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If my non-Jewish neighbor cooks some rice and brings it to my house, I'm not allowed to eat it because of Bishul Akum (even if I know his ingredients and equipment are 100% vegan and grape-free). Too much socializing could lead to intermarriage.

I've heard that the Birkei Yosef (a.k.a. "Chida", R' Chaim Yosef David Azulai, Jerusalem, late 1700s) argued that for cooked food product made halfway around the world by some anonymous producer, one could be more lenient. This factors into discussions today such as bishul akum vis-a-vis canned tuna.

My question is a historical one -- what kinds of food products was Chida talking about in the 1700s that were cooked and shipped all over the place?

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I took a quick glance at Birkei Yosef YD 103-104 and didn't see it, though it's dense material and perhaps I wasn't reading carefully enough. He does spend some time talking about sweet biscuits, but doesn't (at first glance) employ the above argument. –  Shalom Oct 5 '10 at 13:39
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I've found where the Chida talks (in Chayim Shaal 1:74:6 and in Birkei Yosef, Yoreh De'ah 113:7) about "roasted peas" (אפונים קלויים; in Birkei Yosef he calls them קודאמאס) "that come from Tunis to Livorno," as to whether Bishul Akum applies to them. (The uncertainty is because in Tunis they are an important food, fit to be eaten by the nobility, "while here [in Livorno] they wouldn't even be served at a commoner's table.")

A few pages earlier in Birkei Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 112:9) he cites Maharit Tzahalon as permitting these peas, and also biscuits (that's probably the part that Shalom is referring to in his note on the original question), on the grounds that you don't know the manufacturer personally (i.e., he's like a פלטר), and that these foods are not socially significant enough for there to be a problem of חתנות. The first half of that argument is probably what R' Schachter is referencing. (Although לעניות דעתי it doesn't seem to be exactly the same: since Maharitatz calls him a פלטר, he'd presumably hold the same even if the manufacturer is in your town, as long as he sells to the general public rather than cooking the stuff especially for you.)

In any case, Chida himself argues against this position. He holds that the peas are prohibited (because the heter of פלטר doesn't apply to them), and that the biscuits indeed may not be eaten by people who are careful about פת פלטר.

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Alex, the chiddush is if the producer is non-local, we can call him like a "paltar" for bishul, not bread. –  Shalom Oct 5 '10 at 20:08
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That doesn't seem to be the Maharitatz' argument. Birkei Yosef quotes him as follows: ובפלטר ליכא חתנות דבאומנותו עוסק ובזה נמצא סמך למה שאנו אוכלים אפונים של נוים הנקראים בערבי קודאמ״י והרי הם עולין על ש״מ דמה שנהגו התר בקודאמ״י משוס דהן מן הפלטר אעפ״י שבפת יש חולקים דאף מהפלטר אסור דוקא פת דחשיב אבל קליות העושה אותם למכור בשוק כ״ע מודו דליכא איסור דליכא טעם דחתנות. So the basic argument is that it's a matter of חשיבות (social significance), not of whether he's local or not. –  Alex Oct 5 '10 at 21:09
    
The Zechor Avraham translates "קודאמאס" as 'הביליביזי״ש' - hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49229&pgnum=95 –  Menachem Aug 2 '12 at 11:52
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this is not just a historic question, but one that was re-addressed by contemporary poskim! it is quoted in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (see rivevos efraim vol 8, 511) that food cooked in a factory with absolutely no contact between the non-Jewish workers and the customer, is not included in the prohibition . Although the Chazon Ish - see Shevet Halevi (vol. 6, 108, 6)- was unconvinced and maintained that a factory setting would not be considered any different than any other type of store, even so common custom (based on the opinions of several contemporary authorities -including minchas yitzchak and rav ovadiah) is to accept this leniency as a tziruf, when it is combined with other questionable situations .

this means that rav moshe seems to follow the mahari tzahalon's shitta, while the chazon ish seems to follow the chida's more machmir take.

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I didn't see what you were talking about in the Rivevos Efraim 8:511 . Here's the link to it inside hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1082&pgnum=389 –  Menachem Aug 2 '12 at 11:27
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This is interesting halachik analysis but I think the question was a historical one about what prompted the Chida's ruling. –  Double AA Aug 2 '12 at 14:07
    
whooops! i'm sorry that was the rivevos efraim referring to bishul akum with microwaves. the one on rav moshe's factory hetter is Rivevos Efraim (vol. 5, 596). sorry! –  user1248 Aug 2 '12 at 17:12
    
well your'e on the ball this time - here's the link to the correct rivevos efraim - hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1086&pgnum=465 y'know i could use an eggroll 'bout now! –  cmb Aug 3 '12 at 11:07
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