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Common Basar B’chalav Scenarios – Part III

 

Does one need separate oil and ketchup bottles for meat and dairy? Can liquids be poured directly from their dispenser into hot foods? Can Jews and non-Jews share bottles of olive oil, salad dressing, or Worcestershire sauce? Are spices and herbs any different? Can a teakettle turn dairy if poured directly over milk? Can the same hot water urn be used for pouring directly on kosher and non-kosher foods (a common workplace scenario, where Jewish and non-Jewish workers share the same kitchen area)? Of this and more in the coming article.

Condiments and Seasoning

This week’s article will end our series on common basar b’chalav scenarios which we have been as preparation for the upcoming holiday of Shavous. This week we will focus on condiments and bottle-stored foods that we don’t necessarily double up on, such as oil, ketchup, honey or mayonnaise. Can they be used directly with hot foods, or should we have a separate dairy and meaty ketchup bottle?

Having a non-Jewish aid at home, or working alongside non-Jews in an office can present similar challenges. Can a Jewish worker use the hot water urn from which non-Jews pour directly over their non-kosher food? And can the same salad dressing be used by Jews for kosher food and by non-Jews for non-kosher food?

To understand the relevant halachos, we must first introduce two relevant terms for this discussion – ze’ah and nitzok.

Ze’ah and Nitzok

Ze’ah (literally “sweating”) refers to the steam that rises from hot food. Does rising steam transfer flavor along with the steam? There is a halachic debate surrounding this issue. The Rosh (klal 20:26) rules that when both a dairy and meat pan are being heated simultaneously in the same oven – the dairy below the meat — the steam rising from the lower pan is considered actual milk. Since the steam comes in direct contact with the sides of the pan, it is judged like splattered milk on a meaty pot, and as a result both pot and meat are unkosher. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 92:8) rules accordingly.

Nitzok (literally “poured”) refers to the possibility of flavor transfer through pouring. The Rama (YD 105:3) mentions a scenario to illustrate it: kosher fat mustn’t be poured directly into a tallow (unkosher fat) candle. Post facto, however, if some kosher fat was already poured directly into the boiling non-kosher fat, the dispenser and remaining kosher fat still remain kosher.

The Shach (YD 105:11) explains that the reason one should refrain  from pouring in this manner is that the flavor of the non-kosher fat rises with the steam and heat of the burning tallow, and enters the vessel containing the kosher fat. Since there is a halacha that pouring creates a connection similar to placing one food atop of the other, if the lower was hot, it transfers its flavor to the upper food

Post Facto, Still Kosher

Why does the pot and food remain kosher despite being used in a halachically prohibited manner?

The Terumas Hadeshen explains (103) that the halacha of nitzok by kosher food is based on two halachos from the fields of ritual purity and forbidden wine. The Mishna (Machshirin 5:10) writes that pouring from a vessel containing hot, tahor (ritually pure) liquid into impure liquid, whether hot or cold, does not render the upper liquid impure. The same is true if both are cold. However, pouring from a cold ritually-pure liquid into a hot impure one causes the cold liquid to become ritually impure, because the stream of liquid combined with the rising steam renders the upper liquid impure. Similarly, wine (Shulchan Aruch YD 126:1-2): if kosher wine is poured into non-kosher wine, the stream of liquid creates a connection, rendering the kosher unkosher. (There are leniencies to this halacha in case of a large monetary loss.)

Trumas Hadeshen explains that in both cases the liquid or wine become impure or not kosher — not because flavors are transferred — but because of the connection, which combines both into one. As a result of this connection, both are impure, or not kosher. However, with kosher foods, where the deciding factor is flavor, kosher food becomes treif only when non-kosher flavor is transferred into it. Therefore, while originally forbidden, post action, the food does not become unkosher because no forbidden flavor is transfered.

Pot vs. Candle

The question, though, remains: what is the difference between the tallow candle, which doesn’t cause the kosher fat to become unkosher, and the pot in the oven, which makes the upper one treif? Why are they different?

  1. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 92:8) stipulates that the steam can transfer flavor only if it is at the temperature of yad soledes bo (see below for the definition.) Since tallow in a burning candle is usually not so hot, post facto it does not render the higher substance non-kosher.
  2. The Bach (24) explains that only direct steam, renders the upper substance non-kosher and a tallow candle does not produce direct steam.
  3. The flow rate of steam rising from a tallow candle is very minute, and if not for the halacha of nitzok that forbids creating a connection between the pure and impure, we would not be scrupulous with this at all. Additionally, it is safe to assume that there is always sixty times more kosher fat than the miniscule flavor of non-kosher fat transferred with the candle’s hot steam. However, the steam rising from a boiling pot is much more pronounced. Therefore, in an oven, the upper pot becomes unkosher, while the kosher fat poured into a tallow candle – remains kosher.

Two Separate Prohibitions

This discussion clearly illustrates the two separate and different prohibitions involved in shared containers of pareve foods:

  1. The prohibition of steam – when there is a significant amount of very hot steam, which can be estimated as one-sixtieth of the food or dispenser. Some require the steam to have been focused (like in a double boiler, or old-fashion tea kettle) and not simply enveloping from all sides. If both conditions are in place, both dispenser and contents are affected.
  2. The prohibition of nitzok, which is a prohibited only l’chatchila: there should be no connection between upper cold kosher liquid and lower, unkosher, hot liquid. B’dieved, after the connection occurred, the upper food remains kosher.

Now, we will se how they apply to the modern kitchen.

Seasoning

Paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder are often poured directly into boiling pots. Do any of the prohibitions apply to them?

For the prohibition of steam to be invoked the food must receive the direct hot steam. There is no difference between seasoning, oil, or ketchup – if the bottle is uncapped and received direct boiling steam both bottle and its contents receive the flavor of the food, becoming dairy, meat, or unkosher.

For the prohibition of nitzok (pouring) to be invoked there must be steady, direct stream of liquid passing between both containers. Therefore, oil, or liquid salad dressing should not be poured directly into non-kosher food. However, seasoning and herbs, which fall in flakes, are not included in this prohibition. Thick sauces, such as ketchup or honey, depend on the thickness – this prohibition is irrelevant if it falls clump after clump; but if it falls in one, steady stream – it is.

Steam Temperature

How hot does steam have to be in order to render food meat, dairy, or unkosher?

Halachic sources do not give us an exact temperature. Instead, chazal refer to it as yad soledes bo – hot enough to cause the average person to draw his hand away away in discomfort. Chazal add that while some can tolerate intense heat, others draw away from even lower temperatures. The temperature is determined by the average person.

Contemporary poskim understand that the temperature lies somewhere between 47-72 ⁰ Celsius. Therefore, any steam of this temperature is seen as a safek – it might be yad soledes bo, and it might not. Higher than 72⁰ is certainly yad soledes bo, and most contemporary poskim see colder than 47⁰  as certainly not yad soledes bo. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (glosses on the Shulchan Aruch, YD 92:8) follows the Bach’s ruling that where the temperature is uncertain one can be lenient.

Taking an accurate reading of the steam temperature rising from a pot every time ketchup, oil, or honey is added is quite impractical. Therefore, since the Maharsham (IV, chapter 84) is lenient whenever the temperature is unknown, one can be lenient if he can leave his hand in the steam (unless he knows he has exceptionally good heat tolerance.)

Pouring Meat and Dairy

Another difference between steam and pouring is that steam is mentioned in context of meat and dairy whereas pouring is only mentioned in the context of kosher and non-kosher. Does the prohibition of pouring relate also to meat and dairy? Does pouring a parve liquid into meat make it meaty and vice versa?

If the upper liquid being poured is parve, there is no mention by the poskim that it is rendered meaty or dairy by pouring. However if the vessel the liquid is being poured from is of the opposite kind (a dairy bottle being poured into a boiling hot pot of meat), even where the steam is not hot enough to render anything unkosher, the Pri Megadim (YD 95:13) writes that according to the Taz the prohibition of pouring is invoked. However the Shach and Maseis Binyomin disagree. When the upper vessel hasn’t been used with hot foods in the last 24 hours scrupulousness is certainly unnecessary.

This is the reason for the accepted custom to use the same oil, pepper, and soy sauce for meat and dairy. Only if the condiment was poured into the direct boiling stream of steam (the instant the cover of the pressure cooker comes off, for example) would it gain the same status as the pot’s content. Therefore, where this kind of pouring is called for, it should be poured from the appropriate (meat or dairy) container.

Sharing kosher items with non-Jews, though, should be avoided, especially when non-Jews pour food directly into hot non-kosher foods or beverages. B’dieved, if it was already poured into a hot non-kosher food, it does not become treif.

Hot Water Dispenser

When filling a cup from an urn, dispenser, or teakettle the reflecting steam does not rise back forcefully or at an uncomfortably hot temperature. Therefore, there is no prohibition of returning steam.

An additional reason for leniency with hot water urns can be found in the following discussion:

The Rosh (20:26), after his above-mentioned ruling (concerning the meat pot above a dairy pan in the same oven), writes that he is unsure if this halacha applies in case the upper pot is also boiling. Then, perhaps, it is protected from receiving the rising steam and remains unchanged. The Trumas Hadeshen (psakim, chapter 103), however, rules the opposite: if the upper pot is boiling, even cooler steam rising from a lower pot causes a mix of flavors.

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 92:8) quotes the Rosh who prohibits steam without citing any leniency in case the upper dish is boiling. However the Rama (ibid) quotes the Trumas Hadeshen saying that non-boiling steam cannot transfer flavor, without the stringency that if the upper dish is hot it becomes forbidden even if the steam was not hot. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (ibid), in his glosses, quotes the Trumas Hadeshen in addition to the Magen Avraham (451:44) who seemingly is not scrupulous in this. The Yad Yehuda (92:55) expounds on this dispute and rules that if the steam is not yad soledes bo, or indirect, the upper vessel and food therein is not effected even if it was boiling hot.

Practically, we can add the Bach’s approach (hachadashos 24) and the Maharsham (IV, chapter 85), who both see the prohibition of steam as applying only to direct, intense steam, not floating rings of vapor. Therefore, hot water poured directly onto milk or meat does not affect the kettle or dispenser in any way. However, one who is scrupulous will be blessed.

Hot Water With Non-kosher

The above ruling is true for meat and dairy which are both kosher but may not be mixed. Pouring hot water over non-kosher food remains to be clarified: does it create a problem of nitzok – pouring?

The original prohibition of pouring kosher and non-kosher wines involved cold wines, and for pouring from the ritually pure into the ritually impure — only pouring cold into hot. Hot into cold, or hot into hot, or cold into cold does not change anything in terms of ritual purity. Are the cotemporary prohibitions similar in that way to the original prohibitions or not?

The Pri Megadim (YD 105:6) quotes the Beis Hillel that only pouring cold into hot is prohibited under the title of pouring, while all other options of pouring are not. The Chochmas Adam (59:5) rules accordingly – only cold into hot makes a difference in relation to nitzok, but hot into hot is permitted even l’chatchila. However, the Yad Yehuda (105:31) opines that while the Mishna indicates it is permitted, the Mishna refers to a b’dieved situation, and l’chatchila hot kosher foods or beverages should not be poured into hot non-kosher ones.

Practically, halacha follows the Chochmas Adam, especially being that this scrupulousness only applies l’chatchila. Therefore, if a hot water urn is used by both Jews for kosher, and non-Jews for non-kosher, one can be lenient and use the hot water, provided the steam, when it rises back from the food does not reach the spigot at the temperature of yad soledes bo. Where possible, it is preferable to position the spigot high enough not to receive any returning steam.

Summary

There are two prohibitions involved in using the same pareve items for meat and dairy: pouring and returning steam.

The same condiments and seasoning can be poured directly into kosher meat and dairy, provided the steam is not too hot for comfort. If uncertain, one can be lenient.

Post facto, if the steam was direct and very hot, the upper receptacle and its contents gain the status of the lower pot or pan. If it was meat, the seasoning becomes meaty, and if it was dairy – it becomes dairy. If, in the next use, the latter receives steam from a meaty pot or kettle, it becomes unkosher.

Most steam does not permeate dispensers and foods poured into them because the stream of steam is usually indirect and not hot enough. Therefore, in general, there is no need to have two oil, ketchup, or paprika containers. (Table use which may transfer bits of food from meat to diary is the topic of another article). One should remember this halacha for cases which demand pouring items directly into steam or into a spigot of a boiling pot.

Pouring kosher food into non-kosher foods involves the prohibition of pouring. Preferably, cold foods should not be poured into hot or even warm non-kosher foods. However, seasoning, or thick sauces that fall in clumps may be poured. When pouring hot items (such as a hot water from an urn or kettle) there is additional room for leniency.

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