Oreos in the Year 5758
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 98 12:14:19 -0700
Subject: Oreos in the Year 5758
--- Ralph Goren <CNTRALF@Lafn.org> wrote:
Though many significant events have shaped 5758 so far (U.S. troops in
Bosnia, an erratic stock market, septuplets in Iowa, increasing tension the
Middle East) certainly none can compare to the really big story this year,
a genuine blockbuster that will change the lives of American Jews
dramatically and cataclysmically. Unless we merit the coming of Mashiach,
5758 will go down in history as The Year That Oreos Became Kosher. Now that
Nabisco has made the commitment to providing Jews (and the world at large)
with kosher Oreos, we Jews have a responsibility to consider the halachic
implications of this remarkable coup. I am not referring to the reliability
of rabbinical hashgacha within Nabisco's factories, chas v'shalom.
Rather, my concern is income based (how it's ingested) and outcome based
(digested). Halacha covers even the most picayune details of a Jew's
everyday life. The reliance on seder, a certain order as part of the
process, is integral to implementation. For example, the way we put on our
shoes and tie them: we first put on the right shoe, then the left shoe,
then we tie the left shoe and finally tie the right shoe. The reasons
behind these halachos are beyond the ken of the average Jew. It may be best
left to kabbalists to divine their significance. Nevertheless, we take this
shoe fitting decree seriously, a case of na'al v'nishma.
This concept of seder is no different for kabbalistic Oreo-eating. Which
should come first? A straightforward bite into the whole cookie? Should
one first break apart the two sandwich halves and concentrate on the creme?
One can postulate that if white represents purity and goodness, and black
evil and darkness, then perhaps one should eat the white first, as an
example of the yetzer hatov triumphing over the yetzer hora? Or should one
save the best for last, so to speak, by first destroying, via consumptive
powers, the Darkness (the cookie part) and be left only with Light (the
creme)? Or perhaps, this sort of binary weltanschauung is not healthy at
all it may be preferable to take the centrist position and bite into the
intact cookie, representing the real world mix of good and bad, light and
dark, moderation versus extremism.
A fresh insight and hint may be garnered when analyzing the Hebrew form of
Oreos, Ori-oz (aleph-vav-resh-yud-ayin-zayin), translated as "my light is
the source of strength." Assuming that the "s" in Oreos takes on the
Ashkenazic pronounciation, it may also be interpreted Ori-os, or my light
shall be a sign.
Thus the Hebrew appears to favor the creme-first eating process, although
it's advisable to check with your local rabbi for a p'sak. And then, of
course, comes the question of which blessings to say. 'Borei minay mezonos'
seems the obvious choice, unless one first chooses to excise and consume
the white creme center (in which case, a shehakol would be the way to go,
followed by a 'mezonos' when the cookie part is tasted.)
Or, since the creme is subjectively the mehudar, perhaps a 'shehakol' is
sufficient for both creme and cookie, provided that the creme is eaten
first? And if one has a glass of milk with one's Oreo, does the 'shehakol'
that one first said over the Oreo's creme center suffice? Clearly the
introduction of Oreos and all the shaylos it presents allows us the
opportunity to triumph over lust, by exercising control over the Oreo,
versus the Oreo having control over us. Cooperation between Nabisco and
the Orthodox Union has given Jews the opportunity to take the everyday act
of noshing on kosher Oreos, and raise it to a whole new level of holiness.
We see that Oreos enrich our bodies with a perfect blend of ruchniyus and
gashmiyus, the transitory (a taste of Heaven) and the permanent (a waistline
that holds no secrets).
© 1998 Peter Langston