QUESTION: If one wishes to change the status of pots or cutlery
to dairy or vice-versa through the koshering process known as hagalah, may
he do so?
DISCUSSION: According to the basic halachah, it is permitted to
designation of a utensil from meat or dairy (or vice-versa) through
hagalah. Since hagalah, when performed correctly,(1) purges the "taste"
which has been absorbed into the utensil, the utensil is now halachically
considered "new" and may be used for either meat or dairy, regardless of
how it was used previously. It is, however, a long-standing and widely
practiced custom(2) not to do so l'chatchilah, since the Rabbis were
concerned that people would "get away" with one set of utensils which they
would constantly "kosher" from dairy to meat and back again, causing mix-
ups and confusion.(3) Still, under special circumstances, the poskim allow
for certain exceptions and permit changing the designation of utensils
from meat to dairy or vice versa even l'chatchilah. Some of those special
cases are the following:
* Under extenuating circumstances, if no other dishes are available.(4)
* If the utensil was rendered non-kosher and must undergo hagalah in any
case. It is even l'chatchilah permitted to render the utensil non-kosher
with the express intent of koshering it in order to change its designation.
* If the utensil is being koshered for Pesach.(6)
* If the utensil was not used for 12 months.(7)
* If the utensil is being sold or given as a gift.(8)
* If the utensil is being koshered from meat or dairy to parve use - even
if later on it will be used for the opposite designation from its original
QUESTION: Is it halachically permitted to read newspapers published
for the religious community on Shabbos [and Yom Tov]?
DISCUSSION: It depends which section of the paper one wishes to
* Business and classified advertisements, business news which bears on the
reader's finances or shopping needs or plans, consumer columns, gardening
and housekeeping advice, recipes and cooking instructions - are all
strictly forbidden to be read on Shabbos.(10)
* Stories of personal or public tragedies, death notices or eulogies that
could bring a person to tears, holocaust stories that sadden a person and
detract from his oneg Shabbos - may not be read on Shabbos.(11)
* Divrei Torah - including all articles pertaining to Torah learning,
essays on the weekly Parashah, Halachah, Mussar, Hashkafah, stories and
pictures of gedolei Yisrael, stories of chizuk ha-Torah, middos tovos and
yira'as shamayim - all of these are permitted to be read on Shabbos,
provided that one makes a conscious effort not to read the forbidden parts
of the newspaper.(12)
QUESTION: Is it permitted to read the general news section of the
newspaper on Shabbos [and Yom Tov]?
DISCUSSION: Reading the general news section of the newspaper -
news, politics or stories of general interest, and advertisement or
business news that have no bearing on the finances or shopping needs or
plans of the reader, are a subject of dispute among the poskim. We find
three basic opinions:
* Many hold that reading this type of material is included in the
Rabbinical edict against reading non-business documents and is forbidden
to be read.(13)
* Others hold that if one enjoys reading these type of articles then it is
permitted to do so. These poskim maintain that the Rabbinical edict
against reading non-business documents does not include enjoyable reading
material.(14) Mishnah Berurah, however, does not support this position.(15)
* Some poskim hold that while it may be permitted to read certain parts of
the newspaper, reading a newspaper should be strongly discouraged since it
is extremely difficult to avoid the advertisements or other parts of the
paper which are forbidden to be read.(16) But other poskim, however,
permit the reading of a newspaper as long as one makes a conscious effort
to avoid the forbidden sections.(17)
The following is a free translation of guidelines given by Harav N.
Karelitz(18) on this subject: "While a ben Torah and his family should
avoid reading a newspaper on Shabbos altogether, we do not object to those
who are lenient and read the permissible parts of the newspaper. This is
especially true with regard to women, children and those who do not engage
in the study of Torah [who require a kosher alternative so that they will
not come to engage in idle or forbidden talk or worse]; we definitely
should not object to their reading the permissible parts of the newspaper."
One should consult his halachic authority for guidance as to how he
should conduct himself in this matter.
QUESTION: Is it permitted to read secular books on Shabbos [and Yom
DISCUSSION: It depends on the type of book one wishes to read:(19)
* Biographies of gedolei Yisrael or Orthodox community leaders, Jewish
story books that serve to strengthen one's yira'as shamayim, emunas
chachamim or middos tovos are permitted, including works of fiction
(novels and mysteries) which are authored by G-d fearing Jews and are
written for these purposes.
* Books [or encyclopedias] on science, math, medicine, geography,
astronomy and architecture are permitted,(20) except if one is reading
them for the sake of his business or profession,(21) or only because he
needs to study for a test.(22)
* Cookbooks should be avoided.(23)
* Secular books which do not contain halachically objectionable material,
but were not written by G-d fearing Jews for the purpose of strengthening
one's yira'as shamayim, emunas chachamim or middos tovos, should not be
read on Shabbos.(24) We do not, however, object to women, children or
those who are not engaged in the study of Torah reading books of this
nature on Shabbos.(25)
* Books about personal or public tragedies, or holocaust stories that
sadden a person and detract from his oneg Shabbos - may not be read on
* Any written work that may have a bearing on the reader's finances is
forbidden to be read on Shabbos.
1 See The Weekly Halachah Discussion, pg. 279-286 for more information.
2 Among Ashkenazim - Sefaradim have not accepted this custom; Kaf ha-
Chayim O.C. 509:45. See also Peri Chadash Y.D. 97:1 and Aruch ha-Shulchan
Y.D. 89:17 and 121:11 who rejects this custom completely.
3 Magen Avraham O.C. 509:11. See Sha'ar ha-Melech, Hilchos Yom Tov 4:8,
for an additional concern.
4 Peri Megadim (Aishel) O.C. 452:13.
5 Mishnah Berurah 509:25.
6 Mishnah Berurah 451:19.
7 Maharsham 2:241, quoting Aishel Avraham of Butchash.
8 Lecham ha-Panim Y.D. 121, quoted by Darkei Teshuvah 121:59. See also
Be'er Moshe 3:105.
12 See Avnei Yashfei 1:76-3, quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach; Az Nidberu 9:7.
13Many poskim, based on O.C. 307:16. See Minchas Shabbos 90:22.
14 See Magen Avraham 301:4 and Peri Megadim; Ya'avatz 1:162; Kalkeles
Shabbos 33; Tehillah l'David 301:1; Da'as Torah 307:15.
15 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 301:7.
16 Mishnah Berurah 307:63.
17 See Da'as Torah 307:16, Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 29:46. See also
Igros Moshe O.C. 5:22-3 who writes that business newspapers should not be
18 Ayil Meshulash on Shitrei Hedyotos, pg. 79, 83 and 210, and in Menuchah
19 Although this discussion follows the same basic principles quoted
earlier concerning newspapers, there are several reasons why there is
greater leniency regarding the reading of books than of newspapers: 1)
Books do not contain advertisements or financial news; 2) The Rabbinic ban
against reading non-business related items, which became necessary due to
the confusion between different type of documents, may not apply to books
since there is a clear distinction between unbound business documents and
bound books; see Pischei She'arim on Sha'arei Efrayim 10:33.
20 Mishnah Berurah 307:65 and 308:164.
21 Shulchan Shelomo 307:25.
22 See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 28, note 206, where Harav S.Z.
Auerbach remains undecided on this issue.
23 Harav M. Feinstein and Harav N. Karelitz quoted in Ayil Meshulash, pg.
41. Others are more leninet; see Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 29, note 116
and Avnei Yashfei 1:76.
24 O.C. 307:16.
25 Ruling of Harav N. Karelitz (quoted in Ayil Meshulash on Shitrei
Hedyotos, pg. 209, and in Menuchah Shleimah, 2).