New York Water III

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To clarify on R. Hershel Schachter’s pesak:

In my haste, I left out some very important points.

1. The creatures in the water are dead. However, if, when alive, they were identifiable as creatures by their movement then, even when dead, they are still prohibited.

2. R. Shachter “heard” that the majority of specks in Boro Park and Flatbush water are these creatures and are, therefore, forbidden to be drunk.

3. R. Schachter ends with a “however”. The water would be permitted if we are willing to rule based on the following innovative approach: Just like with a Torah scroll, we are not obligated to check each letter with our eyes right up to the parchment but, rather, from the distance of about a foot, perhaps with these creatures also, we should only rule based on observation from a distance. Since we would only have known that these are living creatures because of looking more closely than we are obligated, perhaps they are permitted anyway. R. Schachter leaves this with a “ve-ayen“, because it is difficult to suggest that the Tanna’im and Amora’im did not drink similar water.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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