Sunday, January 28, 2018

How to Check for Bugs


With Tu B'Shvat approaching, the question is, how does one check fruit for bugs? After all, it is a very serious Torah prohibition to eat forbidden insects.

But another question arises: Are there any differences between popular halachic approaches today, and the approach found in Chazal and the Rishonim? After all, seeing how halachah has changed with regard to the kezayis, one wonders if has changed in other areas too.

After receiving a PDF in my email with detailed instructions from Rav Moshe Vaye's work Bedikat HaMazon, I thought it would be appropriate to compare two different approaches to checking fruit for bugs; that of Rav Vaye, and that of Chazal and traditional Judaism.


According to Rav Moshe Vaye’s sefer Bedikas HaMazon According to Chazal and Rishonim:
Apricots dried whole: Open and check each half with through-lighting on both sides.
Apricots fruit sold halved: Soak in warm water, open the folds, unroll the edges, and check with through-lighting.
Blueberry Frozen: Preferable to grind it in blender. Fresh: Soak the blueberries in soapy water. Place in a large-holed strainer, and rinse well. Repeat soaking and rinsing 3 times. Preferably grind in blender. Dried: Difficult to check. Use only with Mehadrin Kashrus.
Cashew nuts Look over each one from the outside for nibbling or holes. If a nut seems to be infested, halve it and check inside. (A few thin brown crumbs inside the cashew are pieces of shell, not caused by bugs). If signs of infestation are found, halve and check each nut. [Even if no infestation is found, it is advisable to halve about 10% as a sample and check internally.]
Cherries maraschino: Open several (about 10%) as a sample. Check for a worm. If any infestation is found in the sample, open and check all of the batch. dried: Best to avoid using due to difficulty of checking.
Chestnuts Halve and check inside for a worm or dark crumbs (may be checked after cooking or roasting).
Dates Slit open with a knife, remove pit, check from both sides with through-lighting (looking for a dark bug about 2-3 mm. long or a worm, usually dead and dried up).
Fruit leather sold open Check against the light, looking for an ant or fly stuck on. grapes 1. Seperate tight clusters into small ones. Soak in soapy water and rinse well. Repeat soaking and rinsing 3 times. 2. Look at each grape. If you see a dark spot penetrating inside the grape, cut there and check inside for a worm.
Guava Cut the fruit into slices across and examine each slice on both sides. The worms are the same color as the fruit (with a black dot at the head) and are hard to identify.
alternate method: Peel the fruit and check for a small hole or a dark mushy area.
Cut out this area and examine it for worms in the flesh of the fruit.
Kiwi The fruit itself is clean. On rare occasions there may be white or brown scale insects on the peel. Take care that they do not get transferred onto the fruit during peeling; Alternately, rinse off the fruit after peeling.
Loquat Open the crown at the bottom of the fruit and check it for small insects.
nuts chopped Shake the nuts in a wire mesh strainer over a white surface and check the surface for small bugs. Then pour the nuts themselves, which remained in the strainer, onto a white surface and check between the pieces.
Nuts in shell As you shell each nut, check the inside of the shell and the nut for sticky webbing dangling, round dark crumbs, or worms. Check the nut for holes or nibbling.
nuts shelled Check each nut on both sides for webbing, holes, or nibbling. If a nut seems to be infested, halve it and check inside. If signs of infestation are found, halve and check each nut. [Even if no infestation is found, it is advisable to halve about 10% as a sample and check internally.]
Olives green olives: If there’s a brown stain, open the olive and check inside for a tunnel.
black olives: Open and check inside for a tunnel or a worm.
olive rings: Spread out and check for a tunnel or worm.
peaches canned Check for maggots in fruits and juice.
pecans shelled Check the nuts on both sides for webbing, worms, or round crumbs.
persimmon Remove the leaf at the top and wash well. If the fruit is unusually soft, check it inside. If there is a black stain on the peel, remove the peel at that spot and check to see if there are white maggots inside the fruit. (Small black dots in the flesh are not a problem).
carob Wash well, break into small pieces (2 cm.=1 inch) and check for crumbs, webbing, worms, or insects.
figs fresh and dried Highly infested. The procedure for checking is complicated and difficult. For instructions, see sefer “Bedikas HaMazon” in English.
goji berries Highly infested and very difficult to check. Avoid eating them.
mulberries Very infested and difficult to check. Avoid eating them.
quince (grown in Israel) Halve the fruit and check for a worm or tunnel with dark crumbs. Remove the affected area. Quince in the U.S. is clean.
raisins Raisins, including California raisins, should preferably not be used, due to their high incidence of infestation.
Craisins can be used as a substitute.
If one wants to use regular raisins, it is preferable to use raisins that have already undergone a preliminary screening, such as raisins with Badatz Eida Chareidis supervision. These should be checked thoroughly as follows: 1. Soak in hot water for 15 minutes. 2. Pour the top layer of water onto a white plate and check the water for worms or brown insects. If any are found, don’t use batch, because the worms can also be inside. 3. If no bugs are found, rinse the raisins well under running water.
raspberries Very infested and difficult to check. Avoid eating them.
strawberries There is a world-wide problem of thrips, (small thin insects) which hide in the little depressions on the strawberries and do not come off with the usual cleaning methods. Therefore strawberries should only be eaten in one of the following 2 ways:
Method A: With a knife, cut off the leaf at the top together with a few millimeters of the fruit. Remove any cracks, deep clefts,or damaged areas. Soak in water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid for 3 minutes, rub in the water, and rinse well under running water in such a way that the water reaches every part of the berry.
This process should be done three times, after which the berries may be cooked or blended.
Method B: Peel off the entire outer layer of the berry (including deep cracks and the place where the leaf is attached). Rinse after peeling.
oranges, tangerines, There are often brown or dark gray scale insects on the peel. During peeling and cutting, take care that they do not get
mandarines, grapefruit, transferred onto the fruit or onto your hands. Or rinse off the fruit after peeling. If you want to use the peel, scrub it with a hard brush or metal scrubbie and dishwashing liquid, rinse, and check to make sure no scales remain.
internal infestation: There are sometimes fruit-fly maggots inside the flesh of oranges, grapefruit, mandarines, and tangerines. This is rare when the fruit comes from orchards that were tended, especially in the winter. Citrus from trees that weren’t sprayed, such as from private gardens or from Arabs during Shmitta, as well as citrus in the summertime, is more likely to harbor fruit-fly maggots.
A. As you peel the fruit, look at the white side of the peel, checking for a brown stain or a mushy area that continues into the fruit. If this is found, check to see whether maggots penetrated at that point.
B. If the fruit is soft and mushy or has an unusual odor, the inside of the segments should be checked. If one fruit is found to have maggots, all the fruits of that batch should be checked carefully.
orange juice — fresh squeezed (at home or at a stand): Advisable to strain juice through a strainer. Alternately, the orange peel can be cleaned with a metal scrubbie and dishwashing liquid before the fruit is juiced to prevent scales from entering the juice.
peanuts Look over each one from the outside for nibbling or holes. If a peanut seems to be infested, halve it and check inside. If signs of infestation are found, halve and check each peanut. At the end of the summer and in the fall extra care is required. [Even if no infestation is found, it is advisable to halve about 10% as a sample and check internally.]
coated peanuts (chocolate-coated, candy-coated, etc.): Open about 10%. If infestation is found, open them all.
pistachios Remove the shell and check for worms or webbing. If a nut seems to be infested, halve it and check inside. If infestation is found, each nut should be halved and checked internally. [Even if no infestation is found, it is advisable to halve about 10% as a sample and check internally.]
pumpkin seeds: in the shell: Usually clean. If the shell is damaged, open and check for worms.
shelled: Shake in a plastic noodle strainer over a white surface and check the surface for worms. If worms are found, do not use.
sunflower seeds: in the shell: Shell and check each one.
shelled: Shake the seeds in a wire mesh strainer over a white surface and check the surface for small bugs. Then pour the seeds onto a white surface and check between them. If worms are found, do not use.
watermelon seeds: Shell and check a sample (about 10%). If infestation is found, the entire batch should be shelled and checked.
pineapple fresh: Peel and remove all hard brown hollow areas.
dried with sugar: Look at it on both sides for a fly or bug that got stuck to it.
natural dried: Break into a few pieces and check in the small spaces in the flesh of the fruit for worms or dark round crumbs.
in natural pineapple juice: Sometimes infested. Pineapple in syrup is preferable.
pomegranate Check for a hole in the peel. When taking out the seeds, check for small white maggots or a brown worm.
sugar-apple Peel and rinse. Cut into segments and check for white worms.
walnuts shelled Place the nuts in a large-holed strainer and shake over a white surface. Check the surface for small bugs or worms. Check each nut on both sides, especially inside the folds, for webbing, worms, or nibbling.
  • Look at the fruit. If you don't see a bug, eat it.

Yes, this is somewhat over-simplified. But not much. Chazal and Jews throughout the generations were clearly not doing the kind of checking demanded by Rav Vye. Not only is there no mention of such procedures; they didn't even having clean water on tap, nor did they have good lighting after dark. And it's hard to argue that the situation with bugs has significantly changed. For more details, see the article "The Scientific Revolution and Modern Bedikat Tola’im Trends" from Hakirah, available online at http://www.hakirah.org/Vol22Adams.pdf. See too the work Lachem Yihiye Le'Achlah by Rabbi Eitam Henkin hy"d and the follow-up article at this link.

UPDATE: See the follow-up post at this link.

See the previous post for my forthcoming US lecture schedule. 
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81 comments:

  1. How do you understand Rashi's interpretation of the bottom of Sukkah 18a, which talks about the difficulty of checking fish for bugs and worms, and the need for not just inspection, but a thorough one?

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  2. Were Chazal aware of the extent of infestation? Meaning, do you think they knew how easily bugs hid in a strawberry, and despite that, they nevertheless felt that regardless of a good chance of infestation, we can ignore it if we don't see it by superficial examination?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Did CHaZaL know what a strawberry is? (I don't know the history of the strawberry. Was it available anywhere in the ME during their time?) Were they familiar with other fruits with similar chances for hard-to-spot infestations?

      The general rule in Halachah, as I understand it, is that if it's not visible to the naked eye in natural light, you don't worry about it.

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    2. The strawberry is just an example.

      > Were they familiar with other fruits with similar chances for hard-to-spot infestations?

      That's my question as well. Supposing Chazal did not know of hard-to-spot infestations in fruit, we have no idea what they would have said would they know what we know. So to try to go back to the practices of Chazal, despite our (presumably) new knowledge of common infestations, sounds contradictory and illogical to me.

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    3. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi knew what strawberries were.

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    4. We maintain the practices of Chazal regarding investigations for mamzerim, even though we now have DNA testing that would absolutely confirm or debunk any potential mamzer case. Is that also contradictory and illogical.

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    5. Perhaps. And if yes, they were the tiny, wild strawberries, not our medieval-monk-cultivated/modern-strain variety that arguably are more susceptible and attractive to bugs.

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    6. Charlie, it is clear that Chazal sought any way to prevent declaration of mamzerim. We are staying in the spirit of Chazal by withholding the introduction of methods that would be more scientifically accurate.

      However, its fully within the spirit of Chazal to be careful about bug consumption (though, perhaps in moderation). I quoted above Sukkah 18b, and I'm sure there are other examples.

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    7. Aryeh, this is why I often ironically opine that Chazal did not keep kosher. How could they, when they didn't have jewelers' loupes or light tables?

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    8. Chalk1, I doubt the bugs find our strawberries any more or less attractive than the wild ones.

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    9. the gemara does talk about them eating dates and gis - both of which nowadays are considered extremely problematic. I even remember a gemara that tells a story of an amora who picked up a fig that had fallen off a tree and ate it

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  3. This might be true of Chazal, but it's not true of Rishonim. Rashi, Raavad, Rashba, and Meiri are on the record as requiring inspection for tiny bugs. I am unaware of any rishonim who say otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. What kind of inspection? It could not possibly be beyond visual inspection.

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    2. Visual inspection does not mean a perfunctory one. Taking each cashew nut and looking it over, with the naked eye in natural light, is not an enjoyable way to eat a handful of nuts. But it is not contraindicated by the idea of 'look at it to see if it has bugs'.

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  4. It would be worth the extra trouble of checking fruit and vegetables (perhaps I'd feel different if I were a woman) in exchange for an explicit acceptance of the principle that developments in scientific knowledge can change halachic practice. For example, it's possible to buy glass/pyrex and stainless steel utensils and have only one set of plates.

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    1. Glass is not a clear halacha at all. The MB seems to pasken that it is בולע, see hilchos pesach

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    2. Yes, but as a point of demonstrable fact it is not בולע, which is why it is used in chemistry labs where it is critically important that there be no traces of left over chemicals. As such, those who are machmir on tiny bugs unknown to previous generations should also allow us to wash (no libun required) our glass and stainless steel crockery and use them on Pesah.

      The point is, if you go with science, you win some and you lose some, but some people just like losing.

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  5. I recall seeing in halachah that one should abstain from eating certain foods after dark [that have not yet been checked] as one cannot adequately view them in the dark.

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  6. Rabbi Henkin's article is much more stringent (and much less flippant" than your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. R. Slifkin says in the post that he is over-simplifying things.

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    2. I am sure that it is not Rabbi Slifkin's intention, but the flippancy nevertheless tends to push the critique from the genuine and legitimate halachic question to one that will be used by people who wish to denigrate halacha.

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    3. Even with the flippancy, I think someone wishing to denigrate halacha would have a hard time doing so with a statement that "the halacha isn't that way, it's this way"--especially when "this way" is the more rational, less extreme, course.

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  7. the biblical issur is likely just to intentionally eat a bug. if u are unaware of the bug or/and do not wish to eat it, the principles of מתעסק and דבר שאין מתכיון may apply .מדארייתא, the rules of בטול and Rov will also often apply. one has to know exactly what one is doing to apply these rules, but the way peoples fear of issue deorayso is exploited today to enforce exagerates and obsessive checking methods and often even to ban entire species is disengenous , outrageous, and makes a mockery of halocho.

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    1. Once the statistical prevalence passes a certain line , eating fruit without checking turns into פשיעה & clearly a biblical issur

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    2. There is no מתעסק in halachos of eating, see Kidushin Perek 2.

      Bitul is not clearly applicable to bugs walking around in fruit and vegetables. It is beyond the scope of a blog answer, but see the Kuntres of Eitam Henkin hy"d for some excellent sources about this. There are clear Rishonim that believe it is not considered a תערובות.

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  8. I get it!when it's inconvenient we should not rely on scientific advancement to affect halacha.a post like this does real harm to your cause.i wish you would see that.

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    1. If you actually paid any attention to R. Slifkin's writings, you would know that he has pointed out several examples where new knowledge of the natural sciences has not changed Halachah. His favorite example seems to be killing (head) lice on Shabbos.

      It seems that some people use modern knowledge to forbid things, and not to permit. Rav Slifkin is consistent, as far as I can tell.

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    2. I don’t think u understand r Berger’s point. Besides for hi dismissive way of writing something that otherwise would have merit, no one is changing the Halacha- you can’t eat bugs. In this case science and technology developed in a way to ensure that bugs are not eaten but R’ Slifkin insists on being old fashioned, traditional and sticking to a simple way of reading Chazal; the way he mocks charedim.

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    3. To the contrary. As Gavril M points out above (and it expresses my thoughts exactly) the ones who advocate using a microscope are the ones doing, and have already done, harm to their cause. For if they accept scientific advancement there, why shouldn't they accept it everywhere? And once you say that, there goes orthodoxy as we know it.

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    4. "I know you are but what am I" is not a very mature, scientific or convincing argument.We ,who read this blog know full well the myriad examples of Chariedi inconsistencies, hypocrisy ECT ECT.But we are talking about the rationalist position here.If you do not see the major hypocrisy in this post and many comments,I recommend that you check your motivations.hamayvin yavin.

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    5. Rabbi Slifkin is not being inconsistent. As the accuser, it is upon you to demonstrate otherwise.

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  9. Things like that list create OCD, and in turn OTD. IMHO.

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    1. More ignorance. You cannot 'cause' OCD. When religious people suffer from OCD, it can be expressed in religious activities. When irreligious people suffer from OCD, it is expressed otherwise.

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    2. "You cannot 'cause' OCD"

      Which is why rates of mental illnesses remain constant over time and do not vary at all with social trends ... except that's the opposite of the truth.

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  10. Oh ans since marijuana is becoming legal is so many states, how do you check it if you intend to ingest it?

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  11. Where does the idea of "doing whatever we can to clarify a matter" come into play? Unless this still would be considered overkill

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  12. So, let me make sure I get this straight. The Torah prohibits us from eating bugs. You allege Chazal were unaware to what extent fruits and vegetables are infested. Now that science has advanced and we are aware of the infestation, you recommend we follow chazal and not our more-informed view?? And this is a rationalist blog?

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    1. If you are laying train tracks and are so busy with tightening the nuts and bolts between the pieces of metal that you never look up to see where you are going then you might find that you have diverged massively from your intended path.
      Part of being a rationalist is looking up occasionally to ensure that you are still on target. Not doing so is irrational.

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    2. that is not the point. For whatever reason, the chareidi crowd today only accepts changes in science to forbid things-i.e. checking for invisible bugs. yet they will reject any possibility that science tells us now things- a la evolution or age of the world. Hoe do reconcile These opposite APPRAOCHES?

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    3. Good idea.
      Let’s follow your informed scientific view and scrutinize every every nick and pore of fruits & veggies for bugs. And while your embracing an informed scientific view standard , let’s update and eliminate our observance of second day Yom Tov. After all, these days, with all doubt removed of the exact Yom Tov day, science should trump ersatz halacha.

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    4. "the chareidi crowd today only accepts changes in science to forbid things-i.e. checking for invisible bugs"

      Who said anything about invisible bugs? Please find me one single charedi that believes we need to be concerned about visible bugs.

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    5. See my response above, and Gavriel M's. How do you account for the other side's selective application of science? Why should we continue to separate meat and milk, when science shows no danger whatsoever? Why not eat shark fin soup, when micrscopes reveal the presence of scales? וכהנה וכהנה

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    6. I don't know about sharks, but since when is milk and meat anything about safety? Isn't that fish and meat?

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    7. Yes, I meant to say fish, thanks.

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    8. Second Day yom tov is explicitly an expression of מנהג אבותינו בידינו not doubt as to which day is yomtov.

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  13. I don't understand why does Steven Adams talks so much about microscopes while it is irrelevant? The Kashruth problem is presented only by bugs visible by naked eye, and the checking which we do is for visible bugs. By saying "...am haaretz can certainly be trusted to remove clearly visible flies, worms and slugs", Steven Adams does imply that visible bugs do present a problem. Your claim that according to Chazal and Rishonim the checking is limited to "Look at the fruit. If you don't see a bug, eat it" is distortion of Chazal and Rishonim because it would mean they allowed eating visible bugs, which obviously they did not. Obviously, checking the fruit from outside without opening does not detect the bugs that may be inside. I wonder if you fed bugs to the museum patrons on your feast dinner and if they knew it?

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    Replies
    1. My guess is that the sauteed locusts weren't checked for bugs.

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  14. Strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

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  15. I used to think obsessively checking for bugs was a modern fad, but then I read an acharon from 200 years (quoted in the article you mentioned) who urges people to be much more careful when eating fruits and vegetables.

    That said, the author of that article also quotes one of the Feinstein children, I think, who said precisely what you say: Pick up the vegetable and look at it. If you don't see a bug, you can eat it.

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  16. There's a Gemara in Shabbos 90a which lists bugs in fruits as being a סכנה to eat, not just the issur of שרצים.
    https://daf-yomi.com/DYItemDetails.aspx?itemId=20357
    Clearly the student eating figs in front of Rabbi Yochanan didn't bother checking them.
    --Yehudah P.

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  17. Mamesh the type of apikorses we've come to expect from a place like this.
    All those years spent (wasted) in yeshive for what?
    Did you never hear the basic concept "halocho kbasrei"? Its like you pretend halocho stops at the rambam.

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    Replies
    1. An Apikorus who is right is better than a trillion Charedim who are not.

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  18. The Pashtus of the Ramah and the way the Aruch HaShulchan and R Moshe (granted in it's in chelek ח, - shout out to all the haters - )
    Is that a bug that's Nosen Tam Lfgam which in my opinion is any bug nowadays, I haven't seen any strawberry companies advertising the benefits of thrips doesn't have a Din Berya and would therefore be Battul in 60.
    Although the Bais Meir argues and the Shach learns the Ramah like the Bais Meir pashtus the Ramah seems to read like the Aruch HaShulchan explains it.

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    1. Any bug is nosen tam lfgam? Only in this generation? That's a big chiddush? Additionally, why wouldn't they have a din of berya? And it can't be batil assuming there is a miut hamatzoy.

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    2. I believe he means that very few westerners appreciate the idea of eating insects, hence they are nosain tam lifgum.

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    3. The Aruch HaShulchan's point is that nosen taam lifgam applies even to berya ayin sham. It's the pashtus only in reading though, looking at the antecedent sources paints a different story. (In addition to those Danny mentions I seem to recall that the Gra there learns the Rama unlike the AHS"H.) However, even the AHS"H is clear that he means it only to be melamed zechus. That is far from a blanket heter.

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    4. Nosen taam lifgam is relevant when the issue is nosen taam. A bug walking around your broccoli may not be a taaruvos at all, and you are just eating a bug, pegam and all. Perhaps after cooking you would be right. But here is where אין מבטלין איסור לכתחילה kicks in.

      Your מראה מקומות are dealing with a case when it was found in a dish already cooked.

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  19. Interesting observation:

    - The above comments that are lenient all quote sources. (E.g.: Clearly the student eating figs in front of Rabbi Yochanan didn't bother checking them - Shabbos 90a - it's there, I checked.)

    - The commentators who are stringent all quotes Big Names, but no sources. (E.g. #1: "I recall seeing in halachah that one should abstain from eating certain foods after dark." E.g. #2: "Rashi, Raavad, Rashba, and Meiri are on the record as requiring inspection for tiny bugs.")

    Try this experiment next time somebody throws a Halacha at you. (Usually a supposed stringency - "it's an explicit Big Name Posek to do it My Way".)

    Simply ask them to show it to you at the source. Don't hold your breath; but if they do bring the relevant book, read it carefully for context.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait a minute--the student of Rabbi Yochanan certainly should have checked those figs before eating them.
      Also, about the use of pesticides having improved things: I read an opinion that said that maybe pesticides exacerbated the situation, by killing off natural predators of certain pests, which allows the pests to proliferate. (I don't know if it's correct or not.)
      --Yehudah P.

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    2. He was eating before his teacher and was not corrected. The text is about recognising a deadly species of worm (looks like thorns -- and apparently are big enough that you see them without looking for them) and its context is about deadly infestations. It is noteworthy that even in the circumstances of danger and the repeated association of species X with fruit Y that no procedure is recommended.

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    3. In fact I think this shows that the difference between the days of Haza"l and modern halakhic attitudes is not one of scientific discovery -- namely that there are lots of little, hard-to-see creatures which Modern Science has uncovered. Here in this text we see big (thorn-sized!) insects known to infest a certain fruit and even so no checking procedure occurs among talmidei hakhamim.

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  20. Well, all these bugs are spontaneously generated, so it's fine anyway. :)

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  21. "And it's hard to argue that the situation with bugs has significantly changed."

    On the contrary, the situation HAS changed, and for the better: we have pesticides now. Even though they are not as effective as they once were, they're more effective at reducing the incidence of bugs than what preceded them, i.e. nothing.

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    Replies
    1. Wrong. Modern monoculture leads to higher rates of infestation of specific bugs. Pesticides are only used to target bugs that damage crop productivity.

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  22. I get the feeling that Chazal, or at least today`s rabanim, don't want us to eat fruits and nuts.

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  23. Like many things this boils down to the somewhat tenuous divide between physical and legal reality. Namely, someone who is 17 years and 364 days old will not be noticeably more mature tomorrow, but tomorrow that person will be allowed to purchase firearms, vote, serve in the military, etc. In the world of legal reality lines must be drawn, and as always, line drawing has an inherent arbitrariness to it. We can apply the same reasoning to this issue. Hazal have established certain de minimis requirements on how to clean produce, and legally that is what is required. The fact that the physical reality states otherwise is a nice but ultimately irrelevant point. As has been mentioned previously, beliot are another example of physical and legal reality diverging, and if we accept physical reality to be more rigorous in our cleaning of produce then there is no reason to not accept physical reality in re beliot and only have one set of pots.

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  24. One would think that those that claim to be 'rationalists' would be the first to accept the idea that we should use machinery to find bugs in our food. After all, we are smarter than previous generations that did not have the range of technology available to them. We should be using our ideas and knowledge to ensure that we do not eat anything non Kosher.

    But suddenly we are told that we have to act exactly the same as some mythical forefathers. Of course, we have no real knowledge of what they did in previous generations, no serious study was done on the topic. But halacha is not too important and we can rely on what everybody thinks they remember from their grandmothers.

    Say the truth, rationalism is a fancy term for saying 'I want to live an easier life, the rest is more difficult than I am willing to accept'. It is not based on rationality at all.

    And that is where Reb Gedalya Nadel differed from all of those who would use his name. Because he paid a price for his beliefs, he was willing to truly live for his original ideas. His abject poverty due to his will to live a life of Torah and a refusal to accept money from others was but one example.

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    Replies
    1. "One would think that those that claim to be 'rationalists' would be the first to accept the idea that we should use machinery to find bugs in our food. After all, we are smarter than previous generations that did not have the range of technology available to them. We should be using our ideas and knowledge to ensure that we do not eat anything non Kosher. "

      Absolutely not. I will discuss this in a future post.

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    2. "But suddenly we are told that we have to act exactly the same as some mythical forefathers."

      No, you can just follow the mesorah of your family - what your parents and grandparents did. Which was not what Rav Vaye requires.

      Delete
    3. What kind of logic tells us that something as subjective as an accident of birth should decide איסור והיתר? Why are those people who happen to be your parents/grandparents more knowledgeable about hilchos/metzius of bugs than anybody else? And what if someone's grandparents always relied on a Rabbi for halacha (what a novel concept! Almost like trusting doctors for medicine), is that now the mesoira?

      That sounds like a copout and a race to the bottom approach.

      Delete
    4. Zichron Devorim,I would like to echo your many points . The silly and way below par arguments presented here by Rabbi Slifkin and others are so irrational , inconsistent and anti science that they really do give credence to the argument that rational= "prikas ole".What a shame! This usually informative blog also serves a vital purpose of debunking myths(eg aura photography)and exposing shameful Chariedi behavior (like in RBS). What also irks me is that there is room to disagree with Rav Vaye from a scientific perspective.His determination of differing infestation levels and treatment depending on species , seem completely arbritrary.If he did vigorously experiment,under what conditions and with which variables.? However to accept his facts but to disregard them because of my grandmother's ignorance and because his prescriptions are too cumbersome is a dangerous slippery slope.

      Delete
    5. @Zichron, @r,

      Why will people like you follow ridiculous customs, usually sourced from Christians, just because your fathers did them, but when it comes to things that matter, suddenly your ancestors were totally ignorant?

      Delete
    6. Avi, you have missed the point. I am saying that something as subjective as my personal ancestors should not be relevant to this discussion. The way previous generations understood something is part of the tradition. But not any individual member of a previous generation. The method the Chochmas Odom sets for bug checking is part of the mesorah, my grandmother's mistakes are not

      Delete
  25. Orthodox Judaism seems to becoming an insane cult and it is frightening. My great grandfather and grandfather (elite Orthodox Rabbis); I suspect they would cringe at the left column. Fruits and Vegis - wash, eyeball and eat. Maybe certain specific vegis soak in a bit of salt water, rinse, eyeball and eat. If you take the mystic approach, such people may believe eating a tiny insect has supernatural effects.

    ReplyDelete
  26. A quote from one of my friend's Yeshiva rabbis: "You don't understand, Reb Vaye has bugs in his glasses!"
    He further said that basically nobody is as machmir on this stuff as Rabbi Vaye.

    ReplyDelete
  27. פעם אחת רצה מישהו לקטוף תאנים ורב גדליה אמר לו:״קשה מאוד לבדוק״. בכל זאת חבל שהרב פיינשטיין נפטר: אגרות משה חלק ח׳ סימן ב.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I did hear form a rav once that nowadays our infestations are much worse because of the use of pesticides (as backwards as that sounds) - the bugs develop a resistance to the pesticides and continue to flourish. He said that back then the farmers knew how to use other natural methods to prevent infestations, such as by planting certain plants and bushes that are known to prevent bugs near the crops, so they stayed clean of bugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did that Rav ever talk to a farmer? I haven't, either, but it doesn't seem likely that farmers would spend money on pesticides if they were not at least as effective as natural means. Farming is not exactly a high-margin business.

      Delete
    2. I did speak to farmers. In large capacities, targeted pesticides for each bug is more efficient. In smaller capacities, crop rotation and a system of proximity to other crops works better. Hence the difference between the generations.

      Additionally, genetic variety was much larger in the pre Monsanto days. That evolved into the hardiest crops surviving, without bugs. The genetic selection that takes place nowadays is artificial and based on market factors, not sustainability

      Delete

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