Volume 34 Number 18
                 Produced: Tue Jan 30 22:20:45 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Buying Israeli Produce Outside of Israel during Shmittah year
         [Gershon Dubin]
Can of Peas (5)
         [Gershon Dubin, Bill Bernstein, Alexander Seinfeld, Beth and
David Cohen, Chihal]
Fish and Milk
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
         [Isaac A Zlochower]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 09:27:29 -0500
Subject: Buying Israeli Produce Outside of Israel during Shmittah year

From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>

<<I think it is a big mistake in the case of Israeli produce (either in
Israel or exported abroad) during the shmitta year. >>
<<In the opinion of many poskim, the halachic problems with not buying
Israeli produce are at least as serious as the halachic problems of
relying on the heter mechira.>>

        Somewhere in between "I think" and "In the opinion of many
poskim", I lost you.  Is it your opinion or that of many poskim.  If the
latter, who are they and where do they state this?



From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 09:22:48 -0500
Subject: Can of Peas

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
<<It seems to me that it is far preferable to focus our concerns on
serious matters (such as the kashrut of meat, and Jewish survival, as
two separate examples), rather than to attempt to be perfect in every
detail, in every case>>

        Yiras Shamayim, fear of God, means trying to be perfect in His
service in every detail.  If you could explain to me how buying a can of
peas with a hechsher detracts from time and energies which would
otherwise be available to fight for Jewish survival, I would agree.  But
the zero sum idea is absurd.

<<particularly when a reasonable person, knowing the situation, would
opt to trust that things were as they should be.>>

        Trusting that things are as they should be rather than listening
to what people knowledgeable of the industry tell you is otherwise, is
not reasonable, it's ostrich like ignorance.

<<First, we have to remember that the kosher rules are a good example of
a wide class of halacha (involving other minor issues where an
intelligent person should be able to exercise their own careful

        In what way are you choosing, or permitted to choose?  I don't
follow this argument.  The facts are that either there are issues
requiring a hechsher in a particular situation, or there are not.  If
you don't have first hand knowledge, you ask, you don't choose to ignore
the question.

<<But today, some things IMO have gone to excess>>

        As above, unless you have first hand knowledge of food
technology, this is not subject to opinion.

<<Even in the few instances where this may not be a good assumption, it
seems to me there still wouldn't be any problem with the peas being

        Why not?

<<IMO this is not a time when we want to use kosher rules to keep the
Jewish world socially separate from the non-Jewish world>>

        I seem to recall a verse in the Torah which says exactly the
opposite, namely that Hashem gave us the kosher laws **in order to** to
separate us from the other nations.

<<It seems to me that the more each of us takes responsibility for our
own level of observance, and does not constantly default to a K or a U
with a circle, or some similar symbol on a can, the more we demonstrate
to others that it's not necessary to leave one's own personal mind at
the door (as the critics say) in order to be a halacha-observant Jew.>>

        Whether something needs a hechsher or not is a matter of fact,
in the most part.  I cannot think of a better instance of "leaving your
mind at the door" than refusing to consult the experts in the field and
relying on a fairy tale idea of how things ought to be.

<<Even if we should occasionally be wrong, it's better for the
reputation of Torah in the world that we think for ourselves, and learn
to make decisions for ourselves.>>

        Whose determination is this-who empowered you to bend the rules
for the greater good of the Torah?


From: Bill Bernstein <bbernst@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 09:22:10 -0600
Subject: Re: Can of Peas

Stan Tenen's recent post on a can of peas has me completely confused.  What I
interpret from this post is:
1) Scrupulous application of kashrus laws to previously-unsupervised products
tends to erect unnecessary/undesirable barriers between religious and
non-religious Jews.
2) There are more important things for the religious commuity to focus on than
possible "minor" violations of halakha, e.g. Jewish survival.
3) Reasonably intelligent and informed people have not just a right but a
responsibility to make their own choices in life.

Again, this is just my interpretation of what Stan says.

What puzzles me is how contrary to my understanding of Judaism this is.
In kashrus, undoubtedly the reality of food processing has changed in
30-40 years, necessitating changes in supervision.  For example, ice
cream used to be a simple product; cream, sugar, flavoring like vanilla
or chocolate.  There was no special need for supervision.  Today I do
not think there is a commercial ice cream that does not have dozens of
ingredients, many of them posing kashrus issues.  Stan posits a
dichotomy: either we prepare our own food exclusively or we rely on
leniencies and don't sweat it.  Obviously there is a third choice, one
that the religious world has adopted. Just because we can't be 100% in
kashrus does not mean we should stop trying.  Where people draw the line
here is a matter of their own outlook, instruction, community etc.  But
all of it is or should be the result of rabbinic instruction in the
matter based on factual information.  Second, Jewish survival is not a
matter of numbers.  The Jewish population in the middle ages probably
did not number over 1 million and no one thought about extinction.
Jewish survival is a matter of an educated and committed population (and
BH we have seen an upsurge of this).  We do not further Jewish survival
by compromise unmandated by halakha.  If our non-observant
co-religionists are put off by our observance than either we have not
presented it correctly or they are simply not ready for this.  But
either way we gain nothing, least of all respect, by compromising
halakhic standards.  Third, while I agree wholeheartedly that people are
responsible for their actions, and there has been a serious diminution
in this, I disagree that we can unilaterally decide what is "right" for
us outside of the halakhic process.  Halakha presents often a range of
what is right and working within that range is fine.  Making decisions
without any rabbinic guidance at all is not fine. The result of that
would soon be chaos and no standards whatsoever.  As far as the can of
peas: I personally have no problem eating a can without a hechsher,
based on my understanding from my rabbi that this is not a problem (I
hate canned peas, but that's another story).  The peas are not cooked
and then canned but rather canned and then cooked.  If someone has good
information on the process and why it should require hashgocho they
should please post it.

From: Alexander Seinfeld <aseinfeld@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 00:56:33 -0800
Subject: Re: Can of Peas

Stan Tenen writes:

> It seems to me that the more each of us takes responsibility for our own
> level of observance, and does not constantly default to a K or a U with
> a circle, or some similar symbol on a can, the more we demonstrate to
> others that it's not necessary to leave one's own personal mind at the
> door (as the critics say) in order to be a halacha-observant Jew.  Even
> if we should occasionally be wrong, it's better for the reputation of
> Torah in the world that we think for ourselves, and learn to make
> decisions for ourselves.  (Personally, it seems to me inappropriate for
> a person with yirat Hashem to believe that an occasional accidental 1/60
> contamination is any harm to their spiritual well-being.  Belief that
> one is injured by an _accidental_ 1/60 is in my opinion the equivalent
> of turning kashrut into magic.)
> Even if I risk accidentally violating kashrut by eating a can of peas
> processed on a machine that was used for clam juice before it was
> steam-cleaned, it seems to me that this is far better than a "we who
> keep kosher strictly vs they who don't keep kosher strictly" world-view.
> No one is at risk of disrespecting Torah for eating from an unhechshered
> can of peas, but many are pushed away from Torah by gratuitous
> regulations that appear unnecessarily authoritarian and
> "holier-than-thou".

There is one problem with your thesis: I, in taking responsibility for
my own level of observance, do indeed want to know that there is no
bug-juice food coloring in the peas (which is not nullified 1:60), and
that they are not from Israel during shmitta (Sabbatical Year),
etc. This goes for eating fresh, even home-grown, produce; this goes for
processed food; this goes for eating at someone else's home where the
food they serve me may be 100% traif even though it is simply a bowl of
pasta or a tossed green salad. These are not necessarily chumras
(strictures) but often the halacha l'maaseh l'hathila (preferred Jewish
path according to the Oral Torah).

Now, once a person knows the l'hathila halacha (preferred path), there
are heterim that allow us to eat in places bidi-eved (in unusual
circumstances) for the sake of kiruv rachokim (outreach to assimilated
Jews). But the correct perspective is that one is employing a heter
(leniency) for the sake of clal Yisroel.

Most people who are far from Torah are there because of their upbringing
and not because they have been pushed away. As for those who have been
pushed away - it is not usually because of the perception of gratuitous
regulations. For those for whom over-regulation is indeed an issue,
please see this week's feature article article on our website that deals
with this issue:

Wishing you well,
Alexander Seinfeld
Aish Hatorah of Silicon Valley
Palo Alto, CA

From: Beth and David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 09:18:12 -0500
Subject: Can of Peas

Stan Tenen's post against supervision of a can of peas and by extension
his claim that one can independently decide which details of kashrut one
can ignore as "stringencies", I found shocking (to say the least). I
frankly wonder how the charter of this list allows such a post, as I
thought that the assumption was that a basic belief in halacha was to be

	Halacha is not putty in the hands of an individual user,
starting with his own sense of right and wrong and then determining
which details fit in with his world view or life style. What is law and
what is additional stringency is not determined by the individual but by
his posek, his Rabbinic authority. Stan, show me the reputable authority
that says that your can of peas does not require supervision, and I have
no problem. However, your individual denigration of one who wants to
observe kashrut, and not your personal "do-it-myself" kashrut is way off

	Pick and choose halacha does not lead to bringing the
non-observant back to halacha. All it does is create deviant
"streams". What most people are looking for is authenticity. That, IMHO,
is why Chabad is so successful in their efforts while the rest of us

David I. Cohen

From: Chihal <chihal@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 22:08:35 -0600
Subject: Re: Can of Peas

Stan Tenen, in the discussion on canned peas: <<But when we apply
hyper-halachic customs to a broad range of products, then we're burdened by
what amounts to a million flea bites.>>

        Quite so, IMHO. The two prime examples -- which were discussed a
long time ago -- are the hechsher (kosher) symbol on one brand of bottled
water -- and the hechsher on some Israeli cigarettes.
        Good grief, Charlie Brown!
Yeshaya Halevi (<Chihal@...>)


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 22:48:05 +0200
Subject: Fish and Milk

A while back someone asked about the custom of not eating fish with milk
and I am not sure if anyone responded.  If these sources were already
mentionned, I apologize.  I just came across a responsa written by
R. Hayyim David Halevi in the posthumously published Mayim Hayyim vol. 3
on the above subject.  Apprently the Beit Yosef in Yoreh Deah par. 87
says "nevertheless one should not eat fish in milk because of the danger
involved (hasakanah) as it is elucidated in Orah Hayyim par. 173".  As
R. Halevi brings in his responsa this statement by the Beit Yosef was
the cause of a bit of controversy.  There were some who said that it was
either a typo or a mix up between the prohibition of eating fish with
milk and that of fish with meat, thus the reference to Orah Hayyim
par. 173 where things which are prohibited because of "hasakanah" are
mentionned, among them eating fish and meat.  In order to limit the
prohibition some poskim say that one should not have fish with milk but
with butter is OK.  Also see R. Yitzhak Yosef's Yalkut Yosef, Issur
Veheter, vol. 3, pgs. 308-314 where a large number of sources are

Michael Pitkowsky


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 21:32:30 -0500
Subject: kosher

Harav Elazar Meir Teitz knows much more about halacha and kashrut than
I.  Yet, I find his cautionary note about seemingly innocuous prepared
products such as canned peas not very revealing.  It is my understanding
that canned products are cooked in sealed cans in a batch process.  That
is, an entire batch of the product is cooked, cooled, and labelled.
What, then, would make the innocuous contents of those cans, e.g. peas,
water, and salt, treif?  Even if canned veggies and treif cans were
together in the same autoclave oven, wouldn't there be a heter of "nat
bar nat bar nat" (from the tarfut to its can walls, from those cans to
the water, from the water to the veggie can walls, and from them to the
veggies)?  It seems to me that the use of such canned vegetables without
any hashgacha is a long-standing practice.  Those who would change that
should bring some evidence of a problem.  The advent of canned
vegetables with hashgacha stems from the Pesach line of products which
addressed the special dietary restrictions of the chag, rather than any
specific kashrut problems.  I wonder what is different about the canning
process used for the Hadar, Unger, etc. canned veggies that would make
it more kosher for year-around use?

Rav Teitz mentioned a theoretical problem with foods grown with the use
of animal enzymes.  I believe that we need more information to
understand whether or not it is a problem.  However, I do have a problem
with the rennet that is listed as the curdling ingredient in many
mehadrin type dairy products.  They simply list it as rennet, rather
than "vegetable" or kosher rennet.  Now, rennet is normally an animal
enzyme needed for digestion of proteins.  I can't imagine a plant
producing or needing this enzyme (with the exception of such plants as
the Venus fly-trap).  If there is a "vegetable" source it is presumably
a product of genetic manipulation.  Alternatively, it could be a
bacterial or modified bacterial product.  If the rennet used is of
animal origin, it is very likely from a treif source.  Then its use in a
kosher product when it is the key curdling ingredient, it seems to me,
would require the heter that it has been rendered a non-food item as a
result of the manufacturing process.  I don't understand the basis of
such a purported change in the material since it is still biologically
active (not denatured).  In any case, such considerations have not
permitted the use of gelatin in products carrying the label of the more
reliable kashrut organizations in the US.  Why, then, is rennet

The above should not construed as any kind of psak on the permissibility
or prohibition of the above foods.  I am not a rav and only seek
clarification of the issues.



End of Volume 34 Issue 18