Kashrus Alert: Honey Today is Not Kosher
From YVN (Yeshivishe Velt News):
There is an urgent kashrus issue that has been brought to light by Rav B. Apis - a genuine Talmid Chachom, a Yarei Shamayim, and one of the foremost experts on the subject. Based on his expert scientific research, Rav Apis has shown that honey that is produced today is not kosher.
The Gemora (Bechoros 7b) says "Something that emerges from a non-kosher source is itself non-kosher." Camel's milk is not kosher. Crocodile eggs are not kosher. And is there anything more treif than a bee, which is a sheretz? So why is honey kosher? The Gemara gives two answers. One is that it is based on a derashah. Another is that it is because "brings [the nectar] into its body, and does not produce it from its body." Chazal say that honey is just regurgitated nectar, and does not contain ingredients created by the bee. Rambam rules in accordance with this reason: "Honey of the bee and tzirah is permitted because it is not a product of their body, but rather they bring it into their mouths from the plants and regurgitate it in the hive, so that it will be available for them to eat from it in winter" (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Ma’achalos Asuros 3:3). Any components from the bee would make honey treif; the only reason why parts of bees that are mixed in with the honey do not make it treif is that they are nosen ta’am l’fegam (that if something is only contributing a negative taste to the food, it does not render the food non-kosher). See Sefer Mitzvos HaGadol, lo saaseh 132; Mordechai, Beitzah 2:674; Tur, Yoreh De’ah 81; and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 81:8.
But scientists today show that honey contains enzymes created by the bees themselves. Bees secrete three enzymes into the nectar: Diastase, invertase and glucose oxidase, which mix with the nectar and turn it into honey. These are secreted from a pair of glands called the hypopharyngeal glands, found in the base of the head of worker bees. And since there is no hetter of nosen ta’am l’fegam (since the enzymes enhance the taste of the honey), the honey is not kosher.
The shailoh was posed years ago as follows: Chazal say that bees do not produce the substance of honey and the scientists say that it is untrue. Who do we follow? The obvious answer to this question is, Ayn lonu ella divrei Chazal! We ignore scientific theory that conflicts with the words of Chazal.
But the question posed to the Gedolei Yisroel today is completely different. We have laboratory experiments that show that bee enzymes are found in the honey. We see it with our own eyes! Is such honey permitted? The Gedolim have ruled that it is forbidden. Obviously this does not mean that Chazal were wrong, chas v'shalom. Rather, it is clear that the process by which bees make honey is different from that which occurred in the times of Chazal. It is another case of nishtaneh hateva, just as the shiur kezayis is ten to twenty times larger than an olive today, and so many other things are different. Since we know that the dirt in the times of Chazal could produce live mice, is it any more difficult to believe that the nectar in the times of Chazal could turn into honey without any enzymes?
There is no doubt that scientists will claim that bees always produced honey this way, even in the times of Chazal; but there is no way that we can rely on scientists for this. These same scientists would say that olives were always the same size, and that mice never grew from dirt, and that Moshe Rabbeinu was not ten amos tall. We do not and cannot rely on scientists for their "theories" about the world in the times of Chazal. We only rely on scientists for facts - things that we see today. The bottom line is that we SEE that honey contains bee secretions, so how could we be mattir it?
It is said that Rav Moshe was asked to write a Teshuva that honey is permitted. He answered that it is so poshut that it is a Bizayon to write a Teshuva. If the question was posed to the Rav Moshe in the same way as it has been presented now, that we see that there are bee enzymes in the honey, a situation that the present Gedolim are machmir, would Rav Moshe have said that it is so poshut that there is no need for a teshuvah? There is no greater proof to the falsehood of such a report. The Rabbonim have been searching for months for some justification to permit today's honey, and have had to take difficult positions to be matir. Can one believe that Rav Moshe ZT”L held it is so poshut that it is mutar that there is no need for a Teshuvah?! If people today attempt to give reasons as to why the enzymes do not make the honey treif, this itself is the greatest proof that the metzius has changed; for Chazal and the Rishonim did not discuss any such hetter.
Surely it is not worth taking any risk with such an issur. Anyone who is careful about his neshamah should no longer eat honey.
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The above post is a work of fiction. But there is a serious purpose to it: To demonstrate that banning honey is the logical consequence of prohibiting fish based on parasites (see the earlier posts here and here), in combination with the ban on my books. If there is a significant distinction, I would like to know what it is! Thanks to Simcha Schonfeld for the idea.