Although many significant events have shaped 5758 so far (U.S.
troops in Bosnia, an erratic stock market, septuplets in Iowa, in-
creasing 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 commit-
ment 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).