Jews are prohibited the consumption of Gentile cheese. Now my question is what qualifies as cheese, or what is the halachic definition of cheese. For it cannot be that something is prohibited simply because the Gentiles call it "cheese", e.g. a type of chocolate called 'cheese' because it tastes a bit like cheese while being entirely kosher. There has to be assumed a genus of 'cheese' which is common to kosher as well as non-kosher cheese. So what is the definition of this common genus called 'cheese'?

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    Merriam-Webster says " a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey." Oct 6, 2021 at 15:01
  • @AvrohomYitzchok but how does that coagulation occur? That makes a big difference according to some
    – Joel K
    Oct 6, 2021 at 15:17
  • Indeed there are those who allow gentile-made cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta based on the ambiguity of the definition of what cheese is Oct 6, 2021 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


Chalav becomes Gevinah when the kosher milk is "curdled" or thickened, as stated in [Iyov 10:10].

"Did You not pour me like milk and curdle me like cheese?" (הֲלֹ֣א כֶֽ֖חָלָב תַּתִּיכֵ֑נִי וְ֜כַגְּבִנָּ֗ה תַּקְפִּיאֵֽנִי)

“Hard” cheese is made by souring (fermenting) the milk to impart the desired flavor and then curdling the casein fraction of the milk. This curd forms a matrix, which entraps whey and fat to form cheese. Historically, milk was curdled by using an enzyme called rennin, which is a protease (an enzyme which affects protein) derived from the stomach of a suckling calf. In the times of חז“ל this enzyme came either from the flesh of the stomach itself (עור הקיבה) or from the milk found in the calf’s stomach (קיבה).

Cheeses which use rennet as the primary coagulant (e.g. Cheddar, Muenster, Mozzarella) are called rennet set cheeses and are subject to the laws of גבינת עכו“ם. This גזירה applies equally both to cheeses made with microbial rennet as well as to those using animal rennet. In addition to conventional Kosher ingredient concerns, the גזירה of גבינת עכו“ם requires that a Mashgiach be present during the production and, according to many שיטות, he must add the rennet to each vat. The only exception to this requirement is where a Jew owns the milk, in which case only the ingredients are of consequence.


  • Is this the relevant definition for the prohibition of Gentile's Cheese?
    – Double AA
    Oct 6, 2021 at 15:33
  • @DoubleAA - See updated reference to Cheeses (curdled milk) with rennet. Oct 6, 2021 at 15:58
  • Wouldn't tosafot argue with this? I believe they allow all cheese if the ingredients are known
    – Aaron
    Oct 6, 2021 at 20:17

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