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Rambam (Hil. Edus 11:4) writes (translation from here):

...base people are disqualified as witnesses by Rabbinic decree. This refers to people who walk through the marketplace eating in the presence of everyone... and the like. The rationale is that they are not concerned with their own shame.

This is cited as the halachah, in practically identical wording, in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 34:18.

Does this also apply to chewing gum or the like?

  • +1. Whaddaya mean "or the like"? – msh210 Dec 15 '11 at 20:58
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    I'd replace "and chew gum" with "and talk loudly and obnoxiously on cellphones" The rationale is that they are not concerned with their own shame. ;) – Shmuel Dec 15 '11 at 22:00
  • @msh210 sucking a candy on the street sounds like it... – yydl Dec 15 '11 at 22:06
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    Or, perhaps, drinking a cup of coffee in public? – neilfein Dec 16 '11 at 0:18
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    "Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?" - Not if you're a man! :) – AviD Dec 16 '11 at 9:37
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Chewing gum is not halachic eating.

  1. It is less than a Kzayit

  2. You do not swallow it.

  3. It does not nourish you.

So chewing gum and walking in the street would not disqualify you.

As for candies and the like, this is really talking about the Marketplace. The gemora says that a person who eats in the Shuk is like a dog. The person has no patience and can not sit down properly to eat. If you do not have enough shame to be thought of as a dog, then you are a base person and can't be a witness.

Basically, don't eat the food in the supermarket.

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    Sources would be greatly appreciated and enhance your answer. – Gershon Gold Dec 16 '11 at 2:35
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    And I'm not sure about some of these points. You do say a berachah on gum, after all, because at least you swallow the sugar or other flavoring. So it might be considered "eating" to that extent. – Alex Dec 16 '11 at 4:29
  • @Alex, it's not so simple. See here. torahmusings.com/2010/11/chewing-gum-bracha-or-no-bracha – avi Dec 16 '11 at 10:34
  • Also, the question is if you need a bracha achrona, not a bracha rishona. And you don't say a bracha achrona on gum. – avi Dec 16 '11 at 10:39
  • Why would it possibly be based on halakhic eating? The reason given in the quote is that it is disgraceful. That should be dependent on standards of disgrace; not on definitions of eating in other halakhic areas. – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 0:02
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Based on the answer to this question May one chew gum in the bathroom? that one may chew gum in the bathroom, then it is obviously not called eating and therefore it would not disqualify one from being a witness.

  • Why would it possibly be based on halakhic eating? The reason given in the quote is that it is disgraceful. That should be dependent on standards of disgrace; not on definitions of eating in other halakhic areas – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 0:02
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Maharsha in Hiddushei Aggadot to Kiddushin (40b) explains the correlation of one who eats on the street to a dog is in that a dog does not have his food at home and therefore goes searching for bits of food here and there eating a drop here and a drop there.

This coincides with the common phrase 'he is eating like a hungry dog' this being the result of him not having food in his dwelling place.

Chewing gum is a habit of someone eager, hungered, agitated and unsettled.Someone who shamelessly portrays himself as hungry(לא רעב ללחם not hungry for bread but hungry nevertheless) and as admitting a gap is not fit to be a witness.

This may be somewhat comparable to the concept we find C'M' 263' when considering picking up something on the street, for instance, to return it to its rightful owner, that depending on the person somethings may be too insignificant to have someone important(Talmud Chochom) picking it up and he, if important, shall not be obliged to pick it up.

Considering chewing gum on the street, is shameful as for such an insignificant food one is embarrassing himself in public.For had it been something significant at least it may be worth embarrassing oneself for that.

Rav Avigdor Miller is quoted telling someone, upon seen eating on the street arguing that he is eating something small, that 'if so you are a puppy'.

All this is in accordance with the understanding of Rashi in Kidushin as well as the last peshat in tosafot in Kidushin that the problem with this man is his eating on the street which is the understanding of the Rambam le'halacha ,however Tosafot provides us with an all other understanding of the halacha and that is that the issue here is one of stealing and grabbing from another.More than that, even if the issue is one of eating on the street it is still uncertain whether or not the halacha pertains to someone eating a snack rather than a meal.Nevertheless, the facts as put on the table call for us to be careful with that as being a sofek posul le'edut and a sofek not being min ha'yishuv meaning people contributing to society is not rewarding.

Dibros Moshe on that gemarah points out that you derive from here that one need be embarrassed to be a posul le'eidut, as that is the reasoning behind this pesul.Once again we see the importance in being scrupulous in this manner as careful as one is retain his simole dignity.

I may add that being embarrssed is from the signs of a jew and is from his essence and is a result of yiras Hashem as the gemorah states regarding the posuk in Yitro ובעבור תהיה יראתו על פניכם לבלתי תחטאו.

Therefore it is an utmost significant affair to be concerned about.

Its worth noting that the Bach in C'M' 34' says that unlike what the Bais Yosef says even when there are only a few people walking the streets he is nevertheless rendered posul le'edut as it is a place that Rabim Bokim Bo meaning it's meant for and designated for public walking.Seemingly this would a regular street even not a marketplace. See the yaavets in the back of the Gemarah that states clearly that it may even be in a chatser which people would refrain from eating therein being there are people going around there.

  • This completely misrepresents the view of Rabbenu Eiyahu in Tosafot (incidentally only one of 5 views cited there, a point which this post does not indicate). He actually writes that it involves taking food from other people! Not chewing ones own gum. This is the relevant passage: תוספות והר"ר אליהו מפרש כגון שהלך אצל המוכרים וטועם משל כולם מעט מעט כאילו רוצה לקנות מהם וניחא השתא שקורין כלב שדומה לכלב אוכל כאן מעט וכאן מעט chewing gum is hardly comparable to eating nothing but endless free samples (with no intent to buy). – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 0:08
  • Maharsha doesnt tell you the parameter; he explains the metaphor. Those are two different things. We still don't know (on the basis of Maharsha) what is considered rude and what is not. We don't know, for example, if there are any unchanging rules, or if it is all based on local perception. – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 0:32
  • Chewing gum is a habit of someone eager, hungered, agitated and unsettled.Someone who shamelessly portrays himself as hungry and needy I do not believe that the common perception of people who chew gum is "hungry and needy". – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 0:32
  • All this is according to one understanding in the Tosafot in Kidushin As noted, by all indications, nothing you write has any connection whatsoever to the understanding of Tosafot, who opine that the food eaten does not belong to the one eating it. – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 8:19
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I believe it was Reb elyashiv ztl who said the Gemara is saying you should not eat a meal in public but a candy would not be an issue- in regards to the bathroom there is no prohibition of eating in the bathroom...........

  • Why would there be a prohibition of eating in the bathroom? What do bathrooms have to do with the question? – mevaqesh Dec 8 '17 at 15:58
  • The questioners and commenters were assuming there is a prohibition to eat in ye bathroom. It seems to be a popular thought that it's assur, and there r contemporary tshuvos that discuss the possible issue of tumah in the bathroom – user16291 Dec 9 '17 at 15:57
  • The question said nothing about bathrooms, AFAICT did it imply anything about bathrooms.. If some other post made a comment about a bathroom, responses to that belong in comments there. When you get 50 rep. you will be able to comment on others' posts. – mevaqesh Dec 10 '17 at 0:27

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