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March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
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Treifa Cow’s Milk?
‘A Toldah Of Dash’
(Shabbos 144a)

As we know, it is forbidden to milk animals on Shabbos. The Rishonim debate the source of this prohibition – whether it is a rabbinic or Torah prohibition, and under what melachah it is classified. The poskim accept the view that milking is a Torah prohibition under the melachah of mefarek,which is a toldah of dash. This melachah is defined as separating produce from the shell in which it grows. Separating milk from an udder falls under this category (Rif, Ramban Shabbos 8:7, Chayei Adam 14:8, Iglei Tal, Dosh 12, et. al.).

Let us discuss the status of milk that was collected on Shabbos by non-observant Jews. Since it is generally forbidden to derive benefit from a Shabbos desecration, one could argue that a Jew may not drink milk that was extracted on Shabbos. (Unfortunately, this is a very pressing contemporary issue in Eretz Yisrael, as many dairy farms operated by secular Jews do not make the necessary provisions to have their cows milked on Shabbos in an acceptable manner. This is less of a problem in America where the farms that produce chalav stam milk are owned and operated by gentiles.)

For Me – For Him?

The halacha follows Rabbi Yehuda, who maintains that a person who deliberately cooks on Shabbos may never eat this food; others may, however, after the conclusion of Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 318:1).

The Magen Avraham asks what the halacha would be if someone cooked food on Shabbos for the benefit of another. Would the recipient also be forbidden to eat the food? Citing the general rule that people usually do not sin for the benefit of others, the Magen Avraham concludes that there is no need to be overly stringent with the recipient. One may assume that even in the absence of a penalty, the violator will not be too quick to repeat his transgression. Therefore, the recipient may eat the food after the conclusion of Shabbos.

Usual And Recurring

The Ksav Sofer (O.C. 50) explains that this reasoning does not always apply. In the case of a hotel, for example, in which the Jewish proprietors cook for their guests on Shabbos, we could not apply the rule that people do not sin for the benefit of others. In this case, the proprietors consistently cook for the benefit of their patrons. Therefore, the food is prohibited for all the guests, forever.

Even an outsider – for whom the hotel owners did not cook – may not patronize such an establishment. If he does, he will be supporting their business and encourage them to violate Shabbos. The Torah warns us against “placing stumbling blocks before the blind,” and this includes all cases of encouraging others to sin. For these reasons, it would seem that we may not drink milk that was produced on Shabbos.

Treif Pasteurization Vats

Should we accept the conclusion that chillul-Shabbos milk is forbidden, we must extend our discussion to ask whether milk produced during the week is also forbidden. As we know, when treif food is cooked in a pot, the pot absorbs its taste and becomes treif as well. The Rashba (Teshuvos 1:175) was once asked if a pot in which food is cooked for a deathly-ill person on Shabbos (which is of course permitted), must be kashered (since the food may not be eaten by anyone other than the patient).

A Fine Line

The Rashba responded that since the cooking was permitted, the pot does not become forbidden. The Magen Avraham (318, s.k. 1) infers that if the cooking is forbidden, then the pot would indeed need to be kashered. The Mishnah Berurah accepts this ruling, but other poskim reject it. They distinguish between foods that are forbidden due to the nature of the food itself (e.g. horse meat) and foods that are forbidden due to prohibitions surrounding their processing (e.g. meat cooked on Shabbos). One cannot say of food cooked on Shabbos that it is a forbidden substance. One may not eat it, but the food itself is not treif  per se. Thus, the pot in which it was cooked does not become treif (Yad Yehuda, Y.D. 99:18).

Aiding And Abetting The Sinners

According to the Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah, the vats that are used to pasteurize chillul-Shabbos milk become treif. Therefore, even milk produced during the week in these vats should be forbidden. Rabbi Zoldan (Nesiv Hachalav, p. 84, published by Tenuvah), however, justifies the use of these vats by explaining that even according to the Magen Avraham, food cooked on Shabbos is considered treif only to the person who cooked it. Although the Ksav Sofer also forbade others from eating food cooked by hotel owners on Shabbos, he did so only to prevent the proprietor from continuing his folly. He did not actually consider the food to be treif to such an extent that it would cause the pots to become forbidden to those who did not cook the food.

Furthermore, by purchasing chillul-Shabbos milk, one encourages the producers to continue milking their cows on Shabbos. However, purchasing weekday-milk that absorbed the smallest residue of chillul-Shabbos milk in no way, presumably, encourages them to continue milking their cows on Shabbos.

About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.


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