Shehecheyanu: A Timely Blessing

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2022

Shehecheyanu is part of many occasions and rituals. In the parlance of the
Gemara, it is often referred to as zman, the blessing of time. This bracha
expresses appreciation for special occasions in our lives – things that only
happen from time to time.

It is especially interesting that the minhagim of when Shehecheyanu
is said are often not in line with the strictest letter of the law. This
article will explore some of the common – and uncommon – halachos and minhagim
of this bracha relevant to the Moadim.

Times
of Holiness

Shehecheyanu is said at the onset of every Yom Tov to mark the increased
holiness of the day.[1] Although
it may be said ‘even in the marketplace’ once Yom Tov has arrived, the
implication of the Gemara in several places is that the ideal time to say Shehecheyanu
is during Kiddushand, indeed, it is included in the standard text
of Kiddush.[2]
Nevertheless, the common custom is that women […]

Seeing the Forest From the Bees

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2022

Eretz zavas chalav u’devash was surely music to Moshe Rabbeinu’s ears, and no doubt filled his heart with anticipation of a yeshua.

When the Ribono
Shel Olam commissioning Moshe to assume the leadership of Bnei Yisroel at
the Sneh, He promised that Bnei Yisroel were to be emancipated from
their servitude in Egypt and brought to a wonderful land, an  eretz zavas chalav u’devash, a land
flowing with milk and honey. This description surely conjured
up the glorious image of a land abounding in delicious, sweet milk and heavenly
honey, a land of prosperity and, on a deeper level, an exceptional makom
that exuded kedusha v’tahara (sanctity and holiness) and the Ribono Shel
Olam’s special Providence.

The
description eretz zavas chalav u’devash not only serves as a beautiful
metaphor to lavish praise on Eretz Yisroel. The Gemara Bechoros points
out that this possuk is actually the mekor (source) for
permitting milk produced by a kosher mammal, as well as honey made […]

Thoughts For Food and Food For Thought: Kedushas Ha’achilah

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2022

During the Yamim Noraim season, it is important to focus on
our potential, who we are now and who we want to be going forward. In that
light, I would like to touch on one aspect of the topic of קדש עצמך במותר לך – sanctifying yourself
through that which is permitted to you.[1]  I would like to skim the surface of the topic
of kedushas ha’achilah – eating in a holy, noble manner.

My intent is to offer a few thoughts to help us eat a little
differently in this New Year of 5783. The Yamim Nora’im are an
auspicious time to start doing so, as it is the zman when we tend to be
in a more reflective frame of mind and become more receptive to lofty and
nuanced ideas, especially in areas of personal and spiritual growth.

Aizeh Hu Ashir: Who is
Wealthy?

The Chofetz Chaim offers a hashkafic insight related to the metzora.
The […]

Charting the Course of Shemita

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

Eretz Yisroel is known worldwide for its high-quality produce.
During non-Shemita years, a wide selection of  Israeli produce items – among them: carrots, citrus fruits,
herbs, peppers, and radishes – are exported to North American markets. The
typical concern is to ensure that
proper terumos and maasros are taken. During Shemita, terumos
and maasros are not typically applicable[1],
but there is significant concern that the produce may be from Shemita.
If someone purchased Israeli produce from Shemita and paid cash (as
opposed to by check
or credit card), returning it to the store may also potentially violate the
prohibition of doing business with Shemita produce. If this happens by mistake, a rav
should be consulted.[2]

While it can be assumed that all vegetables currently on the
market are from the Shemita year,not all Israeli fruits yet on the market are from
the Shemita year. The Halacha is that the Shemita status of
fruits is determined by when they […]

A Consumer’s Guide to Shevi’is Produce

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

The
Torah commands us to refrain from working the land of Eretz Yisroel during Shemita.
The possuk states that a person may work the land of Eretz Yisroel for
six consecutive years but must allow it to lie fallow during the Shevi’is
(seventh) year.[1]
This seventh year is known as Shemita.[2] The mitzvah applies to both
men and women.[3]
Even though time-bound positive commandments generally do not apply to women,
this mitzvah is an
exception and is equally incumbent upon them.[4] 

The
Torah also commands us to sanctify every fiftieth year as Yovel.[5] However,
the Yovel year does not occur nowadays. This is due to the fact that Yovel
is sanctified only when the majority of Jews live in Eretz Yisroel.[6] By
the time of the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash, the majority of Jews
had been exiled from Eretz Yisroel and Yovel no longer occurred. Although
Jews returned to Eretz Yisroel at […]

A Profile of Courage and Inspiration: A Trip To a Yerushalmi Otzar Beis Din

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

Anyone
who has had the opportunity to visit Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh, as
I recently did, will tell you that a must-see experience is a trip to the Geula
neighborhood on Erev Shabbos.

Rechov
Malchai Yisroel could very well be dubbed the commercial heart of the Chareidi community.
The stores pulsate with energy and electricity, while the streets teem with
traffic tie-ups, both on and off the sidewalks. It could be termed a
businessman’s dream or nightmare, depending on one’s ability to handle the
sheer crush of consumers. The side streets, on the other hand, are a labyrinth
of quiet residential apartments. One such quiet street is Rechov Yonah.

For six
out of seven years, the Stern family’s mirpeset (balcony) on Rechov
Yonah looks like any other mirpeset, but this year is not like the
others. During this year, shnas haShemita, the Stern’s mirpeset undergoes
an amazing transformation. Welcome to the Otzar of Bnei Brak – Jerusalem
Branch!

In brief,
the Otzar […]

The Otzar Beis Din: Shemita’s Treasure Trove

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff, Rav & Rosh Kollel in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem | Guest Contributor

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2022

An Otzar Beis Din is literally ‘a storehouse operated
by Beis Din.’ Why would Beis Din operate a warehouse? Before
explaining more fully the true purpose of an Otzar Beis Din, which is a halachically
approved method of distributing Shemita produce, we must first review
the halachos of Shemita. These rules fall under two general
categories:

(1) Laws of the Land

The Torah teaches that every seventh year is Shemita,
and we are prohibited from working the land of Eretz Yisroel. One may not plow,
plant, prune, or harvest one’s grapevines as an owner, or perform most other
agricultural work. Furthermore, one may not allow one’s land to be worked
during Shemita, even by an aino Yehudi.[1] One
may perform activities whose purpose is to prevent loss, such as watering
plants and trees so that they do not die.[2]

The landowner may not treat […]

Good to Go With Shabbatto!

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2022

People look forward to Shabbos as a day to daven in shul and enjoy
the company of other Shomer Shabbos members of the community. Unfortunately,
there are people with mobility issues who are housebound on Shabbos and, for
them, Shabbos is a lonely day. But thanks to newly developed technology by
Movinglife, an Israeli firm, the housebound now are afforded a new opportunity
to rejoin the tzibbur and to enhance their enjoyment of Shabbos. We are
very excited to announce STAR-K certification of the Shabbatto folding scooter,
a new personal mobility device with a Shabbat Mode option.

The road to certification began with Movinglife contacting STAR-K
to discuss their project. After approaching STAR-K to seek certification, the
Movinglife management team met with Rav Moshe Heinemann shlit”a, STAR-K’s
posek and Rabbinic Administrator, at his home. This initial meeting
lasted a good few hours, during which Rav Heinemann explained in detail what he
would permit and what he would forbid for […]

Going Down Smooth: A Kosher Primer to Halachic Blending

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2022

There are few things as synonymous
with summer as a fresh, cold fruit smoothie, a classic hot weather staple for
many. During the summer months, the STAR-K hotline gets inundated with calls
from consumers requesting guidance to ensure their smoothies are as kosher as
they are delicious. While plain fruits and vegetables are often inherently kosher,
several of them do have a major kashrus nemesis: bugs! Those perfect looking
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries frequently host several
common insects, like thrips, aphids and mites.

Another item that has been gaining
popularity are juiced vegetables. Kale, cilantro and spinach are among the more
popular vegetables that are juiced and then enjoyed as a drink. These, too, can
present a significant challenge to ensure that they are insect free.

The following is a short guide to
assist you in preparing your favorite kosher juiced or blended beverage.

No Checking Required

There are many delicious fruits and
vegetables that do not present any issue […]

It Depends Where They Stem From

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2022

There
is a basic principle in Halacha: kol hayotzei m’tamei tamei, kol hayotzei
m’tahor tahor. The crux of that principle is that a product derived from a
non-kosher animal will be deemed not kosher (e.g., pig milk or ostrich eggs),
while a product derived from a kosher animal will be kosher (e.g., chicken eggs
and goat milk). This definition needs more investigation when it comes to stem
cells.

Before
we proceed with this discussion, let’s first step back to the Beginning, to the
Source of all that ‘stems.’

In the Beginning … There Was Change

Change
is sometimes beneficial, at times detrimental, frequently challenging, and often
intriguing. If we take a closer look, change is actually the underlying
force behind brias ha’olam (creation).

The
Ramban offers a riveting insight into unlocking the secret of brias ha’olam
when he draws us close and says, “and now, let me tell you the secret of
creation. The Ribono shel Olam created the world yesh mi’ayin – ex
nihilo […]

Wireless Security: A Mezuzah Primer

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2022

Many people install alarm systems in their
homes to provide a sense of security. These systems, which may be wireless or
hard-wired, are dependent on a number of factors to operate properly: all contacts
need to be intact and connected to one another; all batteries in wireless
systems must be fully charged; the codes need to be properly set; and the entire
unit must be in good working order. All it takes is one faulty connection to
negate the whole system.

While installing man-made security systems on
our property is a reasonable act of hishtadlus, our true feeling of
security comes from the recognition that we have a Protector in heaven. The
Torah provides us with a spiritual security system: the
mezuzah attached to our doorpost. The Ribono
Shel Olam watches over our homes if we do His will, and our mezuzah is a direct
link to the ultimate ‘Central Station.’

Our
homes are protected, however, only if the mezuzah […]

Global Brands Team Up with  STAR-K in Israel

Recognizing
the high demand for popular brand name food imports with a Mehadrin hashgacha
in Israel was the impetus three years ago for opening our STAR-K Israel office.
We felt uniquely qualified to begin working with Israel’s largest food
distributors due to our reputation of always maintaining a high degree of
professionalism, our food technology expertise, and worldwide presence in the
global marketplace.

STAR-K
was fortunate in teaming up with Rabbi Ahron Haskel who, with his many years of
experience, accepted our offer to become director of STAR-K Israel[1].
Along with his keen understanding of the intricacies of the Israeli food market
and the high regard that both kashrus professionals and food distributors have
for Rav Haskel, he was the perfect choice for this newest STAR-K venture.
Distributors such as Israel Beer Breweries Ltd (IBBL)/Coca-Cola, Osem/Nestlé, Strauss,
and Tnuva were equally pleased with the new opportunities to import Mehadrin
products for the Israeli public.

Something to Drink To!

STAR-K
has also been very active in providing the […]

From the STAR-K BMG Chabura: First Aide – Addressing the Halachic Challenges of Domestic and Special Needs Aides in the Home

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2022

Many
families find themselves caring for aging parents or a special needs child and require
additional assistance. Hiring a live-in, an aide, or full-time cleaning help who
is an aino Yehudi can create many real halachic concerns. Here
are some of the issues we address in this article:

Basar Shenis’aleim
Min Ha’ayin
: Meat which has been left out of the watch of a Yehudi.Yichud Keilim and Bishul
Akum
: Kosher utensils which have been left unattended with an aino
Yehudi and their change in status when used by an aino Yehudi.Stam Yeinum: Wine which may
have been handled by an aino Yehudi in a way that would forbid a Yehudi
from drinking it.Yichud: If a Jewish
man or woman is left alone with a person of the opposite gender.

Basar Shenis’aleim Min Ha’ayin

The Gemara addresses a concern called basar shenis’aleim min ha’ayin about a bird that may have switched a piece of kosher meat which was not being watched […]

Sushi: The Birth of a Yiddishe Meichel

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2022

Our numerous sojourns through Galus not
only defined and influenced the minhagim emerging from those foreign
lands, but also infused our cuisine with bursts of ethnic diversity –  pierogi and cholopshkes from
Poland, couscous and harira from Morocco, goulash and strudel from Austro-Hungary,
and gravlax from Scandinavia. Our seudos feature dips from around the
world – schug from Yemen, hummus from the Levant, guacamole from Mexico,
and matbucha from Morocco. As our migration advanced to the shores of the goldene
medina, kosher restaurants sprang up that offered consumers a bevy of
ethnic choices, from Chinese won ton soup and Italian calzones to Persian
kebabs and Lebanese shawarma.

The latest entry to that diverse menu is the
proliferation of sushi – a traditional dish from Japan – that has been wildly
embraced by Jewish communities everywhere and is now nearly as popular as apple
pie (or potato kugel). It has found a place of prominence in virtually every
kosher restaurant, wedding […]

Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree

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

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.

Bedikas Chometz Guidelines

View / Download PDF of Article Here

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 […]

Machine Matzos: Timing is Everything!

Published Spring 2009


Meticulous, scrupulous and passionate are terms that describe the fervor, zeal and seriousness displayed by the kosher consumer regarding Pesach kashrus in general, and Pesach matzohs in particular.  The kosher consumer has become more sophisticated and savvy with each passing year.  Kosher consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a quality kosher product.   Pesach matzohs are no exception.  Machine matzohs with fine mehadrin hechsherim are readily available on the supermarket shelf.  Are all machine matzohs created equal?

The Guide To Halachic Food Measurements

Updated April 2022

Conscientious observance of kashrus goes beyond the identification of kosher symbols on your supermarket shelf and the separation of meat and dairy foods and utensils in your kitchen. There are many food related halachos, in addition to those involving preparation and serving. Amongst them are the halachos of shiurim, measurements. They encompass a wide range of issues relevant to food consumption, and have important halachic ramifications.

How much must one eat to recite a bracha acharona, the blessing after eating? How much bread must one eat to be obligated in netilas yadayim, hand washing, or to fulfill one’s obligation of seudas Shabbos? The answers to these and other questions relating to shiurim have been addressed by gedolei haposkim, but are often not well known. There are many age old opinions regarding shiurim and it is often difficult to translate the measurements […]

The Traveler’s Halachic Guide to Hotels – Including Guidelines for Pesach and Shabbos

Updated October 2022

Yosef chose the hotel he was staying in for its many amenities, not the least of which was the free Continental Breakfast it offered its guests. Surely, when kosher symbols on products are becoming more and more prevalent, he wouldn’t starve! The breakfast menu included cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, hardboiled eggs, as well as hot coffee and juices. Can Yosef eat anything offered on the Continental Breakfast menu, or should he prepare his own breakfast using the microwave and coffeemaker in his hotel room?

Chana’s brother’s bar mitzvah, held in a hotel during Shabbos, turned out to be a real nightmare! The closet light went on automatically when she opened the closet door; the housekeeper had turned off the light in her room, preventing her from reviewing her Parsha notes; she drank a bottle of water from her room’s ‘refreshment bar’ which unbeknown to her […]

Navigating the Challenges: Shemita 5782

For over
nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel.
It is only in Eretz Yisroel that we can realize our full potential as a nation.
It is only in Eretz Yisroel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be
completely fulfilled.

For the
millennia, the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to
once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural
laws), the commandments that can be observed only in Eretz Yisroel. With Hashem’s
help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two
thousand year old dream. Yet, this realization has presented us with new
challenges.

Without a
doubt, one of the greatest mitzvah challenges of all times is the fulfillment
of the mitzvah of Shemita, the year of Sabbatical rest for the Land of
Israel. The Midrash perceives this multifaceted commandment as being so
challenging and difficult that he who meets the challenge of Shemita in
all its details […]

Kosher Consumer Misconsumptions

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2021

STAR-K’s
consumer Kosher Hotline is constantly abuzz with kashrus inquiries. Close to
5000 consumer calls were logged between Purim and Pesach 5781 alone. Questions
range from product information to complex kitchen shailos, from reliable
kosher airline caterers to wines whose kosher certification symbols are so
small you need a high-powered magnifying glass to read the rav hamachshir’s
name.

Even
with all the available information, consumers still get confused or make incorrect
assumptions that could lead to severe halachic consequences. The following
examples of kosher consumer misconceptions are based on real Kosher Hotline
inquiries. Hopefully, this article will help clarify some common errors.

Misconception 1: Putting an oven into Sabbath Mode allows
one to cook on Shabbos.

Chas v’shalom! The Sabbath Mode does not allow one to cook on Shabbos. The
Sabbath Mode makes a modern oven halachically compliant so that it may be used on
Shabbos and Yom Tov. The purpose of the Sabbath Mode was to address new
technological and computerized features that […]

Optical ‘Allusions’: Avoiding Maris Ayin

Making a Good Impression

The kohen tasked with removing funds from the treasury of
the Bais Hamikdash needed to go to great lengths to avoid any suspicion of
stealing: he could not wear hemmed clothing, or even tefillin, lest he hide a
coin in them. He was required to speak the entire time so that he could not hide
any coins in his mouth. When he exited the treasury, his hair was combed to
ensure that he did not squirrel away any money in his curls! The Mishnah
explains that these measures were necessary, as there is a Torah obligation to
avoid suspicion: “…v’hiyisem neki’im meHashem u’meYisroel, … and you
shall be innocent before Hashem and before Israel.”[1]

Activities that give an impression of transgressing Halacha must
be avoided, even if they are intrinsically permitted. This area of Halacha is
known as maris ayin and chashad, the appearance of transgressing
an issur.[2]
Interestingly, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, writes that this only extends
to […]

Delivery and Ride Apps – Halachically App-roved?

With the advent of the latest apps, a
whole new world of halachic scenarios has arisen.[1] These
include shailos about using food delivery services, working
for a food delivery or ride app, and even calling and using a ride service. These
various situations will be addressed here.[2]

Ordering from Meal Delivery Apps

Meal delivery apps like Uber Eats,
Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates have seen tremendous growth over the last few
years. For our discussion, we will use Uber Eats as our example, but the concerns
raised apply to the comparable apps.

A customer orders from a restaurant that
has contracted with Uber Eats. When it is ready, an Uber Eats driver picks it
up from the restaurant and delivers it to the customer. Here are some points to
consider when ordering from a kosher restaurant:

Is the food properly sealed?

Delivered food must be properly sealed.[3]  Many restaurants do not seal take-out food, unless the restaurant itself
arranges the delivery or sealing is […]

A Traveler’s Guide to Tefilas Haderech

During the past year and a half, STAR-K mashgichim
continued to conduct inspections in the United States and abroad in a manner
deemed safe for them and factory personnel. STAR-K is very thankful for their
tremendous mesiras nefesh to ensure that our certified products maintained
the highest level of kashrus, even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Still,
many consumers who frequently travel stayed home. With great siyata d’Shmaya,
an effective vaccine was developed that has allowed us to resume our busy
travel schedules and to once again recite Tefilas Haderech on a regular
basis. Let us examine the halachos of this beautiful tefilla.[1]

The Tefilla

Tefilas Haderech is based on the Gemara in Brachos (29b-30a), with some minor variations, depending upon one’s nusach.  The Gemara says it is recited in loshon rabim (plural; e.g., shetolicheinu, etc.).[2]  When returning the same the day, the words v’sachzireinu l’shalom are added after l’chaim, ul’simcha, ul’shalom.[3]

The bracha is […]

Insights from the Institute: Stable Manners – The Basics of Tzaar Baalei Chayim

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2021

The prohibition to gratuitously cause pain to an animal is known as tzaar baalei chayim. The Gemara presents a debate as to whether this is a Torah or a Rabbinic obligation.1 Most Rishonim pasken that it is forbidden mideoraissa,2 although some Rishonim pasken that it only prohibited midrabonon.3 The Nimukei Yosef suggests that the Torah forbids one to cause an animal significant pain, and the rabonnon extended this and forbade causing less substantial pain as well.4

There is some uncertainty as to the view of the Rambam. The Kesef Mishna states that the Rambam considers tzaar baalei chayim to be a Torah command,5 whereas the Ohr Sameach opines that the Rambam regards it to be a Rabbinic prohibition.6 The Netziv offers a unique resolution of the Rambam’s position. He suggests that the Rambam paskens that it is asur […]

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר חלב ישראל The Chaliva Mashgiach Neither Slumbers nor Sleeps!

10:00 AM, 6:00 PM, 2:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 6:00 PM, 2:00 AM – a virtual ‘dairy-go-round’ on an actual carousel for 1700 satisfied participants, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This scenario bears no resemblance to my Mother’s, ע”ה, family cow that she milked in the shtetl about 90 years ago. What do both scenarios have in common? Both produce Cholov Yisroel milk but, oh, how times have changed! There is so much more that must meet the keen eye of a contemporary Cholov Yisroel mashgiach.

When I grew up in Washington, D.C., Cholov Yisroel was a totally unknown term, an unknown entity, and certainly an unknown milk bottle in the refrigerator. But times have changed. Today, Cholov Yisroel is a burgeoning industry, ranging from ice cream novelties to energy bars. However, some things never change. Whether you are milking the […]

On The Tip of Your Tongue

“If there is any doubt, ask!” is a mantra that behooves any pulpit rabbi to convey to his kehila regarding kitchen mix-up issues. This is especially true concerning those shailos that involve the erroneous use of uncertified products whose only kashrus concern is that it contains mysterious “natural and artificial flavors”. However, all too often the food is thrown into the garbage before a shaila is asked. Surprising to most, when consumers in this predicament call into the STAR-K hotline, more often than not we can be the bearer of good news.

Before I delve into why, let me share a watershed story that will carry us to the essence of the matter

Where Is The Beef?

In April, 2001, a high profile article entitled, “Where’s the Beef? It Is In Your Fries!” appeared in India West, a popular newspaper and internet site for the North American Indian […]

Dessert: A Real Bracha!

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2021

You are at a חתונה and all of a sudden they roll in the Viennese tables full of cakes, chocolates, ice cream, melons and bread. You are not sure whether or not you should recite a ברכה ראשונה over any of these desserts. The question is equally applicable in your own home whether on Shabbos or any given day of the week: Do I or don’t I need to recite a ברכה over dessert?

The Shulchan Aruch1 states that when one eats bread, all foods which are eaten together with the bread are פטור (exempt) from a ברכה because they are secondary to the bread. Therefore, the ברכה recited over the bread covers any other food that is eaten, as well.

On the other hand, since a dessert is eaten to end the meal with a sweet taste, it is entirely different since the intention is not to […]

A Matter of Public Interest

“Oh, you need a loan to buy a new car? Check out Penn-Atlantic Credit Union. They’re practically giving money away!”

With interest rates of less than half of what is typically offered by a conventional bank, credit unions are a practical and popular choice for many consumers. Credit unions can give these low rates because they are non-profit and cooperatively owned. In order to borrow from a credit union, you must first be a member; every member is a partial owner, with both a financial stake and a vote in how it is run. This arrangement, however, presents a serious halachic concern: ribbis, the Torah prohibition against borrowing and lending of money with interest.

In truth, there is a similar ribbis concern in many bank loans. Mutual savings banks are structured similarly to credit unions; each depositor is a partial owner. The bank essentially acts as a shadchan between the many owners […]