Advanced Studies: New OU Kosher Program in Yoreh Deah

29 Apr 2011

In a new Orthodox Union kashrut education initiative, Rabbi Eli Gersten, OU Kosher’s Rabbinic Coordinator for P’sak Halacha (Halachic Decisions), now delivers mini-shiurim on in Yoreh Deah, the section of Shulchan Aruch which includes the Laws of Kashrut. Rabbi Gersten goes through each siman (chapter), beginning with siman 87 (Basar B’Chalav/Mixing Meat and Dairy), elucidating the halachic concepts involved and drawing on the major commentaries and writings of the foremost halachic decisors in order to provide a thorough, detailed overview of the issues.

It is anticipated that Rabbi Gersten’s mini-shiurim will cover most of the major sections of Yoreh Deah which are learned for semichah (rabbinic ordination), including Hilchos Ta’arovos (Laws of Mixtures) – all with a focus on providing the underpinnings of modern kashrut policy. In this vein, the mini-shiurim may continue into lesser known sections of Yoreh Deah, due to their particular kashrut ramifications. As such, the number of potential mini-shiurim in this series is limitless.

The mini-shiurim began two months ago as part of a new training program for professional rabbinic staff of the OU Kashrut Department. Due to the lack of availability of such shiurim for broader audiences, it was decided that the OU would go public with the program and offer it to a larger audience. Although this is a public program, it is geared to those who are prepared for an advanced study of Yoreh Deah, such as rabbis and semichah students.

Each mini-shiur is approximately 10-15 minutes long. They are tailored as much as possible to each cover one new s’if (paragraph) in Yoreh Deah. New mini-shiurim are posted on an ongoing basis – approximately three new sessions per week.

The mini-shiurim are featured on in the “Yoreh Deah” link (direct link). Furthermore, the mini-shiurim are readily available as free podcast subscriptions via iTunes and Yahoo.

Rabbi Gersten has semichah from Ner Israel Rabbinical College of Baltimore, where he studied and gained a mastery of Yoreh Deah (among many other things). While living in Baltimore, Rabbi Gersten underwent extensive shimush (hands-on halachic training) under Rabbi Moshe Heinemann. Rabbi Gersten continues his halachic involvement at the Orthodox Union by interfacing closely with the OU’s poskim, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and Rabbi Herschel Schachter, and publishing and teaching Yoreh Deah/Kashrut topics at OU Headquarters.

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