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16 votes
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Was the Shamir worm used for the second Beis Hamikdash?

According to the Mishna (Sotah 9:12), the Shamir wasn't extinct until the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash. ט:יב משמתו נביאים הראשונים, בטלו אורים ותומים. משחרב בית המקדש, בטל השמיר ונופת ...
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12 votes
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Can you remove a tick on Shabbos?

If one has a flea on his skin and is biting him, he may remove it, but should not kill it. There is no violation of the melacha of tzad because these items are not generally hunted and are prohibited ...
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11 votes

Were there cockroaches on the ark?

Great question! Apparently, 2 cockroaches were on the ark. Breishit (Gen.) 6:20 mentions "all that crawls on the land". I would include insects in that category. Apparently, they made it out of the ...
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9 votes

What is the purpose of the mosquito?

This is adressed in the Tiferes Yisroel on Avos, ch. 4 mishna 3, oisios 20 & 21. The mishna says ואל תהי מפליג מכל דבר, don't be seperated from anything. The T.Y. explains this to mean not to ...
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8 votes
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Regurgitating Living Forbidden Species

At the end of perek Gid Hanashe (103 IIRC) in Chullin, the gemara cites a question concerning what is considered eating. Do we say its the benefit of the throat or the digestion of the stomach? The ...
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7 votes
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Is there a concern regarding the kashrut of microorganisms?

This issue is the one behind the famous New York City non-Kosher water scandal. Basically, the issue is that there are tiny crustaceans in NYC tap water. The Star-K gives a nice overview of the ...
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6 votes
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Spiders in Judaism

Mishlei 30:28: שְׂמָמִית בְּיָדַיִם תְּתַפֵּשׂ וְהִיא בְּהֵיכְלֵי מֶלֶךְ The spider grasps with [her] hands, and she is in a king's palaces. This is one of the four animals that are called חֲכָמִים ...
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6 votes

Do popcorn kernels have to be checked for bugs?

According to the current (updated February 7, 2014) version of the Star-K's "Insect Checking Quick Reference Guide for Mashgichim", corn doesn't need to be checked for infestation. It does say that ...
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6 votes
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What is the purpose of the mosquito?

Yishai left a comment with a link to an article, in which the Lubavitcher Rebbe remarks that the mosquito is a creature that only takes, and doesn't give.... The mosquito does serve somewhat as a ...
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6 votes
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Why Are Bugs Not Batul Bshishim?

There is a special rabbinic law which says a בריה, any living thing in it's entirety, cannot become nullified due to it's being special in a sense. You can see more about this in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh ...
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6 votes

What is the difference between non-kosher food and insects regarding "transference"?

The difference between the scenarios is not an abstract difference between nonkosher food and worms, but between cooked and uncooked food and food of the same type and food of different types. First,...
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5 votes

If there are ants in the sink on Shabbat, can I use the sink even though they'll drown?

The Minchas Yitzchak 10:27 and Shevet Halevi 6:94(he brings the Minchas yitzchak as well) bring a similar case about flushing a fly down the toilet that was there already .If one wants to use the ...
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5 votes

Do popcorn kernels have to be checked for bugs?

According to Rabbi Moshe Vaye popcorn kernels should be checked. A. Strain, over a white surface, in a strainer with large holes and check whether any small insects are found among the debris that ...
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5 votes
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A bug that falls in noodles

Unlike meat and milk, bugs don't "contaminate" the soup. We don't eat bugs but the soup itself doesn't get spoiled if the bug is removed. Therefore, if one is sure the bug is completely removed, the ...
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5 votes

Were there insects in the garden of eden?

According to Rashi (see Beresihis 3:17), the land/ground began to produce flies, fleas and ants only after Adam and Eve sinned, therefore insects didn't existed prior to that.
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4 votes

Restaurants with hechsher for locusts

I wrote to Dr. Ari Greenspan and R' Dr. Ari Zivotofky, who have hosted "Mesora Dinners," serving foods with interesting Halachic statuses, in various places. As far as they know, there are no kosher ...
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4 votes

Why don't we worry about the transfer of taste with bugs?

SA YD 104, 3: דברים המאוסים שנפשו של אדם קצה בהם כנמלים וזבובים ויתושים שכל אדם בודל מהם למיאוסן אפילו נתערבו בתבשיל ונמחה גופן לתוכו אם ההיתר רבה עליו מותרים ומכל מקום כל שאפשר לבדוק ולהעביר במסננת ...
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4 votes

Were there insects in the garden of eden?

The gemora chullin 60 a states that everything was created in its full form. "יב"ל כל מעשה בראשית בקומתן נבראו בדעתן נבראו בצביונם נבראו שנאמר (בראשית ב, א) ויכולו השמים והארץ וכל צבאם אל ...
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3 votes
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Which insects are not kosher?

"Rav D.Z Hoffman raises the difficulty that all insects have six legs, not four. He explains that they have 4 legs that are used for simple walking, while the other two are used for jumping." (From ...
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3 votes

Spiders in Judaism

See this The Medrash ‘Alpha Beta Di’ Ben Sirah’ relates a story where King David asked Hashem why he created spiders for ‘they are such ugly and useless creatures’. Hashem responded ‘be patient,...
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3 votes

Do kashrut agencies inspect pickling spices for insects before adding them to brined meat?

See this list of "dried spices that are acceptable for kosher use without specific Kosher supervision" - Allspice is literally the first entry. Many spices are considered to not require supervision ...
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3 votes
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Is there a custom to use beeswax candles for Hannukah?

The Sefer Nitei Gavriel Perek 20:5:note 12 writes that many people use wax for the shamash. The sources include the Hagaos Maharil,Minhagei Chabad pg 275 since the name wax in Hebrew has connotations ...
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3 votes

Trapping mosquitoes on Shabbat

Rabbi David Ribiat in his 39 Melachos page 863 says that since mosquitoes are too elusive to be captured easily, therefore they may not be trapped on Shabbos. However, Daily Halacha | Congregation ...
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3 votes

Does "Nivdak" flour, grains, beans or pasta exist?

FWIW, in Eretz Yisroel, there are vacuum packed bags of grains under Badatz supervision. They tend to be slightly more expensive but are "נקי מחשש תולעים". I saw some in stores near the Mir (in the ...
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3 votes

If there are ants in the sink on Shabbat, can I use the sink even though they'll drown?

שמירת שבת כהלכתה, יב:כ נמלים וחרקים אחרים הנמצאים על רצפת המטבח או בכיור ובכלים, יש להיזהר מלשוטפם באופן שיבוא לקטילתם. [Regarding] ants and other insects that are found on the kitchen floor, ...
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3 votes

Why aren't Yemenites an ed echad on locusts?

Much of this is based on a 2016 article by Dr. Ari Greenspan, Dr. Ari Zivotvsky and Yosef Zivotovsky, published in the memorial series Mesorah le-Yosef, pp. 77-85, titled אכילת חגבים לבני אשכנז לדעת ...
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3 votes

What was the "tzir'a"?

From http://parsha.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-is-tzirah.html: Onkelos translates it as ערעיתא, hornet. Ibn Ezra understands it as a type of sickness of the body, along the lines of צרעת. So ...
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3 votes

Do you have to check bagged lettuce with a hechsher?

The OU and cRc have the policy that bagged, washed iceberg lettuce is almost never a bug issue. Therefore, a bagged iceberg (or iceberg/cabbage/carrot) mix with a hechsher needs no further checking. (...
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3 votes

Regurgitating Living Forbidden Species

While it's likely forbidden as bal teshaktzu (as noted by @mbloch) and as tzaar balei chayim (causing animal suffering), swallowing an animal whole would seem to be no more derekh hanaathan (in the ...
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  • 17.2k
3 votes
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Are cicadas kosher?

Good question, but no. Leviticus 11:22 allows only four species of locust. No other insects are kosher. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (who was also a scientist) translated them as follows: "the red locust, ...
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