The Facts - Vodka from Whey is not dairy, Gelatine is Kosher
The Fantasy - Vodka from Whey is dairy, Gelatine is not Kosher
Even those who Pasken [rule] that gelatine must be made from Kosher hides, agree that it is not Fleishig. Igros Moshe YD 1:37 and YD 2:27, based on Noda B’Yehuda, Volume 1, YD 26, because a food that is completely dry can not form a forbidden meat and milk mixture. See also Mishnas Reb Aharon YD 16:7-13, implying additional reason.
Halacha is not a popularity contest, it is not swayed by how many or who many are inclined one way or another. Halacha is determined by an understanding of the principles of Torah and by a clear understanding of the facts. Furthermore, true Halchic discussion is always respectful and dignified.
Non-Kosher foods that undergo a significant change become, as far as Halacha is concerned, disassociated from their previous life and identity and are therefore Kosher.
A classic example of this is the bird hatched from an egg which was laid by a Tereifa bird, a Kosher species bird afflicted with a ritual blemish that renders it non-Kosher. Such a bird is not Kosher and its eggs are not Kosher. BTW, the same is true of milk collected from a cow which is a Teriefa, its milk is not Kosher.
Nevertheless, when this egg hatches, Lo and Behold the new-born is deemed to be an entirely new entity which Halachically is not at all connected to its previous non-Kosher existence.
The Teshuvah from Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, in which he permits the use of gelatine, remained a legitimate part of Reb Chaim Ozer’s Piskey Halacha, his internationally accepted Halchic rulings. His ruling was not issued reluctantly. He never retracted it or expressed doubts about its correctness. He did not receive any credible arguments to disagree with his ruling [had there been any, he certainly would have responded in writing in a public forum] and, to the best of my knowledge, this ruling was never openly challenged by any Halachic authority, until many decades after his passing.
It is also important to know who Reb Chaim Ozer was. I say this because there are some who, unfortunately with good intent and with misdirected zealotry, disrespect him and his rulings. They propose that Reb Chaim Ozer did not realise that gelatine is not bone but collagen, and foolishly argue that, "Bone is permitted but collagen which is extracted from bone, is forbidden". Today, we may indeed have a new name for the substance extracted from bone, collagen, but a new name does not alter the Halacha.
It is disrespectful to both Torah and to Reb Chaim Ozer, to suggest without providing supporting evidence, that his ruling is erroneous because he was misled or he failed to understand the true nature of the facts or the Halacha.
Only one who is both foolish and arrogant would suggest without providing supporting evidence, that it is “exceedingly difficult to accept" the Halachic argument proposed by R Ch Ozer.
I therefore must declare that Reb Ch Ozer was the undisputed Gadol HaDor in Halacha and in guiding the Jewish people. The light of his sagely brilliance and kindness and love for the Jewish People, burned brightly and illuminated the lives of world Jewry for many years even after his passing. He did not promote a following; he did not leave any special legacy of custom in dress, manner or speech. His enduring legacy was and remains HKBH's Torah.
As to the process of manufacturing beef gelatine, the only Australian [QLD] Gelita factory, the world’s largest gelatine manufacturer, is under the strict Kosher supervision of HKA [Holy Kosher Authority]. All its gelatine is derived from beef hide off-cuts since hides are worth more in other industrial settings. These are certainly not edible by any stretch of the imagination. Furthermore they are processed in extremely strong acidic and base solutions for many many hours, before being ready for processing.
Similarly, the Gemara and the Halcha describes rennet as Pirsha, rubbish, something which is non edible by normal people. It can therefore be used to make Kosher cheese even when taken from a non-Kosher species beast or a Tereifa. And that is why Halacha permitted cheese made by our non-Jewish neighbours in the days before our Sages decreed to ban it. And that is why the cheese is not prohibited as a combination of Meat and Milk. So, although the cheese made by our non-Jewish neighbours was made with rennet from non-Kosher sources, it was Kosher and all Jews were eating it.
This of course explains why a product derived from a beast, like gelatine, will not be Fleishig and can be used in cheesecake. It is simply no longer associated with its earlier origins.
Here is another Halchic example, this time of a product derived from milk not being Milchig. The Halacha permits us to dry out meat by placing the meat above the stove on which we are cooking milk. Even though the meat is enveloped by the steam rising from the pots of boiling milk, this meat is Kosher. Now I don’t mean Kosher AFTER the fact, BeDiEved; no, this is permitted in the first instance. When you want to dry meat and you ask your Orthodox Rabbi, “May I hang my meat above the stove where I am cooking milk?” The rabbi, if he is ruling from the Shulchan Aruch, will advise you that it is permitted. The only Halachic consideration he will warn you of is to ensure that the meat hangs high enough so that the steam reaching the meat is less than Yad Soledes.
I am not necessarily advising that we ought to do this, there may be good reasons why it ought not be done. However, we need to clearly demarcate between what is Halcha and what is extra. I think this may a great problem that also troubles Rabbi Gutnick and to which he has addressed himself in his inimitable style on a number of occasions.
Also, in his published responsa see this page - will open in a new tab, Reb Sh Y Elyashiv discusses lactose and rules that it is not a dairy product neither with regard to Chalav Yisrael nor with regard to Basar BeChalav - Meat and Milk.
Most Poskim, including HaRav Yosef Sh Elyashiv, agree that whey is not prohibited as Chalav Akkum nor as Gevinas Akkum. Harav Moshe Feinstein [Y.D. 3:17] even permits the cook water [very hot water in which non-Kosher cheese is softened and stretched] since the decree was limited to actual cheese and not by-products. The Shevet Ha'Levi [4:86] although permitting the whey even from cheese made with non-Kosher rennet, insists that the cook water is made non-Kosher from the cheese.
from the KAS fb
Would Vodka from whey be considered dairy or has the product been transformed to such an extent (dairy -> milk sugar -> ferment -> quadruple distil -> vodka) that it loses its dairy status? NZ Broken Shed Vodka, UK Black Cow vodka and our own Vodka O are examples.
Hi David. I asked the same question last year but never heard a reply. My initial assumption is that it would be dairy as I believe that was the reason for NZ Heinz Ketchup being dairy (ie the vinegar was fermented from whey). Perhaps the distilling process might make a difference though?
Hi David, Rabbi Gutnick advises: "This is an excellent question that deserves a detailed response:
The effect of distillation on the status of a product is an issue that has been debated through the centuries. In particular the issue arose in relation to the status of ethanol (the correct name of alcohol distilled from organic material) distilled from grain for use on Pesach. The accepted halacha is that ethanol derived from chametz grain is 100% biblically prohibited chametz. Similarly, the same issue revolves around the kosher status of ethanol distilled from non-kosher wine.
The prohibition against non kosher wine is at most rabbinic and we know there are specific leniencies in relation to wine. Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodsenski, (the Chief Rabbi of Warsaw up until his death in the beginning of WW2), ruled that brandy distilled from non-kosher wine was indeed kosher. However his ruling was never widely accepted and the common practice is not to allow ethanol distilled from non kosher wine. As we know, halacha is determined often by the majority rule as well as accepted practice.
What is the status of ethanol derived from whey (or better said, derived from the lactose rich permeate derived from whey)? Well lets first start with establishing what is the status of whey itself.
Interestingly, the sages made a distinction between the different components of milk. Milk is made up of Casein (cheese) protein, whey protein, lactose, minerals and water. When the Torah forbade the cooking together of milk and meat and the eating of that cooked mixture, was it referring to milk the liquid - the sum total of all the ingredients - or was it referring to the individual components such as cheese and whey?
Rabbi Meir G Rabi observes -
It is worthwhile noting that the Mechaber and the Rama permit, in the first instance, hanging meat to dry above the stove upon which milk is being cooked.
In other words, the steam from the cooking milk which rises and envelopes the meat above it, is not deemed to be dairy.
Perhaps some rabbis have conveniently forgotten about this Halacha or perhaps they did not learn this Halacha when studying for their Semicha. Either way it is a very serious omission and an ugly deception which either by design or by ignorance is being foisted upon and leading Jews and Kashrus astray and away from HKBH's Halacha to Halacha of convenience or confusion.
Rabbi Gutnick cont.
The interesting ruling is as follows: Cheese protein according to all opinions is biblically considered dairy, whey protein is under dispute whether it is biblically dairy or rabbinically dairy. The residual lactose is according to all opinions rabbinically considered dairy. It is important to note, that the prohibition of meat and milk is one of the most rabbinically controlled prohibitions. The sages saw that since the Torah forbade not just the eating of meat and milk, but its cooking also - in order that one shouldn't come to eat it - that the Torah's intention was to make multiple fences around the law when it came to this prohibition. This in contrast to say even pig where there is no prohibition to cook pig - just not to eat it. Therefore, even though the Torah only forbade the eating of meat and milk cooked together, the sages forbade eating them together even cold and not cooked together. Furthermore, not only aren't you permitted to eat them together even cold, there must be a time distance between eating one and the other. Therefore, while lactose was not part of the biblical prohibition never-the-less the Sages still considered lactose as Dairy. So we have biblical dairy and rabbinic dairy.
Now back to our lactose derived ethanol. It is clearly derived from rabbinically considered dairy lactose. Does the distillation rule applied to chametz apply to lactose and it remains dairy? Or could we argue, because the lactose is only rabbinically prohibited, that indeed it is transformed in the same way that Reb Chaim Ozer argues in relation to brandy derived from non-kosher wine that it is transformed?
The answer is that all contemporary decisors that I am aware of, rule that lactose derived ethanol is to be considered rabbinically dairy.
Firstly, common practice today is not to rely on Reb Chaim Ozer's leniency in relation to wine. Furthermore, Reb Chaim Ozer in all likelihood would agree in the case of lactose ethanol to be strict. Why? As stated earlier the laws, even rabbinic, in association with meat and dairy are much stricter than those associated with wine. This because the meat and dairy rabbinic prohibitions are sourced from an original biblical prohibition - not so the wine. In wine there are many more leniencies that are unique to wine and do not exist in any other area of halacha and certianly not in the meat and milk prohibitions. As such the conclusion must be that ethanol derived from lactose is considered rabinically dairy.
Just for the purposes of presenting the entire picture, a cooked mixture of meat and "biblical" milk is not only forbidden to cook or consume but one is not permitted to have any benefit from it whatsoever. For example, a cooked mixture of meat and milk can not be sold or fed to one's pets. A mixture of meat and "rabbinic" milk may not be consumed but benefit may be derived from it. So making and feeding Steak Diane to your dog is a double prohibition of both cooking and benefitting even if you do not eat a drop. Making and feeding to your dog steak marinaded in vodka (Nigella's Lawson's recipe) involves no prohibitions at all - but of course you are not allowed to eat it yourself. (And you will have to kasher your kitchen afterward)."
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I am not sure if this is the correct forum but is the following true:
"...since the gelatin product is from hides or bones - not real flesh - and has undergone such significant changes, it is no longer considered 'fleishig' (meat) but 'pareve', and can be eaten with dairy products." It was also mentioned that 'Kosher gelatin can be made with fish bones, and/or beef or pork skins'. Can you please comment.
no credible authority ever permitted gelatine from pig skin - This is utter fantasy. In Reb Chaim Ozer's lifetime and for many decades following his passing, not one Posek challenged this ruling.
The implied insult that Reb Chaim Ozer did not know the facts and Paskened could only be made byone whi both foolish in the extreme and incredibly arrogant.
Rav Moshe D Gutnick
Gelatine was the subject of much rabbinic discussion in the previous century. The same Reb Chaim Ozer that I mentioned in the whey ethanol posting , permitted Gelatine with the following provisos :
1. It has to be made from Bovine bones and hides that are completely dry.
2. It can not be made from pig skins. The reason being that pig skin can halachically be considered like actual flesh because of its soft nature. Indeed a number of gourmet recipes use actually pork skin .
So the first thing to be aware of is that no credible authority ever permitted gelatine from pig skin.
Secondly , the leniency of Reb Chaim Ozer was never accepted in the Jewish world . The reasons are simple:
1. The fact is that the bones and hides used in manufacture are generally not fully dried and still have attached to them non kosher flesh and material.
2. Once one properly understands what is gelatine it becomes exceedingly difficult to accept a logic that would permit it even from beef bones and hide. What is Gelatine? It is not really boiled dried bones at all . It is actually dried collagen - a soft fibrous material found in joints and in marrow - that can then be reconstituted into an edible jelly. It comes primarily not from the bones themselves but from collagen extracted from the bones. Collagen itself is not bone and is forbidden. There is a traditional Jewish food made by boiling up marrow bones or chicken feet and allowing the concentrate to set . It is called ptcha or gella . That jelly is actually gelatine. The gel is then dried and sold in powdered form and when reconstituted becomes a jelly.
So in summary - gelatine made from porcine ( pig) skin was never accepted. While in the previous century some permitted gelatine from beef , the current generally universal practice is not to accept Gelatine for the reasons mentioned above.
Rav Moshe D Gutnick
The reasons being:
1. The bones and hides are not dry
2. Gelatine is made from collagen not bones and collagen has the halachic status of flesh not bone.