Rav Elyashiv Rules Permissively on Herring: Forbids Wild Salmon & Other Fish Unless Inspected


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[Rabbi Yair Hoffman – 5 Towns Jewish Times]

In a series of meetings with Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Karp and  others, both on Tuesday and today, Thursday, Rav Elyashiv Shlita issued two rulings:  He firmly reaffirmed the prohibition of consuming all fish species that have the Anisakis water nematode (worm) and he also ruled, however, that herring are permitted lechatchila.

According to both Rabbi Karp and others present, Rav Elyashiv stressed that the Anisakis is forbidden because of the clear evidence that it’s origin is clearly from outside of the flesh of the fish and are thus considered Sheretz HaMayim.  Other worms that develop inside the flesh of the fish are permitted, however, and fall under the rubric of the Talmudic dispensation of “Minei Gavli” (See tractate Chullin 67b).

The permissive ruling on the herring, according to Rabbi Karp was based up, at least, two factors:

The first factor, among others, is that the Anisakis nematode is almost impossible to find and identify after the herring has been marinated.  Herring are significantly different than wild salmon and other fish that are infested with Anisakis in this regard.  Indeed, according to Rabbi Pappenheim of Beit Shemesh, formerly the editor of the Eida, the Eida Chareidis of Jerusalem conducted examinations yesterday with Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Karp present and could not identify any Anisakis nematodes.

A secondary factor that Rav Elyashiv took into account was something considered as a snif- an additional factor, that generally might not stand by itself.  The snif he utilized in his ruling was the fact that upon each piece of herring, the presence of a forbidden Anisakis nematode constitutes a “Miut sheaino matzui” – a minority that is relatively rare.”  Although Rav Elyashiv noted that with the use of dissolving chemicals in a complete herring the anisakis nematode is commonly found, the fact that it is not found without the chemical is a significant factor in permitting them.  Generally speaking, this factor cannot stand alone by itself and was only relied upon in combination with other factors.

Rav Elyashiv permitted marinated (i.e. pickled) herring lechatchilah – ideally without reservation.  Rav Elyyashiv’s position on other types of fish is that they are forbidden to be consumed unless inspected and any anisakis worms must be removed.  This information was confirmed later by Rabbi Karp with Rav Elyashiv’s grandson as well.

Most herring is processed It is still unclear to this author what Rav Elyashiv’s position is on general herring that has not been pickled or marinated.

NOTE: For aditional articles on the “fish crisis”, please visit the YWN Kashrus Korner.

(Source: 5TJT)


  1. Wow, now, this is big! because according to this pesak of rav Eliyashiv, the sink water in NYC would be permitted without a filter. since after the water travels and goes through some chemicals, pipes etc. & by the time it reaches the kitchen sink the bugs are not visible, its like the worms in the marinated herring that are not visible anymore. however it is unclear to me if rav eliyashiv would allow to drink the water straight out of the reservoir(before the water goes through the process- and the bugs are still visible).

  2. Can R’ Yair Hoffman please explain why he says its “almost impossible” to identify the worms in the herring after its marinated? what happens to the worm that prevents the human eye to identify it after its pickled? does it become too small, or is it because its becomes camaflouge, changes colors etc.??

  3. I’m just curious. Was there anyone who permits the Anisakis nematode (or at least someone neutral) involved in the discussion with Rav Eliyashiv. Sometimes when someone is completely committed to a position there can be a bias in the way the facts are presented to a third party (as anyone who reads the New York Times can attest). Very often the way the question is asked determines what the answer will be. I’m not saying this is the situation here but it would be interesting to know who these “others” are.

  4. I’ll believe Rav Eliyashiv’s psak when Rav Belsky has been given the opportunity to discuss it with him.

    Enough with kli-sheini and kli-shlishi reinterpretations and inaccuarcy.

  5. In addition, it would behoove us to know how Rabbi Hoffman knows this, who “the others there” were.

    And it would be responsible of YWN to stop publishing unsubstantiated reports on this topic.

    The Rav Bess fiasco should have alread established this.

  6. Being that there a Gedolim with differing positions. issuing different Psokim; it is important for each individual to follow the Psak of his Rov.

  7. To #2 (fiftyseven) Try this test. Wrap a piece of t-shirt material or handkerchief around the faucet and let the water run for a few minutes. When you remove it you will see that it became dirty. Gently place the open material in a bowl of water and watch the bugs swim away.

  8. Rabbi Belsky was recently quoted in a long detailed article that all these fish are permitted, since the Shulchan Aruch says unequivocally that worms in the flesh are permitted, while those in the stomach are forbidden.

    I guess you must decide which is your posek.

  9. T0 6 “squek”

    Your question of why “אין מבטלין איסור לכתחילה ” does not apply here should be addressed to your Rav and not to “know it all” bloggers. You should do that it in any case. Do not rely on news reporters and commenters for guidance in Halacha!!!!!

  10. squeak: First of all presumably non-Jews pickle the herring and they have no issur to be mevatel issur l’chatchila. Secondly, the Shach permits even a Jew to be mevatel a SAFEK issur, so it would depend on the level of infestation.

  11. Based on this new psak, can I eat any non-kosher lettuce salad with salad dressing since it is very hard to find the bugs amongst the dressing?! Obviously not! Because once it is assumed to have a מיעוט המצוי of bugs, there is a חיוב בדיקה and one may not eat it without checking.

  12. To No. 19:

    You make it sound like “cherry picking” between gadolim is inappropriate. Quite to the contrary. It would be mindless to blindly follow just one rav ALL the time without regard to the issue and his areas of expertise in halacha. I would much rather follow the psak of the rav who (1) has the most technical expertise on the inyan at issue and 2(2) provides the most reasoned basis for his psak including references to other chazal whose opinions he relied upon.

  13. very simple.

    these rebel rousers that are ALWAYS busy with YOUR neshome (but not there own), the ones that knived this issur on fish out of these Israeli Gedolim, had to get at least ONE heter out of them. Because if herring would have also been ossur, everybody would have gone on to rely on the psokim of Rav Vosner, Rav Padwa, and others that say that there is no problem at all with fish.

    and this would have been a BIG FLOP for tehm.