Kosher Investments

Skeptical writes to Hirhurim: "I was impressed that R. Belsky indicated that there would not be a problem eating bagels from an establishment that is not under kosher supervision (since bagels are made on designated equipment). Is this a widespread view among contemporary poskim?"

Al posts:


When given evidence, Rav Belsky retracted his opinion @ bagels near the end of the video.

As for me, this business about taam absorbed in the oven walls affecting the taste of the food (via steam) always bothers me when I hear it. This would be way less than 1/60, and should never affect kashrut, unless the oven was incredibly dirty.
Also, I don’t completely agree about the paper/plastic bag issue. The vapor pressure generated from the hot food generates a one-way steam current out of the bag. A single paper bag, even open at one end, ought to be sufficient to prevent anything from dripping or wafting in. (But not a Napkin, as Rav Belsky said.) Any tiny amount of steam that entered the bag from the outside ought to be completely nullified by the huge amount of kosher steam being produced. Even more so as the steam is vented outside the oven.

Between the batil beshishim and the vapor pressure and the venting, it seems to me there is nothing to worry about with modern microwaves (or ovens), when using a single layer of sturdy material on top to prevent drips from above.

Can someone explain the rationale behind the double plastic coverings here?


AL: you don’t need to cover food at all in a clean microwave, according to the star-k

Q. How can one use a regular microwave?
A. Since the chamber of a regular microwave does not get hot, food can be warmed uncovered if the following criteria are met:

1. The microwave – the ceiling, floor, and door and walls are completely clean of food particles, spills or residue.
2. No non kosher food is being microwaved in the microwave at the same time.
3. The floor or turntable is covered or the food is placed on a thick plate.…g- microwave.htm

Y. Aharon posts: The very last question posed by Rabbi Safran elicited an impotant and far-reaching answer by Rav Belsky. He said that it is forbidden to risk charitable monies in all speculative ventures. He specifically referred to the stock market where the holder just owns the piece of paper which has value only for other speculators. Bonds, in contrast, are promisory notes that have intrinsic value (assuming that the issuers have credibility). What Rav Belsky didn’t specifically mention, but would be definitely included, are futures, hedge funds, and derivatives. Rav Schachter had responded before briefly about investment risk, but didn’t give a definite answer. It would be of interest to see how the rabbinic world and their associated charities adjust to the new reality.

DR BILL WRITES: I thought R. Belsky’s analysis of a stock certificate versus something "real" was debatable and deserves more analysis. despite R. Shachter’s brief remarks, i also think investing for near term needs versus investing an endownment may well be different. how the intended use of the funds – yesomim and almanot versus education, for example should matter versus only time objective also needs to be addressed. as well the desires of the donor of an endownment may be important.

this topic deserves its own attention. i always felt that chazal’s statement about dividing assets in three, is an early conservative allocation strategy. i always assumed it was an eitzah tovah versus a halakha. how might the suggested allocation change based on the type of tzedakah and the time horizon?

Y. AHARON POSTS: The individual share holder, who doesn’t have a controlling financial interest in a corporation, is at the mercy of whatever the executives of the company decide to do with profits. They may or may not declare a dividend. They may or may not issue more stocks that can serve to dilute the financial stake of the present stockholders. There is no guaranteed return on your stock holding other than its current market value. Of course, that value is subject to wild fluctuations depending on market conditions and the current interest and anticipations of speculators in the company. Stocks are ownership on and of paper. One could argue that so is currency. It, too, depends entirely on confidence in the issuer of the currency to maintain its current value. Yet, traditionally, strong nations have had their currencies generally accepted as a substitute for silver and gold.

The current economic crisis should be an opportunity for qualified poskim to attempt a consensus view on what investments are or aren’t a legitimate use of charitable funds. Rav Belsky’s view may not be the last word on the subject, but it can serve as a starting point. However, such a debate among poskim turns out, the prior practice among Orthodox institutions to leave such matters entirely in the hands of laymen, or to leave decision investments in the hands of those with vested interests must not be repeated. How can we justify a situation wherein Orthodox institutions have lower investment standards, and lack conflict-of-interest rules, than other institutions?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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