Teshuvos, Certifications, and Letters

Please view these items below:

  1. A 1936 letter from Rav Shmuel Pardes to my great grandfather, Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer, in which he reported that 3 world renowned authorities from pre-war Europe (Rabbi Yehuda Leib Tzierlson, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart and Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzienski) agreed with him to approve of all gelatin products (this would include even gelatin produced from pigskins). Rabbi Shlomo Nosson Kotler from Jerusalem also agreed. The contents of this letter were referenced by Rabbi Pardes in the August, 1942, issue of HaPardes. (The letter doesn't say explicitly what the topic is about, but it was about gelatin. The teshuva Rabbi Pardes sent to those 3 Rabbis seeking their approval can be found in the sefer Avnei Shmuel in Berurei Halacha, #19 [in the opening paragraph he explicitly wrote that his question pertained even to gelatin produced from pigskins], and Rabbi Grodzienski’s response can be seen in that same sefer on pages 10-11).

  2. A 1938 letter from Rav Simcha Zelig Reuger, the Dayan of Brisk, explaining that, unfortunately, many people were unaware that bones of neveilla are permitted, that the gelatin produced from them is kosher, and that, in general, people were anyway uninformed about how gelatin is produced.

  3. A 1941 certification letter from Rav Shmuel Pardes and Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer for U-Cop-Co gelatin.

  4. A 1948 letter from the Agudah defending Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer from the attacks by George Goldstein of OK Laboratories. George Goldstein and his father, Abraham, were laymen with no rabbinic training, yet they had the temerity to challenge the leading rabbis of the Agudah on kashrus issues.

  5. A message sent through Western Union from Rav Simcha Elberg to Harry Kowalsky letting him know that the gelatin produced at U-Cop-Co was perfectly acceptable. Rabbi Elberg became the President of the Agudah in the early 1950's.

  6. An internal message from executives in the United Chemical company (dated a week after the Western Union telegram above) describing how Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer and Rav Simcha Elberg had been to their plant and approved the production.

  7. A 1956 certification letter from Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.

  8. The unpublished teshuva from Rav Dovid Telsner explaining the kashrus of all types of gelatin. Rabbi Telsner translated some of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s writings. Rabbi Telsner cited Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer starting at the very end of page 1.

  9. Certification letter from Rav Dovid Telsner.

  10. A pamphlet written by Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni and Rabbi Yechiel Goldsmith explaining the kashrus of all types of gelatin. Rabbi Gershuni was Rabbi Eliezer Silver’s son-in-law, he was known as an "Iluy" ("Genius"), he was selected as one of the editors of the Encyclopedia Talmudit project, and in the early 1950's he joined his father-in-law in attacking Rabbi Seltzer (my great grandfather) over his certification of bovine bone gelatin. Many years later, after his father-in-law had passed away, R' Gershuni completely reversed his position and began to certify Jello gelatin, and he even cited my great grandfather's teshuva as part of the basis for his own certification!!! It's really unbelievable and it shows that there was much more going on than a mere Halachic question and Rabbi Gershuni went along with his father-in-law out of respect. After his father-in-law passed away he felt he could publicize his true feelings. Somehow, this part of the story never gets told. (And it is very interesting and significant that starting from the 1930's and throughout the 1940's, which includes the years Rabbi Silver served as president of the Agudah, the Agudah approved of products like Rennet, Junket and gelatin, which were prominently advertised in publications like the monthly Torah journal, HaPardes, and Rabbi Silver didn't say a word about it. Suddenly, in 1951, he woke up and started having a problem with it. Nobody ever points this out either). Rabbi Gershuni cited Rav Yehuda Leib Seltzer in the 4th paragraph of the English section of his pamphlet.

  11. Certification letter from Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni and Rabbi Yechiel Goldsmith.

  12. Teshuva written by Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the “Posek HaDor.”

    TRANSLATION: [Gelatin that is made from bones that are dried like wood has already been permitted by the Gaon, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzienski, zt”l, in Achiezer, vol. 3. Siman 33, section 5. And see the teshuva of the Gaon, Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, shlit”a, to permit it if it has certainly been dried like wood and they have no flavor. However, it requires some thought today in our times where they manufacture gelatin also from the residue of fresh meat, and it is possible that there remains in it flavor and has not dried like wood]

    Rav Elyashiv approvingly cited the opinions of Rav Chaim Ozer and Rav Abramsky, and wrote nothing to disagree. He permitted bone gelatin unhesitatingly. There is no reason to believe he thought companies no longer made gelatin in accordance with the guidelines of Rav Chaim Ozer and Rav Abramsky or that they were incapable of doing so. He continued by writing that “today” they make gelatin out of "fresh meat" (a possible reference to pigskins?). We don’t know the source of Rav Elyashiv’s information. If he meant pigskins, the truth is that they were a source of gelatin for at least 40 years prior to when this was written. With regard to this type of gelatin he wrote that "ויתכן שנשאר בו טעם" ("it's possible some taste remains"). Why he thought that we do not know, but all of the Poskim who permitted gelatin prior to Rav Elyashiv writing this teshuva were obviously dealing with gelatin that was rendered flavorless. Rav Elyashiv certainly didn’t believe that only prior to the 1970’s it was possible for gelatin companies to render raw materials “Yavesh K’eitz”! The clear implication is that if he had been certain there was no remaining taste Rav Elyashiv, the Posek HaDor, would have even permitted gelatin made from "fresh meat"!! I don’t know why anyone would cite this teshuva as a source that Rav Elyashiv prohibited ANY type of gelatin, or that he thought in practice it wasn’t being made, or couldn’t be made, in a way that the final product was kosher. The words “Tzarich Iyun L’dina” simply mean the matter required some thought because, based on the information available to Rav Elyashiv at the time of his writing, he thought it was “possible” (ויתכן) the “fresh meat” could retain some flavor. He did NOT write that gelatin of any type is Assur, and he did NOT write that it is impossible to make it kosher. It is unlikely Rav Elyashiv actually visited a tannery or gelatin plant or even spoke with any executive or manager of a gelatin company. He was most likely relying on information others had provided him.

  13. A 1963 certification letter from Rav Shlomo Shreiber of Jerusalem based on the rulings of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzienski and Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank.

  14. A 1980 certification letter from Rav Michoel Ehrlich of Tel Aviv based on the rulings of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzienski, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, and former Chief Rabbi Rav Ovadya Yosef.