Halacha Mastery: Kitchen & Kashrut
Halacha has much to say about what we can eat and how we prepare food. As such, in this course Rabbi Gidon Rothstein will provide you with the necessary halachic tools for understanding how to manage your home kitchen in order to feel competent and comfortable when a decision must be made. Topics will include: kosher and non-kosher animals, fish and birds, bugs, why milk is kosher, blood, shechitah and how meat becomes kosher, salting meat, rules of milk & meat, omer, chadash, orlah, kilayim, types of food Chazal prohibited, what counts as be-ein, ta’am ke-ikar, ta’am lifgam, and issues pertaining to pouring, covers of pots, steam, bittul issur, and more. We will focus on primary texts from the Mishna through contemporary poskim with a view to clarifying the practical requirements for kashrut in the home.
Halacha Mastery: Kitchen & Kashrut: Lesson 1
Contemporary authorities have likewise indicated its acceptability. In a discussion on the propriety of celebrating Thanksgiving, Rabbi Michael J. Broyde (Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Fall 1995, 30:42-65) quotes numerous halachic authorities who parenthetically permit the eating of turkey. For example, Rav Moshe Feinstein is quoted as saying “halacha sees no prohibition … with eating turkey” (ibid, p. 51). Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s opinion is quoted by Rabbi Hershel Schachter in Nefesh HaRav (p.231): “in his [Rabbi Soloveitchik’s] opinion there was no question that turkey did not lack a tradition of kashrut.” In the course of offering their opinions about the observance of Thanksgiving, Rabbi David Cohen (of Gvul Yavetz), Rabbi Eliezar Silver, and Rabbi Ephraim Greenblatt note that the turkey is a kosher bird.
Conclusion: The near universal acceptance of turkey as a kosher species, given the halachic quandary it presents, would indicate that the Jewish people have either accepted the possibility of originating mesorahs where none existed before or of accepting birds without the need for a mesorah. It is very possible that had the turkey question been posed when it was first introduced in the early 16th century, Jewish gastronomic history might have been different. It seems that many authorities may have initially come out against turkey because of its obvious lack of a mesorah. For some reason “bird controversies” erupted in the 18th and 19th centuries and when the turkey question was posed it often took the form of “why is it eaten?” rather than “may it be eaten?”.
As has been shown, despite the fundamental difficulty with permitting turkey virtually all of the responsa are permissive, and it is unlikely that that will (or should) change in the future. It seems that unless one has a specific family custom to refrain from turkey, to adopt such a behavior is morally wrong. The turkey is no longer new and its kosher status has been addressed by both the great and not-so-great Jewish minds over the during 250 years and has received near-universal endorsement. To call it into question now is to impugn the dozens of responsa, and more so, the millions of honorable Jews, who have eaten turkey for almost half a millennium. That is not the Jewish way.
Halacha Mastery: Kitchen & Kashrut: Lesson 4
We still have to finish a bit about terefot, and then we’ll move to a discussion of salting. From there, it’s on to kashrut in senses that apply more directly to all of us, starting with basar be-chalav, which is the opening to all sorts of interesting halachic topics, like ta’am, taste, and mixtures, and what constitutes cooking, etc. See you then!
Halacha Mastery: Kitchen & Kashrut: Lesson 6
Halacha Mastery: Kitchen & Kashrut: Lesson 17
Two addenda to today’s shiur: 1) I quoted the view of Rashi and Tosafot that overnight it becomes eino bat yomo, no longer having been used that day. I mistakenly left out a later source, Aruch HaShulchan, who notes that we rule according to the majority of authorities, who hold the other way, that it takes 24 hours before it’s eino bat yomo.
2) I mistakenly told Karen that Chacham Tzvi would use his idea of 12 months for any prohibitions but that’s not how its quoted in the source we were looking at. Chacham Tzvi thought that Chametz on Pesach was so serious that even if he allowed this leniency, it would not lead people to use the pot before 12 months. With other, less stringent prohibitions, he was not willing to do that. So that with Pesach he was unsure as to whether he could be lenient, but it was clear that he would not apply that idea to other prohibitions.
Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein has semicha from YU (RIETS) and a PhD from Harvard. He has worked in shul rabbinate, high school and adult education. He is the author of both fiction and non-fiction, most recently "As If We Were There: Readings for a Transformative Passover Experience". He lives in Riverdale, NY.