Slurpee Confidential

Editor’s Note: The STAR-K Slurpee List is a compilation of flavors certified by an array of reliable kashrus certification agencies. Optimally, either the individual 7-11 store should be kosher certified or the consumer should check the kashrus of the syrup himself by checking the back of the machine. Many stores have been known to allow this. If neither option is available, this article will address the halachic basis for relying on The Slurpee List at any 7-11 store located in the United States.

One of the ways we mark the change of seasons is by eating and drinking the foods we associate with that particular time of year. The Rambam advises in Hilchos Deos1 that one adjust his menu with the seasons, eating warm spicy foods in the winter and cool, less seasoned ones during the warmer months: hot hearty soup (or microwaved leftover cholent!) on a cold winter night, watermelon […]

A Cut Above – Or Is It?

Much discussion and halachic energy have been expended discussing the halachic legitimacy of Norelco’s Lift-and-Cut shavers. The Lift-and-Cut claims to lift up the hair by one blade and then cut it with a second blade, instead of using a screen-blade scissor action.

It is a fascinating fact that the lift-and-cut “technology” is based on a concept fostered by Gillette razor blade producers that if you insert two razor blades together with a slight gap between them, the first will pull the shaft of the hair up and the second blade will cut the hair below the skin line. Hence, the term “lift and cut”.

Bear in mind that the edge of the razor blade is sharpened to a point of .1mm to .2mm (1/16 of an inch = 1.5mm), so the point of a razor is unquestionably razor sharp! However, users of the dual blade have dispelled the lift-and-cut “theory”. Below are […]

Electric Shavers

Since Star-K often receives questions regarding the use of electric shavers, this article will address the halachic concerns of removing one’s facial hair.  The Torah states, “לא תקפו פאת ראשכם ולא תשחית את פאת זקנך” (ויקרא י”ט כ “Do not round the corners of one’s head and do not destroy the corner of one’s beard” . The Torah continues, “ופאת קזנם לא יגלחו (ויקרא כ, “and the corner of one’s beard they shall not shave”.

What are the actions of forbidden facial hair removal?  The Mishna in מכות discusses which methods of removing facial hair are forbidden. הקפה, “rounding”, refers to the complete removal of hair from the temple area.  The terms גילוח, “shaving”, and השחתה , “destroying” refer to forbidden forms of removing one’s beard.

The Mishna does not offer a practical explanation of these actions.  Do these terms refer to the cutting of hair using different types of shaving implements, or do these actions refer to different degrees of hair removal […]

Exploring A Common Kitchen Mixup

You have arrived home after a long day at work. Upon entering your house, you notice a full strainer of macaroni sitting next to a fleishig pot. You are not sure if you can use that macaroni to make yourself macaroni and cheese. Everyone knows that cooking milk and meat is an issur d’oraisa,1 but this is pareve macaroni from a clean fleishig pot. What is the halacha?

The Gemara tells us that just as one may not cook actual meat with cheese, he may also not cook meat flavored food with cheese2 (i.e., meat flavored potato from a cholent pot). Even a flavor which was transferred twice cannot be cooked with the opposite gender food, e.g., flavor which transferred from meat to a pot and then from that same pot to the macaroni. When the transmission of flavor is performed through a cooking process, we maintain the view of the […]

First Ever Pan-Asia Training Seminar Held in Shanghai

They come from Perth; Yerushalayim; Mumbai; Manila; Boston; Scottsdale; and Los Angeles, but truly the mashgichim attending the inaugural STAR-K Pan-Asia Kosher Training Seminar in Shanghai, January 9-14, live out of their suitcases. Dedicated to the mission of ensuring and spreading kashrus, even at a moment’s notice, implies where they are from is wherever their luggage happens to be.

Representing the premier kosher certifier in Asia, these STAR-K mashgichim are the “eyes and ears” in the field who help certify thousands of products –from canned goods and nori sheets in China and South Korea, to spices and coconut products in India and Sri Lanka, and banana chips and coco sugar in the Philippines–mostly exported as “bulk” ingredients to be processed globally into consumer products.

STAR-K operates regional support centers in Shanghai, China and Cochin, India and representative offices in Manila, Philippines; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Karachi, Pakistan; and Jakarta, Indonesia.
Joining Baltimore-based STAR-K […]

Bedikas Chometz: Search for Dough Like a Pro

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 bedikah 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 bedikah can be done all night. Bedieved, if he did not perform the bedikah 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 bedikah on his behalf.3 If he leaves his house within thirty days of Pesach, and is not planning to return and conduct a bedikah or have someone else perform a bedikah for him, then he should do bedikas chometz without reciting a brocha at night before he leaves.4

If […]

When You Can Drink and Drive: The Halachic Implications of Drinking Coffee on the Road

Happy Fact: Unflavored roasted coffee beans, whole and ground, are considered kosher without a hechsher (kosher certification). Bearing this in mind, buying a cup of unflavored regular, decaf, or High-Octane coffee (my usual choice) should not present any kashrus issues, right?

Not so fast fellow caffeine heads; life is never so simple.

The Problem: Some coffee vendors sell kosher and treif (non-kosher) items, like the Bacon & Gouda Breakfast Sandwich and the Pepperoni & Tomato Savory Foldover.1 The keilim (utensils) used for coffee and treif can at times be washed together, causing blios, absorbed tastes, from the treif kli to enter the coffee equipment. In Starbucks, for example, it’s been established that the brew basket that holds the coffee grounds while the coffee is being made is sometimes washed with keilim that may have come into contact with treif. If we have a “perfect storm” situation in which the wash water is […]

Nisht Oif Shabbos Geredt? The Guide to Proper Speech on Shabbos

Shabbos is the most beautiful day of the week, and our Neviim and Chazal have enhanced its sanctity by establishing various mitzvos d’rabanan. These mitzvos include activities that maintain kedushas Shabbos and render it more enjoyable, and prohibitions to ensure we do not perform a melachah d’oraisa. One example of an issur d’rabanan is what Yeshayahu Hanavi1 refers to as “daber davar”, a restriction on business and melachah-based discussions on Shabbos.

According to the Talmud Yerushalmi,2 when we are careful with speech on Shabbos, we emulate the Ribono Shel Olam, Who rested from speech3 on Shabbos Beraishis following the completion of the creation of the world.

The following halachos are based upon the psak of Harav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, Rabbinic Administrator of STAR-K Kosher Certification.4

I. Discussions of Melachah

In general, on Shabbos one is not allowed to say that he will perform a melachah after Shabbos. For example, it is forbidden to say, […]

Danger-Sakana: Keeping Our Food Safe & Healthy

In an ongoing effort to keep food processing on a high level of quality, a new position known as Director of Food Safety has been created in the Quality Assurance departments of food processors. In fact, there is a relatively new certification program that companies undergo known as SQF certification. SQF stands for Safe Quality Food, and there are different levels of SQF certification: 1, 2 or 3.

SQF standards are very rigorous, some may say bordering on excessive. However, the repercussions can be devastating if a company’s production environment is compromised or unsanitary. A common nemesis to food producers that Quality Assurance valiantly tries to battle is the presence of E-coli, bacteria comprised of many different strains that are commonly found in one’s intestines. Most are harmless, yet there are some E-coli that can cause severe food poisoning.

When the bagged salad industry was in its fledgling stage, E-coli food poisoning […]

Notes from the STAR-K Bais Medrash Govoha Halacha Chaburah

The following article is based on an actual in depth and detailed ‘limud‘ that the STAR-K  Kollel Chabura conducted during the past zman.

Scenario #1: It’s the afternoon of the second day of Pesach; your house is a hurricane – dishes are piled up to the ceiling, stains are all over the tablecloths, the floors are sticky and you need some serious help. You have a live-in maid. The trouble is, you’re very uncertain as to what you can ask her to do and what is and isn’t halachically permissible. Can she be asked to run the dishwasher, wash the floor or take out the garbage?

Scenario #2: It’s the afternoon of the second day of Pesach; your house is a hurricane – dishes are piled up to the ceiling, stains are all over the tablecloths, the floors are sticky and you need some […]

Insights from the Institute

Q: Does a walk-in closet in my house need a mezuzah?

A: Many of the doorways of the various rooms in a person’s house are required to have a mezuzah on the doorposts; however, not every doorway is halachically obligated to bear one. Whether or not a particular room needs to have a mezuzah will depend upon the location of the doorway, the intended use of the room, and other factors. A complete exposition of all relevant halachos is beyond the scope of this article. We will limit ourselves to one specific question: What are the specific measurements that a walk-in closet would need to meet in order to halachically be considered a “room”? In other words, when is a walk-in closet large enough to require a mezuzah and when is it small enough that it does not?

A large walk-in closet is halachically considered to be a room if it is […]

GramaChip Technologies

There are cholim (ailing or frail individuals) who would greatly benefit from being able to use electric devices on Shabbos. GramaChip Technologies is a company that provides halachically compliant solutions for these cholim; its products are STAR-K certified.

As its name suggests, the products rely on the halachic principle of grama. The Mishna discusses grama in the context of putting out a fire on Shabbos. One is permitted to arrange a ring of water around a fire, even though the fire will certainly be extinguished when it reaches the water.1 This is halachically allowed due to the time delay between the action of arranging the water and the subsequent melacha of extinguishing the fire on Shabbos. Similarly, any activity that includes a time delay between a person’s action and the ensuing melacha would be categorized as a grama.2 Grama of a melacha de’oraissa is permitted only in situations of financial loss.3 However, […]

K’Tapuach B’Atzei HaYa’ar Like an Apple in the Orchard

The Talmud1 records a very interesting exchange between two Amoraim, Rava and Rav Pappa. Rava raised a legal query which Rav Pappa heartily answered. To that response, Rava exclaimed, “Sadnai!” Rashi gives two explanations to the approbation, Sadnai. One explanation is that Rava’s exclamation attests to Rav Pappa’s keen scholarship. When Rava extolled Rav Pappa’s scholarship, he implied that his insight was so great that Rav Pappa was able to uncover the underlying “secrets” (“sode”) of Torah. Another explanation of the term “sadnai” is a testimonial to Rav Pappa’s expertise as an expert brewer. He knew the mystery of creating a successful brew of beer.

Which variety of beer was Rav Pappa brewing? The Gemara in Pesachim,2 where this exchange between Rava and Rav Pappa was also recorded, tells us that he was brewing date beer. Brewing beer was popular in Talmudic and pre-Talmudic times. As far back as Noach, wine […]

Kosher Provides a Taste of Yiddishkeit for Assisted Living and Nursing Home Residents

For many assisted living and nursing home residents, some of whom have kept kosher their entire lives, a facility with a trustworthy kosher certification is non-negotiable; for others, it is a welcomed taste of tradition – literally! From a marketing standpoint, the importance of a facility’s choice of a universally well-respected kashrus agency cannot be overstated.

Even prior to accepting the position of Executive Director of Tudor Heights Assisted Living Community – the forerunner of today’s Tudor Heights, A Solvere Living Community – Dovid Lapin strongly urged the facility’s management to partner with STAR-K.

“Clearly, the local supervision that had been in place for a number of years was not working, as the census was at 34 and there were 30 vacant rooms,” recalls Mr. Lapin. “I asked for permission to begin a national marketing campaign, promoting Tudor Heights and STAR-K as partners in this beautiful state-of-the-art community. We truly branded ourselves […]