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Thought for the Day: Sharp Foods, Knives, and שלוש סעודות

The CRC has many nice shiurim on very practical questions.  For example, there is a shiur on a general approach to handing questions that come up on Friday afternoons.  They also have some shiurim that are given for the benefit of the staff themselves.  Even those, given the venue and mandate of the CRC, tend to be more practically oriented.  One (actually two parts) such shiur was on the concept and issues of דבר חריף/sharp or spicy foods.  You are certainly welcome and encouraged to listen to then yourself (Davar Charif part 1, part 2), what follows is my take away.

Whenever situations invloving forbidden mixtures arise in the home (usually milk and meat; most of us don't anything non-kosher in our kitchens, after all), there are three questions the rav is always going to ask: (1) Was it hot?  (2) Was the bowl/cup/spoon used within that last 24 hours?  (3) Was there direct contact (the milk fell into the cholent) or transfer contact (the spoon that was used to taste the cholent was used immediately afterward to stir the hot cocoa)?  As we all know, cold stuff is usually ok.  If the utensil was used more than a day ago (אינו בן יומו), then any absorbed taste is פגום/corrupted and so is ok.  Transferred flavor, aka נ''ט בר נ''ט, is weakened to the point that it is often not a problem.  All of this, of course, is after the fact; you are not allowed to do any of those in the first place.

So, for example, suppose you prepare egg salad for שלוש סעודות and you cut the cold hard-boiled eggs with a knife that hasn't been used for more than a day.  If you used a milchig knife, you can eat that egg salad even though you finished your cholent just a half hour earlier.  And if you used a fleishig knife, you can still have pizza for your malava malka.

However, if you cut onions into that egg salad -- oy va voy!!  An onion (according to most poskim and we are certainly stringent that way) is the quintessential דבר חריף!  Hot?  Pffft... דבר חריף transfers just fine cold.  אינו בן יומו?  Pffft... דבר חריף improves/sweetens פגום flavors.  נ''ט בר נ''ט?  Pffft... דבר חריף never loses its strength.  Once you cut that onion with a fleishig knife, the onion became fleishig; with a milchig knife milchig.  Now, now... calm down.  You haven't transformed it into a piece of meat or a chunk of cheese; you just gave it something that has a meaty or cheesy taste.  That's bad enough, though for eating it together with dairy or meat, because that's precisely what the Torah forbad: to have the taste of meat and cheese together in your mouth.

None the less, it is not a chunk of meat or cheese.  That means that eating your egg salad made with an onion that was cut with a fleishig knife will not make you fleishig; you can eat dairy right afterwards (just not with) the egg salad.  Also, eating your egg salad made with an onion that was cut with a milchig knife will not make you dairy.  This is a bit trickier, though, because after eating your cholent you will have a meat taste left in your mouth; so putting something with a dairy taste could be problematic.  However, the most stringent opinion says you don't have to wait more than an hour.  Still ok for שלוש סעודות.

There are potential issues relating to the utensils and food processors; so CYLOR.

Moral: If you had davened k'vasikin and eaten your cholent after davening (as I do) and have left over cholent for malava malka (which the Ari, z"l recommends), you wouldn't have any problems.  Of course, you could also buy a parve knife, but what's the fun of that?

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