I was reading about the laws of bitul, though I've never learnt about them properly in any detail.

One example given in the book (An Artscroll book on kashrut) was that you can assume that a grocery store uses a knife only for watermelons... and that even if it's possible that the knife is not kosher, it would become so after a few cuts and the first few fruits cut would be nullified among the rest.

Based on the principles in this reasoning, why are some people extra stringent to avoid cholov stam milk and other products that are given kosher status by kosher lists but don't have a hechsher? It totally makes sense to me that you would want to avoid any possibility of contamination, but since it can apparently be nullified with a high enough quantity of the kosher ingredient (as would tend to be present), and since you can assume so much... what is the difference between the possibly non-kosher knife used to cut fruit and the machinery used to process something else? If it's heretical to say you can't eat actually non-kosher meat mixed in by accident with kosher meat in particular situations, then how is the extra caution necessary?

If there a factor of bitul only counting 'after the fact' so that you have to be cautious still with processes, why doesn't this apply in the case of the fruit from a grocery store? Is it because there more likelihood in the 'assumption' in that case? And if so, why the problem with cholov stam milk in the eyes of some people?

  • Is the question about machinery or about Chalav Akum? Oct 20, 2013 at 4:55
  • It's not just about milk, but where it is I would say it's about both. Thanks for your answer below, by the way; I hope others will discuss it more with you, and I'll learn from it.
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 5:06
  • Downvoter, please comment. I think that the extra stringency makes sense but am trying to understand the opinion of those who don't. Sorry if poorly phrased or structured, you could suggest edits.
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 5:42
  • PS I might come later and turn this into two questions, one about milk and the other about the principle I'm asking about more in general.
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 6:27
  • If you really want to know about all the complications about Kosher food production: amazon.com/Kosher-Production-Zushe-Yosef-Blech/dp/0813820936
    – Yishai
    Oct 21, 2013 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


Some thoughts to consider.

  • Thanks. With your first paragraph, that's what I meant by 'after the fact'... it has to happen by accident. The question I have is how careful you have to be in advance that such things don't just happen to occur, either by accident in your own place or by an unknown hand in the production process.
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 3:11
  • @Annelise Often in production the items in question may be mixed on purpose but not in order that bittul should apply (eg. non Jew makes a stew and mixes all the items on purpose but isn't planning for one to nullify the other). These rules can get complicated, however, when trying to evaluate what the intentions were in different situations.
    – Double AA
    Oct 20, 2013 at 3:15
  • Hm, makes sense. If things are mixed on purpose but without bitul in mind, and the consumer doesn't know whether that happened... when could a Jew keep in mind that if it had happened it would be nullified for him or her?
    – Annelise
    Oct 20, 2013 at 3:25

Cholov Akum is its own decree. In other words, it would have been completely kosher if not for the extra decree against it (like Pas Akum or Bishul Akum, which are intrinsically kosher yet there is a decree against consuming it).

The question is

  1. Is Chalav Akum a decree "with a reason" which can be nullified if the reason doesn't exist (so that countries where Kosher milk is cheaper would not require supervision) - the opinion of the Pri Chadash or is it an intrinsic prohibition (such that one needs a Beis Din greater than the one that enacted the prohibition to cancel it)
  2. Is government supervision considered "us seeing" (R' Moshe Feinstein) or not?

Source: http://rabbikaganoff.com/archives/1789

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