Friday, April 20, 2012

If You Live Long Enough

Yes, observance practices are not identical to what they may have been many decades ago as more and more 'strictness' is added in (I'm being nice today and not calling some of those practices by names they deserve more than 'strictness').  But some things that I occasionally overhear leave me truly scratching my head.  What caught my attention this time was an overheard conversation between two youngish women about freezers.

What can you possibly say about freezers that has anything to do with religious observance, you are asking yourself.  Allow me to tell you. There was an after Pesach sale on some items in the store I was in that represented an incredible buy.  Two women were picking out items and speaking to each other.  One said to the other,"Aren't you going to buy some of these for the freezer?"  The other one shook her head ruefully and answered: "I can't. My milchigs freezer is full."  The first woman looked puzzled (as did I) and asked: "You have a separate freezer just for milchigs?"  The second woman got a serious look on her face. "Of course I do.  You can't put milchigs and fleishigs into the same freezer. If one should leak on the other you would be far-treifing all the food in the freezer. Don't tell me, you don't freeze them separately?"  The first woman answered,"Of course I use the same freezer for both."  The second woman shook her head. "You really need to think about that. I know you want to have the highest level of kashrus that you can."

The women moved on and I was left with a whole bunch of questions I would have liked to ask Ms. Separate Freezers.  Does she also have a separate freezer for Pareve items?  And even more importantly, does she have separate milchig and fleishig refrigerators?  After all, if frozen milchig and fleishig items could leak on each other, rendering them as treif, how much more so the problem is in a refrigerator.

I understand perfectly the rationale for preferring separate sinks for milchigs and fleishigs, but freezers?  And if this is the new standard that someone is going to be pushing, can completely separate kitchens for milchigs, fleishigs and pareve be far behind?  When I mentioned this to a friend she said--tongue in cheek--that she can see someone pushing this also.  After all, kosher caterers must have completely separate kitchens for preparing milchigs and fleishigs, not just sections of one kitchen that are so designated.  If the caterers have to meet the proper standards for kashrus, why should it be any different for the rest of us?

Just how far are things going to go before someone says enough is enough?


Reader said...

For all the complaints about a lack of secular education, there seems to be a lack of Jewish education as well. The freezer is about the last place where this would be a problem- milchigs and fleishigs getting mixed up is only a problem above a certain temperature- how high is disputed, to be sure, but far above what you'd find in a fridge, let alone a freezer.

Miami Al said...

I know people with separate fridges and freezers... those people also have a second cooktop, because they have 400-600 sq. ft. kitchens with two entirely separate workflows.

I won't begrudge anyone more freezer space, though I'd give serious question into eating in their house. Freezers are not magic, they keep food for 3-6 months. If you're overflowing in two freezers, I can't imagine that your home isn't a message of bacterial growth and rancidity, even if your Kashrut is impeccable.

JS said...

It's kinda sad this stuff doesn't surprise me anymore.

In our previous town, we made a trip to the kosher store and the baggers put all the meat in one bag and all the dairy items in another bag. I thought this was merely for convenience sake or just fortuitous given the order I put the items on the conveyor belt until I head a customer on another line scold the checkout woman for putting a packge haolam's completely sealed mozarella cheese in the same bag as frozen chicken nuggets. The manager came over to make sure everything was still "alright".

In truth, most of what we do in modern kitchens is completely unnecessary and just a convenience. This is what happens when you go from "don't cook a kid goat in its mother's milk" to worrying about microscopic particles of "flavor" wafting through the air in an oven or embedding themselves in your sink.

Not to excuse Separate Freezer Lady, but is it really that much crazier than anything else we do?

frum single female said...


Sporadic Intelligence said...

People are idiots when it comes to the "holier than thou" business. If you learn halacha, and not just what "feels" right or wrong, you'd realize life would be a lot easier.

My husbands friends thought I was treifing up my challah when I didn't wait 24 hours, and burn out my oven before I made it, and sometimes ate it with dairy. I very nicely pointed out in "The Kosher Kitchen" where it states that you can bake challah immedietely after meat, and eat it with dairy, so long as the oven is clean of meat remnants.

Learn halacha, then talk. And as Reader said - it's heat that's an issue,not cold.

SubWife said...

Yes, it's interesting what we do nowadays. I once was asked whether one can bake milchigs in the fleishigs oven. I said that I was no posek, but I know that it is permitted, under certain conditions. at the end, the woman said that she was not comfortable with the whole idea and would do without. I was a bit taken aback. It's a halacha. It has nothing to do with what you are comfortable or not. Don't take my word for it, ask a rav, but seriously, making your life harder because you are not comfortable with the concept? It it's permitted by halacha, why wouldn't you be comfortable?

Allan said...

The more inventions that we have, the more that someone is going to try and 'Judaiz' that invention. Did your grandparents have two stoves or two refrigerators? In Europe they would have been lucky to have one icebox and one stove. Guarantee that they cooked both dairy and meat in and on that stove. Even look at your parents if you are old enough. You think they had two of everything in their kitchens? I remember my mom cooking dairy one day for lunch and meat for dinner, and it was what everyone else did too. Sure, if something spilled you cleaned it up before putting the opposite in the oven, but really, waiting 24 hours to use it again? Didn't happen. There were no self cleaning ovens way back then. Funny though that nobody pointed the fingers the way they do today.

Way back in the not so dark ages one sink was common in a kitchen. The sink was treif and was still used by putting racks on the bottom so the dishes wouldn't touch the sink. Today if you don't have two sinks they look at you funny, like maybe you don't care about being kosher too much.

I don't much like the Kosher KGB.

SubWife said...

Two of everything? I once entered the kitchen with two refrigerators and three, yes three stoves! I thought that maybe one was being kept or pesach, but no - one for meat, one for chicken and one parve. I understand that if someone is in catering business or something, that could be essential, but at home? I hear it is becoming more common, esp OOT where the houses are bigger.

SubWife said...

I meant, one for meat, one for milk and another one parve. oops.

efrex said...

I have a standard list of witticisms that I use so frequently that I just throw the number out to The Lovely and Patient Wife(tm). Number four on the list is "If you're going to start a new religion, could you at least make SOME part of it more lenient?"

There's something strange about how more and more lay halachic works are out there, and yet people become more and more ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I always remind people, back in the alter heim, our bubbies had one pot, and she had to kasher it between milchigs and fleishigs. Of course, fleishigs was a once a week thing for most. There weren't any "disposables". The table had to be sanded down for pesach.

In terms of putting separate meat and milk items in separate bags, that I'm all for. Nothing like having a bottle of milk or a leaking package of meat drip all over opposite "gender" items to freak you out.

We have two freezers, but that's because its cheaper to buy chicken by the case. Not to keep meat/dairy separate!

Miami Al said...

If I had a larger Kitchen, I'd have separate stoves/cook tops. I wouldn't necessarily need more ovens. If I had a really large Kitchen, I'd have 3 Cook Tops, no question. A small two burner "parve" cooktop near the vegetable sink with storage for Parve cookware AND a parve dishwasher would be awesome.

Not for Kashrut reasons, but if one could be prepping vegetables in the vegetable sink, and quickly throw them in a sauté or fry pan to sauté/season them, that would be freaking awesome. Then bring them over to the main chef already prepped and brought to the prep area, that would be outstanding.

We'd use that for Shabbat, every Yom Tov, plus secular "chagim" where we have a bunch of people over.

They wouldn't have to be huge either, two burners at the vegetable station would be more than enough to prep veges for inclusion and have side dishes going. In fact, I could probably be fine with 2 burners dairy, 2 burners parve, and 4 burners meat... because occasionally I have a bunch of stuff going on the meat side... mostly Pesach.

We actually have plug-in burners that we bring out for Pesach and Rosh Hashana... They are pretty cheap and mediocre, but if you have soups going for two days, they are more than sufficient (particularly for simmering if you bring to a boil on useful ones), and keeps them from crowding the main heat zone.

JS said...

"There's something strange about how more and more lay halachic works are out there, and yet people become more and more ignorant."

I'm becoming convinced (though I'd love to see evidence) that halacha originates with the people and is just codified later by the rabbis. In other words, due to ignorance, outside culture, wanting to do "more", etc. people just start observing certain practices whether current halacha mandates these practices or not or even forbids them. Then, later, once these practices have taken hold they are "codified" through official rabbinic proclamations, teshuvas, halachic works, etc.

Obviously it's not true in all cases, but I think it's more often the case that the rabbis try to keep up with what the masses are doing than the other way around.

So, while technically halacha does not require 2 ovens or 2 sinks or separate fridges/freezers or bagging items separately, this has become normative practice and will soon be codified as normative halacha.

I think it also explains why things tend to shift to the right/stringent side and not the left/lenient side.

Miami Al said...

For what it's worth, when I shop in a non-Kosher market, my dairy products are always bagged separately. If I buy meat there (more limited selection than at a Kosher Butcher, but some selection), the meat is bagged separately.

I guess any refrigerated non-dairy stuff (juice, etc) would probably be bagged with the milk... It's not really a Kashrut thing, it's general grocery practice now. Packages of meat sometimes leak, and people don't want blood to leak onto their produce or dry goods.

Seems like a perfectly valid Minhag America to me.

Sparrow said...

Wow. I always thought that was a joke.

A rabbi is making aliyah, and wants to bring in some appliances for his extended family that lives there. He decides to bring seven refrigerators.
Security guard stops him at customs.
"What are all these for?"
Rabbi: Milchig, Fleishig, and Pareve.
SG: That only accounts for three.
Rabbi: Well, Pesach is coming up...
SG: So, why do you need seven refrigerators?
Rabbi: You know how it is - sometimes you just want to eat treife!