Parsha Encounters



Parshas Pinchas:

Growing Good Corn

Rabbi Mendel Safrin

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

 We have just begun "The Three Weeks", a period of mourning  over the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash.

Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) writes in Mishlei  (15:23) "Simcha Lo'Ish B'Ma'aneh Piv - A person is brought to  happiness by the answer of his mouth" The Gemara (Eruvin 54a)  explains that when a person can answer other people's  questions this is a source of happiness. Providing others  with a solution to their queries will make those people feel  happy. In turn, the helper himself will derive joy.

This concept of helping others is so fundamental it is found  in the Torah right at the beginning of our existence. Adam  was placed in Gan Eden where he had at his fingertips  everything he could possibly ask for. Yet, Hashem said  (Bereishis 2:18) "It is not good for man to be by himself"  Hashem then created Chava to be an "eizer k'negdo" a  corresponding helper.

Only through helping each other could they possibly come to a  sense of fulfillment.

The story is told of a farmer who grew award-winning corn.  Each year he entered his corn in the State Fair where it won  a blue ribbon. When asked about his "secret" he responded  that he shares his seed corn with neighboring farmers.

In response to the astonished looks of his audience, he  explained his strategy. "All farmers know that the wind picks  up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to  field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination  will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow  good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn".

It is well known that our Sages (Yoma 9b) have attributed the  destruction of the Beis Hamikdash to Sin'as Chinom - baseless  hatred. Particularly during this time of the year, as we  mourn the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, let us increase our efforts towards helping others. In this way, in addition  to bringing ourselves joy, we will also be contributing to  the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash, Bimheirah B'Yamainu.

Rabbi Safrin is a full time member of the Kollel.Rabbi Lederer is a Rebbe in Yishavas Tiferes Tzvi and learns in the Mechanchim Night Kollel.

Halacha Encounters

Keeping the Kitchen Kosher - Part 2

Rabbi Ephraim Friedman

In a recent issue of Halacha Encounters we discussed some  basic kashrus principles focusing primarily upon pots and  silverware. This week I would like to explore the issues  involved in using the same oven for milchigs and fleishigs.  While the ideal kosher kitchen boasts two ovens thereby  avoiding all the potential problems that a shared oven  present, many households are denied this luxury for a variety  of reasons. It is therefore important that we are familiar  with precisely how an oven may be used for both types of food.

To begin with, it is important to understand that there is a  very big difference between a fleishig oven and a fleishig  pot from the perspective of halacha. While in the case of a  pot in which meat is cooked, ta'am (flavor) of the meat is  implanted into the pot walls through direct contact, in an  oven this is not the case. If one cooks a roast or minute  steak in a utensil inside an oven, the meat never comes in  contact with any of the oven surfaces. Why then is the oven  considered fleishigs? The reason is that although the actual  meat doesn't touch the oven walls, there is fleishig zeiah (steam) which is released during the cooking and which rises  and permeates the inside roof of the oven. When one then  cooks milchigs in the same oven the zeiah, which is released  from the milchig food, can draw out some of the original  fleishig zeiah, causing it to condense into a liquid and fall  down into the milchig food. This, in a nutshell, is the main  concern involved in using an oven interchangeably for  milchigs and fleishigs.

In truth, the problem of zeiah is much more acute when  dealing with liquids or foods with gravy and the like. Dry  items are much less likely to produce zeiah in the first  instance. Secondly, there is a view in the Poskim that zeiah  produced by solid food items does not have the halachic  status of the actual food and therefore would not impact upon  the status of the oven. In practice, to avoid confusion and  errors it is advisable not to distinguish between liquid and  non-liquid items and to follow the procedures which will be  delineated when dealing with any type of item.

A second concern involves the possibility of milchig or  fleishig ta'am being implanted directly into the racks of the  oven. This could occur by cooking or baking food directly on  the rack without using a pot or pan, as well as by a pot of  food overflowing onto the rack during the cooking process.

Having mentioned these two concerns, let us now attempt to  clarify the practical halacha. The best system to employ if  you have only one oven, is to initially designate it when  brand new as either milchig or fleishig, depending on what  you expect to use it for most often. (If you move into a  house with a used oven, you can kasher it and then designate  it as you choose. The process of kashering will be explained  later.) Let us assume you have designated your oven as  fleishigs. Meat may be cooked freely in this oven, even in  uncovered pots or pans. If at some point you wish to cook  milchigs in this oven, you may do so provided you are careful  to do so only in a closed pot or in a pan which is covered  with aluminum foil or the like. As long as the milchigs is  covered, no zeiah will escape from it and no fleishig zeiah  will enter it. By following this procedure you will have  eliminated the first potential problem of a shared oven. In  order to avoid any problems that could arise from using the  fleishig rack for mlchigs, it is advisable when cooking  milchigs to cover the rack with aluminum foil so that the  milchig pot will rest on this fresh sheet of foil and not on  the used rack. Additionally, before cooking milchigs in the  fleishig oven you should check that the oven is clean from  grease or other fleishig residue.  Covering the rack with  foil even when cooking fleishigs will be helpful in avoiding  the need for major clean-up jobs. Just be sure to remove the  fleishig foil before cooking milchigs. After cooking the  covered milchigs, the oven may be used once again for  fleishigs without kashering. Of course, if the milchig food  spilled over during cooking the spill should be cleaned up  first.

In the event that you need to cook open milchigs in your  fleishig oven, the oven would have to be kashered first. The  kashering process involves first cleaning the inside of the  oven well with an oven cleaner, then, after it sits idle for  at least twenty-four hours, turning it on to the highest  temperature setting for approximately one hour. At that point  you may cook milchigs in the oven even in an open pot or pan.  Afterwards the kashering process must be repeated before  using the oven once again for open fleishigs. [It should be  noted that kashering directly from milchigs to fleishigs or  vice versa is permissible only in the case of an oven and not  with pots, pans, or silverware.]

If your oven is self-cleaning you may kasher it by running it  through the "clean" cycle without manually cleaning it in  advance and without waiting twenty-four hours from the last  time it was used. The clean cycle of such an oven is regarded  as libun chamur which is effective even on a soiled utensil  since it burns up any grease or residue, and which may be  performed even when the utensil, or in this case the oven, is  a ben-yomo. It should also be mentioned that there is a view  in halacha that even a standard (i.e. non self-cleaning) oven  can be kashered - after a manual cleaning - within twenty- four hours of the last usage. When necessary, one should  consult his Rav for guidance in this matter.

If you wish to cook pareve food in an open pot inside a  fleishig oven and eat that food together with milchigs, it  would be preferable to first kasher the oven as above, or to  at least wait until the oven is not a ben-yomo before  cooking. However, even if the food was cooked in a ben-yomo  fleishig oven which was free of fleishig residue, it would  technically be permissible to eat it together with milchigs.

Cooking milchigs and fleishigs simultaneously in an oven is  fraught with potential kashrus problems and should be  avoided - even if the individual pots are covered.

With regard to the stovetop, the common, halachically  acceptable practice is to use the various burners  interchangeably for either milchigs or fleishigs. Being that  the grates sit directly on the fire any food which spills  over will be immediately burnt up. This notwithstanding, it  is a commendable practice to designate separate milchig and  fleishig burners for one who is able to.

Everything we have stated thus far applies to gas and  electric ovens and stovetops. Regarding microwave ovens,  Poskim advise investing in two separate units, one for  milchigs and one for fleishigs. Being that microwaves are so  easy to use, and that even small children will heat up food  in them, attempting to keep a microwave kosher while allowing  both types of food to enter it interchangeably is very  difficult. Additionally, food which was placed in the  microwave covered may become uncovered in the course of  cooking. Also, because of its small size and the particular  way in which it cooks, the issue of zeiah is even more  serious than in a conventional oven. For these reasons, using  the same microwave for milchigs and fleishigs is not  recommended. One who must do so should be sure to cover all  food items securely before placing them inside and to use  separate microwave plates for milchigs and fleishigs.

 In conclusion, every individual is urged to discuss all the  above issues with his or her Rav, and receive his advice and  guidance.


Senior Kollel Member Rabbi Ephraim Friedman is Morah Hora'ah  of Bais Medrash Mikor Chaim.

Now Available Online!

The Five Minute Hilchos Tefillah Shiur is available in Real Audio format on the Chicago Community Kollel website at:

Come and hear over 60 5-minute shiurim on the laws, customs and deeper meanings of our daily Tefillos.

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for a future edition of Halacha Encounters?  Please email with your questions or suggestions.






Copyright 1999 to present by Chicago Community Kollel