I have my family groups, work groups, football and cricket groups as well as Rabbinic and friendship groups.
Most of the time they supply me information with specific details about the groups purpose, but sometimes, people post things that they think the group participants will find funny/interesting/meaningful etc.
I got one yesterday – it was this
It also came with a message:
Both were interesting but the message made me think about how we now have such a wider understanding of people of the world today – which is not always a good thing!
The question is, from a halachic point of view – does this pose a problem?
First let us look at a famous line from our Parsha
‘And you shall come to the Kohanim, Leviim and the judge who will be in those days – ‘shofet bayamav’ Devarim 17:9
According to Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, this means that we need to have Rabbis and teachers that understand the generation in which they are educating. They need to understand how the world and society are functioning in order to relate and pasken halacha to the community around them.
This would extend to the above pictures, and why in the 21st century we should potentially ‘stay away from Hotel Room Coffee Makers and Electric Kettles’.
I initially thought that this must only be relevant to coffee makers that you can put food into the container, like in the above picture. However, a regular kettle is only ever used to make boiling water – surely there is never an issue with them?
However, I did some research and I found this where ‘Hotel Guy Cooking’ boils his pork sausages in the kettle!
So how does halacha deal with this reality? Do we say that because there is evidence that people can treif up these kettles, we cannot use them? Or do we say that it happens, but it is so unlikely that we don’t have to worry and can still have our tea, coffee and pot noodles when away in hotels?
Having spoken to various poskim about this issue, it seems that at the moment, these incidents are so few and far between that there is no issue with using kettles in hotel rooms. The main source is found in Yoreh Deah 122:6, where we say “stam kli …einam bnei yoman” that we can assume that the kettle was not used for the last 24 hours and as long as it is clean (limescale is fine!), it is permitted to use. However, if it seems that this is becoming more common or if you find bits of food in the kettle or you want to be machmir, then simply kasher the kettle before you use it. Fill it up and boil it completely. Then you can use it for your tea and coffee.
However, the normative halacha is that you can use kettles in hotel rooms.
As I have learnt from my Rabbinic teachers. It is very easy to just say ‘assur’ but when we learn halacha, we understand the logic and many times see that halacha is there to tell us not what we can’t do but what we can!
As I said whatsapp groups are an interesting phenomenon.
This one post led me on a fascinating journey with modern day poskim, whose job is to be our ‘shofet b’yamav’ applying the Torah to the world of 21st century living.