More or less kosher?

Q: So I’ve been working towards keeping kosher for awhile, and now I’m at a point where I basically only eat kosher food, but I don’t have two sets of kosher dishes. My question is: if I buy new pots and pans but I don’t kosher my stove/ oven is the food I eat kosher, or at least more kosher then it was before? Also… will I have to go out and buy new pots and pans because the old ones will be considered treif because I used them on an un-koshered stove?

A: You ask a complicated question, as the laws of kashrut are vast and complex.

First of all, I want to say that I think that this “move” is great, and you deserve much encouragement for undertaking this important step!

Secondly, yes, indeed, the food is “more” kosher than before. However, due to the above-mentioned complexities of kashrut, it is indeed possible that in the future you would need to either kasher the pots, or purchase new ones (it depends on the type of pot & other issues).

I think it’s great that you want to keep kosher, and I find it very inspiring! May you only find happiness and joy in Judaism! Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for the answer. Can something be more kosher or less kosher or is it just kosher or not-kosher?

A: Good question!

The basic answer is that something is either kosher or it isn’t.

The more complex answer is that it depends 🙂

There are basically 2 versions of kosher: plan A and plan B. When all conditions are ideal, we go for plan A; sometimes, we need to “fall back” on plan B.

An example: kashrut forbids eating meat and milk together. Are you allowed to put a small amount of milk into your chicken soup? No. What if it happens accidentally? You can eat the soup (as long as there is less than 1/60th of milk:meat).

Hope this helps.

Another follow-up Q: But my question is this: you can use a milk pot and a meat pot on the same stove top as long as it’s at different times. So why would a pot that touches a not-kashered stove not be kosher.

My second question is this: If I kasher one of my four stove tops and leave the rest to my family is that kosher? Someone said it might not be because of the heat generated from the not-kosher ones. But then they said I should ask a Rabbi. Which is you!

A: The laws are too complicated to go into over Facebook, so forgive my brevity.
1. It is not ideal to use the same burner for milk & meat. Also, remember what I wrote about ‘plan a & b’? It is not correct in Jewish law to use non-kosher utensils/stove, as it presents many kashrut questions.
2. Kashering one burner is better than kashering none. I quote from a previous message to you: However, due to the above-mentioned complexities of kashrut, it is indeed possible that in the future — should you “get frummer,” as you say — that you would need to either kasher the pots, or purchase new ones (it depends on the type of pot & other issues).

I would be happy to continue this discussion if you wish over facebook or in person.

Another follow-up Q: I’m starting to think I’m not ready to keep kosher what with the toveling and the kashering and everything else. Do you have a book on keeping kosher for dummies or something like that that you could lend me when school starts? I think I need to learn a lot more about it before I make this commitment.

A: I would love to speak about this in person, but here are some thoughts to ponder:

Judaism is not all or nothing. Every little bit counts, and one should not refrain from doing a mitzvah because they don’t feel that they can do it 100% (qualitatively or quantitatively). That being said, I would applaud you and encourage you to begin keeping kosher “one step at a time.”

If you think that you are not ready to purchase new pots etc., I would suggest that perhaps you should consider committing to only purchase food with reliable kosher certification and only eating in kosher restaurants (in Queens, both of these are pretty easy to do). Once you are comfortable with these (no small feat!), you can consider moving on to another step. You should know that most people who begin keeping kosher, do it in steps.

I have a great book that I would recommend which follows exactly this approach, called “Going Kosher in 30 Days.” I don’t think you have to do it within 30 days, but the concept of moving gradually is what applies. I would be happy to lend my copy to you.

Let me know if you would like to discuss this further. Oh, and I have a copy of our new Jewish calendar for you! Hope to see you soon.