Monthly Archives: January 2017

Is all milk kosher?

Judaism offers ways to make every area of life kadosh/קדוש, holy. We do this by creating sanctifications/distinctions for eating (kosher vs treif), days of the week (Shabbat vs other days), and other areas. However, over the milennia, practices on this subject have increased in stringency, especially in the last 300 years. In the last generation, some leaders within Orthodoxy and Conservative/Masorti Judaism have taken a new look at assumptions about what it means to be “strictly kosher”. Many things observant Jews assume to be binding and traditional, are really not quite so.

Many observant Jews use only Cholov Yisroel (Hebrew: חלב ישראל‎‎) milk and dairy products. These are products that have been under constant rabbinical supervision from milking to bottling, to make sure that it is not adulterated with the milk of a non-kosher animal.

Today this is not a practical concern in the USA or most western countries; As such, most Modern Orthodox rabbis, and all Conservative rabbis, have ruled that FDA supervision is sufficient to be considered automatically kosher.

Is there such a thing as “Cholov Yisrael” cheese? (that is, cheese where a Jew watched over the whole production process to ensure that a gentile did not substitute a non-kosher animals milk into the ingredients)

Considering that the Talmud tells us that only milk of a kosher animal curdles , and that it is echoed by the Rambam (Maachalot Asurot 3:12) and Tosfos, we are on safe ground when we note that this is just another way that some kashrut agencies attempt to get more money for an item that need not be “Cholov Yisroel”.

Isn’t rennet an issue? Irvin Branwein writes:

A respectable and acknowledged body of Jewish legal opinion permits all hard cheeses made with rennet. Rabbenu Tam (b. 1100) grandson of Rashi, halakhic authority and leading luminary of the Franco-German, tosafist tradition, has written: “We have never found a proper reason to forbid the cheese of the gentiles and moreover, the Sages of Narbonne have permitted them.” [Talmud, Avodah Zarah, 35a, s.v. Hadda Qa-tanna]

More recently, orthodox, religious authorities have cited the Arukh Hashulhan in their lenient decisions on cheeses made with rennet. [Rabbis Hankin and Graubart, in HaPardes, Iyyar, 5722, page 9, and E’iduth L’Israel, pp.173-176, responsa, Havallim Bane’immim, Y.D. 23]

– Changing the Halakha, Irvin Branwein, Judaism, Issue No. 200, Volume 50, Number 4, Fall 2001

Our list of Kashrut articles. Halakhic, Traditional, Non-fundamentalist


Reincarnation and pseudoscience

A few rabbis have been trying to tie together kabbalah, “scientific proof of reincarnation”, “scientific proof of the afterlife”, etc, like this one here.


Rabbi Alon Anava, a proponent of educating people about the potential threat of Nibiru, said last week that the dwarf star some believe is poised to destroy two-thirds of the world’s population in anticipation of the End of Days is the cause of recent extreme weather events. End of Days blogger Menachem Robinson told Breaking Israel News that Nibiru will “make its closest approach” to earth within the next few weeks. Following a recent lecture about the arrival of Moshiach (Messiah), Rabbi Anava ascribed the dramatic uptick in monsoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and other extreme weather events to the approach of Nibiru…. According to Rabbi Anava, Nibiru is merely one End of Days scenario that God could potentially implement. “It’s one of the surprises Hashem (God) can pull out of His pocket. It might not do anything. There are clear prophecies talking about rocks of fire, but any bad prophecy can be reversed. HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed Be He) prepared it. “You know how HaKadosh Baruch Hu did the flood in the time of Noach (Noah)?” Rabbi Anava asked his audience. “He moved one of the planets a little bit. That caused the flood to happen.

There is zero scientific proof of reincarnation of the afterlife. The smarter fundamentalist preachers know this, but believe that it is valid to lie in order to gain new adherents. The less smart ones… actually believe their own claims.

Kabbalah itself is problematic, but we see here what happens when they tie pseudo-science with Kabbalah – they end up aligning themselves with conspiracy theorists, about all sorts of topics.

When you see a preacher (of any faith) talk about “scientific proof” which doesn’t exist, that’s a red flag.

Here are some articles examining holes in the claims that reincarnation and the afterlife were scientifically proven.

Ian Stevenson: The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Also Book Review of “Children who remember previous lives, A question of reincarnation”

Smilodon’s Retreat: Analysis of claims about reincarnation