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Friday, October 23, 2009

Fish and Meat

You buy some Tropicana Orange Juice with Omega 3’s added. Your mother always told you to drink OJ with your Salami, so you pour a tall glass to go with your deli sandwich. As you’re pouring, the “OK fish” designation catches your eye. What are the implications?

You’re the cook in a large camp. Hurried and late on Friday afternoon, you grab what you think is a loaf of kishka from the freezer and toss it into the chulent. Shabbos morning you realize the chulent smells a little funny. Upon closer inspection you realize it was a loaf of gefilte fish. What now?

In an effort to lower your cholesterol you switch from hamburgers to grilled fish. Can you use the same grill? How well does it have to be cleaned?

You use Worcestershire Sauce to prepare your steaks. Your grilling buddies point out that it contains anchovies. May you continue to use it?

The Prohibition

The Gemara in Pesachim 76b states: “Fish that was roasted together with meat should not be eaten for it is bad for odor and for something else”.  Odor refers to bad breath (Mordechai) “something else refers to tzaraas (Rashi).

The Shulchon Aruch rules (YD 116:2) that one should not eat meat and fish together because it causes tzaaras. The Rema adds that they should not be roasted together because ‘Reicha’ or smell is considered significant and transfers from one to the other but if done it is not forbidden. If they are cooked together (not roasted) or they are close enough that the juices ooze from one to the other, they are forbidden.

In fact, in the Darkei Moshe the Rema writes that even though when meat and milk mix if one is less than 1/60th we consider it nullified and it is permitted, in this case we won’t say that because of “chamira sekanta meisura”. This is a Talmudic concept that teaches that we are more stringent for health related prohibitions than other prohibitions. Some Poskim are lenient and allow it to be nullified in 60.

Fish and meat may be eaten consecutively, but there is a dispute as to whether one needs to wash their hands and mouth between them. Sefardim are stringent and Ashkenazim are more lenient. Many (Ashkenazi) Poskim say that one should take a drink and/or eat something such as bread between them. This is the source for the post fish lechaim. [There is a Halachic basis to not drink water after fish. Hence the minhag developed to drink schnapps]. 

The Leniencies

All this only applies to actual fish residue. One may use the same pots for fish and meat as long as they are cleaned well. (Unlike milk and meat, where we say that some flavor is absorbed in the walls of the pot themselves). Similarly, meaty knives may be used for fish as long as they are clean.

Magen Avrohom (173) writes that nowadays there is no danger in mixing fish and meat and perhaps there is room to be lenient. The universal custom is not like the Magen Avrohom. [The Rambam does not quote this Halacha, presumably for the same reason].

The Divrei Malkiel is lenient on Shabbos, as far as I know the custom is not to be lenient.

Fish and Milk

The custom among many Sefardim is not to eat milk and fish together (think lox and cream cheese, tuna melt). They are lenient with butter on fish though.

Kashrus Organization Policy

As far as I can ascertain, the OU will mark an item with more than 1/60th fish as OU fish. Less than 1/60th they will not mark, but the fish will be listed on the ingredient panel for those who are stringent. The primary application is kosher marshmallows and Worcestershire Sauce. I don’t know what the OK policy is as far as the Omega 3 OJ is concerned, if anyone knows please comment.

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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org