Kosher Milk

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Chalav Yisrael vs Chalav Stam

Nature of the Gezerah

The Mishna Avoda Zara 35b states that milk of a non-Jew is forbidden. The gemara explains that it is because of a concern that non-kosher milk was mixed in. The Yerushalmi Avoda Zara 2:8 writes that is a concern for uncovered liquids being infected with snake venom.

The Bet Yosef 115:1 quotes the Mordechai Avoda Zara 826 who quotes the Rabbenu Peretz and Smak as holding that even if there's no concern of non-kosher milk getting mixed into the milk it is forbidden. Sh"t Rashi 152 writes that even if you know that there's no non-kosher animal in his flock his milk is forbidden. Shach 115:26 writes that the non-Jew is milking a cow to make cheese for which only kosher milk turns into cheese if there wasn't a Jew watching the milk is forbidden. These sources imply that chalav yisrael was instituted as a gezerah even if the reason doesn't apply (lo plug).

However, Chut Hameshulash of Tashbetz 4:32 writes that if there's no non-kosher animal in the non-Jew's flock and there are no non-kosher animals in the vicinity (courtyard) the milk is kosher. Tashbetz adds that if the non-kosher milk such as camel milk is more expensive there's no concern that they mix it into the cow milk. Radvaz 4:75 writes that cheese was forbidden in all circumstances but milk was only because of a concern. If that concern is addressed then it is permitted. He explains that the Mordechai and Rabbenu Peretz were only concerned that while the Jew wasn't watching he brought non-kosher milk from outside his flock but if that's not a concern it is permitted. Pri Chadash 115:6 is lenient either if there's no non-kosher animals available in the vicinity or if the non-kosher milk is more expensive than the kosher milk. Tashbetz and Pri Chadash mention certain places that indeed were lenient to buy milk from non-Jews. (Shach 115:4 and Taz 115:3 accept that if there was a Jew walking in and out that would be chalav yisrael. This implies that the gezerah was only for a concern of non-Kosher being added in.)

Chazon Ish YD 41 defends the Pri Chadash. Pri Toar 115:1 writes that it is permitted if the non-kosher milk is significantly more expensive such as if it is four times the price but if it is only slightly more expensive they might still mix it in. (Note that in America the price of camel milk is significantly more expensive than cow milk. In one article it says that camel milk is $18 for 16 oz unlike cow milk which goes for $3.50 a gallon. That is that camel milk is over forty times more expensive than cow milk.)

Those who are Lenient

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe YD 1:47-49 writes that even without the Pri Chadash the milk in America is kosher because since there are governmental regulations against mixing in milk from animals other than cows and selling it as milk there is no concern that they will add anything. It is considered as though there is a Jew watching the milking process. He recommends that a baal nefesh would be strict. Igrot Moshe YD 2:35 writes that it is worthwhile for an elementary school to order chalav yisrael even if it is more expensive and the yeshiva is hard pressed for money. He says it is worth being strict since it is a chinuch lesson to show that it is worthwhile being strict and how important it is to avoid prohibitions. See Rabbi Jachter's article citing Rav Yakov Kamenetsky, Rav Yehuda Henkin, and Rav Soloveitchik as endorsing this opinion.

Those who are Strict

Chatom Sofer YD 2:107 argues that chalav yisrael was a gezerah that was made in all cases whether the reason applies or not. Additionally, the minhag Ashkenaz is to hold that it is forbidden. (See Chachmat Adam and Bet Meir who say that it is a gezerah because of a concern but that concern exists even if the possibility is very very remote.) Mateh Yonatan 115 points out that maybe even if the gezerah of chalav yisrael was absolute since there was a built-in condition that if a Jew watches it is permitted knowledge of the fact that nothing non-Kosher was added is like having a Jew watch. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:441 and Chelkat Yakov YD 34 disagree with Igrot Moshe.


  1. It is rabbinically forbidden to drink milk that was milked from a cow by a non-Jew without a Jew watching out of a concern that he might mix in milk from a non-kosher animal.[1]
  2. In a country where there is a law that makes it illegal to mix milk from other animals into cow milk and sell it as milk, some poskim say that it is permitted to drink kosher milk which isn't chalav yisrael.[2] Other poskim hold that it is forbidden and so it is proper to be strict except for someone who is sick or a baby. Those who live in the diaspora and it is difficult to be strict on this, have what to rely upon if they are lenient.[3] The minhag of Morocco was to be lenient.[4]

Jews Observing the Milking via Camera

  1. If there are cameras to observe the milking process and a mashgiach watches it many poskim hold that it is called chalav yisrael.[5]

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is manufactured with powdered milk, as are various cakes and cookies. Powered milk is made by spraying milk into a spray dyer, which turns the milk into a powder. Many poskim are of the opinion that one who is makpid to avoid drinking chalav stam should not consume powered milk.[6] Although some poskim are lenient,[7] the overwhelming custom is to be stringent.


  1. Some Geonim held that butter has the status of cheese and butter of a non-Jew is forbidden, while others hold that it isn't like cheese and is permitted even if there was no Jew watching the milking.[8] In a place that the minhag is to be lenient one can be lenient but if the minhag of the majority of the place is strict one should be strict.[9] If there is no minhag one should be strict.[10]


  1. There is a major dispute if yogurt of a non-Jew is permitted.[11]

Sour Cream

  1. Sour cream according to some is considered to be similar to butter which in a place where the practice is to be lenient that is acceptable, while others consider it to be similar to milk which needs a Jew involved in the milking process.[12]

Powdered Milk

  1. According to some poskim, even powdered milk is included in the rabbinic prohibition of drinking milk when the milking process wasn't supervised by a Jew throughout.[13]

Further Reading


Milk Products

Chalav Yisrael


  1. Gemara Avoda Zara 35b, Rambam Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 3:15, Tur and Shulchan Aruch YD 115:1, Yalkut Yosef Isur Viheter Vol. 2 81:6
  2. Igrot Moshe YD 1:47
  3. Yalkut Yosef Isur Viheter vol. 2, 81:12. Yechava Daat 4:42 writes that the accepted halacha is not to accept the Pri Chadash. Ben Yisrael Lamim (by R' Taharani Birurim n. 16 p. 325) is similarly strict. Chida in Shiurei Bracha 115:1 writes that the minhag of Turkey and Israel is to be strict unlike the Pri Chadash but if the entire minhag of a certain place is to be lenient one can be lenient.
  4. Rav Yosef Mashash in Mayim Chayim 2:92 explains why in Morocco everyone was lenient with chalav yisrael. He says that non-kosher milk isn't accessible, even when it is, it is much more expensive. Therefore, there is no concern that the non-Jews mixed non-kosher milk into the cow milk. Furthermore the government has laws ensuring that milk sold as cow milk is really just that. Sherit Yosef 2:191 agrees. Ateret Avot v. 3 p.277 writes that the minhag Morocco was to be lenient and quotes various sources to that effect.
    • Rabbi Mansour writes that one should be strict about chalav yisrael during the aseret yemey teshuva.
  5. Hakashrut Lmaaseh p. 382 citing Rav Elyashiv (Kovetz Netiv Hachalav v. 3 p. 29) and Rav Wosner
  6. Halachically Speaking 5:19 p. 7 citing Harav Yisroel Belsky Shlita, see Chazzon Ish Y.D. 41:4, V’Yan Yosef O.C. 113, Yaskil Avdi Y.D. 5:9, Shearim Metzuyanim B’halacha 38:8, Chelkes Yaakov Y.D. 35, Teshuvos V’hanhugos 2:373, Chelkes Binyomin 115:1 biurim “chalav, “ opinion of the Star-K Kashrus Kurrents, Tzohar 3:pages 33-34.
  7. Halachically Speaking 5:19 p. 7 citing Har Tzvi Y.D. 103 in depth, Zekan Aron Y.D. 44, see Tzitz Eliezer 16:25:3, Kashrus 2:page 351.
  8. Shulchan Aruch 115:3
  9. Shulchan Aruch 115:3 based on the Rosh. Yalkut Yosef (YD 81:22 Isur Vheter v. 2 p. 107) is lenient.
  10. Ben Yisrael Lnochri p. 145 citing Tzemach Tzedek Chadashot YD 75. Kaf Hachaim 115:43 writes that the minhag in Baghdad is to be lenient.
  11. Kaf Hachaim 115:50 writes that the minhag of Baghdad was to be lenient but someone who is a Yarei Hashem would be strict since most poskim say it is forbidden. Yalkut Yosef (YD 81:23 Isur Vheter v. 2 p. 114) is strict. Ohelei Yakov 115:58 is strict.
  12. Beer Moshe 4:52 writes that sour cream is liquidy and not similar to butter and can easily have non-kosher milk mixed in and therefore is a problem unless a Jew is involved in the milking process. However, Yalkut Yosef (81:25 Isur Vheter v. 2 p. 117) writes that there is a concern that non-kosher ingredients were mixed in but if that was alleviated it is considered like butter of non-Jews which there is room to permit. Ohel Yakov 115:59 quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein cited by Rishumei Aharon as lenient, while the Chelkat Yakov 2:137, Beer Moshe 4:52 as strict.
  13. Chazon Ish YD 115:1 see Chalav Yisrael Part 3 by Rabbi Chaim Jachter who discusses further

External links

Category Topics
Bishul Akum - Checking for Bugs - Gelatin - Kosher Food without Kosher Supervision - Kosher Food Packaging for Deliveries - Kosher Food Left with a Non-Jew - Koshering a Kitchen - Kashering for Pesach - Kosher in the Workplace - Medications - Pat Palter - Selling Non-Kosher Foods - Serving Guests - Sharp Foods - Shechitah (Kosher Slaughter) - Tevilat Keilim - Tzaar Baalei Chayim - Yashan
Meat and Milk
Dairy Bread - Eating Dairy and Meat at the Same Table - Kosher Cheese - Kosher Milk (Chalav Yisrael) - Milk and Meat in the Kitchen - Non-Dairy Milk - Waiting between Meat and Milk
Principles of Kashrut
Items That Cannot Be Nullified - Transferring Taste - Nullification - Zeh Vzeh Gorem - Trusting Others for Kashrut
Shechitah_(Kosher_Slaughter) - Who_Can_Be_a_Shochet - The_Shechitah_Knife - Modern_Day_Industrial_Shechitah - Glatt Kosher Meat - Kashering Meat