& related issues
The Gemara [Rosh Hashana 24a] disqualifies the testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon reflected in a pool of water.
[If they saw the moon's reflection, or they saw it through a crystal, or through clouds, they cannot testify about it.]
Rabbi Yaacov Chagiz (1620 – 1674) in Halachos Ketanos deduces that all testimony must be seen directly.
However, Rabbi Shmuel Abuhav in Dvar Shmuel and the Chid”a in Birkai Yosef propose that only new moon testimony is disqualified since the new moon, being only a thin sliver, may easily be distorted in the reflection. However, testimony is acceptable where the reflected image is clear and without fear of distortion.
The Mishpetai Uziel (CM 14) points to the RaMBaM whose plain reading proposes that seeing a reflection ‘is not seeing’, meaning that testimony requires direct observation, not its reflection.
The Gemara and Halacha accepts voice recognition as testimony [a blind wife recognises her husband]. It would seem that here too there is discussion if the voice transmitted electronically can be equally relied upon as testimony.
Chalav Yisrael does not require actual monitoring of the milking [YD 115] it is adequate if the workers know that a supervisor is lurking and can pop in at any moment. This is known as Mirsas, fear, which does not guarantee [R M Feinstien IGM ??] that the farmer will not supplement with non-Kosher milk, in order to fill his usual quota; because it is clear in the Halacha that there are some who are prepared to take the risk.
This of course leads us to the important question - is it at all necessary to view the milking or is it adequate that the workers know that the supervisor is lurking outside, or that there are cameras?
Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch [Tshuvos Vehanhagos 5:255] insists that the videos must be constantly reviewed by a Mashgiach in order for the milk to be Chalav Yisrael. He even speculates that the decree may require a Mashgiach to actually be on-site.
Kosher mammals produce Kosher milk. Non-Kosher mammals produce non-Kosher milk.
Jews would purchase Kosher milk from non-Jewish farmers, relying on their professional and personal integrity, until Chazal decreed that the milk must be supervised from the milking. Such milk is known as Chalav Yisrael. Their decree covers the tiny risk, which does not concern the actual Halacha, that the farmer, not wanting to disappoint a regular customer when one of his cows is not milking well, may supplement to provide the customer with their usual order.
The Shach Y.D. 118:8 explains that a full substitution is not a Halachic concern because milk from a non-Kosher beast is readily differentiated from the milk of a Kosher beast. Mixtures of non-Kosher and Kosher milk would be likely of proportions that are Kosher according to Torah Law. Our Sages however, wanted to create these decrees in order to create social barriers with our non-Jewish neighbours. [Avodah Zarah 35b, Rambam Machalos Asuros 3:13, Tur 115, Bais Yosef, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 115:1, Levush 1, Chochmas Adom 67:1, Aruch Ha'shulchan 1, Kaf Ha'chaim 16]
Milk which has not been supervised is known as Chalav Akkum. It is suggested by later thinkers [Sharei Halacha U'minhag Y.D. 10:pages 37-38] that Chalav Akkum causes one to become distanced from HKBH. [Tashbatz 1:48, Chasam Sofer O.C. 1:83, Meishiv Dover 1:20. Refer to Maharshag 2:143 and Rav Poalim (Sod Yeshurin) 4:6]
Chalav Yisrael - Monitoring the Production
The decree requires that a Jew monitors the milk from the milking and onwards. This includes verifying that the container used is not the same one used for non-Kosher milk.
It is adequate if the monitoring is merely at intermittent intervals or potentially at intermittent intervals. Fear of being apprehended is adequate to create the status Chalav Yisrael. [Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 115:1, Levush 1; Taz 3, Shach 4, 8; Pri Chadash 3, Aruch Ha'shulchan 4] In practice this means the Mashgiach must arrive at the farm before the milking begins in order to inspect and ensure the machinery is clean. He may then move away and even go to sleep. Simply being available to enter at any moment is adequate.
A young child may monitor the milk to deem the milk Chalav Yisrael. [Rama 115:1, Levush 1, Aruch Ha'shulchan 5, Kaf Ha'chaim 19]
If only Kosher beasts are being milked, we will permit the milk, BeDiOvad – after the fact, even if the supervisor failed to inspect the plant at the start, provided he was there and able to make that initial inspection.
If non-kosher beasts are also being milked in that dairy, the supervisor must be a little closer to the action so to speak, and be able to monitor just by standing up where he is presently located. [Mesechtas Avodah Zarah 39b, Tosafos; Tur 115, Shulchan Aruch 115:1; Chelkes Binyomin 115:12]
Since the foundation for this decree is to prevent social intercourse between us and our non-Jewish neighbours, the decree applies even where the risks are really quite insignificant. Notwithstanding this, the Pri Chadash [Pages 115-116 (old); Darchei Teshuva 115:6; Radvaz 4:75, Tashbatz 4:32, Shulchan Aruch Hamekutzar 137:18, footnote 39, Chazzon Ish Y.D. 41:4. See Sdei Chemed MaAreches Cholov Shel Nochri 8, page 45] maintains that if the entire region uses milk from Kosher beasts exclusively, the decree is not applied. Even if milk from non-Kosher beasts is used in the region, if it is more expensive, the decree does not apply.
At the other extreme, the Chasam Sofer [Y.D. 107] argues that in spite of all guarantees, the decree requires that milk is not permitted unless it is supervised
Where government regulations are well enforced and require all ordinary milk be from cows exclusively, this is adequate to satisfy the decree of Chalav Yisrael. The decree was not fashioned to require “seeing” but to confirm that the milk is not combined with non-Kosher milk. [Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:47, 48 and 49] Such milk is commonly referred to as Cholov Stam.
Nevertheless Harav Moshe Feinstein zt"l encouraged those who are a BaAlei NeFesh to be be stringent.
Others suggest either that the decree was indeed that the milk must be “watched”, or that government regulations are not an adequate deterrent. [Minchas Elazar 4:25, Melamed L'hoel Y.D. 36:4, Minchas Yitzchok 1:138, 2:21, 10:31:15, Be'er Moshe 4:52, Chelkes Yaakov 34, Yalkut Yosef 9:pages 90-93]
Most solid food products that contain milk, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and health bars, use milk powder. There is a Halachic argument that since the decree applies exclusively to milk collected for consumption as a liquid. Indeed the decree did not and does not apply to milk collected for manufacturing cheese. Similarly, milk collected for manufacturing powdered milk is not subject to this decree. [Har Tzvi Y.D. 103-104 in great depth, Zekan Aron 2:44, Chazzon Ish 41:4] In practice this permits all chocolate and baked commercial goods which use powdered milk.
Since the decree was created and accepted as a Chumra, a stringency, but does not reflect the actual Halacha, it does not disqualify utensils that have absorbed Chalav Akum flavour. [Harav Yisroel Belsky Shlita in the name of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt"l]
Cheese from Cholov Stam
Harav Moshe Feinstein and the Chazzon Ish zt"l [Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:47-49, Chazzon Ish Y.D. 41:4] rule that since Chalav Yisrael nowadays is only a Chumra, even those who are particular to use Chalav Yisrael exclusively, may eat cheese made from Chalav Stam.
A good practice becomes binding if it is adopted and followed three times. However, if one mistakenly adopted a practice, it is not binding. Thus, if someone thought it was forbidden to drink Chalav Stam, and for many years drank only Chalav Yisrael, he may abandon that practice without compunction. However, if it was known and followed as a Chumra, it may not be abandoned without being Matir Neder, following a formal procedure to renounce the vow.
Remote Surveillance - SEE
Surgery on Cows
Modern milk production is about economy. Cows are devices that produce merchandise. The objective is to produce as much milk of as high a quality as possible, economically, which means at the least cost. On large farms, even a slight increase or decrease in production costs, can be the difference between success and failure.
The feed that stimulates maximum milk yield does not necessarily provide optimum comfort or safety for the animals. Sometimes a buildup of gas known as "bloat" in the stomach, might even kill the cow. Bloat is an over-distention of the rumenoreticulum [displaced abomasum] with the gases of fermentation. It is predominantly a disorder of cattle but may also be seen in sheep. The susceptibility of individual cattle to bloat varies and is genetically determined. Death rates as high as 20% are recorded in cattle grazing bloat-prone pasture, and in pastoral areas, the annual mortality rate from bloat in dairy cows may approach 1%. Bloat can be a significant cause of mortality in feedlot cattle.
Farmers often don’t bother calling the vet, but use a kit which simply punches a hole through which the gas is released. The cow spends some time recovering in isolation whilst on anti-biotics (its milk is banned by legislation) and then goes back into the milk herd.
If this procedure renders the cow a Tereifa, its milk is also Tereif. Although such milk is insignificant in the milk collected from the herd and is Kosher, milk collected for Chalav Yisrael, may not include a Treifa cow’s milk. This is prohibited as Ein MeVatlin Issur LeChatChila - we are not permitted to include non-Kosher notwithstanding that it will be insignificant in the larger mix. Furthermore, if the non-Kosher milk is knowingly and defiantly included, a Halachic penalty is applied prohibiting that Jew and those for whom the milk was collected, from drinking any of the milk of the entire batch.
Accordingly, cows milked to provide Chalav Yisrael must be vetted to ensure that none have suffered bloat.
The Minchas Yitzchok [10:67] argues that since these-days, milk is not consumed without pasteurisation, it is subject to the laws of Bishul Akkum. However, he is lenient due to two considerations. A) the heating is achieved with steam which according to many does not disqualify the food as Bishul Akkum, and B) the pasteurisation does not occur in a domestic but a commercial setting.
Milk is processed into cheese, during which the curds and whey are separated. Is the whey included in the decree of Chalav Yisrael?
Some cheeses are processed by heating the curd in water. This water, rich with proteins, lactose and minerals leeched from the cheese, is often added to the whey, concentrated and spray dried. The Kosher status of these is disputed because cheese, even when made with Kosher ingredients, is not Kosher unless it is manufactured with Jewish participation. Consequently, the powders produced from whey and cheese cook-water, would appear to be not Kosher.
However, most Poskim agree that whey is not included in the prohibition of Chalav Akkum nor Gevinas Akkum. These decrees are limited to milk that is milked for drinking and the actual cheese.
Harav Moshe Feinstein [Y.D. 3:17] goes one step further. He permits the cook-water arguing that the decree is limited to the 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.