In Shemot 16:23 we read:

אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאפ֞וּ אֵפ֗וּ

That which is with tofu you should bake.

Why does the Torah require us to specifically bake products containing tofu?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Isaac Moses Feb 24 at 17:38
  • Clearly tofu is not edible boiled, so Hashem felt the need to inform us that there is a deOraita requirement to cook it in an oven. In our day, when roasting is also done in an oven, tofu may also be roasted or broiled – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 24 at 18:03
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    This obligation only applies to Asher. – rosends Feb 24 at 18:12
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    Can somebody please explain the pun? – Joshua Feb 25 at 4:31
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    @Joshua "אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאפ֞וּ אֵפ֗וּ" means, "That which you will bake, bake." תֹּאפוּ (/toʊˈfu/, pronounced like the word "tofu" but with emphasis on the second syllable) means "you will bake". The word את here is a nota accusativi particle used to introduce "that which you will bake", but את sometimes means "with". The pun translation of this phrase is, "That which is with tofu, bake." – Fred Feb 25 at 10:33

Tofu is essentially a pareve kind of "cheese" made from soy milk curds. Due to mar'is ha'ayin, it is forbidden to combine meat together milk substitutes that look like milk (such as almond milk that may not be eaten together with meat unless it's made obvious that the almond milk is pareve, Rama YD 87:3).

Around the same time that the tofu manna descended from heaven, the Jews in the desert were also miraculously given a vast quantity of quail to eat (Sh'mos 16:13). Although it was not enough to last them for thirty days, it did last some people ten or twenty days (implied from the contrast in B'midbar 11:19-20). This brings up a potential mar'is ha'ayin issue, though, if people would cook or eat their remaining quail together with the tofu manna.

The Rama holds that there is no problem to combine milk substitutes with poultry (ibid.). He interprets the verse as allowing baking or boiling poultry and tofu together with no need for a distinctive indication that the tofu is pareve. Shach (87:6) disagrees and says that the prohibition applies to poultry as well, but only on a rabbinic level. Presumably, he would accordingly agree with the Rama's reading of the verse.

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This is because if it wasn't cooked, it wouldn't be tofu:

The Process of Making Tofu

Fact: Tofu is already cooked.

How did this happen? When you make tofu, you have to begin with the process of making soy milk. In order to make soy milk, the soybeans are soaked overnight to make the beans softer. This will also help in the easy separation of the shell from the beans.

Once this is done, the soybeans are boiled under low fire in order to make the soy milk. On top of that, the soy milk is cooked again under medium heat before adding the coagulants. This means that the tofu is safe to consume at its raw state because it has already undergone the process of cooking by making the soy milk.


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