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I came across an interesting situation recently. I was eating with Jewish, non-observant friends. I brought over a hamburger from a local kosher take-out place. They had homemade, non-kosher food, and they also ate bread.

If it makes a difference, the bread that they ate was not kosher supervised, but likely did not contain any specific treif ingredients.

If it makes a difference, I washed and said "hamotzi", they did not.

After we finished eating, I started saying the Bircat Hamazon. They realized what I was doing, and, having attended Reform summer camps, asked me to slow down and sing it out loud, so they could join in! (After the first paragraph, they did not continue).

This led me to wonder:

  • can / should one who ate treif food say the bircat hamazon afterwards?

  • can / should one who are treif food be counted in a zimun?

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Am new to this and i really want to learn how to Mitzi and i mean been clean before you prayer?What are some of the things you have to do before praying?What is some of the thing you have to do when praying? –  user1663 Jun 28 '12 at 15:14
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@EmmanuelFrimpong, welcome to Mi Yodeya! Please feel free to ask your questions as distinct questions by clicking on "Ask Question" at the top-right of this page. –  Isaac Moses Jun 28 '12 at 15:18
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

(Based on Shulchan Aruch OC 196 with Mishna Berura)

One who ate non kosher food when not permitted to do so (ie not in a case of danger to life) should not say a bracha before or after eating and does not combine to form a zimmun. The Mishna Berura adds that some achronim hold that if it was eaten beshogeg (accidentally) then one could say a after bracha but not combine to a zimmun. This assumes the food is forbidden even rabbinically. In your case this would depend on how you categorize the actions of non religious Jews.

He notes a further case where the different people at the meal will not partake of the other persons food because of a chumra (such as one who keeps pas yisrael with one who does not) or because of different statuses (such as a yisrael eating with a kohein who is eating his terumah), in this case as long as everyone can partake of at least one person's food, they do combine.

So if you wouldn't eat their rolls as a chumra and they would eat yours, then you do combine, but if you wouldn't eat their rolls midina (by law) then you would then have to hold that they don't combine with you, although they may have to bentch by themselves.

Finally I note that if you think they are obligated to bentch (depending, as above) then even if there was no combining for zimmun you might want to bentch out loud so that they can be yotzei by hearing you. The Shulchan Aruch rules (OC 193:1) that even in a case without zimmun (ie only two people) then one should still motzi the other if the other is not knowledgeable in the text of bentching. (The Mishna Berura there notes that many hold this is true even if the listener doesn't understand Hebrew.) Obviously, this should only be done if it will not cause strife and dislike between you and the others.

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@Vram I don't know about in general, but by two people who ate together and one doesn't understand Hebrew the Shulchan Aruch himself says that one cannot be motzi the other. See OC 193:1 quoted in my answer. –  Double AA Mar 4 '12 at 16:06
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If the food is probably kosher, but just doesn't have kosher certification, then that's not a problem and should not affect these halachos in any way.

If it was actually treif, then one should not say birchas hamazon on it (and obviously there's no zimmun). The gemara in sanhedrin discusses saying a bracha on stolen food and quotes the passuk "בוצע ברך נאץ ה'" to say that such a bracha can be considered almost blasphemous. While there is some discussion about how to apply these halachos, I think most would agree that if the food is actually treif, it would be completely wrong to say a bracha on it. This is even worse than stolen food, where the food itself is not a problem, just the means of getting it. How can one say a blessing to God while eating what He forbids?

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If they ate it together, I assume the problem of "botzea berech" would apply. If it was eaten separately, maybe the bracha can just "go on" the bread to avoid the problem. –  Ariel K Mar 2 '12 at 16:58
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Separate from these halachos, one would have to know how to deal with such a situation without discouraging their Jewish practice. –  Ariel K Mar 2 '12 at 16:58
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@ShmuelBrill That is an incorrect statement. While most observant Jews (including myself) will not eat most unsupervised foods (except for beer, coffee, bottled water, a few other exceptions) - it is a stretch to say that bread is "most probably" not kosher. Bread bakeries use ovens that are only for bread, very few ingredients go into it, and they're all pareve. So, while I won't eat unsupervised bread, because maybe there was a tiny bug in the flour, etc. - these are not common occurrences, and in fact most commercially baked bread probably IS kosher, and we only abstain out of doubt. –  user1095 Mar 2 '12 at 17:12
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@Will no oils or margarine? –  Shmuel Brin Mar 2 '12 at 18:18
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@Will it is very common, in the states at least, for bread products to have dairy ingredients or at least to be manufactured on dairy equipment. –  yoel Mar 2 '12 at 20:24
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