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Many bars (and hotel lobbies) will add a lemon wedge to the top of a glass of soda; often it's used to differentiate between Diet Coke (gets the lemon) and regular Coke (no lemon).

Does this pose a kashrus problem?

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Thanks, Shalom good question –  SimchasTorah Jul 21 '10 at 14:17
    
Can I just tell you how thirsty this question makes me every time I see it pop up on the front page? –  Seth J Aug 8 '12 at 1:48
    
BS"D Wouldnt the glass the drink is in also be questionable? since ina past life where i worked at both bars and a club that served some food and the unkosher plates and forks are put in the same dishwasher as the glasses. Ive never looked into this area before if any one has some insights. –  Qoheleth Aug 8 '12 at 2:00
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@Qoheleth see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/940/759 –  Double AA Aug 8 '12 at 3:11
    
@DoubleAA thanks do you know the sources they are quoting? –  Qoheleth Aug 10 '12 at 14:37

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Ask your rabbi.

And a warning: if you're trying to impress your date by just quoting my answer here, there's a decent chance she's seen it too by now, so nice try. (But then again, if you're both yodeyans, you're off to a good start ...)

Here are the issues, as I understand them and as I've heard:

  • Is the knife clean? If not, who knows what was on it.
  • Let's assume the knife was clean. The problem is that lemons are sharp-tasting -- "davar charif" -- and thus, if sliced by a non-kosher knife, would become non-kosher. That's the big issue here.
    • So if you walk into a non-kosher restaurant, pull out a knife, and slice one lemon, you have a problem. There's a decent chance this knife was used for ham, then this lemon -- not kosher.
  • The straightest way out of the problem is if the knife was used for high volumes of kosher foods. By the practice of the Shulchan Aruch (though again today we buy with a hechsher whenever possible), you could buy commercial sliced lemons, ginger, or onions; as they're producing such large volumes that even if the knife had been used to slice ham, it's since sliced a thousand lemons. Maybe the first or second lemon got the ham flavor, but pretty soon after, though, that flavor has dissipated; you can assume you're getting a later lemon.
    • The final question then becomes: does the bartender have a designated knife, or will he (how often?) run to the hotel kitchen for one? If he has a designated knife, it's used almost entirely for kosher foods, so the thousand-lemon argument would allow it.
    • Hm; now there's a question -- for what foods does a bartender use a knife? (Anyone here a bartender?) There are plenty of non-kosher drinks at a bar, but those don't need a knife. Lemons, limes, pineapple -- all kosher. (Well if you're in Israel you have shmita/teruma/maaser issues, that's a whole different question.) Cocktail onions or maraschino cherries? Who cuts those? Yes, as far as I can see, the only use for a bartender's knife is plain fruit.
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Why do people feel the need to preface every answer with CYLOR? If people believe it is really necessary, then preface instead with "I am not a rabbi, but my understanding of the halakha is as follows:" –  Adam Mosheh May 15 '12 at 23:43
    
@AdamMosheh, they seem to mean about the same thing, but one is shorter than the other. –  msh210 May 15 '12 at 23:46
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@msh210 - But not quite the same thing. Do you understand the difference? –  Adam Mosheh May 15 '12 at 23:53
    
@shalom, What about cleaning the knife? If the knife goes into the dishwasher with the ham dishes, does the overwhelming Kosherness of the lemons weigh against that? –  Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 15:50
    
@SethJ, not sure I understand. We assume a knife used to slice hot ham is still non-kosher even after going through the dishwasher. OTOH if the bartender has a dedicated knife he may wash it separately; even if he does put it in the dishwasher with non-kosher stuff, poskim generally assume that any non-kosher particulate mixes with the yucky-tasting detergent (there's an article where the Chicago Rabbinical Council tried tasting the stuff -- don't try this at home kids!) when contacting the knife, so in a pinch the knife is still kosher. –  Shalom Aug 8 '12 at 9:04

Our question and an answer,It's question 216

And , again from the OK same answer

Essentially do not use it if it has a lemon.

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It really all hinges on how the knife is used. These rabbis assume it's a problem; I've heard others who say it likely isn't. But the OK has the good points about a strongly alcoholic drink. –  Shalom Jul 21 '10 at 14:57
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Shalom, please expand on the Rabbis who say it's not a problem. What is their specific leniency. –  YDK Jul 21 '10 at 19:01
    
YS, the OK source has some issues, although not pertinent to our question: 1) You can't assur something left in a cup for 24 hours since after that time the taste is pagum. 2) What is his source for categorizing whiskey as something that is kavush in 18 min. Even vinigar is a big question. What do you think? –  YDK Jul 21 '10 at 19:37
    
I do not know at all. –  SimchasTorah Jul 22 '10 at 22:38

Lemons are, according to some, a davar charif. The assumption is that a knife cut can transfer into the thickness of a lemon slice not only what's on the outside of the knife, but even what is absorbed in the knife- even taste that is lifgam (24 hours old), the sharp taste makes it lishvach.

The Shach limits the transfer to what's in the knife's outer edge, since lemons are not so strong.

The Rema permits lemons that come in a barrel, if such is the minhag. The Shach says that it's base on the following leniencies:

  • Some say only turnips (and one other veggie, I forgot which) are davar charif

  • Some say it can't turn p'gam lishvach

  • Lemons are weak even as far as a davar charif and after the first two lemons worked the outer taste of the knife, the lemon doesn't have the power to get any more taste out, and those two lemons are battel in the other lemons in the barrel

  • The cutter may have been using purely designated knives

Hotel lounges may not have the last 2 requisites, although, as Shalom said, a bar may be different. Since we Ashkenazim hold chanan by reg. issur, 60x the lemon seems like a lot of soda in the glass. (60x would be the maximum even if you can taste the lemon after 60 (avidi letaima) since your only machmir by chanan to what's absorbed).

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Whenever we talk about 60x the lemon; it's one thing to now throw away the lemon, and be concerned with the little bit of juice that already fell in; it's another to go and squeeze the lemon for all it's worth. –  Shalom Jul 21 '10 at 19:18
    
Since we know taste went in, how do you calculate how much? –  YDK Jul 21 '10 at 19:40
    
If you're talking about 60x the lemon, even if you squeeze it for all it's worth, you're really only talking about a small wedge, not the entire lemon, so to get 60x isn't so hard. At most you get a teaspoon of juice out of that wedge, which is 1/48 of a cup (1/8 of an ounce). Since most drinking glasses, especially at bars, are at least 12 ounces, and in fact, most are 16-20 ounces, even with ice, you're probably fine with that amount of lemon juice. The issue that remains, though, is whether that 60x is enough. The purpose of squeezing the lemon juice is to alter the taste - and color. –  Seth J Jun 15 '11 at 14:27
    
I believe we limit the issues to the actual issur, not to the lemon into which the issur became absorbed (with the exception of Chanan). So the taste beyond 60 and color are not significant. –  YDK Jun 15 '11 at 15:57
    
I would like to see someone address the issue I raised above (Nikar) –  Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 15:59

No problem.

The Maharsham (YD 96:1) holds that by a normal davar charif we go after rov tashmisho - the majority of its usage. Meaning, if most of the time the knife in question is used for cold (non kli rishon) things or for hot but kosher things, then it will not render a davar charif non-kosher, even if sometimes it is used to cut non-kosher meat straight off the fire. This Maharsham has been cited to me lehalacha by a very mainstream rabbi. I think it is clear that any knife being used to cut lemons will fall into this category.

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+1. Do you mind editing in the name of the "very mainstream rabbi"? –  msh210 Aug 8 '12 at 20:29
    
@msh210 I don't know if he would appreciate being named in public. He is on one of the Lakewood Batei Hora'ah. If anyone wants to know who, I'll answer via email. –  Dov F Aug 8 '12 at 20:39

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