Food Under The Bed (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

The Food-
1. The Gemara (Pesachim 112a) states that one should not place food or drink under one’s bed. This clearly indicates that all foods are susceptible to the evil spirit. However, the Yerushalmi (Terumos 8:3) warns against “placing a cooked food dish under the bed.” According to the Yerushalmi if the food is raw and inedible (see Imrei Shmuel on Maaseh Rav 95) one may place it under the bed.

2. The Shulchan Aruch writes that one may not place “cooked food or drink” under the bed. It seems that even the Shulchan Aruch agrees that one may place raw food under one’s bed. [This is very relevant for people who are low on storage and keep food under their bed.] However, Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20) wonders why the Shulchan Aruch would rule like the Yerushalmi and disregard the ruling of the Gemara in Pesachim. He therefore explains that it makes more sense to say that the Shulchan Aruch does rule in accordance of the Gemara in Pesachim and that he agrees that one may not store raw food under one’s bed.

3. Indeed, the Chochmas Adam writes that he heard that the Vilna Gaon zt”l ruled that one may not eat raw food that was stored under one’s bed. The Pischei Teshuva writes that this is supported by the Gemara in Bava Basra (58a), which states that a Torah scholar should keep only his shoes under the bed, Rashi explaining that this is because of the ruach ra’ah which dwells on food. This Gemara implies that only shoes should be placed under the bed and not any form of food, even if the food is raw.

4. However, other authorities maintain that the evil spirit does not rest on inedible raw food. The Gaon of Butchetch zt”l, in his Sefer Mili D’Chasidusa (548) writes that “there is more room to be lenient regarding raw food that still needs to be cooked.” Similarly, the pirush Imrei Shmuel writes that only cooked food or edible raw foods are vulnerable to the evil spirit. However, raw foods (that are currently inedible) may be placed under one’s bed. The Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 116:11) cites both views and he writes that “the common custom is to rule leniently regarding raw food and ‘shomer pesaim Hashem.’”

5. The Beis Yosef and Shach rule that the evil spirit rests on food under the bed even if the food is covered. As the Gemara states, “the evil spirit rests on these foods even if they are enclosed in a vessel of iron.” It would seem that the same law would apply if the food is sealed. Indeed this is the view of the Ben Ish Chai, Pri Hasadeh and Sdei Chemed. However, the Misgeres Zahav writes that if the food is sealed it is permissible. The Gemara was referring to food merely covered with a metal vessel, if the food was sealed it is permissible. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue and rules that initially one should rule in accordance with the strict view of the Ben Ish Chai and not place sealed food under the bed. However, b’dieved, if the food was placed under the bed and there will be even a limited financial loss (hefsed muat) by discarding the food, one may partake of the food. (see Yabia Omer 4 O.C. 5:6)

The Bed-

6. Harav Binyamin Zilber zt”l that one should not place food under a sofa if one occasionally sleeps on the sofa (Az Nidberu 7:73). According to Harav Zilber zt”l the prohibition applies to any food stored under an area that someone slept on even though it is not specifically designated for sleep. The Sefer Binyan Olam cites a similar ruling from the Vilna Gaon. He writes that the Vilna Gaon forbade eating sugar that was stored in a box that someone slept on. However, the Sefer Shaarei Rachamim (156) cites the ruling of the Binyan Olam and comments that “this is not in line with those who maintain that the evil spirit only rests under a bed that is designated for sleep.”

7. The Gaon of Butchetch zt”l writes that perhaps the whole problem only applies to beds on which a married couple has relations. Food stored under the bed of a single person would be permitted. It seems that the Vilna Gaon and Harav Zilber (cited in the previous halacha) do not agree with this view as they prohibit food under a sofa or a box that one slept on even though those are not surfaces that are designated for marital relations.

8. As cited above (Previous Post) the Toras Chaim explains that the evil spirit that rests under the bed is akin to corpse contamination and stems from the sleep of the person, which is a sixtieth of death. Therefore, argues Harav Chaim Palag’i (Lev Chaim 66) and the Sefer Nahar Mitzraim (page 81b), the evil spirit only exists if the food was under the bed while someone slept on the bed. If however someone stored food under the bed during the day (while no one slept there) there is no concern.

9. However, the Ohr Yitzchak (14) and Pri Hasadeh (1:4) write that initially one should not place food under a bed at any time even if one is not sleeping on the bed. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (1 Y.D. 9) writes that initially one should rule stringently and not place food under a bed at any time. If however, the food was placed under the bed while no one was sleeping on it the food is permissible. He then adds that this is in disagreement with the sefer Ein Habdoilach who writes that if food was placed under a bed at any time the food must be thrown away.

10. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l cites the Yafeh Lalev, Mizmor L’David and Harav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l who maintain that the evil spirit rests on the ground under the bed. Therefore, one may place food between the pillow and the mattress. Harav Zonenfeld zt”l also rules that if one slept with food in his pockets the food is permissible. However, it seems that Harav Yitzchak Elchonon Spekter zt”l (Ein Yitzchak 24) disagrees since he writes that the evil spirit rests on foods that are placed under the head of the person who is sleeping.

11. The poskim debate whether the evil spirit rests upon food that is placed under the bed of a non-Jew. According to the Teshuros Shai, Pri Hasadeh and Shulchan Chai rule that the food is permissible. However, the sefer Degel Efraim (cited by the Sefer Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 61) writes that the bed of a non-Jew is the same as the bed of a Jew for this hallachic discussion.

12. Many authorities maintain that one may place food under a crib or child’s bed. (Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 62)

13. The Tzitz Eliezer (10:35) discusses whether one may place food under a bed on a boat. He writes that there may be room to be lenient. He cites the Yafeh Lelev who explains that the evil spirit rests on the ground under the bed. And that if the ground is covered with beams and stones one may be lenient since those materials separate between the food and the ruach ra’ah. Therefore, argues the Tzitz Eliezer, on a boat there is no real “ground” and the evil spirit may not apply. He adds that although the common custom is not to follow the view of the Yafeh Lelev and we assume that the evil spirit applies even if the ground is paved. That is only because the pavement is considered part of the ground and does not separate the food from the “ground.” However, in a boat where there is no connection between the inside of the boat and the surface of the ocean floor one may rule leniently according to all materials.

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Food Under The Bed (Part1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Section 1: The Source-

1. The Gemara in Pesachim (112a) states that if any foods or beverages are left under a bed, even if they are enclosed in a vessel made of iron, an evil spirit rests on them and it is prohibited to partake of them. This ruling is cited by the Tur and Shulchan (Y.D. 116:5) Aruch as normative halacha.

2. The Toras Chaim (Baba Basra 58b) suggests that this evil spirit is akin to corpse contamination: The Gemara (Berachos 57b) teaches that “sleep is a sixtieth part of death.” The law is that items placed beneath a corpse become contaminated by it. Accordingly, food placed beneath a sleeping person should contract a semblance of impurity as well. This semblance of impurity manifests itself in the form of an evil spirit.

3. The Gemara clearly states that the reason that one should not eat food that was under the bed is because there is an evil spirit that rests on the food. However, the Rambam (Rotzeach 12:5) offers an alternative reason. He writes, “A person should not place a cooked dish under the couch on which he is reclining, even though he is in the midst of his meal, lest an entity that could harm him fall into the food without his noticing.”

4. According to the Rambam if the food is covered it would be permissible since there is no concern of anything falling into the food. However, the Gemara clearly states that one cannot eat the food even if it is sealed, due to the evil spirit. The authorities question why the Rambam does not rule in accordance with the Gemara. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 1 Y.D. 9) cites several authorities who explain that the Rambam felt that the evil spirit, referred to in the Gemara, no longer applies. Therefore, he did not cite the exact ruling of the Gemara. He does, however, add his own concern of a foreign entity falling into one’s food.

5. Most authorities disagree with the Rambam and maintain that the evil spirit still applies today and one should act accordingly.

6. There is a great debate amongst the poskim whether b’dieved one may eat food that was left under the bed. Many poskim, including the Shvus Yaakov, Rav Yitzchak Elchonon zt”l and the Malbim, maintain that although one should not place food under the bed, if the food was placed there one can eat it. (Shvus Yaakov 2:105, Shemiras Haguv V’Hanefesh page 56 and Yabia Omer ibid.)

7. According to other authorities, including the Vilna Gaon, Chida, Ben Ish Chai and Marcheshes, one must throw the food away. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue and he writes that in case of great financial loss one may rule leniently. The Chazon Ish (Taameh D’Kra 28) would rule leniently for others to eat food left under a bed. In his home, however, he was particular that the food not be eaten. Rather, it was given to poor people.

8. The poskim debate whether one may place an empty pot under a bed. The Gaon of Butchetch (Mili D’Chasidusa 458) writes that the evil spirit does not rest on pots and pans left under a bed. However, it seems that according to Rabbeinu Gershom Meor Hagolah (Baba Basra 58a) the evil spirit does rest on pots left under the bed.

9. The evil spirit does not rest on people under a bed. Therefore, one may sleep on the bottom bunkbed without concern of ruach ra’ah. (Az Nidberu 7:73)

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Peeled Eggs, Onions or Garlic Overnight (Part 3)

Other Possible Exceptions-

1. The Gemara states a possible exception to the rule and that is if some of the original outer layer, peel, shell, or root hairs remain, then one need not worry about Ruach Ra’ah, as it is not considered to be peeled.

2. The Smak (171) understands this to mean that the shell or hair can protect the food even if they were completely removed and later added back. Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l, in his Sefer Divrei Yetziv, maintains that the basic understanding of the Gemara is that the food is only protected if there is at least one piece of hair or shell which was never removed from the food but it would not suffice to add pieces of peel or hair to a fully peeled egg etc. He feels that this is also the view of Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l (Divrei Yetziv Y.D. 31:14). In the Daf Hakashrus (ibid.) it states that Rav Belsky shlit”a rules in accordance with the Divrei Yetziv.

3. The Sefer Yad Meir (19) introduces a novel concept. He writes that one may wash the food to remove the ruach ra’ah. However, most authorities disagree and feel that rinsing the food does not help. (see Minchas Yitzchak 6:74, Divrei Yetziv ibid. Malbim in Ortzos Hachaim 4:32 and Shemiras Haguf V’Nefesh page 27)

4. The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l discusses his uncertainty if the prohibition applies to foods that were peeled during the night, and therefore were not peeled for the entire night. He writes that in his view the custom seems to be that there is only a concern if it was left peeled for the entire night.

5. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20) was asked whether there is a leniency for a commercial bakery, which has trays of unused leftover eggs etc.. Harav Moshe suggests that since we do not understand how ruach ra’ah operates we cannot extend the Gemara’s warning to any cases other than those mentioned specifically. Therefore, we can assume that the Gemara is discussing a typical case of a housewife who peeled an egg and accidentally left it overnight or who peeled an egg today with the intention of eating it tomorrow. However, the Gemara is not discussing a company which cracks eggs which will not be used for many weeks or months. Therefore, we do not have to be concerned for ruach ra’ah in such cases.

However, the seforim Mishnah Halachos (11:21) and Divrei Yatziv (ibid.) did not allow any dispensation for industrially produced items, and exhorted extreme caution with all facets of this halacha, ruling that peeled overnight eggs, onions or garlic are strictly prohibited.

In the Daf Hakashrus it states, “Rav Belsky and Rav Schachter were both of the opinion that the OU could rely on Igros Moshe. This would provide a basis for the certification of all commercial egg, garlic and onion products but would not permit a caterer to crack eggs for the next day’s breakfast or to cut onions and garlic for the next day’s salad.”

Moreover, it is worthwhile to read Rav Yisrael Belsky’s (Shulchan Halevi page 211) strongly worded defense of Rav Moshe’s opinion. He writes that since the issue at hand is one of spiritual danger, once the universally recognized Gadol HaDor rules that it does not apply, it is certain that no spiritual contamination will affect someone who relies on his ruling – see Gemara Pesachim 112b.

6. The Gemara explicitly states that even if the peeled onion is covered and wrapped up, it is still susceptible to ruach ra’ah. Therefore many authorities rule that even if one wraps the peeled egg or garlic up well and then puts it in the fridge, it is still forbidden to be eaten.

7. Harav Belsky, based upon the previously mentioned view of Harav Moshe Feinstein, notes that although the Gemara rules that placing the peeled egg in a sealed container does not protect it from the ruach ra’ah, this may not apply to eggs which are placed in a hermetically sealed container.

8. Another opinion cited by the Darkei Teshuva is that ruach ra’ah does not affect dried onion powder, garlic powder or powdered eggs, as not only are they not considered the original food item, but they are not even considered a food at all, rather a powder. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:8) agrees with this opinion and says that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank permitted powdered eggs for this reason. In the Daf Hakashrus it states, “Rav Belsky held that the only basis for such a difference would be the view of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l cited above who states that the danger only applies to eggs prepared in the typical manner.”

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Peeled Eggs, Onions or Garlic Overnight (Part 2)

Overnight Peeled Eggs-

1. Overnight peeled eggs might actually be permitted according to several authorities, as Rashi when explaining the prohibition omits eggs from the criteria. Rashi did not have the word “eggs” in his edition and accordingly eggs that were left overnight would not be prohibited. Harav Yaakov Breisch zt”l (Chelkas Yaakov Y.D. 39) also writes (albeit hesitantly) that Rashi would permit eggs that were left overnight and that this is also the opinion of the Tashbetz. Indeed, the Ben Ish Chai writes that “one should not eat peeled onions and garlic that were left overnight.” He clearly omits eggs from the prohibition. Perhaps he is following the view of Rashi who did not have the word “eggs” in his edition of the Gemara.

2. However, almost all of the later authorities include eggs in the prohibition and therefore one should act stringently.

3. The Darkei Teshuva (116:74) cites the Seforim Yad Meir and Degel Efraim who maintain that only cooked eggs are dangerous. Shelled raw eggs that were left overnight are permitted.

4. The Beis Shlomo (cited by Darkei Teshuva ibid.) and Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 504:1), however, maintain that the prohibition applies only to raw eggs and not to cooked eggs.

[Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:8) notes that the Maharam M’Rutenberg implies that there is danger on cooked eggs.]

Harav Ovadia suggests that according to the view of the Beis Shlomo and Kaf Hachaim dried onion would be permitted since they are dried with heat which provides a minimal cooking as well.

5. The Tzitz Eliezer (18:46) cites both opinions and writes that in essence there is legitimate basis to eat both raw and cooked eggs and that one should not rebuke those who act leniently. He explains that since many poskim feel that this entire prohibition no longer applies (as we explained in Part 1) coupled with the fact that there are authorities who permit cooked eggs and authorities who permit raw eggs, one always has legitimate basis to rule leniently. Contrastingly, Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a (Shulchan Halevi page 211) maintains that we should assume that the halacha applies to both cooked and raw eggs.

Food Mixed With Other Ingredients-

6. The Smak (171) writes that the reason why many eat garlic that was left overnight is that “since there is bread mixed with the garlic there poses no danger.” Indeed, many other poskim, including Zivchei Tzedek, Ben Ish Chai and Kaf Hachaim, rule that if the egg etc. is mixed with other ingredients before they are left overnight there is no concern. The Chazon Ish (Shemiras Haguv V’Nefesh page 25) also ruled in accordance with the Smak. Based upon these poskim many eat salads with onions even if the salad was made the day before.

7. The Chazon Ish and Harav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l both permit a fried egg that was left overnight since the egg has oil mixed in with it. (Orchos Rabbeinu page 209 and Yaskil Avdi 7:44. See however Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a in Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 4:186 for a dissenting view.)

8. The Tzitz Eliezer cites the Sefer Mataamim that a way to fix garlic etc. that was left overnight is by adding salt. The Tzitz Eliezer deduces that adding salt would permit the food even if the salt was added the next day (after the food was left overnight). However, the Sefer Beis Shlomo implies that adding other ingredients only suffices if they were added before the night.

9. The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l rules that one may not use eggs, garlic or onions as the other ingredient in the mixture. Rabbi David Cohen (Daf Hakashrus ibid.) writes, “Rav Belsky also agreed that eggs, onion or garlic could not serve as the ‘other ingredient.’”

10. Most poskim do not write any criteria as to how much of the other ingredient must be added to allow the food. It would seem that any amount would suffice. However, the following poskim offer specific amounts:

Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 3:256) writes that the common custom in Israel is to be lenient if the salt or sugar is at least 2% of the mixture. Rav Moshe Sternbuch himself is only lenient l’chatchila if the color is changed by the mixture.

The Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l, in his Sefer Divrei Yetziv (Y.D. 31:14), maintains that one may only rely on this if the taste is actually changed by adding the salt or sugar.

Rabbi David Cohen (Daf Hakashrus ibid.) writes, “Rav Belsky felt the OU should follow Divrei Yetziv that there must be some threshold at which point the ‘other ingredient’ is insignificant and does not protect the peeled egg, but not with the suggestion that the criteria is nisenas ta’am (affecting the taste). Rather, as long as the other ingredient had some effect on the egg it would be significant enough to not be ‘batel.’ Thus, it would be sufficient if the other ingredient acted as a preservative or balanced the pH (acidity level) in the egg.”

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Peeled Eggs, Onions or Garlic Overnight (Part 1)

The Source-

1. The Gemara (Nidah 17) cites an extremely strong statement by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He states that one who eats a peeled onion, egg or garlic that has been left sitting out overnight is literally endangering his life, and will be ultimately judged as a person who took his own life.1 The cause of this prohibition is a “ruach ra’ah,” a type of ‘spirit of impurity’ or spiritual contamination that rests upon these three foods when peeled and left overnight.

2. Astoundingly, there is absolutely no mention of this proscription in any of the works of the the Rambam, Rif, Tur, nor Shulchan Aruch. Yet, many later authorities, including the Pri Chadash (Y.D. 116:9), Shulchan Aruch HaRav(Shmeiras Haguf 7), Chida (Birkei Yosef Y.D. 116:10), Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Pinchas 14), Chofetz Chaim (Likutei Halachos note 9) and Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 116:22), all do cite the Gemara’s statement, and consequently rule that eating a peeled egg, onion or garlic that sat overnight is strictly forbidden.

3. The assumption amongst the poskim is that this danger of “ruach ra’ah” is a spiritual danger and not a danger that a doctor would warn against. (see Shevet Halevi 3:169)

4. According to most authorities if the food was left overnight (b’dieved) it must be discarded. (Chida ibid. and Shemiras Haguf V’nefesh 3:6. See also Minchas Yitzchak 9:28)

Does This Halacha Still Apply-

5. The aforementioned poskim (Pri Chadash, Shulchan Aruch Harav etc.) who cite this halacha as normative, clearly feel that this halacha is in full effect today. However some wish to explain that the reason that the Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch do not cite this ruling is because they feel that this ‘ruach ra’ah’ is no longer applicable. (See Shevet Halevi 6:111:5, Pri Hasadeh 2:61, Beis Meir 19, Yaskil Avdi 7:44. See also Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20)

6. This is not a new debate, but rather one between the rishonim. Maharam M’Rottenberg, cited by the Mordechai (Shabbos Chapter 8), writes, “Regarding your question why we are lenient with peeled eggs and we do not concern ourselves with the “ruach ra’ah” stated in the Gemara. Perhaps the “ruach ra’ah” is no longer applicable.” [Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:7) explains that although the Maharam prefaced his heter with the word “perhaps”, one should not misconstrue this for uncertainty on his part. Rather, this is a terminology that many poskim use out of modesty.]

It seems that this is also the view of the Maharshal (Chullin Yam Shel Shlomo 8:12). The Maharshal discusses different concepts found in the Gemara dealing with medicinal issues and whether they still apply today. In his discussion he writes, “Many times the Gemara will warn against a certain action because of ‘ruach ra’ah’, however, none of these concerns still apply today.” Indeed, the Sefer Zivchei Tzedek (vol.2 116:61) explains that the reason why many are lenient regarding these halachos (onions, eggs or garlic) is because they are relying on the view of the Maharshal that “ruach ra’ah” no longer applies. Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l (Minchas Yitzchak 2:68:13 and 6:64) also writes that although one should be machmir, those who wish to rule leniently have legitimate basis to do so.

[In the May 2005 edition of The Daf Hakashrus (“A Monthly Newsletter For The Orthodox Union Rabbinic Field Representative”), Rabbi David Cohen discusses this issue and he writes, “Rav Belsky ruled that we should follow this second (stricter) opinion, while Rav Schachter is of the opinion that in the United States it is generally accepted to follow the first (lenient) opinion. Nonetheless, Rabbi Schachter agrees that we should not allow OU certified caterers or restaurants to leave peeled eggs etc. overnight since undoubtedly there will be customers who are machmir and we must serve them as well.”]

However, it should be noted that the prohibition is mentioned by several other Rishonim including Tosafos (Shabbos 141 and Beitzah 14), Rosh (Beitzah 14), the Sma”k (171), and Trumas HaDeshen (cited in Leket Yosher Y.D. page 6). They obviously feel that the concern of “ruach ra’ah” still applies today. And as noted above most later authorities also cite this Gemara as normative halacha. This seems to be the common custom and should be strictly adhered to. The poskim do, however, take the lenient view into consideration and allow for some leniency in certain questionable situations, as we shall discuss later on in this chapter.

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Fish and Meat (Part 4)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Fish and Dairy-

1. Harav Yosef Karo zt”l in the Beis Yosef (Yoreh Deah 87), the Shulchan Aruch’s commentary on the Tur, writes that “one should not eat fish and milk together because of the danger involved, as it is explained in O.C. 173.”

2. However, many authorities, including the Rama, Prisha, Taz, Shach, Magen Avraham and Aruch Hashulchan point out that the location the Beis Yosef referenced for his halachic decision to be machmir is referring to eating fish with meat, not milk. They therefore maintain that this issue is a case of mistaken identity (misprint) and that eating fish with milk is 100% permissible. The Chida (Machzik Bracha 87:4) also feels that it is permissible to eat fish and dairy together and that there is a misprint in the Beis Yosef. He adds that if it is indeed true that fish and dairy is dangerous, Harav Yosef Karo should have written so in his Shulchan Aruch.

3. It is worth noting that although many assume that there was a misprint in the Beis Yosef, the notion of avoiding fish and dairy due to danger was already advanced hundreds of years earlier by Rabbeinu Bachya (Shemos 23:19). Rabbeinu Bachya writes, “The doctors feel that fish and cheese that are cooked together can cause bad health and tza’raas.

4. Indeed, there were authorities who were stringent and did not allow for fish to be eaten with dairy. They explain that they also heard from doctors that fish and dairy can be harmful to one’s health (see Darkei Teshuva 87:43 and Yechava Daas 6:48).

5. Other authorities, including the Chinuch Beis Yehuda, Pri Megadim (see Pischei Teshuva Y.D. 87) and Kaf Hachaim (87:24), differentiate between fish and milk (or cheese) which they believe to be harmful and fish and butter (or cream) which is not damaging to one’s health. The Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Bahaloscha 15) cites these authorities and writes that one should be stringent with all forms of dairy and that in Baghdad the common custom is to refrain from even eating fish and butter.

6. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue at length and concludes that, “One should refrain from eating fish and milk or cheese due to the potential danger involved. However, those that are lenient to eat fish and butter together are permitted to continue in their approach. Ashkenazi Jews dismiss this issue entirely and eat fish with all forms of dairy and they have what to rely on.” It is based upon the ruling of Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l and the Ben Ish Chai that many Sefardim avoid eating fish and dairy together (some will eat fish and butter, as cited above). However, as noted most Ashkenazic communities dismiss this issue entirely.

Drinking Water After Fish-

1. The Rama (Y.D. 115:3) writes that in between eating fish and meat one should eat and drink something.

2. Tosafos (Moed Katan 11a) writes that in his day it was considered dangerous (to one’s heart) to drink water immediately after eating fish. This teaching is cited by many authorities, including Rav Akiva Eiger zt”l (Y.D. 116:5) and the Aruch Hashulchan.(116:10)

3. According to Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a (Chut Shani Shabbos vol. 4 page 399) tea, coffee, soda and cola have the same status as water.

4. Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a writes that today one may rule leniently. He explains that Tosafos never meant to imply that this is a rabbinic prohibition, rather the doctors of his time felt that it was harmful to drink water after eating fish. Therefore, today where the doctors feel that it is no longer harmful one may rule leniently. Harav Karelitz shlit”a continues that some are stringent however, and avoid drinking water after eating fish.

5. On Shabbos, following the fish course, those who are stringent face an interesting dilemma. As noted above (halacha 1) in between fish and meat one should drink something. However, according to Tosafos one should not drink water (or soda etc.) after fish. Therefore, writes Harav Karelitz shlit”a many have the custom to drink wine or whiskey in between the fish and chicken soup courses.

6. Harav Chaim Elazar Shapiro zt”l of Munkatsh (the author of the Minchas Elazar) added another reason why many drink whiskey immediately following the fish course on Friday night. The word whiskey in Hebrew is “yayin saraf.” The first two letters being “yud” and “shin.” The first letter of the hebrew word for fish is “daled” (“dagim”). All three letters together spell out the name of Hashem “Shakay.” In order not to separate the name of Hashem one should drink the whiskey immediately after the fish (Darkei Chayim V’Shalom 396).

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Fish and Meat (Part 3)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Cooking Fish In A Meat Pot-

1. The Torah requires us to use separate utensils for meat and milk because we assume that the taste of the food becomes absorbed in the utensil and would then impart taste into future foods cooked in the pot. The poskim discuss whether one muse have separate pots for fish and meat.

2. The Tur (Yoreh Deah 116:2) writes the following, “One must be careful not to eat fish and meat together as it may cause tza’raas. Some are stringent to have separate utensils for fish.” The Sefer Shulchan Chai (1:7) also writes that one should have separate pots for fish and meat. The policy of the Star-K is also not to allow its caterers to cook fish in a meat pot (based upon an article from the Star-K website).

3. However, most poskim are not convinced that we must concern ourselves with the infusion of taste into the utensils and they allow for fish to be cooked in a clean meat pot. Indeed, this is the view of the Issur V’Heter, Maharshal, Taz, Knesses Hagedolah, Chochmas Adam, Edus B’Yehusef and Kaf Hachaim (see Yoreh Deah 116:20). The Chasam Sofer also writes that the common custom is to eat fish on meat utensils and that many great leaders also maintained that one need not have a separate set of pots for fish.

4. The Sefer Dalsei Teshuva (cited by Darkei Teshuva 27) writes that most people commonly cook fish in clean meat pots. He adds that if onions or garlic (or any other sharp foods) are being cooked with the fish, one should not cook them in the meat pot. He basis this on the fact that generally, in the laws of kashrus, sharp foods are treated more stringently. According to this opinion one should not slice an onion with a meat knife and cook those onions with fish.

However, others are lenient and permit one to slice a sharp food with a meat knife and cook it with fish. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted. (see Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 8)

5. If the fish and meat were cooked in the same pot simultaneously, the Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 116:3) cites Tiferet L’Moshe that the utensil must be kashered. He reasons that while mere infusion of taste is not strong enough to create a prohibition, if fish and meat were cooked together there is “poison” in the walls of the pot that needs to be removed.

6. The Divrei Malkiel (cited by Darkei Teshuva 28), however, disagrees and feels that one need not kasher the pot. Rather, one may just wait twenty four hours and continue to use the pot without concern. The Kaf Hachaim (Yoreh Deah 116:13) rules in accordance with the Divrei Malkiel.

7. Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a (Shevet Halevi 6:111) cites the above argument and concludes, “We commonly rule in accordance with the Pischei Teshuva and require for the pots to be kashered. The Sefer Mishmeres Shalom does, however, rules leniently if the pot is made of earthenware or porcelain (which cannot become kashered).”

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Fish And Meat (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Does This Prohibition Still Apply Today-
1. The Magen Avraham (173) writes that there are many natural phenomena mentioned in the gemara that no longer apply today. The health concern of eating meat and fish is simply another example of something that used to be a real concern, but is no longer an issue. The teaching of the Magen Avraham is cited without comment by the Mishnah Berurah and the Aruch Hashulchan.
2. The Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 101) noted that the Rambam omits the concern of fish and meat entirely from his Mishnah Torah. The Chasam Sofer suggests that the Rambam knew that nature has changed and although there once was a legitimate health threat posed by mixing fish and meat, no such threat exists today. (It is important to note that the Chasam Sofer does not recommend that we rely on the Rambam’s opinion in this area.)

וכדאי לציין למה שראיתי בשו”ת מהרש”ם ח”ד ס’ קכ”ד וז”ל: “בדגים עם בשר שהמג”א צידד דליכא בזה”ז סכנה וגם אמרתי לרו”מ בשם ס’ הקנה דאחר אלף החמישי בטלה הסכנה אבל לא ראיתיו בעצמי רק ח”א אמר לי כן

3. The vast majority of poskim disagree and the basic halachah forbids eating meat and fish together. This is surely the universal custom and should be strictly adhered to. (The poskim do, however, take the Magen Avraham’s view into consideration and allow for some leniency in certain questionable situations, as we shall discuss later on in this chapter.)

Bitul B’shishim With Fish and Meat-
4. In general if an ounce of non kosher food becomes absorbed in sixty ounces of kosher food we assume that the entire mixture is kosher. We require sixty times the forbidden food to nullify it because the taste of the forbidden food is not discernible when mixed with sixty times its volume.
5. Although halachically forbidden foods may be nullified in sixty times their volume, the poskim dispute whether this principle applies to nullifying dangerous foods. The Taz (116:2), citing the Rama, rules that dangerous foods cannot become nullified in sixty times their volume. His ruling is based on the Talmudic dictum “chamira sakanta m’issura.” This means that something that involves a severe health risk is considered more stringent than regular prohibitions. In a case of a severe health risk, halachically there is no nullification, as halacha is extremely cautious when it comes to people’s health.

The Leket Yosher (Y.D. page 7) writes that his rebbi, the author of the Terumos Hadeshen, and the Maharam Mintz also ruled that dangerous foods do not become nullified in sixty times their volume.
6. However, most authorities maintain that even dangerous foods are nullified in sixty times their volume. The Shach argues that chamira sakanta m’issura is a principle that is limited to a case of doubt, but would not extend to the laws of bittul. Indeed, Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 1:7) uses his encyclopedic knowledge of halacha to list all the authorities who rule leniently and he does so as well.
7. One very common practical application of the above dispute is the issue of Worcestershire sauce which is always made with fish. Many people enjoy eating their Worcestershire sauce together with meat. Some brands of Worcestershire sauce have sixty times the volume of other ingredients than fish, while others have a higher concentration of fish. The policy of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Division is to label any sauce that contains more than 1.67% fish with an OU Fish to indicate that it should not be eaten with meat. If, however, the sauce is composed of less than 1.67% fish they will not label it as containing fish indicating that it may be eaten with meat even though there is some fish in the ingredients. Harav Herschel Schacter shlit”a explains that the logic for this policy is that the Orthodox Union relies on the opinion of the Shach that foods prohibited on account of danger may be nullified. In addition, they take the Magen Avraham’s view (cited above) into consideration, that the danger of fish and meat no longer applies.

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Fish and Meat in Halacha (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The gemara (Pesachim 76b) states that fish that is cooked with meat may not be eaten because it is likely to lead to “davar acher.” Rashi (ibid.) understands “davar acher” to be a reference to tzara’as. The Shulchan Aruch (173) also rules that one must be careful not to eat fish and meat together because it may cause tzara’as.
2. Most authorities, including the Magen Avraham, understand the Gemara to mean that combining fish and meat can cause a physical sickness. When the Gemara says that it can lead to tzara’as, it means that the person will become physically ill. It is for this reason that the Magen Avraham writes that perhaps one may be lenient with fish and meat since the doctors today feel that there is no longer a medical concern (this will be discussed in part 2). However, there is a minority view that feels that the Gemara was referring to a “spiritual” sickness and not a physical ailment (see Tiferes Tzvi Y.D. 91 and Toras Chesed E.H. 5:5).

3. Rav Yehuda Ayas zt”l (Beis Yehuda 26) seems to feel that the prohibition of eating fish and meat together is biblical in nature. Similarly, the Shu”t Avnei Tzedek (Y.D. 49) writes that one who endangers himself by eating fish and meat together transgresses the positive commandment of “Venishmartem Meod Lenafshoseichem” and the negative commandment of “Lo Sasim Damim B’Veisecha.” The Pri Megadim (Sifsei Daas 97:3) also writes that if there is a doubt whether fish fell into a meat dish one must be stringent and discard the dish. He explains that since the prohibition of eating meat and fish together is biblical in nature one must be stringent in case of doubt (safek d’oraysa l’chumra).

4. However, other authorities, including Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook zt”l (Daas Kohen 55) and Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer Y.D. 8), rule that it is only rabbinically prohibited to eat fish and meat together.

5. This debate is, most likely, closely related to a broader debate amongst the poskim as to whether a person violates a biblical prohibition when he places himself in harms way or is it merely rabbinic in nature. This debate centers around a few seemingly contradictory rulings of the Rambam in Hilchos Rotzeach. The Rambam (Chapter 11:4) writes, “Similarly, it is a positive mitzvah to remove any obstacle that could pose a danger to life, and to be very careful regarding these matters, as Deuteronomy 4:9 states: ‘Beware for yourself; and guard your soul.’ If a person leaves a dangerous obstacle and does not remove it, he negates the observance of a positive commandment, and violates the negative commandment: ‘Do not cause blood to be spilled.’” The Rambam is quite clear that it is biblically prohibited to endanger oneself.

However, the Rambam continues (Chapter 11:5-6), “Our Sages forbade many matters because they involve a threat to life. Whenever a person transgresses these guidelines, saying, ‘I will risk my life, what does this matter to others,’ or ‘I am not careful about these things,’ he should be punished by makos merdus. They include: A person should not place his mouth over a conduit through which water flows and drink. Nor should he drink at night from rivers and lakes, lest he swallow a leech without seeing. Similarly, a person should not drink water that was left uncovered, lest a snake or other poisonous crawling animal might have drunk from them, and as a result, the person would die.” This teaching of the Rambam implies that our Sages forbade placing oneself in danger and it is not biblical in nature. Indeed the Beer Hagolah (end of Choshen Mishpat 70) questions whether the prohibition is biblical or rabbinic in nature.

6. The Sefer Tevuos Shor (Y.D. 13:2) writes that it is assur m’doraysa to enter a dangerous situation. This is also the view of the Sma, Levush (see Darkei Teshuva 115:57), Aruch Hashulchan, Marcheshes (20) and Minchas Chinuch (556).

The Sdei Chemed also cites authorities who maintain that according to the Rambam it is biblically forbidden to endanger oneself. They explain that although the Rambam writes that the “Sages” forbade these actions, he does not mean to say that it is forbidden on a rabbinic level. There are many times where the Rambam uses this terminology regarding biblical laws. His intention is that the “Sages” explained what the true definition of the verse is. In this case the meaning is that all dangerous actions are biblically forbidden. It is the Sages who define what is considered dangerous. Once they classify an action as dangerous it is considered forbidden on a biblical level. This is also the view of the Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 101).

7. The Sefer Shiva Einayim (cited by Darkei Teshuva ibid.) writes that it is only assur m’drabbanun to enter a dangerous situation. The verse cited above by the Rambam “Beware for yourself; and guard your soul” is not actually referring to guarding the physical body, rather it is requiring a Jew to protect his Torah knowledge and not to forget his learning. The Sages extended a rabbinic prohibition to protecting the physical body from danger (as the verse continues “Beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw”). Therefore, when the Rambam cites the verse as a source for the prohibition his intent is really that it is a rabbinic prohibition which merely finds a hint (asmachta) for it’s source in Torah.

8. The Sefer Maases Hamelech (on Rambam) also discusses the seemingly contradictory rulings of the Rambam. He explains that it is biblically prohibited to place oneself in danger and this is what the Rambam was referring to in his first ruling. However, the Sages forbade certain actions as a safeguard for one’s health even though it is unlikely that they will actually lead to mortal danger. The Sefer Divrei Malkiel also maintains that performing acts of which the Gemara warns against as being dangerous is only rabbinically forbidden.

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Listening to multiple women sing in unison

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. It is forbidden for a man to hear a woman sing. This prohibition is called “Kol B’Isha Ervah.” (Brachos 24a and Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 21)

2. The Sdei Chemed (Kuf 42) cites an argument amongst the authorities whether this prohibition is Biblical or Rabbinic in nature. The Chochmas Adam (4:1), in his commentary Nishmas Adam, concludes that it is Rabbinic in nature. (See Mishnah Berurah 75:17)

3. The Beer Sheva (Beer Mayim Chayim 3) writes that this prohibition exists whether it is one woman singing or multiple women singing and whether they are singing secular songs or singing Zemiros on Shabbos. This is also the view of most authorities. However, there were those that wished to rule leniently as shall be explained.

4. The Chasan Sofer (Taharas Yadayim 14) extends a lenient ruling based on the Talmudic rule that “Trei kali Lo Mishtamay,” two voices cannot be heard simultaneously. The Gemara uses this principle to prohibit two people to read from the Torah at the same time. Therefore, argues the Chasan Sofer if multiple women are singing there should not exist a prohibition since men cannot focus on two voices simultaneously.

The Tzitz Eliezer (14:7) felt that the Chasan Sofer was not definitive in his ruling and that it is unclear whether the Chasan Sofer would permit this in normative halacha. However, Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt”l (Sridei Eish 2:8) records that Rav Azriel Hildesheimer zt”l and Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l also ruled leniently for the same reason of the Chasan Sofer.

5. The poskim point out that there are two major issues with the permissive ruling of the Chasan Sofer:

1) The rule that two voices cannot be heard, as used in the Gemara, tells us that one cannot concentrate on the words of the speakers and therefore cannot fulfill his obligation for Krias Hatorah. One does, however, still hear the sound of the speaker. In this case, regarding Kol Isha, the major concern is that hearing a women’s voice is inappropriate and considered an Ervah. Even if he cannot make out the specific words he can definitely hear the women sing and it should still be prohibited.

2) The Gemara in Megilah (21) says that two people are allowed to read the Megilah simultaneously. The reason why the Megilah is different from Krias Hatorah is that, “Since the reading of the Megilah is dear to people, they concentrate and can hear.” The same argument can be extended to our discussion. Since the Yetzer Hara will make the man want to hear the women sing then we assume that two voices are able to be heard at the same time.

6. Harav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt”l was asked regarding a German Jewish organization where the boys and girls sang together. Rav Weinberg quotes the earlier heter of “two voices cannot be heard simultaneously” and writes that he does not find this explanation satisfying. Rav Weinberg instead defends the German Jewish practice by citing the Sdei Chemed who “allows for men and women to sing together.”

[However, no where does the Sdei Chemed discuss men and women singing in unison. Perhaps Rav Weinberg was referring to the Sdei Chemed who quotes the Divrei Cheifetz who asserts that the Kol Isha prohibition does not apply to women singing Zemirot, singing songs to children, and lamentations for the dead. This too is problematic since the Sdei Chemed, himself disagrees with the Divrei Chefetz and rules stringently.]

Rav Weinberg contends that when they are singing Zemiros men do not derive pleasure from the woman’s voice (this is perhaps the rationale for the view of the Divrei Chafetz). However, the poskim point out that this is not necessarily accurate and even if the woman are singing Zemiros men can still derive pleasure from their voices.]

7. In summation the overwhelming majority of poskim [including: the Beer Sheva, the Beer Yehuda on Chareidim, the Steipler Gaon zt”l (cited in Journal Ohel Moshe 1992), the Shevet Halevi (4:197), the Tzitz Eliezer, Badei Hashulchan (Nidah 199:119), Chelek Levi, Kinyan Torah (85), Avnei Yashfei (2:5), Ishei Yisroel (55:32), and Netai Gavriel (Yichud page 348)] maintain that a man may not listen to many women sing in unison, even if they are singing Zemiros.

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