Thursday, October 28, 2010

*This* is how you teach kashrut?!

Speaking of cutting an onion, I was going to include a link in that post for "davar charif," but this was the best link I could find.

I barely understand a word. Considering the vocabulary, I mean that fairly literally. :( ". . . assa foetida (Chiltit)"???
  • A story

Over 15 years ago, I took an Introduction to Talmud class with a Conservative former rabbi of our synagogue. I'm sorry to say that I didn't get much out of it. As I complained to an old friend, I'm a pragmatic person, and, after about three classes of listening to the rabbis' discussions, all I wanted was for someone to "bottom-line it" and tell me what the proper time was for saying the Sh'ma. My girlfriend's reponse? "You don't need a class in Talmud, you need a class in Shulchan Aruch."

  • Some background

Neither of us was raised kosher. We tried and gave up keeping kosher for a while because it was a bit challenging to learn from scratch. But we decided to start keeping a kosher kitchen when our son was born, figuring that it would be easier for him to keep a kosher kitchen as an adult if he'd been raised with one. Over the years, we gradually gave up bringing home treif (non-kosher food) from the local restaurants and eating it on paper plates. Later, we started looking for hechsherim (seals indicating that a product is kosher) on just about all foods, especially those that we used in cooking.

We're now been keeping a kosher kitchen for over 27 years. And yet, it was only about two-three years ago that we first heard that vinegar could create a kashrut problem. And it was much more recently than that--possibly when we spent a Shabbat with Malka Esther and Larry Lennhoff--when we first heard the term "davar charif."

In other words, we're like the pre-schooler in the Haggadah "sheh-eino yodeiah lish'ol, who doesn't know to ask"--we're sufficiently ignorant that we don't even know when we need to ask a question.

  • The problem at present

So I went to Drisha's kashrut class, hoping to pick up a tip or two. Instead, I was confronted with a text from the Gemara, complete with Rashi. The teacher informed me that this was an advanced class. Not only did I concur, but I also found that the kashrut class reminded me too much of my first attempt to study Talmud. So I dropped the class.

  • The ironic conclusion

" . . . the radish is Nat Bar Nat (two steps removed from the meat itself . . . "

[ ¶ ]

I just learned the term NaT bar NaT (NaT = notein taam--roughly, something that transmits flavor from one food to another) last week in that kashrut class. Thus far, I have yet to find an intermediate-level class in kashrut. Is it possible that kashrut classes are either beginner-level or advanced? I'm beginning to wonder whether dropping that class was a good idea.


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I'd recommend starting off with reading Rabbi Forst's Laws of Kashrus. If you wanted to study together over the phone or on-line I'd be glad to do it with you once (or twice) a week. I've already mentioned links to a number of audio shiurim on kashrut - in exchange I think you mentioned it wasn't your preferred method of learning. Pirke Shoshanim has an on-line class in Kashrut, It is beginner level but it may still be useful in filling out your foundations so you know what the issues are. Take a look at this sample illustation and this sample class.

Thu Oct 28, 03:45:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks, Larry. "Laws of Kashrus" looks like a good investment. Books are always good, since reading on the subway is one of my favorite ways of avoiding boredom en route. :)

The "sample class" link doesn't seem to be working, at the moment, but the sample illustration is very helpful. The Pirke Shoshanim online class in kashrut looks worthwhile--I certainly need to have the gaps in my knowledge filled in.

A chevruta might be helpful. Thanks for offering. I'll get back to you on that.

Thu Oct 28, 04:14:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

From Hirhurim:
R’ Ozer Yeshaya Hakohain Glickman starts a new detailed kashrut series – here focusing on taam (taste). He emphasizes his approaching to teaching analysis/coherence vs. simply memorizing opinions.
Touches on some of the meta issues that have always fascinated me (e.g. does the gemara create halacha or record and justify it? Does chasurei mechsara mean the gemara really thought there were missing words in the text transmission or was it just trying to cohere?

Audio Shiur

I'm guessing this will use too many untranslated terms to be helpful. When I listen to it I'll try to remember to let you know.

Thu Oct 28, 09:50:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, I managed to track down Koshering Utensils, Lesson One from Pirchei Shoshanim. (Oddly enough, an Internet search for Pirchei Shoshanim shows a website only one page long, the Pirchei Shoshanim introduction, but the reader is referred to the Shema Yisrael Torah Network learning/continue education website, and from there to, or How to Make your Kitchen Kosher [and keep it that way].) Holy Moses, this is a *beginners*-level kashrut lesson? Either I'm even more ignorant than I thought, and/or I just haven't been paying such close attention to the details, some of which sound familiar and some of which do not. :(

P. 8: "Libun Chamur (strong torching) is when a pot is heated to a point that it can give off sparks."

Seriously, am I going to have to buy and learn how to use a blow torch?

This may be the course that I need, especially since the lessons are written--I can read them on the subway, share them with my husband, and save them in a binder and/or on my computer for reference. Rav todot, many thanks, Larry!

Fri Oct 29, 01:40:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, I tried to register for that kashrut class, but the online registration page is malfunctioning. :( Maybe I'll start with Rabbi Forst's Laws of Kashrus book, instead.

Mon Nov 01, 10:56:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous rivkayael said...

I reread your post--the radish is NOT nat bar nat, but becomes a notein tam--imparts flavour (a single nat) because it is "sharp". Rashi gives two explanations--1. knife that is not clean--hard to clean the blade. 2. The pressure from the knife while cutting imparts the taste, and the sharpness of the radish makes it absorb from the knife as if it were hot.

Funny that you want a final ruling on kashrut but accept a multiplicity of views on hair covering ;).

Wed Nov 03, 10:49:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, I've never claimed to be consistent. :) But that is an interesting point. I guess I'm trying to fall within acceptable parameters, kashrut-wise.

The issue of married women's hair covering is different, in my opinion, because I can't understand the logic. If covered hair is a sign of modesty for women, then *all* females over the age of Bat Mitzvah should cover their hair, because modesty is not reserved for the married. If, on the other hand, covered hair is a sign of marriage, then widowed or divorced woman should *not* continue to cover their hair. This is one area on which I insist on consistency--if even the *rabbis* can't figure out the real reason why women/married women should cover their hair, why should I make a literal hot-head of myself?

Wed Nov 03, 11:50:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I bit the bullet and ordered the book--R. Forst's "Laws of Kashrus" should arrive around Nov. 9. (Thanks for the recommendation, Larry.) Wish me luck.

Thu Nov 04, 12:24:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous rivkayael said...

The rabbis can't figure out if cooking/baking makes something nat, or nat bar nat either. We still all go by the stricter ruling.

Thu Nov 04, 09:27:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous rivkayael said...

And some rabbis feel that a divorced/widowed woman doesn't need to cover hair.

Thu Nov 04, 09:28:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote a teshuvah for a widow in which he said she could keep her hair uncovered while on a date, but not the rest of the time. I assume the reasoning is that in general we do not go from a higher level of holiness to a lesser one, but the woman's shidduch needs outweigh that principle when she is actually engaged in finding a husband.

Thu Nov 04, 09:46:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael and Larry, my personal opinion is that, if the purpose of covering one's hair is to indicate that one is married, then it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for a no-longer-married woman to keep her hair covered, "higher level of holiness" notwithstanding: An uncovered head is a signal of availability for marriage, so, nu, if you want to get remarried, make sure everyone can tell, just by looking at you!

Thu Nov 04, 11:05:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

The irony is that I intend to keep covering my head in shul as a widow, but not because of a concern about going "from a higher level of holiness to a lesser one." As I mentioned here, “It was my parents' rabbi who insisted that all women and girls, married and single, cover their heads in synagogue. By the time I was in my teens, the habit of covering my head for shul or for reading sacred texts was so ingrained that I would as soon have entered a synagogue with my head uncovered as I would have eaten a ham and cheese on rye during Pesach.” (Apparently, my parents' rabbi didn’t make this up—see # 4 here.) You may be amused to know that I considered covering my head full-time for that reason, but concluded that doing so would be a bit awkward for both me and my husband. (I'm tickled to have found that last post--I *knew* that I'd published an earlier version of A mixed marriage, of sorts.)

Thu Nov 04, 01:45:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Woodrow/Conservadox said...

My (now-former) rabbi ran a class on Kashrut tailed more towards beginners. If you want an outline, I could email it to you privately.

Sat Nov 06, 11:35:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Woodrow/Conservadox said...

Re hair covering: the two subjects are not analogous at all.

In kashrut there's a real need for community uniformity- it doesn't matter what the standard is, but it does matter (in terms of hospitality issues) that everyone is more or less on the same page.

I don't think that's quite as true for anything else in halacha outside the synagogue. (With the caveat that there are some people, as I have learned from this very blog, who worry about your strictness re other issues as well in deciding whether they will eat at your house!)

Sat Nov 06, 11:39:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"there are some people, as I have learned from this very blog, who worry about your strictness re other issues as well in deciding whether they will eat at your house!"

Woodrow, I'm getting quite an education from the Jewish blogosphere, both from reading other blogs and from reading the comments on my own blog.

I'd be delighted to receive your former rabbi's kashrut course outline. You can send it to me at onthefringe_jewishblogger at yahoo dot come. Thanks!

Mon Nov 08, 10:32:00 AM 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>