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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Häagen-Dazs, Faux Mehadrin sic Buses and the Sin of Taking on Nazirut

Even within the world of Torah Observant Jews, who follow Laws of Kashrut, Shabbat, Taharat Mishpacha (Family Purity Laws) etc there are many disagreements among the rabbis and Torah scholars.

Today the Jewish World was abuzz with a news report questioning the kashrut of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.  The Jerusalem Post headline grabbed everyone's attention by claiming that it isn't kosher.  The situation is very different.  It all goes back to whether or not all milk needs kashrut supervision.  The OU has always followed the psak of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein who considered American food law, which forbids adding anything to cows milk as making the milk perfectly permissible for Jews. The European food laws are different, so in Europe many Torah observant Jews are strict about only having dairy products that are Chalav Yisrael. Israeli kashrut groups used to mostly follow the American psak, but now more people want Chalav Yisrael, and that's how Häagen-Dazs is becoming controversial. It's not Chalav Yisrael, but that doesn't make it traif. The Jerusalem Post, which has come out against the so-called Mehadrin buses that require that women sit in the back, is suddenly sympathetic to the traif accusations against Häagen-Dazs.

I don't think legislating separate seating in buses is very Mehadrin  in the Derech Eretz  department.  Instead of young men being taught to get up for an older or pregnant woman and giving her his seat, they're being taught that women belong in the back of the bus.

And this brings me to one of the courses I've been studying at Matan this year, Change of Course and Course of Change: Sefer B´Midbar, by Atara Snowbell.  We've spent the past few weeks studying the pros and cons of taking on the status of נזירות Nazirut. There is no Mitzvah Torah Commandment to become a Nazir, Nazirite.  It's a very problematic vow and commitment.  In non-Temple times there's no way of even ending it, which goes against the thirty day limit.  The Nazir takes on prohibitions, not cutting one's hair, no eating or drinking any product that is derived from grapes and not having any contact with a dead body.

When the thirty days are over, the Nazir must end it.
At the end of a person’s nazirite period, there were certain atonement offerings he needed to bring to the Temple. The Talmud asks: why should a nazirite, who essentially has taken upon himself voluntary prohibitions beyond the letter of the law, be required to seek atonement? What sin did he commit? One Talmudic opinion suggests that the fact that he denied himself the pleasure of drinking wine is considered sinful.
The ceremony includes having his hair cut and drinking wine. Continuing with the restrictions is totally forbidden. Judaism isn't a religion that celebrates suffering and deprivation.

As we began to finish off the discussion about it, I thought of those who do an extreme "diet health cleansing" and instead of following it with a regular eating regime continue the cleansing, become anorexic and destroy their health and even die.

A Torah Observant life is all G-d is asking from us.


Hadassa said...

For anyone who doesn't know, "Ben and Jerry's" has a Chalav Yisrael ice cream plant in Israel. No need to import Haagen-Dazs.
There are major problem in America with milk, especially milk that isn't Chalav Yisrael (CY). It is very common for cows to undergo operations to release stomach gas and they very easily render the animal, and therefore her milk, not kosher.
R. Feinstein ruled that if CY is easily obtainable, and it is in Israel it is preferable to buy it.
Rav Moshe Feinstein and CY (not the last word on the subject, but interesting): http://www.mywesternwall.net/2010/12/06/rabbi-moses-feinstein-and-what-he-really-said-about-cholov-yisroel-milk.html

Batya said...

In terms of taste, I must say that B&J isn't as good. We'll see what happens with the OU and HD.

Thanks for the kashrut clarifications.

Hadassa said...

Each to his/her own. I haven't had either in a long time, but I preferred B&J. I bought an ice cream machine for 250 NIS from Rosenfeld and make my own CY, mehadrin, healthy, sometimes sugarless ice cream/sherbet.

Batya said...

Hadassa, so you'll bring some to our "coffee party" I hope.

Hadassa said...

Name your flavor and dietary restrictions.
Anyone interested in making ice cream should know that the base, depending on what you use, usually needs to chill for several hours, preferably overnight.

Batya said...

I love mint and don't eat fake sugar. So, you'll bring it to our coffee party?

Anonymous said...

The argument against the milk being kosher due to the very minor wound inflicted on the cow in the surgery to release gas is ridiculous, and is likely influenced more by a desire to be more Kosher than thou than by the actual halachic status of non-Cholov Yisroel milk.

Batya said...

a, Hadassa, I'm no expert in that aspect of kashrut.

Natan said...

You misunderstood the great Mitzvah of Nazirut that Moshe rabeinu followed and lived by

Batya Medad said...

Is that from a midrash? It's not in the pshat at all. We are not supposed to isolate ourselves.