Preparing/Kashering the Pesach Kitchen

See How to Clean/Kasher Kitchen Items for Pesach Checklist here.

As the Yom Tov of Pesach nears, and the diligent balabusta begins to tackle the challenge of preparing the kitchen for Pesach, undoubtedly the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine. Although moving into a separate Pesach home sounds very inviting, such luxuries are often not affordable and definitely not in the Pesach spirit. Among the basic mitzvos of the chag is the mitzvah of tashbisu se’or mibateichem, ridding one’s home and possessions of chometz. However, if we are to use kitchen equipment, utensils, or articles that can be found in our kitchen year-round, it may be insufficient to just clean them thoroughly. One is forbidden to use these items unless they have been especially prepared for Pesach. This preparation process is known as kashering.

The Torah instructs us that the proper kashering method used to rid […]

Bedikas Chometz Guidelines

Before Pesach, a person is obligated to perform bedikas chometz, a search of his house and possessions, to ensure that he does not own any chometz. The bedika should be conducted at the beginning of the night of the 14th of Nissan, immediately after tzeis hakochavim.1 If he did not do so, the bedika can be done all night. Bedi’eved, if he did not perform the bedika that night he should do it on the day of the 14th of Nissan.2

If he will not be home on the night of the 14th of Nissan, he should appoint another adult to perform the bedika on his behalf.3 If he leaves his house within thirty days of Pesach, and is not planning to return and conduct a bedika or have someone else perform a bedika for him, then he should do […]

Understanding Kitniyos – What They Are, What They Aren’t

See Handy Kitniyos Chart here

As is commonly known, the Torah prohibits chometz on Pesach, and the consequence of chometz consumption on Pesach is very severe. In order to distance us from the possibility of violating Torah precepts, Chazal with their supreme insight, instituted a minhag as a protective fence. The minhag to guard us from chometz violations is to refrain from consuming kitniyos on Pesach.

What are Kitniyos?

Kitniyos are popularly defined as legumes. But what are legumes? The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 453, defines kitniyos as those products that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to chometz grains, yet are not halachically considered in the same category as chometz. Some examples are rice, corn, peas, mustard seed, and all varieties of beans (i.e., kidney, lima, garbanzo, etc.). The Torah term for the using or fermentation of barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt is “chimutz;” the term given […]

A Shemita Primer for Chutz La’aretz

By: STAR-K Rabbinic Staff

Beginning on Rosh Hashana this year (5782) and ending Rosh Hashana next year (5783), it is the Shemita/sabbatical year in Eretz Yisroel. This is certainly one of the most special mitzvos that we have. The amazing demonstration of our absolute faith and emunah in Hashem which is displayed from its proper observance is unique from all other mitzvos. Furthermore, the guarantee that Hashem will provide us with sustenance in advance that comes along with observing Shemita is something that proves that the Torah can be directly only from Hashem himself.

Although Shemita does not apply to land outside of Eretz Yisroel, there are still a number of circumstances that we in chutz la’aretz will likely encounter, and thereby give us the ability to observe the mitzvah of Shemita properly. The laws of Shemita are quite extensive and complex. The goal of this article is to […]

Rosh Hashana Simanim Checking Guide

Click image below for a larger view and a handy printable version.

A HALACHIC GUIDE TO HONEY AND BEE DERIVATIVES

Click here for STAR-K’s Halachic Guide to Honey and Bee Derivates by Rabbi Dovid Heber.

Passover In Brief

Passover, an eight-day springtime festival, commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Based on the injunction against eating or possessing leavened bread for eight days, Passover involves a unique set of kosher laws. Kosher consumers are most careful about what they eat on Passover. In fact, many people who do not observe kosher year-round may do so on Passover. According to some accounts, 40% of the kosher market revolves around the Passover holiday.

Thermador Oven Alert

BSH Home Appliances has recently discovered a glitch in the
Thermador Professional Series Double Wall Ovens. The Sabbath mode operation is
working properly, but the temperature adjustment allowance during Sabbath mode
is not working once Sabbath is activated.

The following products are affected:

Product

Description

PO302W

Pro
Dbl Oven, 30″, SS, Select

POD302LW

Pro
Dbl Oven, 30″, SS, Deluxe, Left Side-Opening

POD302RW

Pro
Dbl Oven, 30″, SS, Deluxe, Right Side-Opening

POD302W

Pro
Dbl Oven, 30″, SS, Deluxe

PODS302W

Pro
Spec Dbl, 30″, SS, Deluxe, Steam and Convection Oven

This issue can be fixed through
a software update and BSH has already initiated actions to implement the fix
within the factory, as well as an “over-the-air” update. […]

Using an Oven on Shabbos & Yom Tov

Cooking in the modern kitchen is a whole new experience. Technological advances have taken the old stovetop and oven and upgraded them to be safer, more efficient, and “smart” for today’s lifestyle. They are also far more complicated. With these transformations, the observant Jew is faced with challenges that did not confront him in the past.

To understand how these changes affect the halachic use of ovens and cooktops on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is worthwhile to review some laws and concepts as they relate to cooking on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Before proceeding with our discussion, it is important to review some basic terms and concepts.

Definition of Basic Terms Pertaining to Food Preparation on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Melacha
A melacha is a Torah prohibited act derived from the constructive acts performed in erecting the Mishkan. These forbidden acts are known as melachos. There are 39 categories of prohibited acts.

Bishul
Bishul refers […]

Sephardi Minhagim Regarding Kosher for Passover Foods

Rice and all different types of legumes are permissible to eat on Pesach according to the custom of most Sephardim, as long as they are careful to check rice three times to ensure there is no wheat or barley mixed in.1
Care needs to be taken that no dust of flour came into contact with the rice (or any kosher food for Pesach). Therefore, one may use only natural, unenriched rice for Pesach, ideally a rice with a reliable Kosher l’Pesach L’ochlei Kitniyot hechsher.2
Those who refrain from eating legumes on Pesach are permitted to keep them at home; there is no need to sell legumes to a non-Jew.3
It is the Sephardic custom to use egg matzah (מצה עשירה) during Pesach. This type of matzah cannot be used to fulfill the obligation of eating matzah on the first two nights of Pesach. The bracha recited […]

Sephardi Minhagim Regarding Kashering for Pesach

 

מקצת הלכות הגעלת והכשרת הכלים לפסח לפי מנהגי ספרדים

Utensils that are used during the year with chometz are forbidden to be used during Pesach without kashering them according to Halacha. From the time it is prohibited to eat chometz on Erev Pesach, it is forbidden to use the utensils without kashering them according to Halacha. The proper kashering method used to rid a vessel of chometz is dependent upon the original method of food preparation through which chometz was absorbed into the vessel.1
We do not recite a bracha when kashering an item since it is a negative commandment not to consume the taste of non-kosher food.2
Sephardic custom is that the method of kashering depends upon the most common usage of the vessel. Therefore, it is sufficient to pour boiling hot water from a כלי ראשון on a hot plate after cleaning it to […]

Insights from the Institute: Pet Neutering

Q: May one ask a vet to spay a pet?

A: I frequently get asked this question. People who have pets often prefer to have them neutered, as this makes the animals more docile. However, there are serious halachic issues associated with this. Poskim differentiate between whether a male or female animal is being neutered. The neutering of a male animal is known as castration, whereas neutering a female animal is called spaying.

The Torah (Vayikra 22:24) states that castrating men and male animals is forbidden. This prohibition is known as sirus.1 It is also forbidden to remove a woman and female animal’s reproductive organs. The Gr”a is of the opinion that this is a Torah prohibition. The Taz, however, feels that causing a female animal to become infertile is permitted. According to the Taz, the reason it is forbidden to remove a female animal’s reproductive organs is solely due to […]

Pesach Guidelines for People with Celiac, Food Allergies and Gluten-Free Restrictions

Yomim Tovim are synonymous with food—and lots of it! During Pesach, the temptation to eat and overeat, perhaps the wrong things for eight straight days, is extra challenging. The good news is that you don’t have to resolve to store away those extra pounds which you will regret just as you store away your Pesach dishes for next year. STAR-K is grateful to Sarah Klugman, RD, of Healthy Bites Nutrition Clinic, in Lakewood, NJ, for sharing her Pesach nutrition advice on which this article is based. They include tips for gluten-free and celiac individuals, as well as those with various food allergies.

Sarah Klugman suggests, “Always make Kiddush in the morning. It’s the key to a successful day! Use light grape juice 1 and have a starch or fruit and milk. Regarding when to make Kiddush and how to fulfill Kiddush b’makom seuda, consult your rav. Good ideas are: […]

Dacor Refrigerator Alert

If your refrigerator has an Auto Door Open (ADO) feature, it must be turned off before Shabbos/Yom Tov.  See  pages 17, 18, 32 and 33 here”.

GE Sabbath Mode Oven Alert

Effective January 1, 2022, GE began marketing their Sabbath Mode ovens without STAR-K certification. Certified ovens purchased and delivered prior to January 1, 2022, remain certified.

Consumers seeking to purchase cooking appliances compatible with Shabbos and Yom Tov are advised to select models certified by a reliable kashrus organization.

Consumers who have questions or concerns about this issue can contact GE directly at 1-800-626-2005.

Undercover: The Halachos of Schach

Published Fall 2009

When our Torah speaks about the Festival of Sukkos it states, “Chag HaSukkos Taaseh Lecha B’Aspecha Migornecha U’Miyikvecha.”1  “The Sukkos holiday should be observed at the time that you harvest your grain and your wine,” during the fall.  Our Chachamim, sages, have taught us that this pasuk has another esoteric meaning.  The sukkah, in which we dwell during this chag, should be made from the unused parts of the harvesting grain and wine, namely the stalks of grain and twigs of the vine.  These are the items that should be used for the schach, the covering, which is placed on top of the sukkah instead of a permanent roof.

Don’t Miss the Boat: Halachic Guidelines of Kosher Cruises

The task of food preparation aboard a modern cruise ship is enormous. Activity begins even before the first passenger comes aboard. Needless to say, food is central to a cruise. “Kosher Cruise” may simply imply that the food is kosher; other halachic issues may not have been addressed by the kosher certification agency. In this article, we will examine kashrus, as well as other topics including Shabbos, davening and tznius.

Kashrus

Providing kosher supervision on a cruise ship is not an easy task. “Mega-ships” can carry over 4,000 guests.1 Food preparation occurs around-the-clock in multiple locations. Most often, a ‘kosher cruise’ means that an entrepreneur has booked a number of cabins aboard a large ship. In such an arrangement, kosher and non-kosher food will be prepared and served simultaneously.

The traveler must have confidence in the kashrus agency that is certifying the cruise. In order to instill confidence, a reliable kashrus organization must address many issues.

What arrangements have been made to […]

Meshane Makom/Meshane Brocha: When do I need a new Brocha?

Almost every time I enter a supermarket, I marvel at the wide variety of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as a plentiful assortment of epicurean delights. If someone were to call their market “Gan Eden” – in the secular sense – they would be right.

Before consuming our supermarket delicacies, we must give proper consideration to an important shaila: What is the correct brocha for this food? Many times, this is not an easy question. After all, there are so many aspects of birchos hanehenin1 to keep in mind. How does it grow? Is it processed? Is one of the chameishes minei dagan (five special grains) present in a halachically meaningful way? What part of the food is the ikar (primary) to me? Do I need to recite a brocha if I already said the same brocha on a different food? What if I decided I was […]

Kosher Wine Comes of Age

Throughout the ages, alcohol has always played a vital role in historical and religious observance. Dovid Hamelech’s declaration ויין ישמח לבב אנוש,1 “Wine will gladden the hearts of humanity,” certainly has borne itself out in modern history. Wine accompanies happy occasions in almost every society known to man. Chazal declare אין שמחה אלא ביין.2
When I was growing up, there weren’t many choices when it came to kosher wine. When my parents bought our childhood home, my father was thrilled to find that it came with a wine cellar. He was then faced with the formidable challenge of finding kosher wine good enough to bother storing. I remember a time when there were only two wines from Eretz Yisroel available, both from Carmel Chateau Rishon: Vin Rouge and Vin Blanc; basically, the whole range was sweet red and white! Domestic wines were even more limited; while there were a few […]

A Halachic Guide to Sheva Brachos

Chazal tell us that Moshe Rabeinu established the “shivas y’mai hamishteh”, the seven days during which the choson and kallah rejoice together following their wedding.1 During this time, family and friends come together and prepare beautiful seudos, followed by the recitation of the “Sheva Brochos” at the conclusion of Birchas Hamazon. Such seudos are quite common, and it is important to review the various applicable halachos.2

What is Necessary For Sheva Brochos

If a choson and kallah are at a meal held in their honor during the first seven days of their marriage, and there is a minyan present, including a panim chadashos, Sheva Brochos are recited. The following is an explanation of what is required:

1. Minyan – At least seven adult males over the age of Bar Mitzvah eat enough bread that requires Birchas Hamazon,3 and at least three others eat enough food (e.g., cake, fruit, etc.) or […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: May one pet an animal on Shabbos?

A: Chazal enacted a takanah designating certain types of objects as muktzah, thereby limiting a person’s freedom to move those items on Shabbos. There are various categories of muktzah with differing degrees of limitation of movement. For example, a utensil which is generally used for an activity prohibited on Shabbos is muktzah. A naturally occurring object such a stone is also muktzah unless it has been designated before Shabbos for a specific purpose. Similarly, the Talmud states that an animal is muktzah.

In former times, it was common for children to play with young birds and listen to them sing. Tosefos suggests that a bird should not be considered to be muktzah as it can be used as a distraction for a crying child. However, Tosefos rejects this and concludes that birds are muktzah. Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch paskens that animals are muktzah and […]

Just a Spoonful of Glycerin Makes the Medicine Go Down

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 […]

Fresh from the Field: Staying Up To Date On Insect Checking/Bedikas Tolayim Part 1

Halachic issues of infestation in many of the fruits and vegetables that we consume are well known. Much has been written and said about these issues, albeit to various degrees of halachic stringency. This article will focus on the methods used to monitor this evolving industry. Doing so requires both monitoring of the various produce items, as well as keeping track of their sources on an ongoing basis. This is easier said than done! We will explore the challenges inherent in accomplishing these objectives and discuss some of the more recent items that have surfaced on the infestation radar screens.

The world of entomology is ever evolving. Chaza”l1 stress the importance of knowing the facts in each locale, as the variables that affect insects and infestation change constantly. It used to be that due to their short shelf-life, produce was mainly sourced locally. Knowing the infestation issues inherent in each location […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: Under which circumstances is a person obligated to erect a fence around the roof of his house?

A: The Torah in parshas Ki-Setze states, “When you build a new house make a railing for your roof, and you shall not bring blood on your house if someone falls from there”.1 The Torah requires one to build a maakeh – a fence – around a flat roof that people walk on, so as to protect them from falling. The mitzvah applies not only to someone who builds a house but also to someone who buys, inherits or is gifted a house.2 A person who rents a house is also required to build a maakeh if the owner has not already done so.3

A maakeh has to be strong enough that a person could lean against it without falling, and it has to be ten tefachim high.4 This measurement […]

Sabbath Mode FAQs

KitchenAid 1996:
Dear Rabbi Rosen,
The STAR-K KitchenAid Sabbath Mode project had been evolving for 2 ½ years. This novel venture was initiated by KitchenAid to address the needs of the Sabbath observant Jewish community that would not be able to use the new age KitchenAid ranges and wall units due to the new electronic technology and advanced features.
Jewish Sabbbath observance does not permit the kindling or extinguishing of a fire or the cooking of food on Sabbath. Jewish Holiday observance does not permit the creation of a new flame, but cooking and adjusting fire as needed for cooking is permitted.
The issues that KitchenAid engineers had to address in order to create a user-friendly oven for the Sabbath observer were the following:
1. Could the 12-hour automatic shutoff be bypassed?
2. Could the oven be opened without lighting an icon on the control […]

Bal Tashchis: Waste Management in Everyday Life

Shockingly, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that about 40% of all food in the United States goes uneaten; it is either left to rot or tossed in the garbage. In fact, 7% of all food doesn’t even make it out of the farm, and a significant amount doesn’t even get picked because it doesn’t meet standards for color and shape! One industry estimate claims that an average of $2,300 of food products are discarded each day by individual grocery stores due to impending expiration dates. American families throw out between 14-25% of the food and the beverages that they purchase, and restaurant diners leave about 17% of their food uneaten.1

Of course, we know the Torah teaches us that we need to be careful and not wasteful. We also know that we are not just talking about wasting food. We are charged to appreciate every chair, book and bobby […]

Getting into the Fabric of Shatnez Checking with a Man of the Cloth

INTRODUCTION

The Torah forbids the wearing of a garment made from tzemer (wool) and pishtim (linen) together. There are two pesukim in the Torah that refer to Shatnez. It states,1 “Ubeged kilayim shatnez lo ya’aleh alecha,” a garment composed of a mixture which is Shatnez should not be draped upon oneself. We find a different expression of this same mitzvah, “Lo silbash shatnez tzemer uphishtim yachdav2 – Do not wear shatnez, wool and linen together.” Chazal tell us that these two pesukim complement one another. In Devarim, the Torah forbids actual wearing of Shatnez – levisha, whereas the Vayikra prohibition of Shatnez includes he’elah – draping Shatnez over one’s body. The Gemara3 explains that draping is prohibited only if it is done in a way which is similar to wearing, i.e., where some benefit is derived from the Shatnez such as being covered or warmed. It […]

HE-BREWS: A Micro View into A Microbrew

Introduction
If there is a word that can be used to describe the unprecedented growth of microbreweries it is explosive’. There are more microbreweries than ever in the U.S., accounting for $22.3 billion of revenue and 21% of market share. In 2015, the brewery count stood at 4,269 breweries: 2,397 microbreweries; 1,650 brew pubs; and 178 craft breweries. In essence, this dynamic growth has in essence reshaped the playing field, both in quality and new offerings. Of course, the success of the microbrewery is changing the face of the beer industry from traditional to innovative, which obviously impacts the typical kashrus perception of a microbrewery.
It was previously assumed that microbreweries were more purist than their ‘big brother’ counterparts. This means that they would not deviate from the strict rules of the reinheitsgebot-German Beer Purity laws. Is this still true today? And if not, what is the kosher status of […]

Shiluach Hakan

Published Spring 2017

Shiluach Hakan1 (sending away the mother bird before taking her young) is a mitzvah that is infrequently performed. Its reward is the blessing of a long life – similar to the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. Let’s examine how, when and where to perform the mitzvah of Shiluach Hakan.
“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you…young birds or eggs, and the mother is roosting…you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall surely send away the mother and take the young for yourself, so that it will be good for you and will prolong your days.”2

Possible Reasons for the Mitzvah

The Rabbis ruled that a person may not state that the reason for the mitzvah is compassion for the mother bird. One commentator interprets the Talmud’s prohibition as applying strictly to reciting this in one’s prayers, as if to establish compassion as the definitive, […]