Growing Good Corn
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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.
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.
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