Some foods, like pig and lobster, will never be kosher (unless God Herself speaks from the heavens and declares it so–and even then, there will likely be rabbis who dispute the proclamation).

Other foods, when prepared by Jews, are kosher–but when prepared by non-Jews, are not.

Now, hummus–because of a conflict of opinion about the roasting and shelling of sesame seeds used to make tahini that is often used in hummus recipes—is the latest food to enter this second category, according to a “leading rabbi”:

A former chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliahu, ruled that when sesame seeds used to make the tahini paste for hummus are roasted and shelled by non-Jews, the resulting hummus is not kosher, said the aide, Rabbi David Lahiani…

Meir Micha, chief of the Pinati hummus company, said the publication of the ruling Sunday sent him hurriedly calling all his factories to ensure that the production process was kosher. Micha said he thought Eliahu’s ruling was only due to a dispute between religious camps. Eliahu’s main rival, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef — himself a former chief rabbi — told the Maariv daily flatly that there is no difference between shelled and unshelled sesame seeds, and they’re all kosher.

In the past, competing rabbis have issued differing edicts about kosher food partly to solidify the following for their own certificates of approval.

And we thought fish sticks were the enemy; it was the sesame seeds all along.

“I know it was you, Sesame Seeds. You broke my heart.”

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

29 Comments

  • All these stresses going on now with the disengagement, and now they’re declaring hummus treyf? Elohai, Elohai, lama ‘azavtanu?

    But seriously, the Torah is very strict about this. It’s in Shemot. “And God spoke to Moses, ‘In addition to all that stuff about cuds and hooves, you must make sure that your sesame seeds are roasted and shelled by Jews. Moses, are you listening? I’m not kidding. It’s only a small step from dubious hummus to pepperoni pizza.”

    According to leading Kabbalist authorities, however, this verse is about sinat chinam.

  • along the rich jewish history the leading rabbis of each generations disagreed on the vast majority of halachic rulings. in fact i dont think there was a generation without the difference in opinions. In fact it just means that people are still exploring torah and there is always the other point of view. it s all good as long as it is l’shem shamayim and has nothing to do with korach and his posse (sic!).

  • Earlier, when Rabbi Eliahu publicly espoused that soldiers should not respect the IDF’s orders on the disengagement, I felt that maybe he had “lost it.” But now, on the basis of this anti-hummous ruling, is there any doubt?

  • Certain Sephardim are setting out thier
    Tsiburim, following with hight standards for
    Bishul Yisrael, foods cooked by a Jew. Many
    of these standards are more strict then eve
    the strict shebe strict of the Chasidim Shebe
    Chasidim….

    This isn’t realy new. I wouldn’t knock it. When it
    comes to Kashrut, many folk owuld like to
    follow certain Rabbanim.

    Whom am I to attempt to get between a Jew
    and his Rav?

  • This ruling isn’t that insane. I mean I feel bad for those that follow Rabbi Eliahu. He is no doubt a very learned Rabbi and all, but luckily I don’t hold by him. Heh. Gotta love Judaism.

  • nsn your are 100% right lets not get b/w an yid and his/her rav. lets just enjoy rav ovadiah’s humusse!

  • Frankly, I think it’s all a load of shit. I hate it when American political parties “play politics”, which is what Bush has done with 9/11. But when Rabbi’s and Va’ads get into it, and they do it far too often, I can see clearly why the first two Temples were destroyed. Here’s an idea: let rebuild said Temple in hopes of setting a new record of how quickly our community can eat itself alive thereby trigging an invading army to re-destroy the Temple.

  • I can see the problem with the tahina, though. I mean, my rav is pretty strict. If the food in question is heated over a fire, it has to be supervised by a Jew somewhere along the process. How hard is it to find a Jew to insure that the process is kosher?

  • jobber,
    what’s embarrassing? That a wire service like Associated Press is discussing halachic issues, and quite ignorantly too? Yeah, I agree. The media is full of ignorant lazy people who you can’t even define as journalists anymore, let alone ‘reporters’.

    middle and ck,
    if you have a copy of the talmud at home, throw it in the garbage. Then go to your synagogue and burn all their copies too. This sesame seed issue is not new, it was discussed there as well apparently.

    Then you can throw out your torah too. That place talks about a bunch of other ’embarrassing’ things. Hundreds if you bother to read it carefully.

    What’s your thing with Rabbis anyhow? I’m sorry that you find it so easy to discredit great Rabbis like Harav Mordechai Eliyahu and that you’ve never had a chance to speak with real tzadikkim before. Could you add a chat with someone who really knows Judaism to the itinerary of your next Jewlicious trip.

  • Now, now Josh, no need to throw out anything just because of a little hummous controversy.

    On the other hand, destroying a country because of a disengagement from Gaza…

    I have news for you. Even great rabbis can be wrong, they can be criticized, and their mistakes can be pointed out. They’re people, Josh, not prophets or gods or angels. That’s the beauty of our faith, you have an unseen uncommunicative God, and a whole bunch of seen and communicative people trying to figure out whether to cook the tahini or not.

  • tm why so defensive? josh didnt say u cant critisize the rabbi. he just says there are other things u can do w/them besides critisizing – for example geting to know them.

  • How was that defensive? I can think of numerous responses that might be defensive or offensive, but all I suggested was that it’s okay to say a rabbi is wrong.

    By the way, only god, presumably, can judge whether somebody is a tzaddik.

  • ok, yes only G-d can jugde … and therefore what? we shud disregard the preceived tzidkus that is perceived by ppl? yeah rabbis can be wrong and so what so can i and you. but since they are very learned in torah so maybe at least there give them some credit of confidence, no? they dont say to each other when they disagree – u only human therefore u most probably wrong.

  • I don’t know what the rabbis say to each other. I don’t even know whether this rabbi is right about hummous or not (nor do I care). Josh told us to dump our talmuds and torahs because we “have a thing” with discrediting great rabbis. I’m pointing out that great rabbis make mistakes and sometimes they use their influence to harm rather than help. No, I’m not talking about hummous, but about the disengagement.

  • So one of the most horrible substances on the planet (hydrogenated oil) is kosher — but hummus? Get real. How about a little common sense?

  • Yeah Wired witch,

    A lot of oils are sick shebe sick.
    Example Cottonseed oil… much of cottonseed is actually poisonous. Yet, cottonseed oil is kosher shebe kosher with the best hekshers this side of Chumrah land, especially for Pessach.
    What I am trying to figure out is the hostility leveled againt those who seek the added refinement of taking on extra strictness in their kashrut. I don’t care to get into my personal Chumrahs and other mushagassims that I have been brainwashed with; after all, such unreasonbable closed minded, arogant jew hating, Baal Tchuvah Mother hating, Sinat Chinam are a product of my own inability to think on my own, RIGHT?

  • “What I am trying to figure out is the hostility leveled againt those who seek the added refinement of taking on extra strictness in their kashrut.”

    As I see it, this is a problem because it causes separation in Jewish communities. Before you come to lunch, you should ask what kind of hummus might be served? That’s ridiculous! As if I’d buy treif hummus, C”S. (Besides, aren’t there halachic mechanisms in place to discern between food that is cooked especially for one person vs. food that is prepared in a factory for mass consumption?)

    Look, hechshers are supposed to reflect a community’s acceptance of what is okay to consume. If it’s got legitimate supervision, we’re supposed to accept it! We’re not supposed to say that agency X’s cereal is fine, but not their hummus, because that would indicate that there are problems with what agency X considers okay to give hashgacha. (I have similar issues with chalav stam with hashgacha vs. chalav Yisroel, but let’s not go there…).

    Fortunately, this issue has little to do with me, because as a C-Jew, I am free to eat foods that are merely strictly kosher.

  • How is this for another example of health vs.
    Kashrut. Israeli’s love of for Palm oil….that stuff is in all Bissley, parave ice creams etc…. its ubiquitous….Palm oil is just about as healthy as Coconut oil, almost as much cholesterol and hydrogenated oils…. Yet of course, often the Palm oil laden product comes with the best shebe best hekshers Israeli money can buy…

    In youre place you can do what you want if youre the boss. I have choice what I put into my mouth. If this is the best you can deal with in terms of youre personal Kashrut, Who is getting in youre face? I am sorry if I won’t eat there… Actually I don’t keep everybody’s chumrahs. Maybe I would eat there. However, I wouldn’t be so mean spirited to harp against those who keep some of those crazy mushagissims….
    I don’t see anyone here knocking those who can’t or don’t keep kashrut at such strict levels. Okay, lots of people who work hard at keeping kosher dont’ keep those levels.
    So what?
    Who in the hell is denying that?
    ….Who is causing seperation of communities? What is the difficulty in accomadating different kashrut issues?
    You can’t please everyone… Who says one
    standard has to work for everybody?

  • This is why Judaism can never be cool. It can be exclusive, exotic, special, but never cool. Just about any religion for that matter. This one is a bit more involved w/ the society at large, due probably bec. of persecution in the first place. Altho this one was to try and thwart intermarriage.
    But nowadays, most of Jewry would be accepting of intermarriage, the old anger is a goner. So this law, really should be shelved, I mean, the loopholes that are created so that the wealthy class can have their nannies and butlers. Even tho the debate would pit the Trasitionalists vs. the Rationalists. Don’t forget that the higher cost of Kosher is borne harder by the lower classes… But they usually are too muddled, apiring for higher well being, so often only seeing the debate in it’s typical dogma vs. dogma mode.

    Revolt of the masses via blogging?

  • tm,
    I’m the first one to say that rabbis are not ‘untouchables’. You can criticize rabbis, but don’t you think that you should approach with criticism that is more informed so you don’t look like a turkey banking on populism? What about actually knowing the real story and not picking it up from some goyish wire service that picked it up from some secular [ignorant] Israeli media outlet that couldn’t care less for the actual details beyond the sensationalism of the story.

    jobber,
    I’m sorry if this comes down to judaism/jewish people being cool or not. I used to be like you. I wasted almost a decade on the ‘that’s not cool enough for me’ and ‘that rabbi is too extremist’ issues, until I internalized that I couldn’t care what people say about my Judaism anymore and went deeper despite of them. If you’re looking for ‘cool’, try kabballah, Islam, or scientolgy. They are ‘in’. Meanwhile, I’ve long since started wearing tzizit, and occasionally wear them outside too. I don’t apologize if that pisses you off.

    I spoke recently with someone a bit more informed on American Jewry. He told me that the reform movement is now realizing that they might be going to far, and that they should try to come back to ‘traditional’ Judaism just a bit. I hope it’s not too late.

  • but Josh w/ all due respect, you have to accept the premise that the cook can be a non Jew, let us say a graduate of the finest cooking schools in France, but you can’t eat what he/she prepares, unless some Jew started the fire first. This is rational to you? And at the same time, the Orth. families have live in’s and again she can’t light the stove, but she can bring up their children, that is OK w/ you?

  • In my humble opinion, the only reason why chummus–and any derivative of the Bean Mishpacha (sorry, all you Beanie babies, all those kippot–u r excluded)should be considered hands-off and treif–is because of the number or symphony shall we say, that they orchestrate in the digestional tract. “Nuf Said.

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