The Prohibition against Eating Insects and the Requirement to Check Food for Infestation

By R. Joshua Flug

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I. Introduction: a. The Prohibition against eating insects is clearly stated in the Torah. {} b. The Gemara states that in fact you violate multiple prohibitions for eating insects. {} i. Rashi explains that since the Torah lists the Torah prohibitions in various ways, you violate multiple violations for eating a single insect. {} c. We don't generally encounter people who intentionally eat insects. However, these discussions are very practical for food items that may contain insects. II. What is the nature of the prohibition against eating food that contains insects? a. The initial discussion begins with the laws of ta'aroves: i. When the insect is recognizable within the mixture (i.e. there is an insect that is visible on the surface of the food) it is considered nikar ha'issur. Tosafos write that an item that is recognizable within the mixture is prohibited m'd'oraisa. {} ii. In most situations, the insects are not on the surface. Does that mean that they are considered part of a mixture? 1. Rama rules that if chelev is mixed into a mixture and is batel, one should still attempt to remove the chelev by pouring cold water into the mixture, allowing the chelev to float to the top. {} 2. Regarding instects, in many situations, you have the ability to do the same thing. If you soak the food in water, the insects will become dislodged from the food. 3. For this reason, it is arguable that it is biblically prohibited to eat any food that contains insects that can be removed by soaking the food in water. Those insects are not actually mixed in to the food. 4. However, it is not so clear that Rama treats the chelev as nikar ha'isur: a. The source for Rama's ruling is Issue V'Heter HeAruch. He implies that the requirement to remove the chelev is an added stringency. He doesn't write that there is a chiyuv to remove chelev, rather he writes that there is a mitzvah to remove it. {} i. R. Yonasan Eibeschitz rules that if adding water to the mixture will ruin the mixture, there is no obligation to do so. {} ii. P'ri Megadim disagrees and maintains that we treat the chelev is nikar ha'isur and therefore even if the mixture will be ruined by adding the water, you must still add the water. {} 5. Applying to this machlokes to insects that are hidden in a food item: a. According to R. Yonasan Eibeschitz, if you can't actually see the insects and the only way to remove them is by soaking them in water, we treat it as a regular ta'aroves (which we will be discussed later).

b. According to P'ri Megadim, we are dealing with a potential biblical prohibition against eating the mixture because the insects are considered recognizable. b. Even if we treat these insects as mixed in to the food, they are usually not nullified. i. The Gemara states that there is no nullification of a beriyah (whole creature). {} ii. What constitutes a beriyah? 1. Ran states three conditions for something to be considered a beriyah: {} a. It must be a prohibited from its inception. A creature that was inherently kosher and then became non-kosher does not qualify as a beriyah. b. It must be a creature. A grain would not qualify as a beriyah. c. It must be a whole creature. If a significant portion of it is detached, it is not considered a beriyah. 2. Shulchan Aruch codifies these three conditions. {} iii. How do we apply the rules of beriyah to insects? 1. Insects are one of the classic cases of beriyah, so in most cases an insect will not be batel. 2. There is a discussion in the Rishonim about the possibility of nullification of a beriyah in (approximately) 1,000 times its volume. a. The Yerushalmi states that the nullification standards of a certain non-kosher fish is 960. The Gemara then states that was a case "b'achbera" and they allowed nullification of 1,000 to one. {} i. Rosh writes that it is implicit from the Yerushalmi that a beriyah is batel in 960 and the mouse was really also batel in 960, but they used the number 1,000 because that was the reality of that particular situation. {} ii. Rosh notes that there are those who interpret the Yerushalmi differently. Achbera is not a mouse, but rather a place. The Yerushalmi is not dealing at all with the laws of beriyah. iii. Ran suggests that we are dealing with a mouse, but not because it is a beriyah. Rather, it is a mouse that is not whole, but because it has a very strong taste, the standards of nullification are not 60, but rather a much higher number. {} b. Although the opinion that a beriyah is batel in 960 is not generally accepted, it is used as a mitigating factor in certain questions.

3. What is considered "whole" for the purpose of a beriyah (i.e. how

much of the insect must be removed for it to be batel)? a. Shach (quoting Ran)- Even if an insect loses a leg it is not considered a beriyah. {} b. Chavos Da'as- Questions whether it must be a limb that would cause the creature to die were it to be missing in its lifetime. He admits that Ran and Shach clearly state that loss of any limb would render it a non-beriyah. {} 4. What if there is a question whether the insect is whole or not? a. Issur V'Heter- If there is a possibility that the insect is not whole, one may be lenient and assume that it is batel. {} b. Issur V'Heter's comments are codified by Taz. {} 5. Is it permissible to perform an action that will cause the insects to break in order to allow eating the food? a. The Gemara notes that there is a prohibition against bitul issur l'chatchilah. {} b. Ran rules that bitul issur l'chatchilah is only a problem if your intent is to add the issur to the mixture. If the act that causes the issur to become batel is not done for the purpose of having the issur part of the mixture (i.e. you are not interested in having the issur in the mixture) then there is no prohibition of bitul issur l'chatchilah. {} c. Orchos Chaim writes that if insects fall into honey and there is no way to remove them, you can heat up the honey and then filter out the insects and this is not bitul issur l'chatchilah because your intent is not to eat the insects but to allow the honey. {} i. Shulchan Aruch codifies this ruling. {} 1. Kneses HaGedolah limits this leniency. He claims that this leniency only applies to items such as honey where it is otherwise impossible to filter out the insects. However, if it is possible to filter out the insects, it is prohibited to cook the insects with intent that they break apart. {} 2. R. Shlomo Kluger disagrees and maintains that as long as your intent is not to include the insects as part of the mixture, it is permissible. {} III. Insects that are not visible to the naked eye a. Aruch HaShulchan- Any insect that is only visible through use of magnification is not part of the prohibition against eating insects. {} [This idea is universally accepted and Aruch HaShulchan was not the first to present this idea.] b. The common question in this area is: What if the insect is visible to the naked eye, but not as an insect, rather as a small black dot?

i. When the insect is alive, it is certainly prohibited because you would see the "black dot" move across the food. The real question is when the insect is dead and only recognizable as an insect through magnification. 1. R. Avraham Abukara notes that there are those who prefer cooking vinegar before filtering it because when you cook it, the small insects don't move through the filter. He questions this logic because he thinks that the insects really make it through the filter and the reason why people think that they don't is because the insects are only visible when they are alive. When they are dead they are indiscernible. The implication of his entire argument is that if an insect is visible as an insect when it's alive but not visible when it is dead, it is nevertheless prohibited when it is dead. {} 2. R. Shlomo Zalman initially thought that if you can see the insect but you can't see the movement as an insect, it is not part of the prohibition. However, he discovered that the Chazon Ish was stringent on this question. He further claimed that there are not too many insects of this nature and if you look carefully at most insects, you should be able to discern its movement. {} IV. What Level of infestation requires checking? a. The Gemara discusses a case of insect of infestation in dates: {} i. Rashba explains that we are dealing with a case where not every date is infested but infestation is common (miut hamaztui) and therefore there is an obligation to check for insects. {} ii. Ran compares this obligation to check to the obligation to check the lungs of an animal for adhesions. Ran implies that the obligation to check is only m'drabanan (because on a Torah level you can rely on the majority that are not infested). {} 1. Shach states explicitly that the obligation to check for a miut hamatzui is only m'd'rabanan. {} b. How does one define miut hamatzui? i. Mishkenos Ya'akov- The threshold for miut hamatzui is 10%. {} ii. Shevet HaLevi- Miut hamatzui is not dependent on statistics but rather based on perception. If the occurrence is seen as a common occurrence, that always accompanies the majority, one must check for that occurrence. If the occurrence only seems common occasionally, it is not considered a miut hamatzui. {} iii. Many Kashrus organizations adopt Mishkenos Ya'akov's position and assume that 10% is considered miut hamatzui. c. How does one gauge miut hamatzui when it comes to insect infestation? i. Regarding treifos in animals, it is easy to determine how to gauge miut hamatzui: One must check for any type of treifa that has an occurrence of 10% or greater in animals. Regarding, insect infestation, do we assume that 10% is measured by: 1. One insect per every ten warehouses? 2. One insect per every ten packages? 3. One insect per every ten servings?

4. One insect per every ten bites? ii. There are a number of published responses to this issue: 1. R. Shlomo Zalman Aurebach: The obligation to check follows the quantity that you have. If you have one head of lettuce, then you have to check if one in every ten heads contain an insect. If you have a larger package, then you must check if one in every ten packages contain an insect. {} 2. R. Elyashiv has a similar approach to R. Shlomo Zalman, but adds that if you are catering to hundreds, then you must check the entire inventory if there is a 10% chance that there is one insect in the entire inventory. [Based on R. Elyashiv's ruling, we can understand why some are reluctant to give a hashgacha on packaged salads.] {} 3. R. Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg: Perhaps we follow the quantity involved. If we are dealing with rice, we must only check if there is one insect for every ten pieces of rice. {} 4. R. Hershel Schachter: The idea of 10% is based on the possibility that the individual will violate the prohibition. Therefore, if one in every ten servings contain an insect, you have to check, and if not there is no obligation to check. {} V. Leniencies Presented by Poskim regarding Tolaim (use your discretion in determining whether it is appropriate to present this section) a. Aruch HaShulchan notes that there are a lot of pious people who eat certain foods with known issues of insect infestation and therefore, he feels that it is his responsibility to find a justification for this practice. He proceeds to present a number of leniencies on the matter: i. R. Yonasan Eibeschitz- Sheratzim are only prohibited from the time they are shoretz al ha'aretz. If an egg of a sheretz hatches on a fruit it is not prohibited until it leaves the fruit and then returns. {} 1. As we discussed earlier, according to Ran and Shulchan Aruch, a creature is only considered a beriyah if it is prohibited from its inception. 2. R. Eibeschitz suggests that sheratzim are not prohibited from their inception, rather from the moment they are shoretz al ha'aretz. Therefore, they should not be subject to the laws of beriyah and should be batel b'shishim. 3. He notes that there are Rishonim who explicitly apply the laws of beriyah to insects. Therefore, one should not rely on this idea, but it should serve as a limud z'chus for those who are not meticulous on this matter. ii. Mishkenos Ya'akov- The reason why beriyah is not batel is that it is considered something significant within the mixture. Perhaps that only applies to something that is distinguishable as something significant. If it is totally blended in to the mixture to the point that it is not distinguishable, perhaps the laws of beriyah should not apply and it should be batel b'shishim. {}

iii. Aruch HaShulchan presents his own leniency: {} 1. There is a discussion about devarim hame'usim (disgusting items)

and whether they are automatically nosein ta'am lifgam. 2. Aruch HaShulchan suggests that insects, which are certainly considered devarim hame'usim, should not be subject to the prohibition of beriyah if they can't be nosein ta'am into the mixture. b. R. Shmuel Landa (son of the Noda B'Yehuda) presents an additional leniency {} i. There is a concept of davar she'aino miskavein that applies to all areas of halacha and not just Shabbos. ii. It normally does not apply to food items because when you eat something you get hana'ah from it so there is an assumed kavanah for the hana'ah. iii. However, when there are insects in the food, nobody benefits from the insects and therefore, eating the food with the insects would be considered a davar she'aino miskavein. iv. This idea would only apply to foods that have questionable infestation. If there is definite infestation, it would not be considered a davar she'aino miskavein. v. He is not willing to rely on this idea as a matter of Halacha and only presents it as a sevara, not even a smach l'hakel. vi. Nevertheless, R. Shlomo Zalman presents this idea as a smach l'hakel in a certain situation. {}

‫איסור והיתר הארוך כג:ט‬

‫ויקרא יא:מא‬ ‫ו ְכל הַשרץ הַשרץ על הארץ שקץ הוא לא‬ ‫ֹ‬ ‫ֶ ֶ‬ ‫ָ ֶ‬ ‫ֹׁ ֵ ַ‬ ‫ֶׁ ֶ‬ ‫ָ‬ ‫יאכל.‬ ‫ֵ ֵ‬ ‫מכות טז:‬

‫כרתי ופלתי צח:ו‬

‫רש"י שם‬

‫פרי מגדים משבצות זהב יו"ד צח:ז‬ ‫ובכר"ו אות ו' היקל כשהמאכל מתקלקל ע"י צינון כמו‬ ‫לקמן ס' ק"ב בכלי ע"י הגעלה יע"ש. ויש לחלק ביניהן‬ ‫כי כאן הוא כמכיר האיסור.‬ ‫חולין צט:-ק.‬ ‫תוספות חולין צה. ד"ה ספיקו‬

‫רמ"א יו"ד צח:ד‬ ‫וכל איסור שמבטלים בששים, אם מכירו צריך להסירו‬ ‫משם אף על גב דכבר נתבטל טעמו בששים. ולכן אם‬ ‫נפל חלב לתוך התבשיל ונתבטל טעמו בששים, צריך‬ ‫ליתן שם מים צוננים וטבע החלב להקפיא ולצוף‬ ‫למעלה על המים, ויסירנו משם, דמאחר דאפשר‬ ‫להסירו הוי כאילו מכירו וצריך להסירו משם.‬

‫רא"ש חולין ז:לג‬

‫ר"ן חולין לו. ד"ה גרסי'‬

‫ר"ן חולין לו. ד"ה גרסי'‬

‫ש"ך יו"ד ק:ו‬ ‫וכן צריך שיהא שלם - לאפוקי נתרסק או נחתך ממנה‬ ‫אבר אחד אפילו אבר שאין הנשמה תלויה בו הרשב"א‬ ‫בתה"א בשם הרמב"ן והר"ן פג"ה ועיין בסי' ק"א ס"ו.‬ ‫חוות דעת ק:א‬ ‫ואם ניטל אבר מן הבריה ועדיין היה יכול לחיות מחמת‬ ‫חסרון זה בעיא היא בנזיר דף נ"ב ולא איפשטא ומטעם‬ ‫זה פסק הרמב"ם בפ"א מהל' מ"א דלא נקרא בריה נגד‬ ‫ללקות עליו וא"כ נראה דה"ב לענין זה הוי כספק בריה‬ ‫שכתב הט"ז בס' ק"ב דכשיש ספק אם הוא דבר חשוב‬ ‫דבטל ואפשר דיש לחלק בין ספק מציאות לספיקא‬ ‫דדינא אמנם הר"ן כתב בפי' דבטל וכ"כ הש"ך ס"ק ו.‬ ‫איסור והיתר הארוך כה:ז‬

‫שלחן ערוך יו"ד ק:א‬ ‫בריה, דהיינו כגון נמלה או עוף טמא וגיד הנשה ואבר‬ ‫מן החי וביצה שיש בה אפרוח וכיוצא בהם אפילו‬ ‫באלף לא בטל. ואין לו דין בריה אלא אם כן הוא דבר‬ ‫שהיה בו חיות לאפוקי חטה אחת של איסור. וכן צריך‬ ‫שיהא דבר שאסור מתחלת ברייתו לאפוקי עוף טהור‬ ‫שנתנבל ושור הנסקל. וכן צריך שיהיה דבר שלם שאם‬ ‫יחלק אין שמו עליו לאפוקי חלב וכן צריך שיהיה שלם.‬ ‫ירושלמי תרומות י:ה‬

‫כנסת הגדולה יו"ד הגהות ב"י פד:סז‬

‫ט"ז יו"ד ק:א‬ ‫חשיבות דבריה שלא תהיה בטילה היא מדרבנן דכיון‬ ‫שמן התורה יש חשיבות דלוקין על אכילתה אפי' היא‬ ‫פחות מכזית דהא סתמא כתיב אצל מינים טמאים לא‬ ‫תאכל אותם אפי' הם קטנים ע"כ החמירו רבנן‬ ‫בתערובת שלהם אבל מן התורה היא בטילה כשאר‬ ‫איסורים ונ"מ לענין ספק אי הוה בריה או לא הוה‬ ‫ספיקא דרבנן ובטל וכן בכל הדברים דאמרינן לקמן‬ ‫שאינם בטלים כגון ראוי להתכבד או דבר שבמנין אבל‬ ‫אי הוה ודאי בריה או א' מהני שאין מתבטלים אלא‬ ‫שהאיסור ספק בזה אפילו באלף לא בטיל כגון ביצי‬ ‫ספק טריפה וכיוצא בו וכ"כ או"ה כלל כ"ה דין ז'.‬ ‫ביצה ד:‬

‫שו"ת האלף לך שלמה יו"ד ס' קמו‬ ‫ר"ן עבודה זרה יב: ד"ה איבעיא‬

‫1. ערוך השולחן יו"ד פד:לו‬

‫ארחות חיים הל' איסורי מאכל ס' מב‬

‫שולחן ערוך יו"ד פד:יג‬ ‫דבש שנפלו בו נמלים יחממנו עד שיהיה ניתך לח‬ ‫ויסננו.‬

‫ר"ן חולין יט. ד"ה ולענין‬

‫2. בן אברהם ס' נ אות מב‬

‫6. ש"ך יו"ד לט:ח‬ ‫בספרי הוכחתי בכמה ראיות דלכ"ע בדיקת הריאה אינו‬ ‫אלא מדרבנן וכן משמע בתשובת בן לב חלק ג' ס"ס כ'‬ ‫ולכ"ע מדינא אמרי' בהמה כיון שנשחטה בחזקת היתר‬ ‫עומדת וכל ספק שלאחר שחיטה תלינן לקולא ומה"ט‬ ‫תלינן לעיל סי' ל"ו סעי' ה' נקב בטבח וזאב אלא‬ ‫דהאוסרים סבירי להו דכיון דהצריכו חז"ל בדיקה‬ ‫אסרו אפילו דיעבד כשלא נבדקה משום דאם לא כן מה‬ ‫הועילו חכמים בתקנתן דכל אחד ישליך הריאה בלא‬ ‫בדיקה וכן כתב הב"ח אבל ודאי היכא דהריאה לפנינו‬ ‫נבדקה כל ספק שבה תלינן לקולא ומוקמי' לה אחזקת‬ ‫היתר ע"ש‬ ‫משכנות יעקב יו"ד ס' יז‬

‫3. שמירת שבת כהלכתה פרק ג הע' קה‬

‫4. חולין נח:‬

‫5. תורת הבית הארוך ג:ג פד.‬

‫בדיקת המזון כהלכה עמ' קסט )הערות הגרז"נ(‬

‫שבט הלוי ד:פא‬

‫מדריך כשרות עמ' קז )תשובות הגר"צ שכטר(‬

‫מנחת שלמה תנינא ס' סג‬

‫ערוך השלחן יו"ד ק:יג‬

‫בדיקת המזון כהלכה חלק ההלכה פרק ד הע' ד‬

‫ערוך השלחן יו"ד ק:יז‬

‫כרתי ופלתי ק:ד‬

‫משכנות יעקב יו"ד ס' לו‬ ‫שיבת ציון ס' כח‬

‫מנחת שלמה תנינא ס' סג‬