By : Emil G. Hirsch
The curd of milk run into molds
and allowed to coagulate. This
article of food was known to the
ancient Hebrews. Three expressions
seem at least to indicate that
various kinds and forms of cheese
were in use: 1. "Gebinah"
(Job x. 10) denotes the ordinary
article, prepared in Biblical
times as it is to this day in
Syria. Milk is passed through
a cloth, and the curd, after being
salted, is molded into disks about
the size of the hand and dried
in the sun. From such cheese a
cool, acid drink is made by stirring
it in water. 2. "Hari?e he-?alab"
(I Sam. xvii. 18) appears to have
been made of sweet milk, and to
have been something like cottage-cheese.
It is not certain what "shefot
ba?ar" (II Sam. xvii. 29)
signifies. Perhaps the Masoretic
reading is corrupt. If not, "cream"or
"cheese" may be its
meaning. 3. "?em'ah,"
signifies "cheese" in
Prov. xxx. 33.
post-Biblical days the manufacture
of cheese was in the hands of
a distinct gild. Josephus ("B.
J." v. 4, § 1), at all
events, mentions "the valley
of the cheese-makers," and
many are the references in the
Talmudic writings to the preparation
of hard cheese (Shab. 96a; Tosef.,
Shab. x.; Yer. Shab. vii. 10a,
end; Yer. Ma'as. ii. 3a; Yer.
B. M. vii. 11b). Yer. Shek. vii.
3c mentions a disk ("iggul")
of cheese. Cheese and water are
mentioned as constituting a very
poor meal (Yer. M. ?. iii. 83b;
Yer. Ned. v. 40d, beginning).
was one of the articles included
in the list of eighteen prohibitions
enacted at the famous meeting
in the upper chamber of Hananiah
ben Hezekiah ben Garon (Shab.
i. 7), which could never be revoked
because they who had adopted them
gave their lives for them (Yer.
Shab. i. 7; 3c. The Mishnah does
not enumerate them specifically;
in the Gemara there are long debates
concerning them; but a Baraita
in the name of R. Simeon ben Yo?ai
(ib.) furnishes the particulars.
According to this war measure,
Jews were forbidden to buy bread,
oil, cheese, wine, vinegar, etc.,
from an idolater. In the Mishnah
('Ab. Zarah, ii. 5, 29a) cheese
from Bet Oneiki (= Bithnica; Yer.
reading ; Tosefta has here ; according
to Rapoport, "Erek Millin,"
Veneca in Media is referred to)
is declared to be "issur"
that Cheese from any other locality
may be eaten. According to R.
Meïr this issur carries with
it the prohibition against using
cheese for other purposes than
eating, an opinion not accepted
by the Rabbis. R. Joshua is reported
as accounting for the prohibition
by the fact that the makers of
cheese, who were all either pagans
() or Bithynians (see Pliny, "Historia
Naturalis," xi. 97; Wiesner,
in "Ben Chananja," 1866,
col. 75), placed the cheese (to
ripen it) in the rennet-bag of
an animal that had died of disease.
Another of the reasons advanced
is that most of the Bithynian
calves whose stomachs were used
in the manufacture of cheese,
were slaughtered for idolatrous
rites ('Ab. Zarah 34b). Besides
this, the contact of the rennet
with the cheese would come under
the general prohibition against
mixing milk and meat.
later religious practise has been
to interdict all cheese made by
non-Jews suspected of idolatry.
Cheese made by Jews from the milk
of animals originally destined
for idolatry seems also to have
been forbidden, and so was cheese
of heathen manufacture, even if
kept in leaves or herbs (see Shulhan
'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 115, 2; "Yad,"
Ma'akalot Asurot, iii.). So strictly
was this prohibition observed
that for a long time the Jews
of England used to get their cheese
from Holland so as to be certain
that it had been prepared according
to Jewish custom.E. G. H.