and require every woman who has stopped nursing to fast even on the Minor Fast days.  This is the prevalent custom, but one who wants to adopt the more lenient opinion has upon whom to rely. And a woman who feels weakness, even though she is not considered truly sick, is entitled to be lenient (ibid, 7: 8, 11).

The Infirm are Exempt

When the Prophets and Sages instituted these fasts, they did so for healthy people, not for the sick.  This is the difference between Yom Kippur and all other fasts.  On Yom Kippur, even the infirm are obligated to fast, because it is a Biblical command.  Only people whose lives may be in danger if they fast are exempt, for the preservation of human life overrides the Torah’s commandments.

In general, people whose pain or weakness precludes them from continuing their regular routine of life, forcing them to lie down, are considered sick.  For example, those who have the flu, angina, or a high fever need not fast.

However, almost everyone develops a headache and feels weak on a fast day, and most people find it easier spending the day in bed than continuing to function normally.  Sometimes, a person who is fasting even feels worse than a flu sufferer.  Nonetheless, such feelings are not considered a sickness, rather the natural effects of fasting, which will pass within a few hours after the fast is over.  Therefore, only one who needs to lie down because of an illness is exempt from fasting.  One who suffers from the fast itself, however, must continue to fast even if his weakness causes him to prefer to lie down in bed.  Only one who becomes so weak from the fast that he leaves the category of suffering from the fast, and enters that of the infirm, may break his fast.

A weak or very old person who suffers while fasting and fears that if he fasts, he will get weaker and sick, is exempt from fasting. Also, a sick person who has recovered from his illness but still feels weak, and fears that if he fasts, his illness will return, is exempt from fasting.

In addition, anyone who knows that fasting can cause him to fall ill need not fast.  For example, someone who suffers from an active ulcer or severe migraines is exempt from fasting, because it is liable to precipitate his illness. Diabetes sufferers who need to take insulin need not fast, and some of them are even exempt from fasting on Yom Kippur.  Those who have kidney stones are exempt from fasting, because they have to drink a lot of water.  A person with high blood pressure is not considered sick and should fast, unless his doctor instructs him otherwise.  Whenever in doubt, consult a God-fearing doctor (ibid, 7: 7).

Swallowing Medications

It is also important to note that sick people who need to take medicine regularly, like a person who has started a regimen of antibiotics or one who suffers from a chronic disease, must continue taking their medicine even on a fast day.  If possible, one should swallow it without water.  This is because there is almost no medicine, including antibiotics, that does any harm to those who take it without water.  One who cannot swallow pills without water should add something bitter to the water, until it becomes undrinkable, and use it to swallow the pill.

Headache Pills

Many people drink a few cups of coffee a day, and while fasting, suffer from severe headaches. In order to prevent this, it is advisable to use pills containing caffeine (there are Acamol or Dexamol tablets and the like, with caffeine), and swallow them on the fast without water, so they can fast without severe pain.

The Duration of the Fast

The Minor Fasts last from daybreak (alot hashachar) to the emergence of the stars (tzait ha-kochavim). Alot hashachar is when the first light begins to appear in the east.  Tzait ha-kochavim is when three medium-sized stars are visible in the sky.  There are different opinions as to when exactly alot hashachar occurs – either when the first light begins to appear in the east (when the sun is 17.5 degrees below the horizon) or a short time later, when the eastern sky is illuminated (when the sun is 16.1 degrees below the horizon).

There are also two major opinions regarding tzait hakochavim.  It occurs either when experts and those with excellent eyesight can see three stars (when the sun is 4.8 degrees below the horizon) or when regular people can see three stars (when the sun is 6.2 degrees below the horizon).

According to the letter of the law, we should follow the more lenient opinion, because these fasts are Rabbinic enactments.  However, it is best to act strictly.  Since we are already fasting all day long, it is preferable to add a few extra minutes in order to fulfill our obligation according to all opinions  (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim, 7: 3).

Eating before Dawn

Even though the fast starts at alot hashachar, the prohibition to eat sometimes begins the night before.  If one has in mind not to eat anymore until the beginning of the fast, it is considered as if he accepted the fast upon himself, and he may not eat.  Therefore, one who goes to sleep the night before a fast and wakes up before daybreak may not eat, but be’di’avad, he may drink, since it is customary for people to wake up before a fast and take a drink, and this is considered as if he had thought about it (see, Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 7: 4, 5).

Rinsing One’s Mouth with Water

It is permitted to rinse one’s mouth with water, in order to remove bad odor, or to prevent distress. It is also permissible for a person who is distressed to use toothpaste to clean his mouth well, and remove the bad smell.

On Tisha B’Av, which is a more severe fast and bathing is also forbidden, only someone who is very distressed may wash his mouth and brush his teeth without toothpaste. But on Yom Kippur, whose obligation to fast is from the Torah, even those who are very distressed are not permitted to be lenient in this matter (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 7: 5).

Children under the Age of Mitzvot

Children who have yet to reach the age at which they are obligated in the mitzvot are exempt from the fasts that the Rabbis instituted, and are fed simple foods, in order to teach them to mourn with the congregation. But it is not a mitzvah to train them to fast, because only on Yom Kippur, which is Torah-based, is there a mitzvah to train them to fast. If the children are big and healthy and wish to fast until noon, it is commendable, but they should not fast the entire day (ibid, 7:9).

Soldiers

Soldiers who are engaged in active security operations that are liable to be compromised if they fast, should eat and drink as usual so that they may carry out their mission properly. However, soldiers who are merely engaged in training, must fast.

Bride and Groom

A bride and groom, that one of their seven days of rejoicing after their wedding falls on a fast day – are obligated to fast, because public aveilut (mourning) overrides individual joy. However, when the fast is postponed like this year, it is permissible for the bridegroom and bride to break the fast after Mincha Gedolah in the afternoon (Peninei Halakha: Z’manim 7: 9, 12).

Dancing and Music during the Three Weeks

Although our Sages did not make special enactments to indicate the distress and mourning of the Three Weeks, the Jewish custom is to abstain from dancing during the entire Three Weeks (M.A. 551:10).

As an addendum to this, one must not listen to happy music during these days, and even non-joyful music should not be listened to aloud (in a volume that can be heard outside a room), because even listening to music at a high volume makes it more festive and practically transforms it into a joyous song (Peninei Halakha 8: 4-5).

Shopping and “She’hecheyanu” during the Three Weeks

It is customary not to buy a garment or a piece of furniture on which the blessing “She’hecheyanu” (“Blessed are You, Lord…Who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this time”) is recited, because these days are days of calamity, and on them, how can one say ‘who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this time’.

However, until Rosh Chodesh Av one may purchase items that would not require one to recite She’hecheyanu. For example, one may buy socks or undershirts, because these items of clothing are not significant enough to warrant the recitation of She’hecheyanu. One may also buy a garment that requires alterations, to be worn after Tisha B’Av. Since it cannot be worn at the time when it is purchased, one does not recite She’hecheyanu at that time. Furthermore, according to those who customarily recite She’hecheyanu only when they first wear the clothing, one may buy a new garment during the Three Weeks, on the condition that he wears it and recites the blessing after Tisha B’Av. Similarly, a couple may buy a piece of furniture, because, as partners in the purchase, they recite the blessing of Ha’tov Ve’hametiv rather than She’hecheyanu. An individual, on the other hand, must refrain from buying furniture to avoid reciting She’hecheyanu.

Shopping during the Nine Days

Once the month of Av begins, business transactions are curtailed, and one must refrain even from purchases on which She’hecheyanu is not recited. It is also preferable to curtail even ordinary purchases. For example, if one usually makes a big shopping trip and stocks up on food and household items only once every few weeks, ideally, one should refrain from doing so during the Nine Days.

Outings and Vacations

Some poskim maintain that one must refrain from taking pleasure trips and swimming in an ocean or a pool during the Three Weeks, in order to limit our enjoyment during this mournful period. Furthermore, since these days are prone to calamity, one must avoid potentially dangerous activities.

From a halakhic standpoint, however, these activities are not prohibited. After all, our Sages only instructed us to curtail our joy from the first day of Av. They did not prohibit engaging in pleasurable and enjoyable activities before then. The only thing one should avoid is special celebrations, like parties, concerts, and dances. Therefore, one may go hiking and swimming and one may vacation in a hotel until the end of Tamuz. In addition, the concern about engaging in potentially dangerous activities is not so serious that one must be more cautious than one generally should be throughout the year. Thus, one may go hiking and engage in similar activities during the Three Weeks, while taking particular care to follow the safety precautions that apply to such activities throughout the year.

“When Av arrives, we curtail our joy”, therefore, one must refrain from outings and recreational activities that are mainly designed to provide pleasure and joy. However, one may go on a trip or vacation that is designed primarily for educational or therapeutic purposes during the Nine Days.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

The Temple – A Model for Religious Zionism

The Temple structure represents the central values ​​of the Torah, which are reflected in Religious Zionism * At the center is the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies), expressing both the holiness of Torah, and the holiness of Israel * The Kodesh (Inner Sanctuary) draws from the Kodesh HaKodashim, in which the Shulchan (Golden Table) represents work and livelihood, the Menorah represents secular wisdom, and the Ketoret (Golden Altar) represents the service of prayer in cooperation with the general public * The Mizbe’ach HaChitzon (Great Altar) represents self-sacrifice, expressed in each of these areas, and especially in devotion to the Nation and the Land * This is the great vision of Torah, but some of the public see fit to minimize it because “et la’asot la-Hashem, heferu Toratekha” (“it is a time to act for God, they have made void your Torah)”—the problem is when the great vision is forgotten

Uncertainty about the Path of Religious Zionism

From time to time I am approached by people debating controversial issues between the Haredi public and the National-Religious public, such as: 1) Why does the National-Religious public emphasize Israeli nationalism, and does not act like the Haredi public, which emphasizes Torah and mitzvot alone? 2) Is it preferable for someone who can make a living from a subsidy and support of his parents to devote his entire life to studying Torah in kollel, or is it better for him to earn a living from working? 3) Is the fact that the National-Religious public studies sciences as well as Torah, l’chatchila (ideal), or is it only because the rabbis are unsuccessful in convincing the public to study only Torah?

A: In principle, the National-Religious public’s path is the correct path to choose l’chatchila, because this is the way of the Torah, and only by means of it, can Am Yisrael (the Jewish Nation) fulfill its mission – to adhere to God’s ways, settle the Land, and establish a state in the light of the Torah’s instructions, until the time comes when all mankind receives inspiration from Am Yisrael, ‘from Tziyon will come forth the Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem’, and blessing and peace will spread to all peoples.

This great vision the Torah sets before us can be explained in many ways. At this time, I will explain it by contemplating the Mikdash (Holy Temple), which is meant to express the complete vision of Am Yisrael and for that reason we are commanded to build it in the holiest place in the world, and consequently, the Torah elaborates on the mitzvah of building the Mishkan and its vessels.

The Holy of Holies

The Mikdash was divided into two parts: the inner third was the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies), and the remaining two-thirds was the Kodesh (Inner Sanctuary). The Kodesh HaKodashim was designated for the revelation of the brit (covenant) between God and Israel, and therefore, in its center was the Aron (Ark) containing the Tablets of the Covenant. This brit between God and His Chosen Nation Israel, is fulfilled by means of the Torah, and therefore the Torah was also placed in the Kodesh HaKodashim – in the opinion of Rabbi Meir, in the Aron itself, and in the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah, on its side (Bava Batra 14a).

Above the Aron was the Golden Kaporet with two Keruvim on it, which were made in the like of male and female lovers, meant to express that the connection between God and Israel is a bond of love and life – “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5).

From this we learn that in addition to the sanctity of the Torah, the sanctity of marriage is also rooted in the Kodesh HaKodashim – that the love and joy between husband and wife, by means of whom life flows to the world, in a small-scale reveals the idea of ​​the belief in Unity in this world, as hinted in Rabbi Akiva’s words: “For all the Ketuvim (Writings) are holy, but Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs) is Kodesh Kodeshim” (Holy of Holies) (Mishnah Yadayim 3: 5).

We find, therefore, that the two basic values ​​revealed in the Kodesh HaKodeshim are the sanctity of emunah (faith), and the sanctity of Israel, and they receive expression by means of the Torah and marriage. Indeed, we find that our Sages compared the mitzvah of Torah study to the mitzvah of marriage, in their statement that it is forbidden to sell a Torah scroll except for the fulfillment of two mitzvot – in order to learn Torah, and to marry (Megillah 27a).

Between Kodesh and Kodesh HaKodeshim

There were three vessels in the Kodesh (Inner Sanctuary): the Shulchan (Golden Table), the Menorah (lamp), and the Mizbe’ach HaKetoret (The Altar of Incense). The Shulchan represented all types of work and matters of livelihood; the Menorah represented all types of secular wisdom in the world; and the Mizbe’ach HaKetoret, on which the incense was burned every morning and evening, represented worship of the heart in prayer, as it is written: “May my prayer be set before you like incense” (Psalms 141:2).

A curtain was placed between the Kodesh and the Kodesh HaKodeshim, in order to differentiate between the levels of holiness, for of the holiness of the Kodesh is derived from the Kodesh HaKodeshim. In other words, the sanctity of work, science, and prayer stems from the sanctity of the brit between God and Israel. Without the partition, the world would not be able to absorb the sublime light of the Kodesh HaKodeshim, and it would vanish and ascend to the heavenly heights without being able to shower light and blessing to the Kodesh, and thus to the entire world. In other words, when the difference between the levels is blurred, between the value of the brit between God and Israel and the ways in which it is realized, the brit cannot exist. Therefore, on the one hand, the brit must be the most important, but on the other hand, it must be revealed in the ways of human beings. And this is the way the general teaching of the Torah “in all your ways, know Him”, is fulfilled.

The Shulchan

The table on which the Lechem HaPanim (Showbread) was sacrificed expresses the value of work and earning a livelihood, for by means of working, man participates with God in the existence and development of the world. Therefore, even in the Garden of Eden, Adam HaRishon was commanded “to work it, and watch it” (Genesis 2:15). All the more so after he sinned, was punished, and expelled from the Garden of Eden, must he work hard to repair the world that was damaged by his sin. In any case, the role of the Shulchan is to express the sacred value of all types of labor in which man works so as to settle the world and add to it, blessing and goodness. There is a special virtue in working in the Land of Israel, for in a way, it is similar to the work of the Garden of Eden, since in the Land, one fulfills the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel) (see, Chatam Sofer, Succah 36b).

The Menorah

The Golden Menorah expressed the value of all the secular wisdoms and arts of the world, and it had seven branches relating to all the different types of wisdoms, all of which are essentially Divine wisdoms. Proof of this is the fact that our Sages enacted that a person who sees a wise, non-Jewish scholar blesses: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has given from His wisdom to flesh and blood.” Hence, the secular wisdoms also come from His wisdom, but in contrast to the wisdom of the Torah, they are marginal. However, when the secular wisdoms are studied for the sake of Heaven, out of attachment to the Kodesh HaKodeshim, they consequently absorb from its holiness, and are elevated. Therefore, upon seeing a God-fearing Jew who is known to be a great scholar in science, the same blessing said over Sages of the Torah is recited: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has given from His wisdom to those who fear Him” (Peninei Halakha: Berachot 15:18).

The Golden Inner Altar

The Mizbe’ach HaPe’nimi (The Golden Inner Altar) on which the ketoret (incense) was burned, expressed worship of the heart in prayer. The ketoret was made from eleven incenses, relating to the ten levels of sanctity upon which the world was created. There was another important incense in the ketoret: galbanum, which had a bad smell, relating to the wicked of Israel, who, as long as they still remain connected to the Clal (general public), are bound together in kedusha (holiness), and their bad smell even becomes pleasant.

Just as the ketoret expresses the unity of Israel, so too the essence of prayer is for Clal Yisrael, and as our Sages instituted the wording for prayer. Out of prayer for Clal Yisrael, each individual Jew can draw a special prayer for himself, that he be privileged to be partner in the great vision of Clal Yisrael and Tikkun Olam (repairing of the world).

The Great Outer Altar

On the face of it, all the Godly values ​​already received expression in the Mikdash. Why then, was there a need for the great and awe-inspiring Misbe’ach in the Temple courtyard, where fire burned day and night?

Because misirut nefesh (sacrifice and devotion) must receive expression. All the lofty and good values ​​cannot exist in the world without misirut nefesh. One cannot merit attaining Torah without being willing to sacrifice leisure time in order to study it diligently. It is impossible to maintain the covenant of marriage without the willingness of husband and wife to devote themselves to one another, and be willing to compromise and sacrifice. It is impossible to succeed at work without dedication and a willingness to make an effort, and occasionally put in additional hours. Likewise, a scientist would never be able to discover the secrets of nature without devoting himself to his research.

Above and beyond all this, Am Yisrael, whose roots are in the Kodesh HaKodashim, cannot exist without the holy soldiers willing to sacrifice themselves for the sanctity of the Nation and the Land. And to every place where the soldiers of Israel stand on guard to protect their Nation and Land, spreads forth the sanctity of the Mizbe’ach, whose roots are in founded the brit between God and His Nation in the Kodesh HaKodeshim.

When we are worthy, the mesirut is expressed in the offering of korbanot (sacrifices), giving ma’aser kesafim (money tithe), willingness to sacrifice and help family and friends, and studying Torah in difficult circumstances. Occasionally, however, difficult times arrive, when, if a person wishes to remain connected to eternal values, he must be prepared to sacrifice life itself. Without the Mizbe’ach, the Beit HaMikdash cannot exist, as well as all the sacred values ​​in the world.

Another central foundation was revealed in the Kodesh HaKodeshim and the Mizbe’achteshuva (repentance)! The shga’gote (unintentional transgressions) are atoned for by the Mizbe’ach, and the zedonote (intentional transgressions) through a connection of misirut nefesh to the Kodesh HaKodashim.

Answers to the Three Questions

The answer to the first question comes from the Kodesh HaKodashim, for indeed, the place of Israeli nationalism is founded in the Kodesh HaKodashim, in the brit between God and Israel. This is the foundation of emunah – that God chose the Nation of Israel in order to reveal Himself in His world. And even when Israel sins, by means of them, emunah is revealed, as we have learned in the Torah, that even because of the sins and punishments of Israel, portions were written in the Torah. And thus, the entire history of the Jewish people is in essence the revelation of emunah and Torah.

The answer to the second question comes from the Shulchan, namely, that work possesses sacred, self-value by means of which one reveals the image of God within him, and participates with the Creator in perfecting and repairing the world. Moreover, it is forbidden for someone who is able to work, to earn a living from tzedakka (charity). Undeniably, a career in teaching and education is also important and sacred work, and whose livelihood comes from the public, as the Torah commanded the procuring of terumot and maasrot (tithes) for the Kohanim and the Levites.

The answer to the third question comes from the Menorah, that there is sacred self-value to the study of secular wisdom, as explained in the words of our Sages (Shabbat 75a). The Gaon of Vilna added that to the extent an individual lacks knowledge in secular wisdom, conversely, he lacks one hundred-fold in Torah wisdom, for secular wisdom is a vital adjunct to the Torah (see, Peninei Halakha: Likutim Aleph: 1; 14-6). Additionally, the location of the Menorah is in the Kodesh, adjacent to the Kodesh HaKodeshim.

Differences of Opinion about the Degree of Restricting

However, since it is difficult to fulfill the entire vision, sometimes it is necessary to narrow the areas of activity, in the sense of “et la’asot la-Hashem, heferu Toratekha” (“it is a time to act for God, they have made void your Torah”). This is the basis of the Haredi method, which restricts its involvement to the more necessary and secure fields, to the point where amongst many, the vision is almost totally forgotten. The Torani (National-Religious) public is also required to utilize the method of restriction in its education, and it ought to learn from the experience of various circles in the Haredi community. However, unlike the Haredi public, in principle, it places before its eyes the Torah’s great vision, and aspires to realize it.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Leaving a Wedding Early

Leaving a Wedding Early

The more meaningful the enjoyment of a certain type of food is, the more important it’s blessing * The highest level of Birkat Hamazon is at a wedding, since it is a meal in honor of the most important of mitzvot, therefore, our Sages added a special Zimun and Sheva Brachot * It is obligatory to stay for a Zimun with a minyan unless there is a great need to leave, such as a financial loss, a fixed Torah study session, or if it might cause lack of alertness in prayer or work * In principle, Sheva Brachot can be said at every individual table, however, it might hurt the feelings of the family * For that reason, it is preferable for the hosts to encourage those who leave early to recite Sheva Brachot

Food and Its Blessing

The most important bracha (blessing) of all brachot is Birkat Hamazon, which is the only bracha that all agree its obligation is from the Torah, whereas our Sages enacted its fulfillment with four elongated brachot. A lot of people think the most important thing is the food a person needs and wishes to eat, and as a tax burden to Heaven, he must thank and bless the Creator of the world. Thus, they believe that if the tax burden can be reduced – why not? Consequently, if a large and sumptuous meal of fish and meat, rice, potatoes, beans and lentils, ice cream and delicacies can be eaten, it’s preferable to exempt themselves with a short bracha of “borei nefashot”. On the other hand, there are “tzadikim” who believe that the main idea is to bless God, and it is better for one not to gain enjoyment from this world, however, it’s impossible to recite blessing without eating, therefore one must wash his hands and eat bread so that afterward he can merit reciting Birkat Hamazon.

But in truth, a complete and happy life is a combination of the two together, like life itself, composed of body and soul; physical gratification and the revelation of the sacred values ​​within this life-preserving pleasure by means of the bracha. Therefore, Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), through which holiness is revealed in the Land in reality, occupies such a central place in Birkat Hamazon, as it is written: “When you eat and are satisfied, you must therefore bless God your Lord for the good land that He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10), and prior to this the Torah says: “God your Lord is bringing you to a good land – a land with flowing streams, and underground springs gushing out in valley and mountain. It is a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates – a land of oil-olives and honey- [dates]. It is a land where you will not eat rationed bread, and you will not lack anything – a land whose stones are iron, and from whose mountains you will quarry copper” Deuteronomy 8: 6-9).

How fortunate we are the Torah commanded us at every meal to relate to food by means of eating and blessing – with bodily pleasure, and spiritual emunah (faith). Eating with this goal can help us eat correctly – not too much, and not too little. To enjoy the fine and inherent taste of healthy foods, and not to be enticed by the tempting taste of foods that harm our health.

The Zimun

If three people participated in a meal, our Sages enacted the broadening of Birkat Hamazon by means of zimun, namely, adding a blessing of introduction to Birkat Hamazon. If ten people ate at the meal, then the zimun is performed in a more dignified manner with the mention of HaShem. The gathering of many people together holds great power – the mutual interaction between them creates something more than all the individuals possess. The smallest group consists of three people, and when three people eat together – beyond the benefit and enjoyment they derive from the food, additional emotions are stirred in their souls, their meal receives the status of a social event, and thus, their Birkat Hamazon also has to receive a more important status, for indeed, Birkat Hamazon should give expression to the sacred, inner value in food, and the more important the meal is, the more important the bracha should be, so that it can give food its worthy significance.

For three women who ate together, as well, – it is a mitzvah for them to recite Birkat Hamazon with a zimun (Arachin 3a; Peninei Halakha: Berachot 5: 7).

Zimun and Sheva Brachot at a Wedding

A wedding meal is the most important of all the meals we hold, since it is a feast in honor of the most important mitzvah of all the mitzvot, by which the couple fulfills the mitzvah of ve’ahavta le’reiecha kimocha (to love your neighbor as yourself) completely, and with the help of God, merit giving birth to life. Therefore, at the end of the meal, our Sages instituted the reciting of Birkat Hamazon on its highest level, with a zimun and Sheva Brachot.

In practice, however, there is a problem, seeing as most of the participants in a wedding meal wish to go home beforehand. The question is whether it is permissible for those who leave early to recite Birkat Hamazon without a zimun and Sheva Brachot, or do they have to stay until the end of the wedding and the concluding Birkat Hamazon with a zimun and Sheva Brachot. Or perhaps it correct to recite Birkat Hamazon at the end of the meal a little earlier, in order to give all the guests the opportunity to participate in the zimun and Sheva Brachot?

The Principle Prohibition of Leaving before Zimun

As a general rule, a person who participated in a meal of ten men is obligated in the important zimun of ten, and even to recite a zimun of three men is forbidden, since one is already obligated in the zimun of ten. And as our Sages said, that ten who ate together are not permitted to separate until there are twenty (Berakhot 51a, S. A., O. C. 193:1).

Kal ve’chomer (all the more so) at a wedding meal, in which together with Birkat Hamazon, we recite the blessings of Sheva Brachot, and some poskim say that whoever participates in a wedding meal is obligated to hear Sheva Brachot (Cheishev Ho’ephod 9; Daat Sofer 26: Iggrot Moshe, O.C. 1:56). There is even a posek who is of the opinion that the words of our Sages, ” Whoever partakes of the wedding meal of a bridegroom and does not gladden him transgresses ‘the five voices’ mentioned in the verse ‘The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that say, Give thanks to the Lord of Hosts” (Berachot 6b), are directed toward someone who does not wait until Sheva Brachot (Rebbe Chaim from Brisk, cited in Nitei Gavriel 98:1). Nevertheless, there are poskim who are of the opinion that it is not obligatory for each participant to hear Sheva Brachot, rather, there is a general obligation to hold at the end of the meal Sheva Brachot (Mahari Shteif 7; Minchat Yitzchak 2:43; Tzitz Eliezer 11:84). In any case, even these poskim agree that the obligation of zimun of ten obligates them to remain until the end (see, Otzar HaPoskim 62, 25, 10).

When is it permitted to leave before Zimun

However, the obligation to remain until zimun at the end of the meal is in a normal situation, but in a situation where one is compelled, or le’tzorech gadol (in a case of great need), one is permitted to leave the group and recite Birkat Hamazon without a zimun. For example, someone who has to leave in order to prevent himself from losing money or for the purpose of a mitzvah, may bless without a zimun. Therefore, someone who is concerned that if he stays until the end of the wedding will find it difficult to get up the next day for prayer, or be tired at work, is permitted to recite Birkat Hamazon without a zimun, and return home. Likewise, someone who regularly sets aside time to study Torah every night, and if he remains until the end, will fail to maintain his regular Torah study, is permitted to recite Birkat Hamazon without a zimun. In all these situations, it is minhag chassidut (pious conduct) for his fellow diners at the table to join him in a zimun of three. But short of a great need, it is forbidden to leave before zimun (Peninei Halakha: Berachot 5:11).

In any case, someone who knows in advance that he will have to leave before the end of the meal should think to himself that even though he eats with them, he is not really part of the group, and should tell those at his table that he will have to leave before the end, and thus, exempt himself from the obligation of zimun and may recite Birkat Hamazon by himself – even if it’s not for a great need. And if those at his table wish to join him in a zimun, he should do so, since in practice he ate with them – and although he did not think to eat with them together until the end, they are permitted to make a zimun with him (Peninei Halakha: Berachot 5:11).

The Possibility of Sheva Brachot at Each Table

Since in practice the majority of people usually leave before the zimun, it would seem that at every table where most of the guests wish to leave before the end of the meal and zimun, they should make a zimun of ten men over a glass of wine with Sheva Brachot. For indeed, according to halakha it is possible to make a zimun and Sheva Brachot at each individual table, and the bride and groom do not have to sit with them, for Sheva Brachot can be recited at a wedding meal even when the hosts do not hear the blessings (S. A., E. H., 62: 11; Aruch HaShulchan 37).

In a Case Where the Hosts’ Feelings will be Hurt

However, it is forbidden to make a zimun of ten men when there is a concern that the wedding hosts’ feelings will be hurt by the fact that their guests are making a zimun by themselves at their table, and leaving the meal prematurely. As written in the Shulchan Aruch: “And they are not permitted to divide into groups of ten, because they will have to recite the blessing aloud and the baal ha’bayit (the host) will hear them and be annoyed with them”, and therefore they should divide up into groups of three and recite the blessing quietly so that the baal ha’bayit will not hear” (O.C. 193:1). The person leading the zimun with three men says “sheh’ha’simcha bi’m’ono”, but should not recite the blessing “asher bara”, since it requires a glass of wine, and if he makes a zimun over a glass of wine, it is liable to hurt the feelings of the hosts.

However, if they are distinguished people like rabbis and public figures whose time is precious, and the groom would like them to make a zimun of ten men, it is a mitzvah for them to do so, and also to recite Sheva Brachot (Peninei Halakha: Berachot 5:18).

Suggestion

In practice, since many people usually do not stay until the zimun at the end of the wedding, it seems best that the hosts encourage the guests to hold Sheva Brachot at their tables. In other words, towards the end of the main course, when some of the people intend to leave, they should pour a glass of wine, one of them recite zimun with ten men over the cup of wine, at the end of Birkat Hamazon pass it around to those who recited the blessing so they can participate in Sheva Brachot, and at the end, the one who recited zimun should say the blessing over the wine and drink from it. In order to avoid harming the general process of the joy of the wedding, it is proper not to take pains over the zimun and Sheva Brachot, rather, to do it indiscreetly and quietly so that only the people at their table will hear them, and not at the other tables. It is also preferable not to prepare two cups according to Ashkenazi minhag (custom), but rather, make do with one cup according to the Sephardic minhag (see, S.A., E.H, 62:9).

Summary

  1. In general, it is incorrect to leave a wedding before the zimun and hearing Sheva Brachot.
  2. For a tzorech gadol it is permitted to leave before the zimun, for example, someone concerned he will be tired the next day at work. Anyone who knows this in advance should apologize at the beginning of the meal to those sitting at his table for having to leave in the middle, thus exempting himself from the obligation to make a zimun with them.
  3. If those sitting at his table agree, he should make a zimun quietly with three others, and say in the zimun sheh’ha’simcha bi’m’ono.”
  4. If the person leaving knows that the hosts would want him to make a zimun with ten men over a cup of wine and bless Sheva Brachot, he should do so. But if not sure, he should make a zimun with three men.
  5. Since in practice weddings are long, and seeing as many people leave before the zimun, it is appropriate for the hosts to encourage all those intending to leave before the end of the wedding to make a zimun over a cup of wine with ten men and recite Sheva Brachot, and at each table, the first group to leave, organize a zimun of ten. Family members and the closest of friends should not participate in their zimun, and instead, be responsible for the larger zimun and Sheva Brachot at the end of the wedding. There is no need for ten men who have not participated in any zimun to remain, rather, it is sufficient that there be five who have not heard a zimun, provided that the one making zimun is one of those who did not participate in a zimun beforehand (Peninei Halakha: Berachot 5:12).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

Kashrut: Meat and Dairy – How to Separate

It is advisable to use separate sinks for meat and dairy, but when necessary, one may use one sink and one marble kitchen countertop * It is permissible to use one dishwasher with one tray for meat and dairy, but without washing them together * One may use the same stovetop grate for meat and dairy, as well as electric and ceramic cooktops * Food that falls on the surface under the stovetop grates is forbidden to eat, unless the surface is clean * If using a single-compartment oven – it must be kashered between meat and dairy * How to use the same microwave for meat and dairy

Unity of Religious Zionism for the Sake of the Nation

From the outset, I thought to continue my custom of not expressing a position in favor of a particular party, believing that as a rabbi with students belonging to different parties – all of them with good intentions – not to limit myself by supporting a particular party, and not to disassociate anyone who prefers a different one.

In a way, as a continuation of that position, the best thing today is for all parties identifying with religious Zionism to unite in one list, thus expressing the variety of values this dear and idealistic public encompasses, from all of its sides.

Such a position will benefit the entire right-wing and traditional public, and indirectly, Israeli society at large, for religious Zionists, in all their diversities, encompass all the important ideals: loyalty to Torah and investment of vast time and resources in its study, clarification, and imparting in educational systems for future generations; observance of mitzvot with great devotion, even under difficult conditions of a secular environment; loyalty to the values ​​of Derech Eretz and human morality; love of the Nation and the Land; taking the lead in yishuv ha’aretz (the settlement of the Land); dedication to Israel’s security; volunteering in immigrant absorption; volunteering in helping others; engaging in science at a high level contributing to the prosperity of the State of Israel, and to a great extent, even to the advancement of humanity; participation in all fields of employment in the economy for the benefit of society and the economic prosperity of the State of Israel; and appreciation for all sectors of culture and art. All these values ​​are common to all religious Zionists; differences only arise concerning the extent and centrality of each value, but this is precisely the virtue of the religious Zionist sector – that in its entirety, it gives expression to all values.

Must a Kosher Kitchen have Two Sinks?

Ideally, there should be two sinks in a kitchen, one for meat and one for dairy, in order to fortify the separation between milk and meat, in keeping with the objective of our Sages, reflected in the enactment of takanot (Rabbinic institutions) they instituted regarding distancing between meat and milk.

However, b’shaat ha’tzorech (in time of need), one sink and one marble countertop may be used for both meat and milk, provided that one makes sure the sink and the marble countertop are cleaned of leftover food. This was the practice in the majority of Jewish homes a few generations ago when connecting houses to running water through pipes began, and due to high costs, only one sink was installed in many kitchens. There are still old houses in Jerusalem in which righteous and God-fearing people lived, with only one sink in the kitchen.

Indeed, one posek was machmir (stringent) in this issue, out of concern about a distant speculation that the pouring of boiling water could bring forth tastes absorbed in a utensil, and insert it into another (Minchat Yitzchak 2: 100). Another posek required the use of separate racks for meat and milk, in order to create a separation between the sink basin and utensils (Iggrot Moshe, Y.D. 1:42). However, according to halachic rules, and according to the consensus of the majority of poskim, as long as the sink is cleaned between the use of dairy and meat, it is permissible to use one sink (see, S. A., Y. D. 95:3; Y.O., Vol. 10, Y.D. 10; Ohr L’Tzion, Vol.3, 10:11).

Dishwasher

Some people are careful to buy two trays, one for meat dishes and another for dairy, in order to safeguard the customary practice of separation between meat and dairy utensils. Some people even make a point of designating the dishwasher as being either meat or dairy. On the other hand, some people are lenient mei’ikar ha’din (according to the law, strictly speaking) to wash meat and dairy dishes together, because the dishwashing soap pogem (ruins, or spoils) the remnants of meat and dairy food (Y. O., Vol. 10, Y. D., according to S. A., Y. D. 95: 4).

In practice, one should not act leniently and wash meat and dairy dishes together in a dishwasher, since the soap does not always spoil the tastes before they are mixed together. But it is permissible l’chatchila (from the outset) to wash dishes in the same dishwasher and on the same tray, one time meat dishes, and another time dairy, but not together. However, when based on prior experience one knows that after washing very dirty dishes particles of food and oily or greasy substances remain in the dishwasher, after washing dishes, one should make sure to run the dishwasher once again on the highest temperature, in order to clean it thoroughly before washing the other type of dishes.

Some people are mehadrin (meticulously observant) to remove the remnants of food from the filters, out of concern their taste is not sufficiently spoiled, and remnants of meat and milk will accumulate in the filter. In practice, however, one should not be concerned that remnants of food in the filter have not been spoiled.

Stovetop Grate, Electric and Ceramic

One is permitted to use the same stovetop grate for meat and dairy, because even if a little meat or dairy sauce spilled onto the grate, the fire of the gas burner burns and spoils what has been spilled.

The same is true for electric and ceramic cooktops, namely, one is permitted to place on the same surface one time a meat pot, and another time a dairy pot, since the heat of the cooktop burns what sometimes spills from them.

When meat and dairy pots are cooked at the same time, one should make sure there is room between them, so that one pot does not spill-over onto the side of the other pot.

The Surface under the Grate

One should be machmir (stringent) not to eat food that fell on the metal surface under the grate, because sometimes there are remnants of meat and dairy foods. If a thick piece of food fell, one can cut and throw-out a 2 cm-thick section from the side that touched the surface, and eat the rest. However, if it is known the surface had been cleaned well, and remained clean, one is permitted to eat what fell on it, since the concern is only the oily grease on it, but one should not be concerned that it absorbed taste that will emit afterwards. Also, if dairy food fell there, and one knows that since the last cleaning meat was not cooked, the dairy food that fell there is kosher.

Induction Cooktop

On an induction cooktop, the surface on which the pots are placed is sealed. However, unlike ceramic cooktops where the heat originates in the ceramic surface, on an induction cooktop, the heat source is from the pot heated by an electromagnetic field, and from the pot the heat expands to the dish and the surface on which it is placed. Thus, these cooktops do not burn what spills over from the pots.

According to the letter of the law, if one makes sure to always clean the cooktop from food spilled on it, on those same areas it is permissible at one time to heat a meat pot, and at another time to heat a dairy pot, since the glass surface of such cooktops do not absorb, and also, all contact there is from one utensil to another.

Those wishing to le’hadare (to be meticulously observant), designate one side for cooking meat, and the other side for dairy. B’shaat ha’tzorech, one may thoroughly clean the surface, and then cook a meat pot on the dairy side, and vice versa.

Baking Oven

A person who wants to use the same compartment once for meat, and once for dairy may do so, provided he has a special baking pan for meat, and another for dairy, and makes sure to kasher the oven between the two by heating it for half an hour at the highest temperature.

However, it is Jewish custom to make a separation between meat and milk, and accordingly, many people are customary le’hadare and purchase an oven with two compartments and designate one for meat and one for dairy, or to buy an oven with one compartment and designate it only for meat, or only for dairy.

However, even those who are mehadrim not to use the same compartment in the oven once for meat and once for dairy, b’shaat ha’tzorech may heat it on the highest temperature for half an hour, and thus kasher it for the other type of food.

If one erred and cooked a dairy dish in the meat compartment without kashering it, be’di’avad (ex post facto) the dairy food is kosher, since in practice, no actual taste of meat has entered the dairy food, and at most, the steam may give an odor of meat in the dairy food, however, be’di’avd, odor does not prohibit.

Baking of Parve Challot in a Meat Compartment of an Oven

Q: What should be done when there is an oven compartment in which meat or dairy food was baked, and one wants to bake in it parve challot, namely, challot that can be eaten with either meat or milk?

A: It is the custom of many people le’hadare, and first to heat the oven on the highest temperature in order to make it parve. However, me’tzad ha’din (according to the letter of the law), one may bake a parve pastry in an oven in which a meat or milk dish was baked beforehand without kashering it, since it is clear there is absolutely no possibility it will have the taste of meat or milk.

Microwave

The same microwave can be used for dairy and meat foods if a separation is made between them. In separating, two things should be noted: first – not to place dairy or meat foods directly on the same plate; second – that a lot of vapor from the microwave cavity should not enter the food being heated.

Therefore, one should be careful not to place foods directly on the permanent plate of the microwave, rather, dairy foods should be placed on a dairy plate, and meat dishes on a meat plate, and these plates should be placed on the microwave plate. In addition, a plastic lid should be designated for dairy foods, and another lid for meat foods. And although vapors escape through the small openings in the plastic lid designed for microwaves, the vapors emitting from them do not have the power to accumulate on the walls and the roof of the microwave and transfer taste, kal v’chomer (all the more so), they lack the power to extract a taste that may have been absorbed into the microwave walls, and insert it into the heated food.

Additionally, one may determine the normal state of the microwave is dairy, and if someone wants to heat a meat dish, he should place an additional plate or other surface on the microwave’s permanent plate, and cover the meat dishes with a plastic lid or box, or wrap it in a bag. L’chatchila, this is the correct way to act when one wants to heat parve food to be eaten with meat dishes.

Kashering a Microwave

A microwave that was made treif (non-kosher), should be kashered in three stages: 1) Clean the remaining food that may have been leftover due to spilling. 2) Immerse the rotating plate in boiling water. 3) Place a bowl of water with soap in the microwave, and heat it for about ten minutes on the highest temperature, thus kashering it from the steam and “perspiration” that it absorbed while heating the treif food.

Be’di’avad, when it is difficult to kasher the microwave, such as in a place of work or when there is no time to kasher it, one can heat foods by putting them on an additional plate, and put it in a bag or box that will wrap it on all sides, even if openings are left for steam to escape. This is because in practice, since vapors from the microwave will not enter the food, even though the microwave is treif, the food remains kosher l’mehedrin (strictly kosher). Nevertheless, one should not leave a treif microwave oven in the house, rather, it should be kashered without delay, lest one forgets and heats food without a separation between the microwave and the food.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.