A Kosher Bakery

Question #1: Sodium stearyl lactylate

Is sodium stearyl lactylate kosher?

Question #2: Vegan treif!

How can you create a non-kosher product by mixing two perfectly kosher ingredients, where both raw materials are completely vegan?

Question #3: Distinguished bourekas?

How distinguished can a boureka be?

Introduction:

As educated Jews, we should know what is involved in maintaining proper kashrus in a twenty-first century commercial bakery. There are many different areas that need to be addressed to ascertain that a bakery is properly kosher. This article will provide an overview of some of those aspects.

Are all the raw materials kosher?

Of course, the ingredients in the bakery must be kosher. There are many ingredients that potentially can create serious kashrus issues in a bakery, including oils, shortenings, dough conditioners and release agents. (Release agents are used to prevent baked goods from sticking to the pans on which they are baked.)

Oils and shortenings can be manufactured from non-kosher animal sources. In addition, even when oils and shortenings are made from vegetable sources, edible-oil refineries often process products made from beef tallow, lard or non-kosher fish on the same equipment that they refine vegetable oil products. This creates a kashrus problem for two reasons:

(1) The manufacturer has no incentive to clean the equipment between productions of animal and vegetable fat products, and, therefore, a run of a non-kosher product usually leaves a considerable amount of fat on the equipment. These leftovers subsequently become mixed into whatever is manufactured next.

(2) Since the refining of these products is done at high temperatures, the vegetable oil absorbs non-kosher flavor.

Dough conditioners

Calcium stearyl lactylate and sodium stearyl lactylate are common dough conditioners used by most commercial bakeries. Among the many benefits these ingredients provide is that they improve the texture and appearance of the finished product and also help it remain fresh for a longer period of time.

How do you make calcium stearyl lactylate and sodium stearyl lactylate? Well, the “stearyl” part of these products is stearic acid, which is usually made from non-kosher animal fat, but can be produced from kosher vegetable sources. Although lactic acid, the source of the “lactylate,” is usually made from kosher and pareve sources, it can be derived from dairy ingredients, or even from non-kosher whey. Thus, both calcium stearyl lactylate and sodium stearyl lactylate must be from reliable, kosher-supervised sources.

Raisin juice

Raisins can create a halachic problem that may go unnoticed by the inexperienced. In addition to being careful that there are no concerns about insects in the raisins, raisins are often mixed or cooked with water to create raisin juice, which functions both as a sweetener and as a natural, healthful preservative. However, this raisin juice has a halachic status of wine, and, when handled by a non-Jew, becomes prohibited because of stam yeinam. Thus, there can be a very unusual situation where mixing two kosher ingredients, raisins and water, creates a non-kosher product. Since all bakeries have non-Jewish workers, it could create a kashrus issue without anyone realizing that there is a potential problem.

Dairy bread

Because of concern that someone might eat fleishig bread with dairy, or milchig bread with meat, Chazal prohibited adding dairy ingredients to bread or greasing a tray with fleishig fat prior to baking bread. Certain exceptions were allowed, such as when making a very small amount of bread that will be consumed at one meal without any left over, or baking bread with an unusual shape that would cause someone to ask why this bread looks different.

Dairy pastry

The halachic authorities discuss whether we need to have the above concern when preparing a product that is usually not eaten together with the main course. The consensus is that one may add dairy ingredients to pastry items that are ordinarily not eaten with meat, but are usually eaten either as dessert or as a snack. However, one may not add dairy or meat ingredients to crackers, zwieback or similar items that are sometimes eaten with meat or cheese (Shu”t Maharit 2:18; Chachmas Adam 50:3). Other authorities are lenient even regarding crackers and zwieback, contending that Chazal prohibited mixing dairy or meat ingredients only into regular bread (She’eilas Yaavetz #62; see Pri Chodosh, Yoreh Deah 97:1).

There is a later opinion that disagrees with the above and contends that one may not make dairy products that one may mistakenly eat for dessert after a meat meal (Yad Yehudah, Peirush Ha’katzar 97:3).According to the first approach I mentioned, it is permitted to make milchig cake, cookies or doughnuts. The second approach requires that dairy cakes and cookies must be made in a way that it is obvious that they are milchig, or they must be marked in a way that calls attention to their dairy status.

Distinguished bourekas

Based on this latter approach, bakeries in Eretz Yisrael today usually make cheese bourekas in a triangular shape and pareve bourekas in rectangular shapes.

Notwithstanding this practice, common custom is to assume that the prohibition against making dairy dough products applies only to bread.

What if it happened by mistake?

What is the law if someone is making dough, and some milk spills into it unintentionally? Is there a basis to be lenient, since the person was not trying to violate Chazal’s rule not to make dairy bread?

The logic to be lenient here would be true, if the prohibition against eating dairy or meat bread was a penalty that Chazal imposed on someone who violated their instruction not to add dairy or meat product to dough. However, this is not the reason for the prohibition. The rule was established to guarantee that no one mistakenly violate the laws of eating meat and milk together. Thus, the prohibition exists, whether the milk (or meat) was added intentionally or in error.

Nevertheless, when there was an unintended spill of meat or dairy and a major loss would result, the Chachmas Adam (50:5) permits giving each family only one loaf of dairy bread for immediate consumption (see also Aruch Hashulchan, Yoreh Deah 97:8; Yad Yehudah, Peirush Hakatzar 97:4). This is permitted, because each receives an amount that he will finish in one day, and you do not need to be concerned that someone will forget and eat the leftover bread with dairy or meat.

Commercial bakery

There are authorities who permit a commercial bakery to manufacture a large quantity of dairy bread, as long as it is careful to sell to each individual or household only a small amount that he will eat at one time, without any leftovers (Shu”t Kesav Sofer, Yoreh Deah #61). This logic might permit a kashrus agency to certify a company that makes dairy bread, provided it sells its products in very small units. The Yad Yehudah (Peirush Hakatzar 97:7) raises a similar issue regarding whether a Jew may purchase a very small quantity of dairy bread from a non-Jewish owned bakery, just as he is permitted to make a very small quantity of dairy bread for himself. The Yad Yehudah prohibits this for an unrelated reason, because of the problem of chalav akum, that milk and milk products may not be purchased from a non-Jew, unless the dairy product was supervised from the time of its being milked. In today’s world, where many authorities permit non-chalav Yisroel milk because we can assume that a dairy or producer would use only cow’s milk, it would seem that one might be permitted to purchase dairy bread for a meal at a time and consume it in its entirety. However, the Maharit rejects this heter, raising concern that the baker may forget to tell his customers that the bread is dairy (Shu”t Maharit 2:18).

Pareve bread on dairy equipment

Is it permitted to make pareve bread on dairy or meat equipment, or is this included in the prohibition of making milchig or fleishig bread? In halacha, this is referred to as whether nat bar nat (literally a taste that is son of a taste) of dairy or meat, is still considered milchig or fleishig. There is a leniency about this mentioned in the Gemara.

Some authorities contend that the leniency of nat bar nat applies only to pareve food placed in a kli sheni, that is,in a bowl in which hot meat had been placed after being removed from the fire. However, pareve food placed in a fleishig or milchig kli rishon, i.e., a bowl or pot that had previously been on the fire and now has been removed, may not be treated as pareve. In other words, if a tray used to bake chicken was removed from the oven and fully cleaned, bread now placed on the tray may not be eaten with milchig (Rivan quoted by Tosafos, Chullin 111b).

However, most rishonim disagree and permit food cooked in a kli rishon meat pot to be eaten with dairy, provided the equipment is clean from significant meat residue. Following their approach, there is no problem eating bread that was baked on a milchig or fleishig tray, even if the tray was used to cook dairy or meat immediately before thebread. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 95:1) follows this position and this is the accepted practice among Sefardim.

However, the Rema (ad loc.) rules that one should not eat pareve food prepared this way with the opposite (i.e., eating food heated on a meat tray with dairy, or eating food heated on a dairy tray together with meat). This is the approach followed by Ashkenazim. Thus, according to the Rema, not only must the hechsher be careful that the bakery’s bread contain no dairy ingredients, it also must ascertain that it is not baked on dairy trays.

Pas Yisroel

Another issue that needs to be resolved is whether the bakery is certified to sell pas Yisroel or not. Pas Yisroel means bread baked by a Jew, or where a Jew participated in its baking. Pas paltur means bread baked by a gentile for sale, which one is permitted to eat, at least when certain conditions exist, as I will explain.

According to the Shulchan Aruch and the Shach, it is permitted to eat pas paltur only when no comparable pas Yisroel is available. However, if the pas paltur tastes better, or someone wants a variety of bread that is not available locally as pas Yisroel, he may use pas paltur. Nevertheless, according to this opinion, he should constantly assess whether pas Yisroel is available before using pas paltur.

Some authorities permit purchasing pas paltur even when pas Yisroel is available, in a situation where there is not enough pas Yisroel for everyone (Kaf Hachayim, Yoreh Deah 112:30). They also permit pas paltur when purchasing exclusively pas Yisroel would drive up its price (Kaf Hachayim, Yoreh Deah 112:30).

Other authorities are more lenient, ruling that pas paltur is always permitted (Rema). This heter was so widespread that the Rema, in Toras Chatas, his detailed work on the laws of kashrus, wrote: “Since the custom in most places (regarding the consumption of pas paltur) is to be lenient, I will not expound on the topic at length, because the widespread practice is to permit this bread and eat it, even when pas Yisroel is available. Therefore, one who is careful about pas Yisroel may choose to be machmir to the extent that he wants.”

In this context, I would be remiss not to mention a dispute among acharonim whether there is any reason not to use pas paltur bread that is baked in a large commercial bakery, since the customer never meets the employees (see Shu”t Maharit Tzahlon #161, quoted by Birkei Yosef, Yoreh Deah 112:9).

Making it pas Yisroel

Notwithstanding that the Rema concludes that pas paltur is permitted, all agree that there is a preference to eat pas Yisroel. Among the rishonim, we find a dispute whether the Jew’s participation in the baking of the bread must have some significance to it to make it pas Yisroel, or whether a symbolic involvement is sufficient. The conclusion of most authorities is that a symbolic act, such as tossing a splint into the oven, is sufficient (Rambam; Tosafos; Ran; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 112:9).

The Shulchan Aruch (112:10) also concludes, based on a statement of the Mordechai, that if the gentile baked a few times in one day, and the Jew did not throw a splinter into the fire on one of those occasions, the bread is still considered pas Yisroel, on the basis of an earlier throwing. The Rema follows an even more lenient interpretation and rules that if a Jew added to the flame once, all the bakings made in that oven are pas Yisroel, until the oven is down for 24 consecutive hours. The rationale behind this last approach is that the heat from the previous bakings, which had a halacha of pas Yisroel, is as significant to the future bakings as having a Jew add a splinter to the flames.

Today’s pas Yisroel

Contemporary gas or electric ovens do not accommodate adding a splinter of wood to the oven’s fuel. Nonetheless, it is very easy to make the bread pas Yisroel even in a large commercial bakery that operates seven days a week,. Simply have a Jew adjust the thermostat downward for a second, until he sees that this has stopped or decreased the flow of fuel, and then set the thermostat back to its original setting. The product quality is not affected at all, and this renders all baked goods at this bakery pas Yisroel for the foreseeable future.

When the above method is not an option, such as in a bakery that is not in operation seven days a week, another contemporary solution is often suggested. The hechsher places a glowbar, an electrical unit inside the oven that participates in all the baking. Since the glowbar is turned on only by someone Jewish, such as the visiting mashgiach, all breads baked in that oven are now pas Yisroel. (We should note that there are some rabbonim who do not approve of a glowbar for pas Yisroel, for reasons beyond the scope of this article.)

Gluten-free bread

In today’s world, gluten-free bread and pastry have become very popular items. Since they are usually made without the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats), they may not require pas Yisroel, but may involve a more serious prohibition, bishul akum. Gluten-free products are made without wheat, rye, barley or spelt, and use, instead, gluten-free starches such as manioc, arrowroot, tapioca, plantain or oats, the last of which can be made gluten free relatively easily. (Please note that there are many different types of gluten intolerance; a small percentage of people are sensitive to oat starch.)Bread baked from most of these grains (with the exception of oats) is not considered bread according to halacha, and therefore has no issue of pas akum. However, they may be categorized as cooked items, and potentially prohibited as bishul akum. Whereas I noted above that pas akum produced for commercial sale is permitted according to many authorities in all circumstances, and, according to all authorities in some circumstances, the prohibition against bishul akum, foods cooked by a non-Jew do not carry these lenient rulings.

We find discussion among earlier authorities regarding baked products produced from rice flour, without any of the five grains included. Some authorities contend that where bread from rice or similar grains is commonly eaten, there is a concern of bishul akum (Pri Chadash, Yoreh Deah 112:5). This approach is implied by the Rosh and by the Rema (Toras Chatas, 75:11). Others contend that there is no bishul akum concern, because rice bread is not oleh al shulchan melachim (Bach; Shach; Shu”t Avnei Neizer, Yoreh Deah 92:7). I leave it to each individual to ask his rav or posek whether he should be concerned about bishul akum regarding these products.

Separating challah

In previous articles, I have discussed the issues about separating challah. The question of separating challah is contingent only on whether the dough is owned by someone Jewish, but not on who actually mixes the dough. In other words, if a Jew owns the bakery, there is a requirement to separate challah, even if the workers making the dough are non-Jewish. If the owner is not Jewish, there is no requirement to separate challah, even if the worker mixing the dough is Jewish. The halacha is the exact opposite of the rules that govern pas Yisroel and bishul Yisroel where the status is contingent on the person who makes the product, not on who owns it.

Tola’im

Of course, the hechsher also needs to make certain that the raw materials and the production facility itself are maintained in a way to resolve all kashrus concerns about insect contamination.

Conclusion

Based on the above information, we can gain a greater appreciation of how hard it is to maintain a high kashrus standard. We certainly have a greater incentive to become better- educated kosher consumers who understand many aspects of the preparation of kosher food, and why it is important to ascertain that everything one consumes has a proper hechsher. We should always hope and pray that the food we eat fulfills all the halachos that the Torah commands us.

Making Dairy Bread II

breadQuestion #1: The Whey to Celebrate Shavuos!

“May I add dairy ingredients to bread that I intend to serve with a milchig meal on Shavuos?

Question #2: English Danish

“Is one permitted to make pastry with butter when it will not be noticeable that the product is dairy?”

Question #3: Sour Cream Kugel

“As my daughter was preparing a kugel for seudah shlishis, she added sour cream to the dough. The kugel is too large to consume at one meal, even for our large family. Once it is removed from its oven tray, there will be no indication that it is dairy. May we eat it?”

Answer:

Each of the above questions is a shaylah that I have been actually asked, and each involves our understanding the prohibition created by Chazal against making dairy or meaty bread. In a previous article, we learned that it is prohibited to use milk as an ingredient in dough, and that if one added milk to dough, the bread produced is prohibited from being eaten at all, even with a dairy meal, because of concern that one may mistakenly eat the dairy bread together with meat. The Gemara rules the same regarding baking bread that contains meat ingredients or baking on a hearth that was greased with beef fat – it is prohibited to eat this bread, even as a corned beef sandwich (Pesachim 30a, 36a; Bava Metzia 91a; Zevachim 95b). If one greased a hearth with beef fat, one must kasher it properly before one uses it to bake bread.

Is one ever permitted to make dairy bread?

How much is a small amount?

In the previous article, I noted that Chazal did not prohibit producing small quantities of milchig or fleishig bread. What was not discussed was: how much milchig or fleishig bread is considered a “small quantity” that one may produce? One early authority, the Hagahos Shaarei Dura, rules that one may bake rolls that have absorbed meat for Shabbos meals, since they will certainly be eaten in the course of Shabbos.

Although both the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama quote this ruling of the Hagahos Shaarei Dura, a careful reading of their comments shows that these two authorities dispute exactly how much one may make. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 97:1) writes that a small amount is the amount that one would eat at one time, which implies that it is permitted to make only what one would eat at one sitting and not leave any leftovers (Pri Megadim, Sifsei Daas 97:1; Ben Ish Chai, II Shlach 17; Darchei Teshuvah 97:17; Badei HaShulchan, Tziyunim #49). Thus, when preparing dairy or meat bread, one may make only as much as one is certain that his family and guests will completely devour at the time the bread is served.

Take it a day at a time

On the other hand, the Rama rules that one may make milchig bread for Shavuos or fleishig bread for Shabbos, since this is called a “small amount.” When preparing bread for Shavuos or Shabbos, one is preparing more than what will be eaten at one sitting, but what will be eaten for a whole day. In another venue, the Rama states explicitly that it is permitted to make dairy or meat bread for a day at a time (Toras Chatas, 60:2). For this reason, the Aruch HaShulchan concludes that one may knead dough that is no more than what one’s family and guests will eat within 24 hours.

Some authorities expressly prohibit baking dairy bread for both days of Shavuos in advance of the Yom Tov (Darchei Teshuvah 97:33). They reason that baking for two days at a time is no longer considered a “small amount.”

We should note that although several authorities mention explicitly that the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama dispute whether one may make bread for only one sitting or for one entire day, other authorities imply that the Shulchan Aruch accepts the Rama’s more lenient understanding of a small amount (see Chavos Da’as, Biurim #4; Aruch HaShulchan 97:4).

All opinions agree that one must be careful not to produce so much that one expects there to be leftovers, unless one makes a heker in the bread (Bach; Darchei Teshuvah 97:34).

The whey to celebrate Shavuos!

At this point, we can address the first question asked above: “May I add dairy ingredients to bread that I intend to serve with a milchig meal on Shavuos?

The answer is that, according to the Rama, one may prepare milchig bread in honor of the day, but only as much as will definitely be eaten in one day’s time. According to the way most authorities understand the Shulchan Aruch, a Sefardi should not prepare more than will definitely be eaten in one meal.

Dairy bread during “the Nine Days”

During the Nine Days, am I permitted to make dairy bread, since we are not eating meat anyway?”

I have not found any halachic authority who states that the custom not to eat meat during the Nine Days permits us to make dairy bread during these days. Perhaps the reason why no one mentions such a heter is because there are numerous situations when one may eat meat, such as when a person is ill, at a seudas mitzvah, or on Shabbos, and we still need to be concerned that one may mistakenly eat the dairy bread on one of these occasions.

However, the two general heterim mentioned above, either of preparing a small amount of bread or of making bread with an unusual shape, both apply. Therefore, if the questioner is a Sefardi who follows the Shulchan Aruch, he may make (without a heker) as much dairy bread as his family and guests would eat at one meal without any leftovers. If the questioner is an Ashkenazi, he may make as much dairy bread as his family and guests would eat in a 24 hour day, without having any leftovers.

What about pastry?

At this point, we can address the two remaining questions I quoted above:

“Is one permitted to make pastry with butter, when it will not be noticeable that the product is dairy?”

“As my daughter was preparing a kugel for seudah shlishis, she added sour cream to the dough. The kugel is too large to consume at one meal, even for our large family. Once it is removed from its oven tray, there will be no indication that it is dairy. May we eat it?”

The halachic authorities discuss whether the prohibition against bread containing dairy or meat applies also to items such as spices and pastry. The consensus is that one may add dairy ingredients to pastry that is ordinarily not eaten with meat, but is usually eaten either as dessert or together with coffee, but that one may not add dairy ingredients to foods, such as crackers or zwieback, that sometimes are eaten to accompany meat (Shu’t Maharit 2:18; Chachmas Adam 50:3). Others are lenient even regarding crackers and zwieback, contending that Chazal prohibited only regular bread (She’eilas Yaavetz #62; see Pri Chodosh, Yoreh Deah 97:1). According to both of these opinions, one may produce dairy cakes, cookies or doughnuts, even if they do not obviously look dairy.

There is a minority, late opinion that disagrees with the above and contends that one may not make dairy products that one may mistakenly eat for dessert after a meat meal (Yad Yehudah, Peirush HaKatzar 97:3). Following this approach, all dairy cakes, cookies or doughnuts must either be obviously dairy or be marked in a unique way that calls attention to their dairy status.

Distinguished bourekas

Based on this latter approach, common custom in Eretz Yisrael today is to make cheese bourekas in a triangular shape and pareve bourekas in square shapes. One could argue that since bourekas occasionally accompany meat, they should be prohibited from being dairy, even according to the opinions of the Shu’t Maharit and the Chachmas Adam, whom I quoted above. Since many authorities consider the Chachmas Adam to be the final authority in kashrus and other yoreh deah topics, this forms the basis for the current custom in Eretz Yisrael.

What if it happened by mistake?

What is the law if someone is in the process of making dough, and some milk spills into the dough? Is there a basis to be lenient, since the person was not trying to violate Chazal’s rules?

Crying over spilled milk

The answer is that the prohibition against eating dairy bread is not a penalty that Chazal imposed on someone who violated their ruling. It is a takkanah that they instituted to ascertain that no one err and mistakenly violate the laws of eating meat and milk together. Thus, the prohibition is in effect, whether or not the milk (or meat) was added intentionally or in error. When there was an unintended spill of meat or dairy and a major loss will result, the Chachmas Adam (50:5) permits giving many families one loaf of bread each for immediate consumption (see also Aruch HaShulchan, Yoreh Deah 97:8; Yad Yehudah, Peirush HaKatzar 97:4). This is permitted, because each person receives an amount that he will finish in one day.

Commercial bakery

There are authorities who permit a commercial bakery to manufacture a large quantity of dairy bread, as long as it is careful to sell to each individual or household only a small amount that he would be permitted to make for himself (Shu’t Kesav Sofer, Yoreh Deah #61). This logic would permit a kashrus agency to certify a company that makes dairy bread (under permitted conditions), even though they are making a large dough. However, an earlier authority, the Maharit, rejects this heter, as he is concerned that the baker may forget to tell customers that the bread is dairy (Shu’t Maharit 2:18).

Non-Jewish bakery

Does the prohibition apply only to a Jewish bakery, or even to a non-Jewish bakery? Chazal have the ability to prohibit only Jews from specific activities, but there is no mitzvah binding on a gentile to obey a ruling of Chazal. Thus, the question is as follows: If a gentile-owned bakery produces commercial quantities of dairy bread, may a Jew purchase small amounts of this bread — that is, enough for one meal or for one day? The Yad Yehudah (Peirush HaKatzar 97:7) discusses this issue, and prohibits it, only because of the problem of chalav akum, milk that was not supervised by an observant Jew. (I have written several articles on this topic in the past, and they can be accessed on RabbiKaganoff.com under the headings “milk” or “cheese.” Alternatively, I can send it to you in an e-mail.) According to those who permit contemporary produced milk, it would appear that one would be permitted to buy a small quantity of dairy bread – enough that one would consume either at one meal or in the course of one day, without any leftovers.

Conclusion:

The Gemara teaches that the rabbinic laws are dearer to Hashem than are the Torah laws. In this context, we understand the importance of this prohibition created by Chazal to protect the Jewish people from eating dairy and meat together. We should always hope and pray that the food we eat fulfills all the halachos that the Torah commands us.

 

Making Dairy Bread

The menu of what Avraham served his guests included both dairy and meat, provided an opportunity to discuss the question concerning whether one may prepare milchig bread.bread

Question #1: The whey to celebrate Shavuos!

“May I add dairy ingredients to bread that I intend to serve with a milchig meal on Shavuos?

Question #2: No pareve bread in sight!

“Is one permitted to eat the local bread when everyone knows it is milchig?”

Answer:

Each of the above actual questions involves our understanding the prohibition created by Chazal against making bread containing either dairy or meat ingredients. In several places, the Gemara quotes a beraisa that prohibits using milk as an ingredient in dough, and states further that, if one added milk to dough, the bread produced is prohibited from being eaten at all, even as a cheese sandwich. This rabbinic injunction is because of concern that one might mistakenly eat the dairy bread together with meat. The Gemara rules the same regarding baking bread directly on an oven hearth that was greased with kosher beef fat – it is prohibited to eat this bread, even as part of a corned beef sandwich (Pesachim 30a, 36a; Bava Metzia 91a; Zevachim 95b). If one greased a hearth with beef fat, one must kasher it properly before one uses it to bake bread.

Is one ever permitted to make dairy or meaty bread?

The Gemara (Pesachim 36a) permits an exception – one may make dairy dough if it is ke’ein tora, “like a bull’s eye.”

Bull’s eye

What does the Gemara mean when it permits dairy or meaty bread made like “a bull’s eye?” Does this mean that some bakers double as excellent sharpshooters?

We find a dispute among early Rishonim as to what the Gemara means when it says that one can prepare a dough like a bull’s eye. Rashi explains it to mean that it is the size of a bull’s eye — one may bake a small amount of dairy or meaty bread that one would eat quickly. Since there will be no leftovers, we are not concerned that one may mistakenly use the dairy bread for a corned-beef sandwich or spread cream cheese on the fleishig bread.

Shapely bread

Other authorities explain that this refers to the shape of the dough. The Gemara means that if one shaped the dough like a bull’s eye or some other unusual shape, the heker (here, distinguishable appearance) accomplishes that no one will mistakenly eat it with meat or dairy (Rif, Chullin 38a in his pages; Rambam, Maachalos Asuros 9:22).

How do we rule?

Although these are clearly two different ways of explaining the Gemara, the authorities conclude that there is no dispute in halachah between these two approaches (Hagahos Shaarei Dura, quoted by Beis Yosef, Yoreh Deah 97; Shulchan Aruch ad loc.). In other words, although in general one may not make dairy or meat bread because of the above-mentioned concerns, one may prepare a small amount of dairy or meaty bread. One is also permitted to make dairy or meaty bread with an unusual shape.

All the bread is fleishig

The Maharit, one of the great halachic authorities of sixteenth-century Israel, discussed the following situation: A specific town was located at quite a distance from any source of vegetable oil. As a result, vegetable cooking oil was expensive, and the townspeople, therefore, used beef tallow for all their baking, cooking and frying. (Apparently, the local cardiologist felt that the populace had a cholesterol deficiency – no doubt because they observed the Mediterranean Diet.) Indeed, the people in town always treated their bread as fleishig, since they assumed that it always included beef fat as an ingredient. The Maharit first discussed whether this provided sufficient reason to permit consuming local bread in this town. Does the fact that all local residents know that their bread is fleishig preempt the takkanas chachamim prohibiting production of meaty bread?

Hometown advantage

The Maharit questioned whether this is sufficient reason to be lenient, since we still need to be concerned about visitors from out of town who are unaware that the local bread is fleishig. Indeed, some visitors had eaten local bread with cheese, not realizing that it contained a meat product. The Maharit concluded that local circumstances are insufficient grounds to permit fleishig bread – and that the local bread is permitted to be eaten only if it has a heker, or only if people make small quantities of bread (Shu’t Maharit 2:18). This means that commercially-made bread in this town would be made exclusively with unusual shapes.

However, a later authority disputed this conclusion of the Maharit. Rav Yonasan Eibeschutz, in his commentary on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah (Kereisi 97:2), mentions that in his town and environs all the white bread was made with milk, and the accepted custom was to bake, purchase and use even large quantities of the bread without any heker. He notes that, according to the Maharit, this bread is prohibited, yet he concludes that, notwithstanding the Maharit’s opinion to the contrary, the bread is permitted, since everyone knows that the local bread is dairy and no baker in town produces pareve bread. He closes by mentioning that someone who is G-d fearing should not use the local dairy bread, although it is technically permitted.

Thus, whether one may permit milchig bread because all local bread is always milchig, or one may permit fleishig bread because all local bread is always fleishig is a dispute among prominent authorities.

Commercial bakery

A later authority, the Kesav Sofer, permitted a commercial bakery to produce milchig or fleishig bread, provided that the bakery sold only a small amount of bread to each customer. He contended that since the consumer only owns a small quantity of bread, we are not concerned how much the bakery actually produced.

Local bakery

In this context, I would like to share an anecdote. Many years ago, I was posed a question by a rav living in a small community that had no kosher bakery. He had the opportunity to provide a hechsher to a non-Jewish-owned bakery, which in his community would be very advantageous, since he would not need to be concerned about the bakery being open on Shabbos or on Pesach, or about hafrashas challah (all issues that I have discussed in other articles). The owner of the bakery was willing to meet all the ingredient requirements of the hechsher, and, in addition, was located within walking distance of the frum community, so that random inspections could take place even on Shabbos. The question germane to our topic was that the baker baked his white bread with milk, and the rav was uncertain whether and how to proceed with providing a hechsher to this bakery. According to the above-quoted Kesav Sofer, the rav could even provide a hechsher on the entire bakery, including the bread, and instruct people that they may purchase the milchig bread only in small quantities that would be eaten within a day.

However, according to the Maharit, the dairy bread should be treated as non-kosher. The rav’s decision was that the hechsher sign in the bakery would list which pastry items in the bakery are supervised as kosher/dairy, and which pastry and bread items are certified kosher/pareve, and that the sign would imply that the bakery sells breads that are not certified kosher because they are dairy.  In this approach, he followed common custom not to rely on the Kesav Sofer’s leniency.

Are you in shape?

I mentioned above that one may make dairy or meat bread if it has an unusual shape. How unusual must the shape be?

As we can imagine, we are not the first to ask this question. In his above-mentioned responsum, the Maharit discusses what type of heker the halachah requires. He notes that there are two ways to explain what the heker accomplishes. One possibility is that the heker is so that people who know the bread is fleishig won’t forget and mistakenly eat it with cheese. The second possibility is that the heker is necessary so that people from outside the area, who are unfamiliar with the fact that the bread is fleishig, will stop and ask why is this bread different from all the other bread in the rest of the world. In other words, according to the second approach, the heker must be sufficient to draw people’s attention to it, so that they ask why this bread looks so strange.

The Maharit subsequently demonstrates that this exact point, what is the reason for the heker, is the subject of a machlokes harishonim. The Tur explains that the reason for the heker is so that the person remembers that this bread is milchig or fleishig, meaning that he already knew that he has made milchig or fleishig bread, and the heker is so that he does not make a mistake and accidentally eat the milchig bread with meat or eat the fleishig bread with dairy. This type of reminder does not require a major heker that would cause someone to ask: “Why does this bread look so strange?”

This approach of the Tur is quoted by a later authority, when the Rama (in Toras Chatas 60:2) states that the heker is so that one does not forget that he made milchig or fleishig bread.

Why is this bread so different from all other breads?

On the other hand, the second approach is mentioned in even earlier sources. When discussing the heker necessary in making milchig or fleishig bread, the Rashba explains that the heker must attract attention, so that people will notice that the bread looks different.  The heker will cause people to ask, before eating, why the bread’s appearance is so unusual (Rashba, Toras Habayis Hakatzar, 3:4, page 86b). Other later authorities, such as the Levush (Yoreh Deah, 97:1) and the Chachmas Adam (50:3) quote the Rashba’s approach. To quote the Chachmas Adam, “One may make dairy bread if one changed the shape of the bread significantly, enough that one would not eat meat with it.”

Baked for sale

The Maharit notes that a difference in halachah results from this dispute between the Tur and the Rashba concerning whether an item with a minor heker can be sold. If the reason is so that people will ask, there would need to be a major heker. Otherwise, one would not be permitted to make the bread. If the reason for a heker is to remind people that this bread was made dairy, a minor heker will suffice, as long as these breads are not sold, since visitors will eat them as guests in the houses of people who will know to serve them only with fleishig meals.

Bread for Shavuos

In a different ruling, the Rama again demonstrates that the heker is so that someone not forget that the bread he made is dairy. The Rama rules that one may make challohs for Shavuos with dairy ingredients, since the challohs for Shavuos are shaped long whereas the regular Shabbos and Yom Tov challohs are round. According to the approach of the Rashba, this difference in shape would not suffice, since someone visiting would not ask why the challohs are shaped long, and would not notice anything unusual to attract his attention. However, according to the Tur, who holds that the heker is so that one not forget, this difference in shaping is sufficient.

We have thus learned some of the laws of producing dairy and meaty breads. Stay tuned for the continuation of this article, as we continue exploring this meaty topic!!

 

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