Daf HaKashrus has always been a very specialized publication. With a circulation of 3,000 and published ten times a year, it is intended primarily for OU Kosher rabbis in the field, advanced students in kosher law, and for those whose knowledge of kashrus is already at a very high level – often kashrus professionals. Recently, OU Kosher published the fourth five-year compilation of Daf HaKashrus editions, the largest of the collections at almost 400 pages.
Now comes the next version of Daf HaKashrus, intended not only for the professionals but for those whose main interest is in living a kosher life, whether at home or when eating outside of the home. The new OU Daf HaKashrus Consumer Edition makes its debut in time for Purim, with issues to follow prior to three other holidays: Shavuos, the High Holidays, and Chanukah. (No, there will not be a pre-Pesach edition. The reason will be explained later.)
The publication is free.
Like the original, the consumer edition will be edited by Rabbi Yosef Grossman, Senior Educational Rabbinic Coordinator. He credits his colleague, OU Kosher Executive Rabbinic Coordinator, Rabbi Moshe Zywica, for coming up with the idea for the consumer version.
Despite not being intended for those who earn their living in kashrus, the consumer version requires some background in kosher law and knowledge to appreciate some of the entries. For example, the story on whether kosher sherry can be aged in casks in which non-kosher wine or liquor has been stored, is written by Rabbi Eli Gersten, rabbinic coordinator who is the recorder of OU Psak and Policy. The piece is replete with references from Talmud and codes, before concluding, “Because of all these concerns, the OU does not permit ‘sherry cask’ whiskeys to be served by their caterers or at their restaurants.” (That is followed by permission for unflavored whiskeys not labeled “sherry cask” to be used.)
Somewhat lighter, the story, “Playing With Fire – Part I,” by Rabbi Yaakov Luban, Executive Rabbinic Coordinator and adapted from a regular Daf HaKashrus he wrote some years ago, explains the laws of cooking and has a 10-question quiz to test the reader’s knowledge. As Rabbi Luban writes, “All the questions have one answer alluded to by the title of this article.” (Typical question: “Why is MTBY printed on some cans of OU tuna fish?” Answer: Bishul Akum.)
In a still easier to digest entry, a “Did You Know” box states, “The OU certifies close to 3,500 alcoholic beverages.” It then gives the following categories and some brands within the categories: arak, beer, bourbon, rum, vodka, and whiskey. Famous names such as Miller, Jim Beam, Absolut, Stolichnya, and Glenlivit are mentioned.
Rabbi Grossman sums up the two different versions: “The original is an in-depth analysis of cutting-edge technology as it affects kashrus of ingredients and products as well as kosherization procedures; it’s like a technical manual for kashrus professionals.” Quoting the late clothing merchandiser Sy Syms, Rabbi Grossman describes the consumer version this way: “An educated consumer who wants to have an in-depth understanding of kashrus is our best customer.” Or as he writes in the issue, “We hope to create a lifeline to assist (consumers) in smooth sailing through the sometimes choppy waters of the field of kashrus,” at holiday time.
Which brings us to why Passover is not one of the holidays. Clearly, the technicalities and fine points of the holiday cannot be summed up in four pages. As Rabbi Grossman notes, the OU’s Guide to Passover, the classic publication which this year has 96 pages, takes over that role.
With a circulation increased to 5,000, the consumer Daf Ha Kashrus will be distributed to OU synagogues in the New York Metropolitan Area, including Lakewood and Monsey. Contact Rabbi Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure of delivery. eDaf copies are also available. For synagogues or individuals outside of the New York area, contact Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director of Community Engagement, at email@example.com.