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    Special Kashruth Questions for the Yomim Noraim

    This month many of the bakeries sell raisin challah. Many local bagel stores recently stopped selling cinnamon raisin bagels. Are raisins kosher to eat?

    The OU’s position is that raisins are kosher. The only issue that comes up with raisins is that you can find insects in raisins. The Halacha is very concerned about the consumption of insects; it can involve 4-5 aveiros every time you ingest one. However, the halacha is that an insect only becomes prohibited once it has left the fruit where it was formed. The Prid Megadim and other commentators suggest that raisins don’t have that issue and even if a raisin did have an insect, it wouldn’t pose a Kashrut issue. Therefore, the OU does certify raisins.

    Since honey is produced by bees, and bees are not a kosher species, how can honey be kosher?

    That’s a great question which is in the Gemarah. The Gemarah says honey must be Kosher. How do we know this? Because Eretz Yisroel is called “Eretz Zvas Chalav U’Dvash.” So, there’s no way that the Torah would’ve compared Israel to something that isn’t kosher. But why indeed is it kosher? The Gemarah says that honey is not digested by the bee. The bee swallows the pollen from the flower and secretes it from its body the same way that it ingested it. The bee has nothing to do with the making of the honey; it’s just like a bag holding the food.

    The Question is, can that be applied to other foods? And that’s a very interesting question because there’s another very popular food ingredient called shellac, which is the secretion of another bug. The question is, does that have the same properties as honey? Rav Moshe Feinstein held that it did and that’s why the OU certifies shellac for food.

    Can one eat Cheerios during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (ten days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur) or Shabbos and Yom Tov for those who only eat Pas Yisroel on those days? What about other breakfast cereals? Must they be Pas Yisroel?

    There are differing opinions as to whether Cheerios is considered pas. The OU poskim do not consider it pas, because of the size of the individual pieces and the manner in which it is made. Likewise, wheat flake cereals are not considered “bread-like” and therefore do not need to be pas Yisroel. Corn and Rice Cereals are, by definition, not bread items. For a current OU Pas Yisroel list please see https://oukosher.org/blog/articles/pas-yisroel-list-5780/

    What foods should one eat at the  seuda ha’mafsekes (last meal)  on Erev Yom Kippur?

    Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 608:4) writes that on Erev Yom Kippur, one should eat light foods that are easily digestible, so one will be able to daven on Yom Kippur with proper concentration. There is a common custom to dip challah in honey. Mishnah Berurah (608:16-18) writes that one should not overeat. It is proper to serve chicken, red meat, and especially fatty meat, should be avoided. Wine and other intoxicating beverages should not be served. One should avoid foods that are overly spicy or vinegary. Sesame should be avoided, since it can cause reflux. Based on the Tur (Orach Chaim 604), some have a minhag to eat fish on erev Yom Kippur. However, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (131:12) writes that it should not be served at the seuda ha’mafsekes, but rather should be eaten earlier in the day.

    Is one allowed to eat an esrog and, if yes, can one eat the esrog on Sukkos itself?

    There’s nothing wrong with eating an Esrog. You can’t eat your esrog on Sukkos because once the Esrog has been designated for a mitzvah, you can’t eat it until the Yom Tov is over. Even an esrog that was bought to decorate the Sukkah, can’t be used on Sukkos to eat. If you just want to buy an esrog as a fruit, that’s fine. You need to make sure that if the esrog is from Israel, there are no issues with terumos and masros, but otherwise you can eat an esrog. Many have the minhag to eat an esrog on Tu B’shvat and pray for a nice Esrog for the next year.

    What needs to be toiveled?

    Is there a general rule?

    The Halacha is that Kli Seuda, utensils used for food, need to be toiveled. Deoraisa, only something made of metal needs to be toiveled so pots, pans etc. Glass needs to be toiveled Derabanan. Earthenware poses a problem. Earthenware doesn’t have to be toiveled however, glazed earthenware is often glazed in glass. If it’s a thin layer, it’s not as big of a question as with a thick layer. I learned from my Rebbeim to toivel glazed china but everyone should ask their own Rabbi.

    Rabbi Moshe Elefant is Chief Operating Officer of OU Kosher and the maggid shiur of the Orthodox Union’s Daf Yomi webcast (whose 1,800 learners a day around the globe make his lectures one of the most popular Daf Yomis in the world). If you have a kashruth question for Rabbi Elefant please email Jewishvues@gmail.com and put on the subject line Kashruth Question.