Thousands of frum Jews have been relying on the famous heter by Rav Moshe Feinstein, the great halachic posek of the past generation, that permits to consume dairy products that are cholov stam (milk not supervised by a Jew).
In his responsa Igros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 1:47), Rav Feinstein ruled that such milk – also called cholov stam – is permissible because the governmental inspection of dairies can serve as verification that milk from non-kosher animals is not present.
But a new letter that was recently discovered, and, to the best of our knowledge, was never published before, places key restrictions on that option.
The letter was written in response to an inquiry by Reb Yitzchok Shlomo Hoffman OBM, a noted Jewish activist who would arrange kosher food for Jewish patients in New York hospitals.
Hoffman asked the staff in Maimonides Medical Center in Boro Park why they serve Cholov Akum. Their reply was that “Reb Moshe allowed it.”
When Hoffman reported this to Rav Feinstein, the posek handed him a letter calling it a leniency that should not be relied upon by those who are living “where real Cholov Yisroel is available.”
R’ Yitzchok Shlomo Hoffman recently passed away and the letter was found by his children among his possessions.
Rabbi Moshe Wiener, a known mechaber seforim, provided a copy to COLlive.com with the translation to English:
5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5724
Although there are halachic reasons to allow drinking [non-Cholov Yisroel] milk produced by companies [under government supervision], obviously this leniency only applies in places where one cannot obtain Cholov Yisroel milk, supervised by G-d-fearing rabbonim. However, in places where such milk is available, one must be strict and only drink supervised milk. The same applies to other dairy products.
It is especially important to be careful about this if one is accustomed to only consume supervised dairy products at home. In such a case, [drinking non-Cholov-Yisroel milk] may involve violating a neder [vow].
Therefore, hospitals that provide kosher food should do whatever they can to obtain dairy products under rabbinic supervision, for here in New York there is no difficulty involved in doing so. At the very least, they should obtain supervised dairy products for those patients who only eat Cholov Yisroel at home, and they should not force them, chas veshalom, to eat what they are careful not to eat.
[Signed] Moshe Feinstein