Hacham Yosef Soso Hacohen

< Tammuz 5784 July 2024 >
A few quotes from the Rabbi on 'Israel and the Nations'
in which he permits drinking fermented palm juice prepared by Ishmaelites, rather than being stringent

A question arises concerning the drink customarily prepared by Ishmaelites from date palms, prepared by cutting down the palm tree's top branches, slitting them lengthwise and hanging a vessel to collect the liquid that flows from them. It is sweet as honey and sold in markets. They also prepare a fermented version, made by adding a little leavening in the vessel containing the palm juice. The Ishmaelites are accustomed to fermenting it while the vessel is still hanging on the palm tree, by adding a bit of leavening, so that every drop that flows from the palm ferments. We have recently heard that it is not easy to make it ferment; in the winter, in particular, they need to add a bit of their cooked food, such as couscous and the like, in which there might be a bone, or some non-kosher meat. There are those who do nothing more than placing leavening in the vessel in the usual way. The question has therefore been asked as to the law concerning such palm drink; can the difference be tasted? The palm drink's taste remains as it was, and the vendors all say that it contains no such thing. Reply: Since there are many Ishmaelites who put in nothing but leavening, and tasting it proves that there is no difference in its taste, we can assume that the vendors all act similarly, and it is permitted for consumption.

Haim BaYad, Yoreh De'ah, section 35, p. 178, published by the author, Zohar Press, Tel Aviv 1976
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