[Avodah] Kashrus - Wooden Sticks and Feathers

Rabbi Meir G. Rabi meirabi at gmail.com
Mon Jun 11 19:53:36 PDT 2018

If a wooden stick is used to stir a hot pot of non-K meat, it becomes non-K.
It will in turn, render a pot of hot Kosher food non-K, if it is used,
whilst fresh, to stir that pot.
But, wood is not a food.
May one eat the shavings of that wooden stick?
Probably yes.

Hog hair is not a food and it cannot be deemed to be non-K.
Therefore one may sprinkle hog hair on ones food, or cook it in ones soup.
Does it get worse if the hog hair is first cooked in a pot of non-K meat?
Probably yes.

This is an issue faced today by Kashrus agencies regarding food
ingredients/additives that are extracted from non-foods, like bird
feathers. In order to facilitate plucking, the dead, non-Shechted birds
have been plunged into a tank of boiling water. Thus the feathers have
absorbed the non-K taste of the birds.

Although the feathers are dissolved in acids in order to extract what will
be used as food additives, this consideration is not accepted regarding
gelatine since gelatine is a 'food' at the conclusion of its processing,
and it is similarly not accepted by the Kashrus agencies for feathers.

Some suggest that there is a difference between the two. Gelatine is worse
because it is extracted from the non-K item itself i.e. the skin and bones,
whereas the non-K absorbed in the feathers, is not the source of the
extracted food/additive which are derived exclusively from the feathers
that are a non-food. Therefore, even though skin and bones do become
inedible during their processing, this is just a temporary state, generated
by acids and alkali, which are removed from the finished product and the
finished product is essentially still the same skin and bones. Whereas the
product extracted from feathers is entirely disassociated with the absorbed
non-K flavour and is therefore K.

Nevertheless, a well known Rav argues that in any case where the chemical
is removed, the product returns to its non-K status, even in the case of
feathers. It will permitted only if the chemical remains but is camouflaged
by other additives.

Therefore, feathers and what is derived from them remain prohibited because
whatever chemicals are used to process and extract the foods/additives, are

Is it possible that the foods/additives extracted from the feathers are
permitted because all, or almost all of the absorbed non-K flavour is
removed - in other words, just as we can Kasher our wooden stick, so too we
can deem the feathers to have been Kashered?

Now if we were to actually Kasher the feathers or the wooden stick, we
require 60 times the volume of the stick. For example, a 500g stick
requires 30 litres [500gX60=30,000g] and 3 tonnes of feathers would require
[3,000litresX60=500,000 litres] which we obviously dont have in the normal

Now the only reason we cannot Kasher in less than 60 is ChaNaN [ChaTiCha
NaAsis Neveilah]
This means, Kashering is not a process of dilution of the prohibited
component that is absorbed until it is less that 1:60, in which case we
could immerse the non-K spoon or feathers in 100 small pots of boiling
water and each dip would further dilute the concentration of the absorbed
Kasheing is rather a process that MUST revoke the prohibited status. If it
is not revoked - i.e. it is immersed in a pot that does not have more than
60, then EVERYTHING becomes non-K and the spoon is just as non-K as it was
before it was immersed. In other words ChaNaN applies to Kelim.

And yet the Kosher agencies permit the additives extracted from non-K
feathers because the feathers are not food but a Keli, and are therefore
not limited by ChaNaN.


Meir G. Rabi

0423 207 837
+61 423 207 837
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