The contemporary controls and regulations that pertain to government inspection of milk, demonstrating (with the concurrence of Rav Belsky, shlita), that the Igros Moshe’s heter for cholov stam is alive and even stronger than before. Current protocol includes government inspection of farms (which was not always the case in prior days – see Igros Moshe YD 1:49), which precludes milk from non-kosher species from entering the commercial milk chain. We described how milk used in commercial dairy plants can only be provided by government-approved source farms, and how government inspectors track documentation for all milk shipped to commercial dairies to assure that it indeed originates from a government-inspected farm.

Update on Cholov Stam

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Daf HaKashrus is a monthly publication of the OU (old archives are here: link). I have the Daf HaShanah #18, the collected issues of Daf HaKashrus from Sep ’09 through Sep ’10. The following article by R. Avrohom Gordimer is on page 48:

In a recent issue of The Daf HaKashrus (Vol. 17 No. 3), we presented information about the contemporary controls and regulations that pertain to government inspection of milk, demonstrating (with the concurrence of Rav Belsky, shlita), that the Igros Moshe’s heter for cholov stam is alive and even stronger than before.

In brief, we noted that current protocol includes government inspection of farms (which was not always the case in prior days – see Igros Moshe YD 1:49), which precludes milk from non-kosher species from entering the commercial milk chain. We described how milk used in commercial dairy plants can only be provided by government-approved source farms, and how government inspectors track documentation for all milk shipped to commercial dairies to assure that it indeed originates from a government-inspected farm.

After discussion with a high-ranking senior dairy farm inspector in upstate New York, as well as with administrative officials at departments of agriculture of several states, the following additional points of information were determined to be worthy of publication to the readership:

  • Goat and sheep milk farms must be licensed specifically for these types of milk. Otherwise, all milk licensing applies only to cow milk.
  • Farms which have animals other than cows (most notably Amish farms) must either keep the other animals in different quarters from the cows, or – if this is not feasible – a partition must be erected to physically prevent the other animals from contacting the cows.
  • Animals other than cows (or goats and sheep, as per the farm’s license) are never permitted in the milking parlors or milking areas of barns. Their presence in the milking areas would be a red flag violation.
  • Dairy farms are strictly prohibited from adding milk from any other species to cow milk.
  • Milk from all dairy farms that provide the commercial market must be sent to laboratories for analysis. Unlike the laboratory analysis conducted on milk samples taken from dairy plants, the analysis of dairy farm milk tests for protein, fat and cell levels, all of which indicate whether the milk is from cow or other species. Even one pail of milk from other species intermingled in a silo sample of cow milk would show up in the results and indicate that the milk is not pure cow milk.
  • The state routinely reviews the laboratory analyses of milk from all dairy farms which supply the commercial milk chain.

* This new information does not in any way negate the validity of the p’sakim which do not accept cholov stam, such as Chelkas Yaakov 2:37-38, and the apparent objection to any notion of cholov stam in the Aruch Ha-Shulchan – YD 115:5.

Rabbi Gordimer sent me the following from a report of his visit to a dairy in a southern US state (names omitted):

I inquired of Mr. H about traceability (in general, not only at company H) of milk from the plant back to each dairy farm. This is critical for the heter of cholov stam, as the current state inspections required for the heter occur only at the farm level. I asked Mr. H how the state inspectors who come to the plant are able to access data from the farms and verify that all milk received at dairy processing plants originates from state-inspected farms, as milk tankers usually come from a dairy cooperative which acts as a middleman, collecting milk from numerous farms and blending this milk together into each tanker.

Mr. H showed me that the rear bay of each tanker contains a set of numerous milk samples, each in a coded flask, and that the code of each flask must be recorded at the milk receiving bay. Each of these flasks contains a sample of milk from every single farm whose milk is in the tanker, and the samples are all sent for testing upon receipt by the dairy processor. Thus, there is solid traceability from farm to dairy processor, irrespective of any dairy cooperative middlemen. (Mr. H showed me how the codes of each milk sample are recorded when the milk is used in each application at the plant, at every step, so that the exact tanker and farms that provided the milk used in every product can be readily determined.)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, 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 of New Jersey, 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 and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and 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.

34 comments

  1. It seems like chalov stam is even more kosher than chalov Yisroel according to this.

  2. What about an article regarding R. Schachter’s view of not allowing any commercial milk because of the prevalence of treifas?

  3. Can someone explain R. Moshe’s rationale why a ‘baal nefesh should be machmir’, if, according to him, regular milk has the din of cholov yisroel anyway?

  4. YK, See:

    “Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature: Is the Milk We Drink Kosher?” in Tradition 41:1

  5. e-man

    “It seems like chalov stam is even more kosher than chalov Yisroel according to this.”

    I have no idea what you mean by that…

  6. Skeptic,

    Reb Moshe also uses here terms like it’s “muttar only besha’as hadchak” or that it should’t be used in yeshivas.

    Two explanations:

    1. (heard from his talmidim) He uses these terms to appease the chassidim (and other kanaim). He really hold by chalav hacompanies but used this language to sound less eager to make changes.

    2. (it seems obvious to me) It’s always better to follow the old vadai ways as opposed to new ways based on a disputed chiddush.

  7. 2 things to think about
    1. Form vs. substance (or process vs. result) as drivers of halacha

    2. “It’s always better to follow the old vadai ways” – It would be interesting to analyze the economic cost to the chalav yisrael community of keeping this old vaddai way and consider what other uses this amount of resources could have been put to ( a parallel – a commmunity could continue to hold that machine matza is not acceptable, what is the cost difference and how many yeshiva tuitions would it pay?)
    KT

  8. Shalom Rosenfeld

    YK/skeptic:

    So long as the minority of dairy cows have serious internal deformities/injuries/diseases (“treifa”), we can assume the general dairy-cow population to be healthy, and therefore we treat the milk supply as 100% kosher (not a mix of 95% kosher 5% treif). That was Rabbi Bleich’s article.

    The objection Rabbi Schachter has raised (on the recordings I’ve heard) is that when dairy cows end their useful lives as such, they’re slaughtered, and it appears that a very large percentage of slaughtered dairy cows are found to have internal damage. He’s thus concerned that while most cows are presumed healthy, perhaps overmilked dairy cows no longer have that presumption as a rule.

    Now if we think an overmilked cow develops injuries and continues to produce milk for some period of time before its production tails off (pun intended), we’d be concerned about that “treif” milk in our supply. If, instead, the development of injuries leads to a rapidly decreasing supply of milk, then there’s likely to be little “treif” milk in our supply. I think this is really a question for dairy-cow veterinarians.

  9. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Re: R’ Moshe’s chalav yisrael:

    The simple logic is the Gemara says it’s best for a pious Jew not to eat something that required a complex psak to allow. R’ Moshe’s analysis allows standard milk, but that did require a complex psak.

    R’ Moshe was asked about the “yeshiva ketanas” in NYC using chalav yisrael; he writes they should use chalav yisrael. Even if it will cost more, “it’s an important educational message for the students; you try to keep a higher halachic standard, even if it costs more.” R’ Joel, as you asked, where do we draw the line between “it costs more” and “it’s keeping out a handful of students we could otherwise fund.” (Or more dangerously, and R’ Moshe didn’t have the medical research we now do on this, “it’s causing unhealthy eating behaviors and increased risk of osteoporosis.”)

  10. R’SR,
    IIRC it was an issue of not being batel bshishim.
    KT

  11. >Can someone explain R. Moshe’s rationale why a ‘baal nefesh should be machmir’, if, according to him, regular milk has the din of cholov yisroel anyway?

    It’s very obvious. Spirituality = being machmir.

  12. Shalom Rosenfeld

    If 20% of dairy cows are treifa, we don’t say it’s an 80/20 mix of kosher/treif (which isn’t batel b’shishim); instead we say “cows are presumed non-treifa” (ruba d’leisa kaman). That was Rabbi Bleich’s article; I don’t know if RH”S agrees.

    The objection I’ve heard RH”S raise recently is that the majority of dairy cows may not be healthy; this would be a problem even if you follow Rabbi Bleich’s thinking.

  13. >R’ Moshe was asked about the “yeshiva ketanas” in NYC using chalav yisrael; he writes they should use chalav yisrael. Even if it will cost more, “it’s an important educational message for the students; you try to keep a higher halachic standard, even if it costs more.” R’ Joel, as you asked, where do we draw the line between “it costs more” and “it’s keeping out a handful of students we could otherwise fund.” (Or more dangerously, and R’ Moshe didn’t have the medical research we now do on this, “it’s causing unhealthy eating behaviors and increased risk of osteoporosis.”)

    Of course mid- late 20th century America was a time of abundance. Now times are lean, yeshivas are not on the ascent, they are closing by the month. It may have indeed been a powerful message to send, now another powerful message – you don’t have to be rich to be frum – may also be necessary. Which choshuve rav will be the Nachson ben Aminadav and set a personal example and publicly eat cholov stam?

  14. Shalom,
    According to what you said, Rabbi Schachter’s concern would apply to Cholov Yisroel also. Is that correct?

  15. Another issue is if we can judge each cow independently if all the milk is being put into one big vat – if we judge it as a mixture then once it’s over 1/60 it’s a problem. Chalav Yisrael doesn’t have this problem because they don;t use cows who have had this operation performed on them.

  16. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Aaron,

    That’s exactly correct (on the lecture I’d heard, someone asked him exactly this question); this would be a problem of overmilked dairy cows developing health problems; it doesn’t matter whether they’re “chalav yisrael” (Jews observing the milking) or not. Unless you want to offer a superpremium milk from extra-pampered cows (if you can prove they develop less internal damage), or where you put the cows in a full-body scanner every so often to check their organs, or …

    Anonymous 11:12, not sure I understand. The problem RH”S raised wasn’t any operation done to the cows; it’s just what happens to them from getting overmilked!

  17. Sorry, I should have made clear that I wasn’t referring to RHS’s issue – rather the problem discussed by R. Bleich, namely the operation performed on the cow’s abomasum, which likely renders them (and hence the milk that comes from them) treif. If these cows are more than 1/60 of the herd, then you may have a problem with all the milk, since it is all put in a vat together. R. Yudel Shein takes this very seriously.

  18. I agree with R’ Shalom Rosenfeld’s very important parenthetical point rendered at 10:33 a.m. Telling people to stop drinking milk is certainly not an option, given the exceptional nutritional value of drinking milk (which I may add, only partially tongue-in-cheek, is reflected in Genesis 49:12). In fact, if anything, Chazal encourage us to limit our consumption of *meat* (not milk), as per Chullin 84a.
    I also agree with the comment of R’ Anonymous at 11:35 a.m. I asked R. Bleich directly and he answered that one must drink chalav yisrael (not because of the classic chalav yisra’el issue, where R. Feinstein’s chiddush is authoritative, especially as now confirmed by this post) but because only the chalav yisra’el companies avoid cows that have left displaced abomasum, and hence only chalav yisra’el companies avoid what he regards as chalav treifah miderabbanan. (Midi’oraita it’s okay because min bimino is nullfied in a majority, but midirabbanan we need 60:1 as a gezeirah for the case of min bishe’eino mino).

  19. MiMedinat HaYam

    my father tells me in his town in europe (and all over hungary — all edot), when akum milked a cow (generally the rule), they weighed the milk (per liquid measure) when it came into town. if it weighed within a certain range, they knew it was kosher. if it was out of range, they knew it was pigs milk (which weighs less). the (original) suspicion was always of pigs milk. everything else was not a factor.

    to satisfy the rest of you commenters, they werent worried about surgeries and trefot then (?which wree probably more than today?).

  20. Your blog seems to be down for people on the westcoast.

  21. See Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 1:47 (his 1st tshuva regarding this). He says that there is a good reason (טעם גדול) to rely on this heter for someone who wants to be maikel. In other words, he doesn’t pasken that it’s mutar (as implied by some of the cynical reasons given for ba’al nefesh machmir by some of the commentors), rather that there is a good heter than can be relied on.

    Hence a ba’al nefesh should be machmir (R’ Moshe says there that he personally was machmir).

  22. JS-based on his logic ythough it is not a heter, it is defining it as chalav yisrael.

    “If these cows are more than 1/60 of the herd, then you may have a problem with all the milk, since it is all put in a vat together. ”
    IIRC this is exactly r’HS’s issue and if you think about it, it means if treifa’s are a miyut hamatzui then your done because it’s more than a 1/60 ratio

    KT

  23. Can someone explain R. Moshe’s rationale why a ‘baal nefesh should be machmir’, if, according to him, regular milk has the din of cholov yisroel anyway?

    I asked this question to R’ Dovid (thru a talmid of his). He answered that a certain amount of Jews should continue to be machmir so that the issue and din of Chalav Yisrael should never be forgotten from klal Yisrael. If there is nobody left who keeps CY and the facts which support the heter change, there may come a day when people completely forget that there was ever a din of CY.

  24. I understood that he was saying that the svaros that it should be considered chalav yisrael were just that – svaros, albeit good ones that one can rely on. But still not an outright psak that it’s chalav yisrael.

    I guess he still had a tzad that the issur of chalav akum still applies and that’s why a ba’al nefesh should be machmir.

    Does anyone here have an alternative understanding of the tshuva?

  25. The idea that we rely on Rav Moshe to eat chalav stam is false. I venture to say that more than 95% of Orthodox Jews were drinking chalav stam before Rav Moshe issued his heter. Did Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Breuer, Rav Dov Revel and many others not drink chalav stam, or give it to their children, before Rav Moshe issued his psak? I highly, highly doubt it.

    Let’s stop pretending that Rav Moshe’s psak from the 1950s or 60s is the basis for why we drink chalav stam.

  26. What about the treif cows issue (i.e. cow who has had the LDA operation performed is treif, its milk is treif; more than 1/60 of cow herds are comprised of such cows, all the milk is put in a vat together so you can’t judge each cow separately when you know that there is more than 1/60 of treif milk in the vat).

  27. R’ david feinstein himself eats cholov stam
    as do many of r moshe’s famous talmidim
    its hard to imagine that r moshe was so stringent it is probably propaganda
    the chazon ish was also more meikel than r moshe see chazon ish yoreh daya 41 at the end here http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14334&st=&pgnum=119

    The idea that cholov stam is a kula is itself a chiddush

  28. The Chazon Ish is just quoting the Pri Chadash. Does he explicitly say that he accepts the Pri Chadash’s reasoning? (Which, by the way, R. Moshe claims not to need)

  29. It was never intended as a kulah. Its m’ikar hadin

    The cholov yisroel is a chumrah.

    Wold anyone know who arges with Reb Moshe

  30. The ferocity of those fighting against the permission to drink Cholov Stam and insisting on Cholov Yisroel goes back to the Divrei Chaim. Who, it is said, heard from his father-in-law The Baruch Ta’am that logically the arguments in favor of permitting Cholov Stam were more valid and cogent than the arguments prohibiting it, but that Al Pi Nistar – Kabbalistically, only Cholov Yisroel was permitted.

    The Helmitzer Rebbe published one volume of his Taharas Yom Tov devoted entirely to this subject, which is where I read the attribution to the Divrei Chaim.

  31. MiMedinat HaYam

    rebhershy: my father (who told me about weighing the milk procedure) is from helmetz (today slovakia; historically, and during the war, part of hungary) so the issue of chalav yisrael is back up in the air for you. (note, the taharat yom tov was the rov there AFTER the war, not before the war, though he is related to the nachlat ze’ev,(who’se kitvei yad i was involved in publishing) and is not accepted as traditional helmetz rav, but as a post war addition. (and builder of mikvaot in the us and throughout the world.)

    i will look up the chalav yisrael issue you mention, though i must say prewar helmetz was not a chassidishe town. rather it was ashkenaz chatam sofer. (though there always a strong connection between the chatam sofer and the divrei chaim; his son r akiva sofer, the krakower rav was instrumental in getting the divrei uniquely released from arrest (an unheard of feat in austro-hungary) ).

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