Published Winter 2014

With a little forethought and planning, you can implement some helpful year-round money saving tips in anticipation of Pesach.

To assess your budget, ask yourself:-  What do I typically spend on groceries per month?

–  What did I spend for Pesach last year?

–  What are the specifics of this year’s Pesach plans?

–  Will I be eating meals at home or eating out?

–  Will I have more expenses because I am entertaining guests?

–  What can I afford this year?

–  How can I cut back on expenses a month or two prior to Pesach?

–  What can I live without?

Decide on your menu, taking into account where chol hamoed falls out on the calendar, as well as fleishig/milchig meals.  Be sure to make a list before you go shopping. Hopefully, you can refer to your post-Pesach notes from the previous year to remind you of your ever-changing Pesach needs.  These could include:

– Number of boxes of matzahmatzah meal, cake meal, and potato starch used

– Number of bottles of wine needed

– Popular brands

– Amount of milk used

– Amount of chicken used

– […]

Q:   When I say  Al Hamichya and make a mistake, I don’t know what to do.  Could you give me some guidelines?

A:    There are three places in the  brocha me’ein shalosh (colloquially known as  Al Hamichya) where the text changes, depending on what was eaten:

(1)    The  brocha starts with the words “ Boruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olamal …”, followed by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen” if a person drank wine, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz” if he ate fruit from the  shivas  haminim, “ hamichyeh  ve’al hakalkalah” if he ate food made from any of the five types of grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt), or a combination of these phrases if he ate or drank a combination of items.1

(2)    Further on in the  brocha , one says “…  ve’nodeh  lecha al ha’aretz ve’al …”, followed by either “ pri  hagofen”, “ ha’peyros”, “ hamichya”, or a combination of these phrases.

(3)    The  brocha concludes with the words “…  Boruch atah Hashem al …”, followed once again by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen”, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz”, “ hamichya  ve’al hakalkalah”, […]

Published Winter 2014

A Fictional Account of a Factual Situation1

PicturesLarge industrial stove, oven, fryer, elegantly set ballroom with tables

Mendy enjoyed his job at Elegant Touch Catering (ETC). His primary responsibilities were in the office, but his sharp eye was noticed by Rabbi Ephraim Rubin, the caterer’s veteran mashgiach, who needed extra help with vegetable checking. Finding people with the skill and acumen to determine acceptability of leafy greens, especially in the pressurized environment of a commercial kitchen, was a challenge for Rabbi Rubin and he was eager to recruit Mendy as an assistant.

After two months of training, and hours squinting in the harsh glow of a light box covered by microfiber mesh cloth, Mendy became adept at detecting tiny translucent thrips and aphids hiding in the folds and crevices of romaine, kale, broccoli, dill, and parsley. Finally, the STAR-K  Kashrus Administrator overseeing foodservice establishments approved him as a vegetable checker. Eventually, Mendy finely honed his […]

Published Winter 2014


Hashem , in his ultimate kindness, has provided man with the keys to unlock some of nature’s most amazing secrets.  For centuries, a great secret has been revealed to man – the bubbling elixir known as beer.

Beer’s ingredients – water, barley, yeast and hops – bear no resemblance to the finished product.  These natural ingredients undergo a series of simple yet fascinating processes to convert them into one of the world’s most popular beverages.  It is not coincidental that alcoholic beverages have been given the distinctive appellation “spirits”, alluding to the fact that these beverages seem to magically emerge from these natural ingredients as if they have been assisted by spirits.  The four steps of beer making are malting, roasting, brewing and fermenting.

THE PROCESS :  The first step of beer making combined barley and water in a process […]

Published Spring 2014

Remember when making coffee meant putting a kettle on the stovetop and waiting until it whistles?  Today, electric heating has taken over the market in order to fill the need of having hot water on-demand.

Two of the popular types of electric hot water heaters on the U.S. market are the common aluminum urn with a plastic spout, and the relatively newer ‘pump pot’, which requires that you push down on the top plunger to pump out the water.

I. TEVILA

The Torah requires that utensils used for a meal be immersed in a mikva if they were in possession of an aino-Yehudi at any time.  The Talmud1 states that mechamei chamin, hot water kettles, also require tevila.  Rav Moshe Feinstein2 explains that there is a novelty in this ruling.  One can argue that a kettle requires no tevila at all.The kettle doesn’t perform any meal preparation function since heated water has not really changed; it is just water that is hot. The Talmud is teaching that hot water is considered changed; […]

 Published Spring 2014

Q:        I would like to send my young children to a backyard camp during the summer.  The camp is offering an ‘early-bird special’ if I register my children now.  If I wait until the summer to register, they will charge more.  Is there any ribbis issue with registering now and receiving the discount?

A:         Ribbis involves lending money to another Jew and charging interest.  Doing so may violate a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic prohibition, depending upon the situation.  If it is necessary to charge interest, the two parties may sign a document known as a “heter iska”, which converts the loan into a business investment, thereby avoiding the prohibition of ribbis.1  People are often unaware that a number of common transactions may violate the prohibition of ribbis.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

(1)   Reuven buys an item with Shimon’s credit card, and assures Shimon that he will pay the credit card bill.  However, Reuven forgets to pay the bill […]

Published Spring 2014

If anyone ever visited New Orleans, one of the must-see tourist highlights in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, is a quaint Cajun wooden floor coffee shop known simply as Morning Call.  Morning Call is a café that sold one product only – a delightful, deep fried square doughnut that you smothered with heaps of confectioners’ sugar and enjoyed along with a delicious hot cup of French market coffee.  These square doughnuts are known as beignets (pronounced ben y’ays).  I don’t know if a beignet matches a fresh jelly-filled  sufgania , but beignets are a New Orleans favorite and Morning Call is still frying beignets.When I was a member of the New Orleans  Kollel  many years ago, Morning Call was certified kosher by the local congregational rabbi, and at that time there was no Kosher Cajun restaurant to go to for a kosher bite to eat.  The proprietor of Kosher Cajun was […]

Published Spring 2014
It is not uncommon for food manufacturers to call us with a keen interest in kosher certification without the the slightest idea what it takes to produce a kosher product.  What complicates matters is that they would like to have a kashrus tutorial capsulized into a telephone conversation.  Obviously, we can’t give a thorough kashrus course over the phone, but we can categorize practical kashrus into three main areas: ingredients, equipment, and process.Occasionally, there may be circumstances where both ingredients and equipment are 100% kosher.  Through a violation of a rabbinic ordinance, some foods or food products would be prohibited, while other food products undergoing the very same process would […]

Q: I have heard that someone who bakes loaves of bread with the intention of giving them to other people does not separate challah with a brocha. Can you explain the parameters of this halacha?

A: One is obligated to perform the mitzvah of separating challah when kneading dough which will be baked into bread. The amount of flour one must knead in order to be obligated in this mitzvah is an asiris ha’aifa, which is equivalent to the volume of 43⅕ beitzah.1 The exact volume of a beitzah is a matter of dispute. L’halacha, one should separate challah without a brocha when kneading 2.6 lbs. of flour, which on average is equivalent to 8⅔ cups of flour. According to Rav Chaim Noeh, one can separate challah with a brocha when kneading 3.675 lbs. or more of flour (on average, 12¼ cups). Many follow the opinion of the Chazon Ish, and […]

Published Summer 2014

One of the highlights of the week is the Shabbos seuda. The divrei Torah, zemiros, Shabbos delicacies, family and guests allow us to come closer to the Ribbono Shel Olam and recharge our ruchniyos and gashmiyos (spiritual and physical) batteries. Although a delicious bowl of chicken soup on Friday night and hot cholent during the daytime seuda enhance the Shabbos meals, one does not fulfill his obligation of “seudas Shabbos” with either of these items. What is necessary to fulfill one’s obligation for seudas Shabbos?

I. Seudas Shabbos

Men and women are obligated to eat three meals every Shabbos. Each “meal” must consist of bread.1 Chinuch-age children are also obligated. On Yom Tov, one2 is obligated to eat only two seudos as there is no obligation for a third meal.

Ideally, one should eat the volume of a “k’baytza v’yoser”3 from challos, matzos, rolls, bread or any Hamotzi product.4This volume is […]

Published Summer 2014
There was a story told about a very elderly Yid who was in the hospital with medical complications. The doctor came in with the patient’s test results and said, “Mr. Goldberg, your blood pressure is high and your cholesterol is high. You must change your diet. No more chopped liver; nothing cooked in chicken schmaltz.” Mr. Goldberg peeked out from under his blanket as his children were attending him, looked the doctor straight in the eye and said, “Vos vais a doctor vos a yid darf essen!”1

Although Judaism frowns upon a ‘Live to Eat’ mantra, eating does play a central role in the life of a Torah observant Jew. How can one observe Shabbos without Kiddush and Hamotzi? Who can observe a Pesach seder without matza? A Melava Malka, a Purim seuda, dipping an apple in the honey on Rosh Hashana – our calendar and our chagim […]

Published Fall 2014

Unquestionably, the one area of food ingredients that attests to the global nature of the food industry is the spice trade.  The Torah is replete with reference to the spice traders who carriedYosef to Egypt to the ketores, that was fundamental to the avoda in the Bais Hamikdash.  The spice commerce has thrived from the beginning of commercial trade.  New World exploration forged forward fueled with the hope of finding shorter spice routes to the Far East.  Centuries earlier, Marco Polo witnessed flourishing spice trade first hand, during his travels to the Orient. Spice empires thrived as the European powers deepened their trade with the Far East. Today, spice trading continues to prosper.  Spices hail from Albania to Zanzibar and arrive to these shores in many different forms as whole spices, spice extracts, oleoresins and essential oils. What are the kashrus issues facing this fascinating ancient/contemporary industry?  Have modern processing techniques simplified or complicated matters?
What are spices?  Are spices and herbs synonymous?
The term spice is […]

Published Fall 2014

For over nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel.  It is only in the Land of Israel that we can realize our full potential as a nation; it is only in the Land of Israel 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 the Land of Israel.  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 mitzva challenges of all times is the fulfillment of the mitzva of Shmitta, the year of Sabbatical rest for the land of Israel.  The Midrash perceives this multifaceted mitzva as being so challenging and difficult that he who meets […]