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 […]