Ink, Kosher vs. non-Kosher

We all know that there is no ancient source that requires ink to be מן המותר בפיך . Possibly, as said here before, because in the olden days ink was always  מן המותר בפיך and the question was never raised. It was probably self-evident. Nowadays, no decent Rav will approve an ink which is not מן המותר בפיך  . Who was the first one to raise this question? Was it raised because of animal ingredients or because of non-kosher wine?


  1. The first to speak about the subject was Rabbi Shmuel Abohab (venezia, early 17 ct) Shu"t Dvar Shmuel - in regard to ink that included stam yaynam (non kosher wine).
    I don't know the exact siman in his Shu"t, but it easy to find, and if you request I will find which siman it is.

  2. Thanks, R' Moshe, I will look for it.

    Up until Rabbi Shmuel Abohab the question was not raised probably because all ink was מן המותר בפיך . Then, it was discovered that the acidity in the wine helps the quality of the kankantom ink. So the question came up. As far as animal ingredients in ink - this was not an issue because STAM ink was never made with animal ingredients.

    One question that comes to mind is "What is the default hallacha?" Is it self-evident that ink has to be kosher unless a posek decides that it can also be non-kosher? or, is it self-evident that ink can also be non-kosher, unless a posek decides that it must be kosher?

    Let me speculate with a Kal VaChomer. The main part of Stam is the writing on it - the אור. The klaf is only a כלי - a carrier - to hold the writing. If the klaf must be מן המותר בפיך Kal Vachomer that the ink must be מן המותר בפיך . Does it make sense?

  3. Our discussion of ink has been somewhat wide ranging and convoluted. Just to clarify because the title of this post is confusing.

    1. Any ink that is black and permanent is kosher for STAM whether it contains animal products, or whether it is min hamutar befikha or not.

    2. To be non-kosher for STAM the ink would have to be a.) a color other than black; b.)one that quickly fades. Ink that only gradually fades though is kosher.

    3. Both dyo ashan and dyo made from afeitzim are considered kosher lechatchila. It is a hiddur however to use dyo ashan.

    4. It is a commonly accepted humra, but not the halacha, that dyo contain only ingredients that are מן המותר בפיך. So, in theory, if one wrote with a permanent, black ink that was made from carbonised shellac suspended in a solution of shellac with a nib made of some sort of plasticized shellac the writing would still be kosher.

    Have I understood correctly?

  4. My question is only on the subject of מן המותר בפיך , nothing else.

    I found the answer by Rabbi Shmuel Abohab, it is question No. 162 in דבר שמואל. He permits ink with סתם יינם because the wine was originally kosher, then, it later became non kosher. He bases the answer on the same rule for klaf which came from an originally kosher animal. What happens to the animal later is irrelevant.
    "מה שהיה כשר מתחילתו ונאסר אח"כ בידי שמים או בידי אדם לא נפסלו"
    From here we can learn that in ink we also have the requirement that all ingredients must be originally kosher - כשר מתחילתו.

    This is probably the reason why nobody explicitly permits ink which contains an ingredient which is originally not מן המותר בפיך .

    1. This is exactly the issue I'm requesting clarification on. Is it the case that the requirement of מן המותר בפיך with regards to dyo is halacha, or is it a generally excepted humra? In our discussion so far, particularly in the comments of R'Moshe, my understanding was that it is a humra originally brought down by R'Shmuel Abohab. Is it your understanding R'Zvi, that the requirement that all the ingredients be מן המותר בפיך is actually a halacha, which only became apparent when the question of using animal ingredients in dyo arose?

    2. My understanding of the answer by Rabbi Shmuel Abohab is that he had only two options:

      a) Ink does not have to be מן המותר בפיך therefore, everything is permitted and there is no need to go into details. He could have answered the question in one sentence.

      b) Ink does have to be מן המותר בפיך therefore, we need to investigate whether סתם יינם invalidates the ink or not.

      Rabbi Shmuel Abohab chose the second option. From here we learn that ink does have to be מן המותר בפיך , the only question being to what degree. In his answer he shows that the degree of מן המותר בפיך required for ink is the same as the degree of מן המותר בפיך for klaf.

      The reality is that since ancient times Dio STAM was never made with animal ingredients. It was always מן המותר בפיך. Then, from the answer by Rabbi Shmuel Abohab, we can conclude that ink actually has to be מן המותר בפיך. It would take a tremendous חידוש to issue a decision that ink does not have to be מן המותר בפיך going against 3000 years of history and against Rabbi Shmuel Abohab.

  5. Sorry for the long comment...

    I once asked Rav Moshe Halberstam ztzvk"l this exact question and he replied that dyo must absolutely be mutar b'ficha. The Rav explained that mutar b'ficha in the poskim is consistently applied to the materials that are intrinsic to the object of the davar koidesh (sefer torah, tefillin, mezuzos, etc). After all, the posuk from which we learn the din refers explicitly to the object of the Torah: "Lemaan tihiyeh Toras HaShem be-ficha" - it would be counter-intuitive to assume that the dyo, which actually forms the osios and shemos HaKedoshim, would not have to me mutar b'ficha. It is THE most intrinsic part of the Torah!

    I have met several soferim who have been under the mistaken impression that dyo does not have to be mutar b'ficha and they always point to this Dvar Shmuel (or its citation in the Kesses) as their proof.

    Unfortunately, this Dvar Shmuel has caused a lot of confusion about this inyan, when, in actuality, it doesn't help to answer the question at all. The Dvar Shmuel matirs dyo shenaaseh miyayin nesekh based on two considerations:

    1)In the process of making the dyo, the yayin is basically destroyed, losing its identity as food, and thus removing from it the issur achilah, and

    2) As someone mentioned above, yayin nesech was mutar mi-techilas briaso until someone made it ossur. Therefore, it is, technically, like a min tahor that was made a neveila.

    Of course, the first taam lehatir from the Dvar Shmuel implies that dyo, de facto, doesn't need to be mutar b'ficha because tamei ingredients lose their issur in the process of becoming dyo.

    This shitto that taamei ingredients lose their identity and become mutar for dyo due to the ink-making process does not appear to be halacha lemaaseh.

    See Hilchos Kli Mikdash 1:3 - Rambam writes that the mohr is the "blood of the indian deer" - generally thought to be some sort of musk. The Raavad argues that mohr cannot be identified as coming from the "blood of the indian deer," because it is not possible that something assur such as blood would be allowed on the alter, and kol shekein something from a tamei animal. The Kesef Mishnah defends the Rambam with the svora that, in the process of being turned into mohr, the musk loses its identity/edibility, becoming like afer ve-eifer, and therefore loses its issur.

    So, the Kesef Mishnah holds that a davar tamei that has lost its issur is kosher for divrei koidesh, while the Raavad holds that a davar tamei remains assur for divrei kodesh even after it loses its issur.

    Noda BiYehudah Tin. 3 mentions the shitto of the Kesef Mishnah, but rejects it in favor of the Raavad. The NB (well, his son, actually) points out that klaf from a beheima tameiah loses its issur achilah due to ibud. Nevertheless, such klaf remains assur for stam. The halachic permissibility of sta"m ingredients is dependent on origin, not current condition. Therefore, the Rambam/Kesef Mishnah is not Halacha lemaaseh (incidentally, there are some Teshuvos in the acharonim like the that seem to contradict this NB, but I have found terutzim to all of them in inyanei sta"m).

    So - the second reason of the Dvar Shmuel is the ikkar: Yayin Nesech does not posul dyo because it is not intrinsically tamei, but was made so later.

    Now, if ink didn't have to be mutar b'ficha, then the Dvar Shmuel could have simply stated this and made that his whole teshuva!

    See also the Meleches Shomayaim 4:3 who warns specifically against buying inks of unknown origin lest they contain something tamei. The Mashmaos over there is that this is a din, not a chumra.

    See also the end of the first simon in Noda BiYehuda about using tefillin made from ground elephant ivory in tefillin.

  6. Thank you RR' Zvi and Avraham, I appreciate your long comments. They respond exactly and clearly to the question raised by our discussion of d'yo.

    After the fact, if someone used an ink, such as is supplied for rapidograph, thinking it was kosher, and learned later that it contained products derived from a behemah tame'ah, is the ksav posul?

    1. Being that it is a machlokes b'poskim (in the literature at least) I would like to know how many deos there are. I will also check with Rav Friedlander.

    2. Please post Rav Friedlander's response

  7. If the ink must be mutar b'ficha just like the klaf, then a ksav in non-kosher dyo would be posul just like klaf from a beheima tameiah.

    In a shas dechak, i.e. the ONLY Sefer Torah or Tefillin available was one written with ink containing an ingredient from a beheima tameiah,then one should ask a shailo.

    In such a situation, there might be heterim to use the posul ksav temporarily. It would depend on whether-or-not the non-kosher ingredient is intrinsic chemically to the ink and whether-or-not there is any kind of chazusa of the non-kosher material. Depending on these factors, one could possibly be someich on the first terutz of the Dvar Shmuel/Kesef Mishnah to say that the issur lost its shem issur in processing.

    Note that, again, this would only allow a temporary heter to use the item, but only bli brocho, because you would still have a sofeik d'oraisa of brocho levatala.

  8. Please consider, that what Rabbi Shmuel Aboab was concerned with in dealing with STAM YENAM is not a matter of MUTAR BEFICHA, rather it is a matter if we are able to derive benefit (HANA'A) from it or not, and therefore use it as ink.

    For example, with the klaf, it can even come from a TEREFA (which is forbidden to eat) but we are allowed to benefit, because it comes from a species that is MUTAR Le'ECHOL.

    However, with STAM YENAM and YAYIN NESECH which is from a species that we are allowed to ingest, we are not allowed HANA'A - to benefit.

    The difference between the above two is that STAM YENAM, unlike YAYIN NESEKH, has not yet been presented as an offering to honor an avodah zarah. However, it, too, is forbidden, although the level of ritual defilement attached to it is lower.

    What is being considered here is whether STAM YENAM would affect the ink in a manner similar to YAYIN NESEKH, or, perhaps, since the laws of ritual defilement are different, the rules of STAM YENAM on ink are also different.

    To sensitize us as to the stringency of STAM YENAM the Gemara relates to us the story of an individual who leased his boat for the purpose of transporting STAM YENAM. In return, for leasing the boat, he was paid in wheat.

    When he asked Rav Hisda whether the wheat could be used, Rav Hisda required that he burn the wheat and bury its ashes, lest someone else inadvertently make use of it, even for fertilizer!

    Clearly, benefiting from STAM YENAM is viewed as a serious prohibition. However, even with regard to the prohibition, there are clear differences between STAM YENAM and YAYIN NESEKH.

    One clear example is the fact that although STAM YENAM can become batel – it can be viewed as nullified when mixed with a majority of kosher wine. On the other hand, YAYIN NESEKH will remain forever, forbidden, even in a mixture.

    I submit to you that when Ribbi Shmuel Aboab was writing his TESHUVA he was dealing with an issue of HANA'A rather than whether it is purely MUTAR BEFICHA.
    That is why he ruled that it was MUTAR.

    More so, although NON-KOSHER animals cannot be eaten, we may derive benefit from them, both MIDEORAITA and DERABANAN. (There is only a separate Rabbinic prohibition of not doing business with them). That is how TOLA’AT HASHANI (made from worms) was able to be used as a dye for the materials in the MISHKAN.

    There is no DIN of MUTAR BEFICHA for ink or dyes. It is not something that is eaten. How do you think we are able to use MEI AFATZIM. The gall nuts themselves contain the visible eggs of NON KOSHER wasps and many times the larvae themselves! We crush them and boil them. How’s that for kosher!

    The Gemara itself in Shabbat 28a attempts to apply the concept of MIN HAMUTAR BEFICHA to all other aspects of tefillin and concludes that it CANNOT apply to them because they are HALAKHA MOSHE MISINAI. As such, they stand in a special category for which this concept does not apply.

    ONLY by the SKINS themselves do we apply the concept of MUTAR BEFICHA because it is mentioned by them EXPLICITLY. Therefore we apply it to our PARCHMENTS, HOUSINGS for TEFILLIN, and RETZUOT. This rhetoric utilized by our Sages was specific to the SKINS only.

    More so, HAZAL used the Pasuk LeMA’AN TIHYE TORAT H” BEFICHA to package the teaching so that it may be transmitted ORALLY... That means, we CAN’T apply this concept to anything else, even DEYO for just as many other requirements of STAM, it is also a HALAKHA MOSHE MISINAI.

    Gentlemen, Humrot are easy to adopt. But the underlying halakha permits any Deyo as long as it is black and endures on the KLAF. In our days we have beautiful inks that are made with the greatest hiddur and are our first preference to utilize. But please, don’t invalidate that which is permitted.

    1. Alberto,
      You are basicaly correct, although it isn't simple to extract from the Dvar Shamuel that the problem of stam yaynam was only the isur hana'a problem.
      The simple wording of the Dvar Shmuel reads somewhat different, that he is dealing in regard to the stam yaynam as a product which isn't "min hamutar bficha".

      But the meaning of the Dvar Shmuel [in his first explanation] is that ink doesn't need to be "min hamuter" since every ingredient becoming ink loses its quality as "bficha" it isnt food or a type of living ingredient at all.
      Any ink - is not in the category of "mutar" or not "mutar" bficha.
      The tefilin batim klafim etc. are ingredients that are "live" and must be kosher. Ink is not a "live" ingredient, and does not have to be kosher.

      I realize that isn't so simple to realize what I am trying to explain, and I did not plan on writing this. But since I saw you trying hard to explain the Dva"Sh, I thought I will put in some spice.

      The later authorities as the Dvar Shmuel mentioned, and Noda B'yehuda vol.1 siman 1, vol.2 siman 3, debated much if there is indeed a law "min hamutar bficha" for ink and color. This only proves there is no real source in the Talmud that ink has a law of "min hamutar".
      BTW the NB there brings an interesting proof from tchelet which is made out of chilazon which is definitly a nonkosher specie, to prove that color is not under the law "min hamutar".

    2. If ink does not need to be מן המותר בפיך, why didn't Dvar Shmuel just say that, in one sentence, and done?

    3. Is it true that only Sofrim and merchants believe that ink does not need to be מן המותר בפיך ? Are there any recognized Poskim who also say so explicitly?

    4. R' Moshe,
      Thank you for your reply. Please note that tradition, even allows parchments to be treated with the excrement of dogs. This is because of Zekher Litziyat Mitzrayim.

      In Shemoth 11:7 we read how not a dog salivated the night of Makat Bekhorot. The Yalkut Shimoni 187 tells us that ONE of the rewards of the dogs is that we may use their waste products in order to prepare the hides for writing Sifre Torah, tefillin, and mezuzot.

      This is in the earlier stages of production; and does not affect the parchment in a negative way. Just the opposite, it is a legitimate way to condition them for writing.

      It is not common to see it now because we pickle our skins. However, in olden days when gevil was tanned, this was part of the process as documented by Rav Sherirah Gaon.

      In Europe, this was also common practice. Please read Sefer HaManhig where he informs us that dog excrement was even used in INK for it was a standard part of the production process of KANKANTUM!!!

      See bottom of page and following page as well:

      To invalidate such ancient practices on the basis of some modern PILPUL is both disrespectful to our forefathers and extremely disheartening. How could we face them in Shamayim knowing that they gave us everything we have and tell them "Your Sefer Torah is NOT KOSHER FOR ME!"

      Because of this, many Sages where very careful in their wording. They would say such things as "It is a good practice" (NAKHON LEKADESH ATZMENU)... but they would NEVER forbid.

    5. Dogs may have been rewarded, but, pigs (for example) were not. Would you write on klaf processed in pig blood, or with ink containing lard or insect-fat?

      >>"dog excrement was even used in INK for it was a standard part of the production process of KANKANTUM!!!"
      No, it was not. With all due respect, this sounds like an unfounded speculation which has no basis in reality. The author of this argument also demonstrates his total lack of familiarity with the technical aspects of kankantom ink by saying:
      "החרת הוא קנקנתום דתנן חרתא דאושקפי הנקרא קנקנתום שנעשה מצואת כלבים..."
      It is full of mistakes. It is simply not true.

      Such statements which are detached from reality are not so rare. I have also seen a in a sefer by a famous posek/mefaresh (don't want to say his name) a recipe for making gold. Anyone interested in trying it out?

    6. Zvi,
      "If ink does not need to be מן המותר בפיך, why didn't Dvar Shmuel just say that, in one sentence, and done?"

      Because the dvar shmuel is in doubt what is the law of min hamutar in regard to dyo!!??
      Or since the shoel was under the assumption that stam yaynam isnt min hamutar, the maisiv [the Dvar Shmuel] follows according this assumption. This is correct in many shu"t as long as the assumption of the shoel was plausible (obviously a gross mistake the Dva"Sh would have corrected).

      The outcome of the doubt in Dva"Sh in regard to dyo min hamutar, was not commented on or brought in most acharonim.
      So my opinion is we can not use the Dva"sh as a source to pasel ink from unkosher substances.

      The Mleches Shamayim was a very big zadik, zatza"l, but is knowm in every aspect to be from the greatest machmirim in sta"m all times.

  9. Yehoshuah, Could you please ask Rav Gross his opinion on the ink needing to be kosher. Please try to get specific answers on the following:

    1)If it is halacha or a chumrah that the ink must be min hamutar?
    2)If he says it's halacha, what is the din if a sofer used indian ink to write or repair stam that he was erroneously told was kosher?
    3)If in the case of number 2 it is kosher, is it lechatchillah or bedieved?


    1. Regarding question 2, be sure to show the Rav the following:

  10. Alberto -

    Bkhol hakavod, but you are making a terrible mistake. See the two shailos and teshuvos that discuss tzoas kalavim - Minchas Yitzchok 9:2, and Mishnah Halacho 7:6. They are VERY clear that a davar issur ingredient WILL posul kalf and other ingredients in stam. Both explain that tzoah kalavim is mutar ONLY because it was never a davar issur - it was a mius and inedible, implying that otherwise it would have to be mutar b'ficha.

    Also - regarding your citation of Shabbos 28a - you have misquoted the entire sugya and flipped around the braisa vs. the posuk.

    Regarding gall nuts - the poskim only allow them because the solid material is straind out and only the tannic acid, a product of the wood itself, remains in the ink. The wasp egg does not. Otherwise there would be a problem of mutar b'ficha.

    Regardign the Tolaat ha sheni - Rabbeinu Bachya explicitly rejects the standard interpretation of it coming from a treif animal. The Chasam sofer writes about this. With all the kli mikdash, the meforshim work very hard to explain why treif material can be used and, in all cases, are foced to find a heter - either it is because it is in a taaruvos, or loses its shem, etc. See the machlokes Kesef Mishna, Rambam, and Raavad that I cited in my earlier quote. This is a classic example.

    By the way - see Piskei Teshuvos, Chelek Rishon, Simon 32, Haarah 18 - States that ONLY yayin nesech as a non-kosher ingredient in ink is mutar b'dieved, while other non-kosher ingredients are meakev b'dieved. He also cites a Mishnas Soferim that ink must be mutar b'ficha midina. In all fairness, checking the mekoros, I dont see his reasoning and I can't find this Mishnas Soferim he refers to. Can anyone else?

  11. So the tachlis problem here is dio for rapidograph... Is there any way to "medalel" the STAM ink to make it usable in a pen?

    I tried a few times with nahari and others with medalel, and it always clogs it up...does anyone have any other solutions?

  12. דיו לנצח #114 for a rapidograph.

  13. Just like we defer to a tinok shelo tipesh velo Hakham to at times be the ultimate arbiter of whether a letter maintains it's shape, Hazal gave the dogs the ultimate word on whether the deyo is Kasher or not.

    The Zechut of the dogs is so great that a substance which has become inedible for a dog (nifsal me-akhilat kelev), according to all authorities, no longer retains any prohibition, even if it became inedible only following its being forbidden. (Encyclopedia Talmudit, vol. II, 91)

    My friends, the ultimate answer is in the MOUTH of man's best friend. Try feeding the INK to the DOGS and see what happens. If they eat we have a problem. If not, MUTAR BEFIKHA does not apply to the INK. Simple as that!

  14. Alberto - what you have just written is like the firt terutz in the Dvar Shmuel, which is rejected as halacha lemaaseh by almost all poskim. I explained this in detail in my comment dated Feb 28, 6:43 PM.

    Also - Rav Moshe Halberstam ztzl, and, as I found out today, Rav Moshe Shternbach, both hold that the ingredients in ink MUST be mutar b'ficha midina. The Piskei Teshuva also states this and brings other mekoros.

    Lastly - Everyone should see the excellent sections dealing on rapidograph ink, etc. in the sefer Vatah Kasvu Al Hilchos Shulchan Aruch Hilchos Sefer Torah P. 25 at the bottom in both the Biurim and the Perush, that ink must be mutar b'ficha. He writes that rapidograph ink is kosher for use PROVIDED THAT it is mutar b'ficha. The biurim cite several poskim who hold this way. If anyone requests, I will post a translation of his section on rapidographs and ink.

    Lastly - There is a buir hasofer in the Mishnas Soferim (I Don't have it in front of me) on the simon on dyo where he also discusses whether ink must be mutar b'ficha and, though stating that it is a big machlokes ha poskim, apparently that it must be.

    Alberto, I have brought rayos and makoros that it must be mutar b'ficha. I realize that it is nevertheless still a big machlokes haposkim, and if the maskona b'halacha lemaaseh is not like what I write, then I am ok with that.

    However, please bring me a PROOF or a makor, a posek somewhere that says that it doesn't have to be mutar bficha. Everything you have brought (tzoas kalavim, gall nut, etc) the shu"tim on these inyanim actually support that ink must be mutar b'ficha! If you can't bring a proof or a makor, then you are incorrect and you have to accept that.

    1. Question: What do these poskim (rav shternbach, halberstam and Stern - who appear to be machmir) hold if the ink was used and found out not to be mutar beficha? Is the stam still kosher lechatchillah ?

    2. I asked Rav Halberstam only about whether ink must be mutar b'ficha. A friend in EY who is a sofer and talmid of Rav Shternbuch told me today about the Rav's shitto. He said he would try to ask rav shternbuch about the din of something written with posul ink.

      Did you see the Piskei Teshuvos I mentioned earlier? He says dyo she naaseh mi-dvar she-aino min hamutar b'ficha is me'akev b'dieved.

      In all honesty, thoguh, the Piskei Teshuvos is not by any means dispositive of halacha le-maaseh.

  15. Alberto, I think you have missed a fundamental requirement mentioned by Dvar Shmuel. All ink ingredients must be כשר מתחילתו Kosher when the ingredient was first made. Dvar shmuel also states that what happens to such an ingredient afterwards is irrelevant.

    If the ingredient was not kosher at the beginning, and was kosherized by mixing it with other ingredients, then, we may have a problem of אין מבטלים איסור לכתחילה.

    If we take pig fat and mix it with kerosine with the hope of kosherizing it, will it be kosher? Will you eat it?

  16. OK - I didn't post this yet because I wanted to wait until I could get home to my seforim and post exact citations, because it is a very solid argument that Dyo must be min hamutar bificha:

    See Mogen Avrohom 586:3 - The Gemora Shabbos 28b learns that only tefillin must be mimin HaMutar B'ficha from the posuk Lemaan tihiye, etc. However, the Mogen Avraham cites a hekesh brought in Kiddushin that this principle to all mitzvos.

    The Nodah BiYehuda Tinyana 3 (which I cited earlier)elaborates that this hekesh in Kiddushin only extends the requirement of min hamutar bificha to tashmishei kedusha, not to tashmishei mitzvah. For example, since tzitzis are tashmishei mitzvah, there is no requirement for min hamutar bificha, which is why techeilis can be made from the chilazon.

    However, the ingredients of ALL tashmishei kedushah (meaning safrus) must be min hamutar bificha. This would include the klaf, dyo, giddin, etc.

    According to this shitto - dyo would have to be kosher lechatchila and would be meakev bidieved. Again, in a shas dechak you could still use the item temporarily bli brocha (kmo shenikhtavti leayil)

  17. Avraham Chaim,
    The poskim of today that you quoted are not a solid proof against what I and Alberto claim. It is known that most rabbis today are always machmir, so since there is a question [excuse me for saying so:] they wont be meikel ...
    The tayna that nowhere it is written that dyo doesnt need to be min hamutar is also no tayna. Usualy the earlier sources and poskim did not state things that are out of the question, so since there was no question in regard to dyo it wasn't mentioned. [to my opinion it wasn't mentioned because it doesn't need to be min hamutar. for speculation I wrote to Tzvi above that it may have not bean mentioned because there wasn't dyo made from animals in old days].

    The techeles from chilazon was used for the clai hamikdahsh not for tzitzis, so the proof is from the mishkan that supposedly must be min hamutar bficha, as understood from Talmud Shabos 28.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. The knowledge that Afatzim are grown by shratzim, as opposed to the old belief that afatzim grow on their own and the worms get in later, is less than 100 years old. Before that, everyone believed that worms in afatzim are like worms in any other fruit, and once the worm crawls out, the fruit is good.

      The fact that Chazal permitted ink with afatzim, does NOT mean and does NOT prove anything about permitting ink shelo min hamutar beficha. If this were to be a consideration, someone would have said it.

    2. There are teshuvos about this that point out that:

      1) Oak galls are produced by the tree, not the sheretz. They grow around an egg laid in the bark in response to irritation.

      2)the ingredient contributed by the oak galls (tannic acid) is produced by the wood, not the sheretz,

      2) in almost all oak galls used, the sheretz has already emerged or has been removed (all the oak galls I have ever bought have little holes in them)

      3)all solid material and mamashos are removed from the ink, including the parts of the sherets, if it was ever present at all.

      4)The gall/tannic acid was never assur b'ficha.

      So - it is unlikely that there is any sherets parts in the galls when they are used and, if they are present, then they are strained out. The eggs are miniscule and, if present, are botul b'shishim. They are also not integral to the ink and have no chazusa. Like Zvi said - they can't prove anything about mutar b'ficha. The fact that there are terutzim to the question of afatzim/sheratzim is another raya to the side that ink must be mutar b'ficha.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. After reading binyomin's essay posted earlier, it seems that the gall-nut is a product of the tree and not of the insect.
      If so we are back to point 0.

  20. I will copy here key sections (in Hebrew) from the article on afatzim. R' Binyomin already posted a beautiful post on how to make the ink.

    עפצים הם נגע בצמחים. עפצים גדלים רק בגלל שרצים שחודרים מבחוץ לתוך ענף או עלה העץ וחיים בתוכו. השרצים מפרישים מגופם ליחה (כימיקלים והורמונים מעוררי גדול) שגורמת לעץ לגדל את העפץ כבית לשרצים. אין עפצים בלי שרצים. עפצים לא יכולים לגדול מעצמם - כל קיומם רק בגלל הליחה שיוצאת מהשרצים לתוך ענף העץ וגורמת לגדילת העפצים.

    עפצים אינם פירות עצים כמו שרבים חושבים בטעות. יש ספרים בהם כתוב שעפצים הם מיני פירות. לדוגמא: בגיטין (יט, ע'א) כותב רש"י: "מי טריא - מים ששורים בו פרי שהוא כעין עפצים גל"ש בלע"ז ". נראה שרש"י סבר (בטעות) שעפצים הם פרי שגדל על העץ. גם אור-זרוע סבר כך.

    אילו היו העפצים פירות עצים, לא הייתה בהם שאלה של כשרות. אך, המציאות מוכיחה שהעפצים אינם פירות עצים. אין עפצים שהם פירות עצים. כולם הם נגעים שנגרמים על ידי שרצים או חיידקים או וירוסים.

    הרמב"ם כתב: "לפי שהמדעים באותו הזמן היו חסרים, ולא דברו בכך משום שיש להם מסורת באותם הדברים מן הנביאים, אלא מצד שהם ידעני אותם הדורות באותם המקצועות, או שמעום מידעני אותם הדורות." (מורה נבוכים, חלק ג, פרק יד). וכן: "כי הדברים העיוניים לא דבר בהם כל מי שדבר אלא כפי שהביאו אליו העיון, ולפיכך צריך לסבור מה שנתקיימה ההוכחה עליו." (רמב"ם, מורה נבוכים חלק ב, פרק ח). אברהם בן הרמב"ם, במאמר על דרשות חז"ל, כתב: "לא נתחייב מפני גודל מעלת חכמי התלמוד ותכונתם לשלמות תכונתם בפירוש התורה ובדקדוקיה ויושר אמריהם בביאור כלליה ופרטיה, שנטען להם ונעמיד דעתם בכל אמריהם ברפואות ובחכמת הטבע והתכונה ... והנה נתבאר לנו כי החכמים ז"ל אינם מעיינים הדעות ולא מביטים אותם אלא מצד אמיתתם ומצד ראיותיהם לא מפני האומר אותו יהיה מי שיהיה." רבי לוי בן גרשון כתב: "כי לא יחויב שיהיו לנביא כל הדעות האמתיות בענין סודות המציאות." (רלב"ג, פירושי התורה, ביאור דברי הספור, בראשית טו, ד).

    מכאן אנו למדים שלפי הרמב"ם, אברהם בן הרמב"ם, ורלב"ג, קיימת גם האפשרות שחז"ל לא הכירו את טבע גדילת העפצים ולא ידעו שהעפצים נגרמים וגדלים על ידי השרצים. אפילו לנביאים לא היו "כל הדעות האמתיות בענין סודות המציאות." כל חכמי הטבע עד לפני כמאה שנה סברו שהתולעים נכנסים אל העפצים מבחוץ ואחר כך יוצאים. אילו היתה כך מציאות הטבע, היו כל העפצים כשרים. אך, בימינו, אנו יודעים שלא כך מציאות הטבע. ליחת השרצים היא שמעמידה את העפצים וגורמת להם לגדול. "כל היוצא מן הטמא - טמא" (יורה דעה פ'א) ו- "דבר האסור בעצמו ומעמיד אפילו באלף לא בטל" (רמ"א, יורה דעה, פז, יא).

    ליחת השרצים אינה דומה לדבש דבורים. דבש עשוי מצוף פרחים שרק עובר דרך גוף הדבורים. דבש אינו מיוצר בתוך גוף הדבורים. לעומת זאת, הליחה שהשרצים מפרישים כדי לעורר את גדול העפצים מיוצרת על ידי השרצים בתוך גופם. עפצים גם אינם דומים לפרי שהתליע. פרי גדל לכתחילה נקי מתולעים, ואחר כך נכנסים לפעמים תולעים אל תוך הפרי. בעפצים הסדר הוא הפוך. קודם נכנס השרץ לעלה או לענף העץ, והעפץ עדיין אינו קיים. אחר כך מפריש השרץ ליחה שגורמת לעפץ לגדול סביב השרץ. בפרי שהתליע - אין אנו רוצים בתולעים - אנו רוצים את הפרי נקי מתולעים. בעפצים - אי אפשר לאמר שאין רוצים בליחת השרצים כיוון שהיא זו שגורמת לגדילת העפצים. בלי ליחת השרצים לא יגדלו העפצים והשרצים לא יתקיימו. לכן גם אי אפשר לאמר על ליחת השרצים שהיא פרש בעלמא.

    הליחה היוצאת מהשרצים דומה לאנזימים לעשיית גבינה. אם האנזימים (דבר המעמיד) באים משרצים הנראים לעין, אפילו בכמות קטנה, הגבינה לא כשרה. וכן, הקליפה הקשה של צדפים בים גדלה בגלל ליחה (דבר המעמיד) שיוצאת מהשרצים וגורמת למינרלים מהים להתאסף מבחוץ סביב השרצים. המינרלים מהים לא באים מתוך גוף השרץ אלא נאספים מבחוץ, על כן המינרלים עצמם כשרים, אך, הליחה היוצאת מהשרצים גורמת לגדילת הקליפה הקשה של הצדפים. לפיכך, אין הכשר לאכול אבקת צדפים טחונים כתוספת מינרלים לבריאות הגוף.

    עפצי עץ אלון הם נגע שגדל רק בגלל הליחה היוצאת מהשרצים. עפצים אלה אינם יכולים לגדול בלי ליחת השרצים, כמו שאומר מהרש"א: "אי אפשר להיות בלעדו". על כן, יש לליחת השרצים דין של דבר המעמיד, והואיל ודבר האסור הוא שהעמיד, הרי הכול אסור. על כן, יש לעפצים דין דומה לדין קליפת הצדפים, ולדין גבינה המועמדת עם אנזימים טמאים. ליחת השרצים - אי אפשר לעפצים להיות בלעדיה. והואיל ודבר האסור הוא שהעמיד, הרי הכול אסור ועפצים אלה אינם כשרים לאכילה.

    1. דעת תורה: אחד מקוראי מאמר זה שאל את כבוד הרה"ג מאיר מאזוז שליט"א האם מותר לאכול עפצים, ושלח לנו את תשובת כבוד הרב: "יש לפנות להרב שניאור זלמן רווח מח"ס תולעת שני - שיעיין ויחקור בדבר. בינתיים אל תאכל עפצים." כבוד הרב שניאור זלמן רווח עיין בשאלה, לא סתר את האיסור של "דבר המעמיד", והעלה אפשרות של "פרש בעלמא". כפי שראינו לעיל, ליחת השרצים אינה יכולה להיות פרש בעלמא. על כן, הוראת כבוד הרב מאזוז שליט"א בעינה עומדת, ועפצים אכן אסורים באכילה.

    2. According to what you wrote, the afatz is not kosher to eat. but it is kosher for ink, because the ink isn't from the sheketz.

    3. The key point I want to make is that the growth of the Afatz and the production of all its contents is caused exclusively by the worm-juice, just like milk turns into cheese by rennet, and just like clam-juice causes the growth of the hard shell around the clam. Cheese made with non-kosher rennet is not kosher to eat. Clam shells are not kosher to eat. Likewise, afatzim are not kosher to eat.

      In Dvar Shmuel that we discussed above, he says that every ink ingredient needs to be כשר מתחילתו . If an afatz and its contents are not kosher to eat, then, it is not kosher for an ink ingredient.

    4. You raise a very interesting point here R' Zvi.

      What about the case of gevil? In the gemara we learn that gevil for writing STAM is processed with salt, flour and afeitzim. The skins are soaked in salt water to loosen the hair, then bated in a slurry of fermenting flour and water to dissolve the scud and unwanted protein and prepare it for tanning. The mei afeitzim is the actual tanning agent, it also gives the gevil it's characteristic orange color.

      We know that Moshe Rabeinu apparently used gevil to write the first Sefer Torah. If we hold that the prepared skin that we write on must be min hamutar beficha, and we know that gevil processed according to the gemara is kosher, then it would seem we must also hold that afeitzim, or at least mei afeitzim is kosher as well.

    5. Again, we need to refer to the answer by Dvar Shmuel.
      "מה שהיה כשר מתחילתו ונאסר אח"כ בידי שמים או בידי אדם לא נפסלו"
      The skin of the animal started out as kosher. That's the only thing that matters. Whatever happens to it later is irrelevant. Even if the skin is processed with a non kosher material, it is irrelevant. Besides, the non kosher material does not stay in the gvil. It gets rinsed out.

    6. I think this is not a correct understanding of what happens to a skin during tanning. Oak galls contain pyrogallol class tannins which have the ability to precipitate gelatine from solution and to form insoluble compounds with gelatine-yielding tissues. It is this property that allows tannins to turn raw skin into leather. Hide tanned with oak galls is essentially a hybrid substance of animal proteins bonded to plant tannins. The mei afeitzim is not just a treatment, but an essential, sine qua non component the addition of which constitutes the final tanned hide (Shabbat 79a discusses this somewhat). Just as in the case of ink where it is the combination of pyrogallic tannin and ferrous sulfate which produce black ink, it is the combination of pyrogallic tannin and hide which produce gevil. It is not washed out, but left deposited in and permanently united to the skin. If the afeitzim were a non-kosher substance, I don't see how their inclusion in the final product would be permitted.

    7. In the production of refined sugar, the sugar is filtered, in its liquid state, through active carbon made sometimes from non-kosher charred bones. It has been established that this does not nullify the kashrut of the sugar because the sugar and charred bones are completely separated at the end of the process.

      In the case of leather tanning, the tannic acid reacts with the skin. But, the מי עפצים also contain worm-juice and other ingredients. During tanning the tannic acid alone reacts with the skin and undergoes a change called פנים חדשות באו לכאן. The new compound is different from the original tannic acid and the original skin. Such a change is considered acceptable for kosherizing a non-kosher ingredient.

      After tanning, all the other ingredients in the מי עפצים are rinsed out, including the worm-juice.

      In the case of ink, if the ink were to be made with pure distilled tannic acid, there would be no kashrut problem because the tannic acid undergoes a chemical reaction with the iron sulfate and we can rely on פנים חדשות באו לכאן. The problem is that the worm-juice in the מי עפצים remains in the mixture. Since it is not Batel even in one per thousand, the entire mixture is not kosher.

    8. Paragraph two is a plausible theory, and may be true. I'd like to see testing done to determine what residues are left in the finished gevil.

      What about the Rambam bringing in Hilchos Tefillin 1.4 that the way we reconstitute the dried wafers of dyo ashan is by adding mei afeitzim, or some other similar material? Here without question the worm juice is included in the final product.

      As to your last paragraph. I've experimented with chestnut tannin extract such as is used to produce wine, it is an excellent source of pyrogallic acid (about 10%). The finished ink in my opinion is indistinguishable from that made with afeitzim. -Gut Shabbos

    9. The question on the Rambam may have two possible answers. 1) We don't know what kind of afatzim he used. He may have used the kosher kind. 2) in the days of the Rambam it was not yet known that the worms CAUSE the growth of the afatzim. Those days, it was believed that afatzim grow on their own like fruit, and worms later go in and go out.

      Your experiment with chestnut tannin is very interesting. This is what Rabbenu Tam says to do. He prohibits afatzim and requires the tannin to come from cooked tree branches.

  21. Gentlemen,
    In all of this you have to go back to the source of how Mutar Beficha is taught to us by our Hakhamim. One source is the Beraita which whe cited above in Shabbat 28b.

    R. Yosef stated: For the sacred service (melekhet shamayim), none but the skin of a clean (tahor) animal is considered fit. (Shabbat 28b).

    R. Yosef attempts to apply the baraita to the Mishkan; however the gemara rejects this application. The gemara then investigates the application of the baraita to tefillin. It is explained that the baraita cannot be teaching that tefillin parchments must be made from a kosher source,
    since this is learned explicitly from the Torah itself, from the verse, “LeMA’AN TIHYE TORAT HASHEM BEFIKHA” (Ex. 13:9).

    The gemara then goes on to explain that the baraita cannot be teaching that the boxes, hairs and sinews used for tefillin must be made from a kosher source, since this is known from a “halakhah le-Mosheh mi-Sinai.” (IN NO PLACE DOES IT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS THAT THEY ARE PROCESSED WITH!) The Halakha Moshe MiSinai is specific to the boxes, sinews and hairs of the Tefillin. (Notice that the parchments are not included for this we learn later).

    The gemara then concludes that R. Yosef ’s statement comes to teach that the straps of the tefillin must come from a kosher animal. The upshot of the gemara’s discussion is that the principle which requires the use of a kosher animal applies to all aspects of tefillin stated above, (the boxes, hairs, and giddim) NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS! Likewise, the retzuot we are Mahmir on, because it is the direct subject of the Beraita.

    So how do we know about the parchments? This we are taught by the Mishnah in Megillah 8b which states that there are no differences among tefillin, mezuzah and sacred scrolls (except that sacred scrolls can be written in other languages). As such, the rule of “muttar be-fikha” is BROADENED to apply not only to the scrolls of tefillin but also to mezuzah and other sacred scrolls as well.

    The above is stated explicitly in Masekhet Soferim (1:1): “It is not permitted to write sacred scrolls, tefillin or mezuzot on skins of tame [nonkosher] animals nor on skins of tame beasts; nor may they be sewn with their sinews, nor wound with their hair.” (NOTICE THAT THERE IS NO MENTION OF THE INK!)

    At this point, muttar be-fikha would seem to apply only to the skins of tefillin, mezuzah, and sacred scrolls. However, in two places (Kiddushin 35a, Makkot 11a), the gemara applies laws that pertain to tefillin to the rest of the Torah—“hukshah kol ha-Torah kulah li-tefillin.” The gemara in Makkot 11a concludes that the analogy of tefillin to the Torah applies only to the requirement that the PARCHMENT of a Torah scroll be muttar be-fikha. (AGAIN NO MENTION OF THE INK!)

    1. As mentioned by R’ Chaim above, the Magen Avraham (586:3) makes a Hekesh that in regard to this principle, all mitzvot should be patterned after tefillin, and thus, non-kosher items should not be used to fulfill any mitzvah. His is an extreme minority view which I won’t attempt to explain here, as the majority of our HaKhamim contend that the prohibition of Muttar Be-fikha applies to tefillin straps ONLY via the Beraita, and the other components stated above via the Halakha Moshe Mi-Sinai.

      Now, we also know that the color black of the retzuot is also a Halakha Moshe MiSinai. So, not only does the leather has to be from a Kosher source as per the Beraita, but in addition the blackness above is a requirement of Halakha Moshe MiSinai.

      Therefore, the ultimate strictness is applied to the blackness of the straps! Let’s see how our sages deal with this. Do they allow extraneous substances into the black paint of the retzuot? If they do, then even more so should be the case with the DEYO!

      I will post a modern TeSHUVA of Hakham Ovadyah Yosef on this issue of Muttar Be-fikha by the paint of retzuot, which should throw light on the issue of INK.

      More so, on the point which R’ Moshe brings: “Usually the earlier sources and poskim did not state things that are out of the question, so since there was no question in regard to dyo it wasn't mentioned. [to my opinion it wasn't mentioned because it doesn't need to be min hamutar. for speculation I wrote to Tzvi above that it may have not been mentioned because there wasn't dyo made from animals in old days].”

      Let me add that R Moshe is being gentle. The oldest black pigments were always derived from charred bones, including pigs and other tamei animals! Likewise things like urine and feces where also the source of base chemical additives for their dyes and inks. You can rest assured that HAZAL knew this and would have dealt with it if considered a problem. I have to fully agree with R’ Moshe, Hazal never saw a problem with MUTAR Be-FIKHA in the INK!…

  22. I just got back an answer from Rav Friedlander -

    1) Although it is a machlokes ha-poskim, the maskono is that Dyo MUST be mutar b'ficha MI-DINA. The very essence of the Tashmishei kedusha that is Sta"m is the kesiva - "how is there even a hava amina that it doesn't have to be mutar b'ficha?" He also cited the Mogen Avraham that I brought as very much a majority opinion in halacha.

    2) If something is written in ink that is not mutar b'ficha, the din depends on a lot of factors: is there chazusa, is the tamei ingredient necessary to the ink, how was the ingredient processed, etc. Must be shoel chochom.

    3) The Meleches Shomayim's chumra about not buying dyo ha shuk is only a chumra. In the past, the vast majority of all inks did not contain Tamei ingredients. Any ink bought commercially could be assumed from the rov kosher ink. The Meleches Shomayim is warning against taking any chances in this case as well.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Alberto -

    You have to be more careful - you are making some terrible mistakes in how you use source. For example - in trying to prove your point your wrote:

    "The gemara in Makkot 11a concludes that the analogy of tefillin to the Torah applies only to the requirement that the PARCHMENT of a Torah scroll be muttar be-fikha."

    This is 100% wrong- you have absolutely learned this gemora incorrectly.

    The opinion in that gemora that limits the hekesh of tefillin to other mitzvos to parchement alone is ONLY according to the shitto that it is mutar to tie a sefer torah with linen threads. This shitto and the limitation of the hekesh is explicitly rejected by the gemora at the end of that sugya.

    Quoting rejected opinions in the gemora as proofs to halacha lemaaseh is not limud ha Torah! It is destructive!

  25. Rav Avraham,
    Although Rabbi Friedlander shlit"a and Rabbi Halberstam Zatza"l explained that there is a kal vachomer, if the skin must be min hamutar kal vchomer the dyo - as you wrote,
    I disagree with them there is no such kal vchomer.
    The ink does not have any external features (tzura) it is only its outcome what matters - the csav, and the hallacha specified HLM that the color be black, other than that there are no laws in regard to dyo.
    The parchment has external features that the tora transmitted thru HLM [klaf] and the pesukim [min hamutar]. The dyo and klaf etc. are two seperate issues.
    This is my opinion, obviously I see many other don't accept this.
    Forgive me for butting my head in this issue,
    אבל הלכה היא וללמדה אנו צריכים

  26. What you have stated here has a great precedent: is the shitto of the Shoel UMeishiv. Nevertheless, this a big machlokes haposkim and there will be chilukei deos (see the biur hasofer on dyo shenaaseh mi stam yayin in the mishnas ha sofer).

    Regarding the kal vechomer aspect, its not clear that this was the entirety of Rav Halberstam's reasoning and it certainly wasn't what drove Rav Friedlander's. His svora was based mostly on the aforementioned Mogen Avraham. As it was related to me, his statement "how is it even a hava amina..." was an expression of surprise.

    As you correctly point out - such a kal vechomer not only doesn't, but apparently can't exist.

    See Shabbos 28b, Tosfos D.h. Tefillin - Tos. understands that the Gemora tries to make a similar KVCH from the HLM of shechoros haretzuos to requiring the retzuos to be naaseh min hatahor. The Gemora ends up rejecting that such a KVCH can be, and instead learns that retzuos must from a tahor via the posuk lemaan tihiyeh, etc.

  27. I want to thank all that participated in this issue, starting from Binyomin bringing up the issue and Avraham & Tzvi for the honorable debate, and last "acharon acharon chaviv" alberto, although sometimes not expressing accuratly the main idea, but hitting the hammer on the nail.
    Thanks to all for allowing me to review this issue and getting into some depth and analysis and understanding.

    To complete the issue, I wrote in Hebrew a complete explanation of the Dvar Shmuel's teshuva the way I understand his position. If anybody is of interest of what is written, here is the page:

    good shabos to all,


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