Welcome to “How Should I Know?” – the advice column that appears about as often as a young married person has to go to his in-laws.  About every third week.


Dear Mordechai,

We have limited space in our kitchen.  How important is it that we have a complete set of pareve keilim?

Milka Fleishman

 Dear Milka,

Not very.  In fact, you can get rid of your milchig keilim too if you also get rid of your hang-up about eating fleishigs for breakfast.  Gentiles eat bacon for breakfast, so this hang-up is very specific to Jews.  Though to be fair, I think even non-Jews don’t eat cow or chicken for breakfast, so maybe certain animals are just not breakfast animals.  But feel free to ask anyone who’s ever eaten cholent at a hashkama kiddush at 9 in the morning why it’s just during the week that cholent for breakfast is so unthinkable.

But okay, you’re not giving up milchigs altogether.  Giving up your pareve keilim won’t involve changing your diet at all, and it’ll free up cabinet space.

My posek, zt”l, used to advise people to get rid of their pareve keilim. 

“Is that a p’sak?” I’d ask him.

“No, it’s just advice.”

My guess is that it would’ve just made his life a little easier, seeing as, at my estimate, like 80% of the questions people asked him were about pareve keilim that had gotten too close to milchig or fleishig keilim. 

“Okay,” you’re saying, “but what about pareve meals?” 

Well, let’s put it this way: Traditionally, most people use red keilim for fleishig and blue for milchig.  So based on that, what color should pareve be?  Yellow, right?  Yet the color they sell for pareve is green.  Why do they sell something that close to blue?  The reason is that most of the time you eat pareve, it’s basically just so you won’t be fleishig.  So that you’ll be able to eat milchig later.  So it’s basically just milchig.  In fact, every time I try to make a pareve supper, my whole family puts cheese on it.  I have not successfully made a pareve supper in years.  So why not get rid of all my pareve keilim?

I’ll tell you why: Because of sholom bayis.  My wife comes from a home where her mother cooked absolutely everything pareve except for actual meat or cheese.  She has a pareve crock pot in case she doesn’t want to put meat in her cholent -- so she could serve it at a leftover meal with milchigs, I’m guessing.  I don’t know. I try to never stick around that long. 

Plus we don’t have enough room in our fridge for two ketchups, two mayonnaises, and so on.  And you’re going to say, “Why do you need milchig mayonnaise?”  And the answer is I don’t know – for milchig fish, I guess.  But the point is that there wouldn’t be room in the fridge for our fleishig mayonnaise.  Maybe we’re supposed to have two refrigerators.  We already do, and it’s filled to the brim with produce.  Pareve produce. 

We might have to make some changes.


Dear Mordechai,

My husband and I have never made Yom Tov before.  What’s a good one to start with?


 Dear C,

I would suggest Shavuos.  It’s a nice starter Yom Tov, because it’s not one where you have to kasher your kitchen, unless you mess up the whole milchig-fleishig thing.  Plus no one has to sleep outside.  Even if you invite more company than the number of beds that you have, you can always just timeshare them.

On top of that, it’s the one yom tov that you don’t have to remind your husband to buy you flowers.  I actually bought my wife flowers the first year we made Pesach – totally unprovoked – and she had to remind me to buy a Pesach vase.

Plus, because of the time of the year, you can literally cook whatever you want and take as long as you need to make it, because your night meals are at 11 o’clock at night, and your day meals are whenever you decide to wake up your husband.  And your husband can give whatever d’var Torah he wants, because as it turns out, all divrei Torah are Shavuos-related.

And if it’s a 3-day yom tov, your husband gets to nap BEFORE he stays up all night, as long as he specifically says that he’s not saying that he’s napping because tonight is yom tov.


Dear Mordechai,

Why do we need scissors to open a pack of scissors?  If I’m buying scissors, it’s obviously because I need scissors, and I don’t have scissors to open the scissors!

 Boruch H.

 Dear Boruch,

Buy two pairs!...  Wait.

Okay, so this has been a problem since forever.  Chazal say that the Ribbono Shel Olam created the first pair of tongs, because otherwise how would a person lift that first pair out of the fire without tongs?  Unless he had a yarmulke.  Made of metal.  But how did he make that?  There must have been a first yarmulke.  So I’m thinking that the Ribbono Shel Olam also must have opened the first package of scissors, either through natural or supernatural means.

My guess is that you’re young, and this is your first pair of scissors.  The rest of us all have multiple pairs of scissors.  In my house, for example, we have kitchen scissors in fleishig, milchig, pareve and treif (in case we eat treif, I guess?) plus I have desk scissors, and we have upstairs scissors.  And those are just the pairs I know about.  So if, say, the scissors we use to cut open a tube of glue (don’t get me started on those) get stuck and we have to replace them, we can use another pair of scissors to open that pack.  And if we can’t find any of them, I have a pair of toenail clippers that can cut through it no problem. 

The problem is even if you’re strong enough to open a pair bare-handed, it’s impossible to do so without cutting yourself on the plastic.  And then you have to go borrow a pair of scissors to finish opening it, and the person asks why you’re bleeding, and you say, “Scissors,” and they say, “I thought you said it’s still in the package.”

Basically, it’s the manufacturers’ way of ensuring that stores don’t just sell scissors to any random person.  You have to have a friend with scissors who can vouch for you that you are someone who can be trusted with scissors.  It’s a club.  You ask, “Can I borrow your scissors?” and it’s heavy plastic, so your friend will say, “You’ll need my good scissors.  But don’t lose them.  They’re my good scissors.”  If someone in the club trusts you with his good scissors, you can own a pack of scissors.

Basically, the manufacturers don’t want you running home with it, all excited about finally having your first pair of scissors, and then running into something and injuring yourself.  That’s why knives come like that too (or in heavy wooden blocks).

FUN FACT: In the old days, stores actually had one display scissor in the store that customers could use to open their packages.  This one scissor was out of its package, but just so people wouldn’t walk away with it, it was tied down with a string.  That lasted maybe five minutes.

But it’s not just scissors.  A lot of things come in plastic packaging, so the first thing you have to buy is scissors.  I can’t tell you how many instruction manuals I’ve cut up trying to cut open plastic packaging. 

So here are some tips as to how to open your very first package of scissors if you’re anti-social or can’t find anyone to vouch for you:

  1. Throw the whole thing in a fire so that the plastic melts away, and you’re just left with the scissors. And no handles. And no instructions either.  Then you just have to take the scissors out of the fire with a pair of tongs.
  2. Cut the plastic open with a cutting tool that doesn’t come shrink-wrapped, such as chainsaw or lawn mower.
  3. Using a set of car keys, start your car and back it over the packaging. If necessary, go forward and backward a couple of times until your package is open or the whole matter is irrelevant or you get a flat tire from the scissors, or, more likely, the plastic fighting back.

NOTE: None of these tips will show anyone that you are somebody who can be trusted with scissors.

So your best option is:

  1. Give up and just use the hard plastic to cut things, like a knife. If it can cut skin, it can cut paper. Though that might not be true, because for example paper can cut skin, but not paper.  And also not skin on purpose.

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Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.