Can I eat chocolate bars which contain "halav akum"?
The correct term is "halev goyim" or "halev nokhrim". 'Akum is indeed 'aqum (crooked); the term was invented by the Christian censors who were once authorized to "sanitize" Jewish texts before printing and was unknown to Hazal.
The terms utilized by Hazal to refer to a non-Jew are: nokhri (= literally a stranger or foreigner, the term used in the Torah), goy (one of the goyim = nations), or Ben-Noah a non-Jew known to live according to the 7 Misswoth given to Noah which are binding on all mankind - so writes Ramban in his Hidushim on Makoth 9b, quoted later by Rittba and others. A ger toshav is a separate category.
One may eat chocolate bars which contain milk powder derived from halev nokhrim (assuming the other ingredients are kosher) for the following reasons:
1. The milk powder is no longer b'eyn (in its original form). Furthermore, it is not more than a certain percentage of the whole, and is therefore battel berov.
2. The g'zera referred to cheese (and milk under certain circumstances), not to milk powder. Rambam writes in MT Maakhaloth Asuroth 3:13-14 (Vilna ed. 3:15-16) that some of the G'onim permitted butter produced by non-Jews because butter was not explicitly forbidden, and that others disagreed arguing that some drops of milk may remain (as was once common). The latter claim is based on the fact that milk purchased from a non-Jew where we cannot be certain that said milk is from a b'hema t'hora (a kosher animal) is asur. Rambam goes on to matir the butter if first rendered because any milk that may have been present would have evaporated or become mixed into the butter and thus battel berov. At any rate we see that even the G'onim who were mahmir did not claim that the butter is asur because it is made from milk which is itself asur, but rather that some milk might remain. Thus we see that all the G'onim agree that something which was not explicitly banned is not forbidden.
3. In countries that have and enforce laws regulating the production and processing of milk and milk products - i.e. non-Third World countries - it seems that there is no compelling reason to refrain from consuming even milk and milk products such as yogurt, cream, and various milk beverages (assuming all ingredients are kosher). The Talmudh Yerushalmi Avodha Zara 2:9 (Vilna 2:8) gives two reasons why milk bought from a non-Jew was decreed to be asur: a) giluy (i.e. a poisonous creature may have excreted venom into the milk if left uncovered); b) the possible admixture of milk from a non-kosher animal. The Talmudh Bavli AZ 35b gives only the latter reason. The last Mishna of that 2nd chapter of AZ (39b) and both Talmudim state that if the Jew can see the non-Jew milking - or even if the non-Jew thinks the Jew might be able to see him and therefore would not risk doing anything that he knows the Jew will not accept such as adding milk from a non-kosher animal - the milk is permitted. See Rambam's MT Maakhaloth Asuroth 3:15 (or 3:17). From all this we see plainly that if there is good reason to believe that the milk before us is in fact from a kosher animal, the milk is mutar.
Regarding giluy, almost no-one today is mahmir about giluy as venomous snakes and the like are not common in our homes today, as pointed out by almost all the Rishonim.
4. In Igroth Moshe (YD, I, Nos. 46 & 49) HaGaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein z"l explains that due to government regulation and possible criminal charges, it is extremely unlikely that the dairy companies would tamper with the milk. This situation, writes HaRav Feinstein, is analogous therefore to that stated in the Talmud - if the non-Jew fears being caught, we can assume the milk is kosher. HaRav Feinstein indicates that he feels this is the Halakha, even though he adds that a ba'al nefesh should be mahmir.
With all due respect to the Gaon z"l, I do not see the need for being mahmir in this case; the analogy to that stated in the gemara is complete. Just as the b'raytha brought in both Talmudim states that where the non-Jew is afraid of getting caught the milk is mutar and the Jew need not be concerned - "w'eno hoshesh" - here too, we need not be hoshesh, and one need not mahmir.
5. Some pos'qim seem to claim that Hazal's purpose in making these enactments was a general one: to distance us from goyim and the possibility of assimilation and inter-marriage. See Magidh Mishne on MT loc. cit. in the name of Ramban and Rashba z"l. See too TB AZ 36b. This does not apply, however, in a situation where these items are bought in a supermarket or store, where there is no personal contact with the manufacturer, and thus no room for concern that the Jew will become too friendly with the non-Jew. This was not necessarily the case in ancient times when such items were often bought in the home of a local non-Jewish farmer, which often lead to meeting members of his family, e.g. his daughter. This plainly does not apply to purchasing such products in a supermarket or store. 6. I wish to stress that the foregoing refers to milk, milk powder and other milk products as mentioned above. Cheese requires a separate and more involved discussion. THUS NO-ONE SHOULD SEE THIS T'SHUVA AS REFERING TO CHEESE PRODUCED BY GENTILES.
Friday, 01 April 2011