23 Nov KASHRUS QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
Q: Is Turkey Kosher? – I have heard that there are some Jews who do not consider turkey kosher. Can you tell me the reason for this?
As far as I know, turkey with kosher certification is widely available. When the Torah speaks about what makes an animal Kosher, it’s very specific; it chews its cud and has split hooves. When the Torah speaks about birds, it doesn’t give a general description. The Torah gives names of birds, but we don’t exactly know what those birds are. The Gemarah Mesechta Chulin tells us that the birds for which we have a mesorah, a tradition, are the birds we can eat. This is the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. Jews have been eating chicken forever and, therefore, it is considered a bird with a mesora. Turkey is a relatively new bird, an American bird, although some people say it come from India. The question is, is there a Mesorah for turkey? Most people believe that there is a Mesorah for turkey. There are certainly families that do not eat turkey, which is based on a Shlah, who said that his family and his descendants should not eat turkey. But certainly, the most widespread opinion is that there is a mesorah for turkey and therefore turkey is kosher.
Q: Can one bake an open pan of chicken/ meat in a hot oven immediately after fish was baked in an open pan? What about the opposite, fish after meat, if both are open?
A: The gemara teaches us that mixing fish and meat is a sakana (danger). We know of course that according to Halacha, one may not mix meat and dairy, but the gemara also says chamira sakanta me’isuro. This means, that as much as we need to be careful about Jewish law, we need to be careful about being safe and healthy. So, if Chazal taught us that mixing meat and milk is dangerous, we certainly need to be very careful about mixing meat and fish in the same recipe as well. We also need to be careful about using the same utensils for meat and fish. For example, if someone has a fryer that they fried chicken in, they should not be using the same oil to fry fish. For that reason, many people have a separate pot that they cook fish in and don’t cook any meat in. That is also why people have the custom to drink schnapps after eating fish before eating meat; so that there should be a little separation between them.
Cooking meat and fish in the same oven is the same concern. If you are cooking fish uncovered in the oven, you should not be cooking meat uncovered in that oven at the same time. If you have one oven that you cook fish and meat in, you should either cook one of them covered or, if that’s not an option, between the cooking of the fish and meat you should clean the oven and put it on the highest setting for an hour. If you can, you should wait 24 hours but if you cannot, put it on the highest temperature for an hour.
Some communities, particularly sefardic, and some chassidish communities won’t eat fish and dairy together. Dairy obviously is also the product of an animal and they are concerned that it would be the same issue of mixing a product from an animal with fish. This really depends on what your custom is.