By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times
In a recent OU Kosher Halacha Yomis, the following question was posed:
Why does the OU certify dairy English muffins?
The OU answered as follows:
“For many years, the distinctive look of the English muffin was considered an identifiable mark that the product is dairy. Today, that is no longer the case, as pareve English muffins have become common. However, the OU certifies English muffins because the percentage of dairy in the muffin is much less than one part in sixty and is batel bishishim. Pischei Teshuva (Yoreh De’ah 97:6) writes that one may bake dairy bread provided the dairy ingredients are nullified and do not give taste (i.e., the dairy ingredients are less than one part in sixty). While we are not permitted by Halacha (Jewish Law) to intentionally nullify an ingredient (this is known as bitul issur lichatchila), the prohibition relates to non-kosher ingredients and not to milk which is inherently kosher.”
But is this issue really so clear-cut?
It would seem, rather, that if milk was placed in a dough and the dough has sixty times the amount of volume than the milk, we actually have a debate among the Poskim. Rav Yosef Trani, author of the Maharit (Vol. II Siman 18) permits it since it was nullified in sixty. The Chavas Daas permits it as well. Both are cited by the Pischei Teshuva.
However, both Rav Yonasan Eibeschutz (1690-1784) in his Kreisi uPleisi and Rav Shlomo Eiger (1785-1851) in his Gilyon Maharsha in Siman 97 forbid it and write that it does not become nullified.
The Beis Meir,a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, asks why it would not nullify just as we find that milk and meat become nullified?
Some say that since it is a permitted substance mixed with a permitted substance, we do not apply the standard rules of nullification. Another possibility is that it is on account of a fine. The Kaf HaChaim (97:6) writes that since it is a debate one should be stringent and not do so – even if there is shishim. The Chochmas Odom Klal 50 writes that when there is a doubt as to whether it has the taste of milk, one may taste it.
If the milk was purposefully put in the dough, Rabbi Avroho Chaim Einhorn, author of the Atzei HaOlah (Volume II Taaruvos Klal 2:5) writes that even when there is sixty times the volume of the milk it is forbidden. He writes, however, that if it was done by accident one would be permitted to add to the dough so that there will be sixty times the volume of the milk.
We see from the above that the issue is a matter of great debtae in the Acharonim. Sefardim who follow the Kaf haChaim and Ashkenazim who follow the rulings of the Gilyon Maharsha as a a matter of course should avoid it.
BACKGROUND TO DAIRY BREAD IN GENERAL
The Gemorah (Pesachim 36a) writes, “One may not knead dough with milk. If he did the entire bread is forbidden on account of becoming accustomed to an Aveirah.” Since bread is a staple of meals, Chazal (YD 97:1) forbade the baking of dairy or meat bread, unless the bread was baked in a special manner.
This means that one may not add milk or whey to a raw dough and bake it as bread. This is true even if the amount of milk added is miniscule (PMG on TaZ 97:1). The bread is entirely forbidden to be consumed – but the Gemorah does mention an exception.
EYE OF THE OX EXCEPTION
Ravina qualifies this statement of the Gemorah by saying that if one bakes the bread “K’ain Turah” then it is permitted.
What does K’ainTurah mean?
Rashi explains that it means as small as “the eye of an ox.” When the bread is small it will not last long enough for a person to forget what was added to it, therefore, it was not included in the initial prohibition.
The Rambam and Rif, on the other hand, understand it to mean that the bread is shaped like an ox. In other words, if the bread is given some special shape that will be a reminder as to the fact that the bread is dairy and it was not included in the initial enactment forbidding it.
The Shulchan Aruch (97:1) rules leniently like both views. Thus one can either make the bread small or in a special shape. If one fills up the bread with cheese, this too is considered like a special shape (Aruch HaShulchan 97:5)
The prohibition is at the baking of the bread, when the dough becomes bread. Thus once the bread is baked, there is no way to remove the prohibition (Pischei Teshuvah 97:3 citing the Chavas Daas).
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