Halachos of Taking Medicine on Pesach
Rabbi Dovid Heber

Reviewed March 2022

For many years, Rav Gershon Bess prepared a Guide for Pesach Medications and Cosmetics which was published and distributed by Kollel Los Angeles. A partnership with STAR-K and the Kollel to make this information more widely available to the general public is still going strong after more than a quarter century. The Medications and Cosmetics Guide, available in Jewish bookstores nationwide, serves as an invaluable resource for kosher consumers seeking to purchase these items for Yom Tov.

Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Hilchos Pesach 12:4) states in the name of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlit”a, that lechatchila one should take a medication approved for Pesach and mentions the availability and use of reliable Pesach lists and guides (see Hilchos Pesach, ibid., footnote 5).

The halachos pertaining to medication and cosmetic use on Pesach are based on the joint psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, and Rav Gershon Bess, shlit”a.

THE MEDICINE LIST DOES NOT […]

The History of Passover Medicine Lists in Pre-War Germany
Admin

In the 1920s, the Jewish community in Germany numbered close to half a million people. They were made up mostly of professionals in finance and retail trade. German Jewry thrived within the general culture of the Weimar Republic. As an influx of approximately 70,000 East European Jews flocked to Germany to escape political oppression and violent anti-Semitism, Berlin soon became the center for Hebrew culture, reaching its peak between 1920 to 1924. It had become a safe haven for Hebrew and Yiddish speaking intellectuals, mostly Russian Hebrew writers. Although some Jews emigrated during this time, mostly to America or Palestine, many more did so after the rise of Nazism in 1933. Unfortunately, the majority of Jews remained in Germany, with catastrophic results.

Medicine on Shabbos: Questions and Answers from Rav Moshe Heinemann, Shlit”a
Rabbi Mordechai Frankel

In the times of Chazal, people would grind up medicine as needed. Grinding is forbidden on Shabbos; therefore, Chazal enacted a gezeira that a person should not take medicine on Shabbos for a minor ailment. Even though it is not common nowadays for a consumer to crush his own medicine, the gezeira remains in full force. In general, it is forbidden for a person with a minor ailment to do anything on Shabbos which an observer would realize is being done for refuah. I asked Rav Heinemann, shlit”a, twenty questions regarding treating minor ailments on Shabbos. Below are the questions and his answers. Following that, I have added source material for those who wish to further understand these pesakim.

Q1: How bad does a headache or an allergy such as hay fever need to be in order to take medicine on Shabbos?

A person is generally not allowed to take medicine on […]

Just a Spoonful of Glycerin Makes the Medicine Go Down
Rabbi Tzvi Rosen

In the world of food ingredients, there is no ingredient as versatile as glycerin. In the world of kosher ingredient sensitivity, there is no kosher-sensitive ingredient that compares to glycerin. Glycerin’s ingredient versatility is not limited to food grade applications. Glycerin is used extensively as a major component in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, as well.

Glycerin is known as a humectant. That means that glycerin helps retain moisture. Therefore, glycerin is a perfect ingredient for the baking industry to keep bakery goods moist and give products a longer shelf-life. Glycerin is sweet and can be used as a substitute for liquid sugar. Glycerin is an excellent solvent and is used as a mainstay for food colors. These properties make glycerin an essential ingredient in a myriad of food applications.

Furthermore, glycerin’s natural properties make it an essential element in pharmaceutical products, as well as health and beauty aids. What is that […]

Medicine List Explanation
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Ideally, one should purchase over-the-counter (OTC) products with a reliable hechsher. Star-K certified products contain only kosher approved ingredients. A product containing a trace of a nonkosher ingredient (even if it is batel bshishim) cannot be certified Star-K. Similarly, all certified products are manufactured without any keilim concerns.

Unfortunately, very few OTC products are kosher certified, and kosher consumers who require such products are often confronted with shailos (questions). The Star-K reviewed ingredients used in hundreds of OTC products manufactured by many of the major pharmaceutical companies including Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxosmithkline, McNeil, Novartis, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Purdue Frederick, Schering-Plough, and Wyeth.

In compiling a list of “approved” medications for use by one who is a choleh (ill) or has a maychush (discomfort) the following halachic guidelines were used:

Equipment – If all ingredients are kosher, there is no concern that the medicinal ingredients were produced on treif equipment (see Yoreh Deah […]

Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree
Rabbi Zvi Goldberg

February 2022

To some people, the concept that there are restrictions regarding what can be fed to animals may seem amusing. They wonder: “Really now, must dogs also eat kosher?” Of course, animals don’t need to eat kosher food. However, Halacha clearly instructs people regarding what, how and when to feed them.

The Talmud Yerushalmi1 states that before acquiring an animal, one must be sure he will be able to properly provide for it. Certainly, the owner must also know the applicable halachos. The following is a discussion of some of these halachos, including the subjects of meat and milk mixtures, Pesach, buying and selling non-kosher pet food, feeding animals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and feeding animals before you eat.

STAR-K is not necessarily recommending ownership of pets; rather, we are providing information for those owners who […]

The Kashrus, Shabbos, and Pesach Guide to Cosmetics
Rabbi Dovid Heber

Ezra Hasofer established ten takanos (laws) covering a wide spectrum of Jewish life.1 The purpose of these takanos was to enhance Torah study, Shabbos, the Jewish communal court system, and the sanctity of the Jewish home and marriage. One of the takanos was that salesmen should travel from town to town to supply perfume and fragrances to the women of each community.2 It is clear that these items were important in Jewish life since ancient times.

The Kosher Conversation Episode 4
Rabbi Chananya Jacobson

Medicine with Rabbi Dovid Heber

In this installment Rabbi Dovid Heber tells us all about medications. He answers many burning questions about kosher medication:

Is kosher medicine really necessary? What are the possible problems with medicine?Should you wrap your pills in paper before you take them? Should you wait until the pharmacy gets the kosher version?

All this and more!

Please email your comments and suggestions to [email protected]

Insights from the Institute: Halachos Pertaining to Covid-19
Adina Michelsohn

2020 will be remembered for a long time to come as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. These unusual circumstances have given rise to some unusual halachic questions. It is my fervent hope that everything will have returned to ‘normal’ by the time that you read this, and the lasting legacy will be the chiddushei Torah and piskei halachah that were generated as a result of this event. Below are some examples.

Q: If there are two adjacent houses with decks, with five men on one deck and another five men on the other deck, can they join together to form a minyan?

A: A gathering of ten men is needed in order for their davening to be considered tefilah b’tzibur. Once ten men have joined together to form a minyan, anyone else who is able to see them and participates is considered part of the minyan, and his davening is considered […]

A 25 Year Retrospective on Kashrus Kurrents
Dr. Avrom Pollak

Approximately twenty-five years ago shortly before “Pesach” 5738 Mr. A. J. Levin, a vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Council, began publishing Kashrus Kurrents. In that first issue, printed on the familiar yellow paper with the blue Kashrus Kurrents logo, it was deemed necessary to advise the Baltimore community that they cannot rely on labels or advertisements that merely states ‘Kosher for Passover’. From that same issue we learned that the fledgling Star-K organization had just inaugurated its kosher hot-line whereby one could get accurate kashrus information Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A most welcome and popular feature was a list of items that did not require special Passover certification. Included were specific brands of sugar and cocoa as well as a number of commonly used over the counter medications. Compiling the list required substantial research by volunteers […]

STAR-K Hotline’s Most Popular Pesach Questions
Margie Pensak

Over 30 years ago, STAR-K Kosher Certification recognized a deep community need for a hotline. Today, the STAR-K Kosher Hotline answers close to 100,000 questions, annually, from consumers calling in from around the world. It is comprised of a team of seven highly-trained receptionists who answer the questions from a written script. All answers are pre-approved by one of the STAR-K Rabbonim, who are available to elaborate on certain questions. As the phones continue to ring off the hook since Shushan Purim, the hotline has received close to 6000 questions, in addition to the many hundreds we received via email and our app. These are the top ten questions that have been asked.

If my oven is self-clean, do I just turn it on to kasher it?

It’s not enough since the door and opposing face of the oven don’t usually get hot enough to clean. First clean those areas, then turn […]

A Practical Guide for Tevilas Keilim
Rabbi Mordechai Frankel

 

Published Summer 2015

For general guidelines regarding the laws of tevilas keilim, ,click here

UTENSIL
TEVILAH

Aluminum pan, disposable
Tevilah without a brocha if intended to be used only once; tevilah with a brocha if intended to be used more than once.[1]

Aluminum pan,non-disposable
Tevilah with a brocha[2]

Apple corer (metal)
Tevilah with a brocha

Baking/Cookie sheet
Tevilah with a brocha

Barbeque grill
Racks require tevilah with a brocha, other components do not require tevilah.

Blech
No tevilah

Blender /Mixer
Glass or metal bowl, metal blades and other attachments require tevilah with abrocha, other components do not require tevilah.  Handheld immersion blender requires tevilah with a brocha.

Bottle (metal or glass)
Tevilah with a brocha.  If bought filled with food and subsequently emptied by a Jew, does not require tevilah.[3]

Brush (grill, egg yolk, pastry)
No tevilah

Cake plate (metal or glass)
Plate needs tevilah with a brocha, cake plate cover does not require tevilah.

Can (metal or glass)
Tevilah with a brocha.  If bought filled with food and subsequently emptied by a Jew, does not require tevilah.[3]

Can opener
No tevilah

Cast iron pot
Tevilah with a brocha

Ceramic knife
Tevilah without a brocha

Challah board
Metal board, or glass top on wooden board, requires tevilah with a brocha.  Wood board with a plastic top does not require tevilah.

Cheese slicer (metal)
Tevilah with a brocha

China […]

Mevakshai Hashem Cheder Students Get Their Kashrus Queries Answered by STAR-K Certification
Margie Pensak

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/318326/mevakshai-hashem-cheder-students-get-their-kashrus-queries-answered-by-star-k-certification.html

http://matzav.com/mevakshai-hashem-cheder-students-have-their-kashrus-queries-answered-by-star-k-certification/

http://baltimorejewishlife.com/news/news-detail.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=61182

Last month, STAR-K Certification received an envelope filled with handwritten letters that asked questions like: ‘How many different lands do you go to, to give a hechsher?’ ‘How many hours a day do you spend at each company?’ and ‘How do you become a mashgiach?’ Accompanying the inquisitive, complimentary letters full of hakaras hatov, written by the obviously precocious second graders of Mevakshai Hashem– a Chasidishe cheder located in Boro Park–was a cover letter addressed to STAR-K by the boys’ rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger:

“These letters were written to you as part of our school’s General Studies “food science project”. This program consisted of writing first to ordinary food companies, and then to kashrus agencies. Each class was given another organization to write to; we chose the STAR-K.”

Eight-year-old Chananya Rosenberg was creative in illustrating every letter “K” in his letter as a “STAR-K” logo when he wrote:

“I want […]

STAR-K Summer 5782/2022 Kashrus Training Seminars
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19th Annual Kashrus Training Program
July 25-28, 2022

9th Annual Foodservice Mashgiach Training Seminar
August 1-3, 2022

Apply Online! Click below for registration forms

Please note that applicants may apply for only one seminar per year.

Both programs will be held at STAR-K’s Baltimore corporate headquarters.

Early registration is advised, as each program is limited to 25 attendees and spaces fill up early.

Application deadline for both programs: June 15, 2022

Kashrus Training Program

This widely acclaimed four-day program provides rabbonim, certifying agency administrators, kollel members, and others serving in klei kodesh, the opportunity to meet the personalities behind the internationally recognized and trusted STAR-K symbol. Attendees will be provided with a hands-on, practical application of the Shulchan Aruch, and learn how to structure a kashrus organization, along with the ins and outs of kashrus challenges at various venues.

Seminar participants will be taken behind the scenes of a first class luxury hotel’s kosher kitchen and a […]

Getting Into the Thick of Things: GELATIN
Rabbi Avrohom Mushell

Published Spring 2013

Have you ever had a slice of p’tcha galarita – that spicy, globby stuff Bubby used to cook up? How did she manage to make it so thick?

Better yet, open a can of gefilte fish. Look at the stiff jell that comes as its broth. Why is it that when you cook your own gefilte fish, you do not get that solid jelly from your broth? Did you ever wonder why theirs is so thick and yours is not?

COLLAGEN may be the answer to this thickening question.

Collagen is a fibrous, insoluble protein that makes up a major portion of bone, skin and connective tissue. By cooking animal bones or adding fish bones to the broth of your gefilte fish, you will extract some of the collagen from the bones. This gives you the wobbly jelly in p’tcha or in the gefilte fish that comes in a can.

The most common form in which collagen is marketed is partially hydrolyzed state known commonly as gelatin. […]

Tevilas Keilim Guidelines
Admin

Utensil to be immersed must be completely clean – free of dirt, dust, rust, stickers, labels or glue. (Practical Tip: WD-40 is very effective in removing adhesive)

One wets one’s hands in the mikvah water, holds the vessel in the wet hand and says Baruch…Asher Kidshanu B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu Al Tevilas Keili (Keilim for multiple utensils) and immerses the vessel(s).

If one forgot to make the brocha, the immersion is valid.

The water of the mikvah must touch the entire vessel inside and out.

The entire vessel must be under water at one time, but does not have to be submerged for any prolonged period of time.

If a basket or net is used to hold small utensils, the basket should be immersed in the water, the utensils placed in the basket, […]

A 30 Year Retrospective on Kashrus Kurrents
Dr. Avrom Pollak

Published Summer 2008

Approximately thirty years ago shortly before “Pesach” 5738 Mr. A. J. Levin, a vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Council, began publishing Kashrus Kurrents. In that first issue, printed on the familiar yellow paper with the blue Kashrus Kurrents logo, it was deemed necessary to advise the Baltimore community that they cannot rely on labels or advertisements that merely states ‘Kosher for Passover’. From that same issue we learned that the fledgling Star-K organization had just inaugurated its kosher hot-line whereby one could get accurate kashrus information Monday through Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Star-K Side Bar Fall 2008
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Other News From The STAR-K

STAR-K CERTIFICATION

TeleKosher Conference Program for Local Kashrus Agencies

The Secret Ingredient
Rabbi Tzvi Rosen

Published Spring 2012

One of the trademarks of the Star-K is that it encourages its staff to respond to consumer kashrus inquiries. All too often, after eating a yummy treat, a consumer will notice a seemingly questionable item listed on the wrapper’s ingredient panel. They will then call the Star-K hotline in a frantic state because they fear they may have eaten something non-kosher, only to learn that they most likely mistook the ingredient for something else or that the ingredient has a kosher counterpart. The following is a list of commonly questioned ingredients that regularly appear on the labels of popular foods that we eat.

National Kashrus Lecture Series
Admin

Star-K’s National Kashrus Lecture Series features various topics delivered by Star-K administrators. Topics cover: Glatt Kosher Meat Today, Kosher Travel, The High Price of Kosher Foods, Caterers and Restaurants, Meat and Poultry, Kosher Liquors, Shabbos & Yom Tov Appliances, and the Kashrus of Medicines & Vitamins. Cassettes of these lectures are available through the Star-K office. For more information, click here or call Star-K,
(410) 484-4110.

She Sells Sea Shells – But Are They Kosher? The Kashrus Status of Glucosamine and Other Arthritis Remedies
Rabbi Dovid Heber

As the kosher consumer crosses Maryland’s spectacular Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it is hard to imagine that glucosamine, one of the most widely used arthritis remedies is derived from the seafood shells found deep in the waters below. Sea shells are not the only surprising source of muscle and joint remedies. The l’vona (frankincense) used in the Bais Hamikdash, deer antlers, and an array of animals including sharks and bees, also contain the raw materials of over-the-counter arthritis supplements.

Kashrus Guide for the OB-GYN Patient
Rabbi Dovid Heber

October 2016

When visiting an obstetrician/gynecologist, a patient may be given prescriptions or recommendations for an array of products by her physician. The patient may be confused about whether a particular product is kosher. The following guide was prepared to help clarify the kashrus issues regarding these products.1

A Kashrus Guide to Medications, Vitamins, and Nutritional Supplements
Rabbi Dovid Heber

Click here to view the STAR-K Medicine List

Global sales of pharmaceutical products are expected to reach 500 billion dollars annually.1 It is therefore no wonder that the interest in kosher certification and approval for these products has also skyrocketed. Ideally, one should purchase these products with kosher certification. However, this is not always practical. It is for this reason that one of the most frequently asked questions on the Star-K hotline relates to the kosher status of these remedies. In an effort to clarify the numerous issues regarding these popular products, the Star-K has prepared the following halachic guidelines based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita, Rabbinic Administrator of Star-K Kosher Certification.2

The Visitor’s Halachic Guide to Hospitals
Rabbi Zvi Goldberg

Published Spring 2009
Updated Fall 2018

A person visiting a hospital patient is performing the great  mitzvah  of  bikur cholim .  It is one of the  mitzvos  for which a person reaps benefits in this world, while the principal reward is saved for the next world.  While visiting the sick, some  halachic  issues may arise.  This article addresses these issues from the visitor’s point of view.  Questions affecting the patient (such as adjusting the bed, using the call button, and asking the staff to perform tasks on  Shabbos ) are important issues that should be posed to one’s rabbi.

STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Diverse Kashrus Administrative Staff Takes Kashrus on the Road
Margie Pensak

The field of Kashrus is diverse and multi-faceted. These attributes are mirrored in the multi-talented, eclectic STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Kashrus Administrators, who recently took Kashrus on the road to audiences in Baltimore, Lakewood, North Miami Beach, and Oak Park, Michigan. Their topics spanned everything from Astronomy to Kosher Organic Certification.

Bundling Audits

Bundling Audits

Admin

Bob Vosburgh, Jeff Wells and Alyssa Haak

It’s tough enough getting certified on a single attribute, much less three. But Hain-Celestial Group’s WestSoy product line was able to gain organic, kosher and non-GMO certification in record time thanks to the emergence of multiple audit programs that streamline the verification process.