I've been talking with someone about possibly moving in to a room in her house later in the year. Her kitchen is kosher and her house is shomer Shabbos, but since I'm used to spending Shabbos in Jewish homes and also I mostly buy raw non-animal products to eat or cook with... it wouldn't really be an adjustment for me anyway. I'd just like an idea about what other issues might be relevant to ask about or think about. Obviously this question is practically relevant to me, but I'm only asking so I have a better idea about the topic. No doubt she will ask for the relevant information herself, and there are rabbis I can ask my own questions from. But do any of you have personal experience in this area? Or do you have any thoughts? I guess that some of the considerations will also be around holidays, like Pesach.

Thanks :)

3 Answers 3


I go to college and lived with a gentile roommate last semester, and I wish I had someone as considerate; but, let's get started. Obviously make sure to be considerate on Shabbat by leaving the bathroom light on and avoiding any sort of problem that must be solved by breaking one of the Shabbat rules. For example, don't leave something of importance that she might need on Shabbat outside the house if there is no eruv, because for her to bring something from outside back in would violate the prohibition of transferring in between domains. Another foreseeable scenario is if you lock the front door on Shabbat when she might leave it unlocked during Shabbat so that she doesn't need to carry a key. I'm not very creative with these sorts of scenarios, so make sure to ask your Jewish friend if you ever have a concern.

I'm assuming your friend is also shomer negiah and follows the rules of yichud so avoid bringing in male friends or at least ask for the house to yourself if you really need a male buddy to come on over; and, make sure your male friend (if the situation ever comes about) knows not to hug/touch your Jewish friend. I'm not saying you have to obey yichud or be shomer negiah, but having male guests can create a problem for your female friend. It's very awkward watching my roommate cop a feel from his girlfriend when I'm davening only a few feet from him. This isn't as much of a problem if your friend has a husband or male relative living in the house as well, but better safe than sorry.

As for pesach, avoid bringing in any leavened breads into the home, and if your friend abstains from kitniyot, then avoid bringing in those foods as well. Chametz must be removed from the home before Pesach and cannot be introduced into the room until after the holiday is over. As for kitniyot, there is no prohibition, as far as I understand it, of having it within the home; but, I don't know what your Jewish friend's preferences. It's better to ask or just play it safe.

Cooking is also a very complicated question. I'm not sure if she double-wraps or if her home has separate ovens for meat and dairy, so ask her about cooking. Maybe she wants you to use your own kitchenware, maybe she wants you to use a specific sink to wash your kitchenware, maybe she wants you to use her kitchenware and be aware of which is for meat and which is for dairy. Either way, this is a very complicated question and all I can recommend is that you ask her about that. As for your question about your kitchenware un-koshering other kitchenware, I'll explain the problem (or lack thereof) and the solution. In halacha for kosher, at least for meat and dairy, taste is principle (Yoma 73b; Yoma 80a). You transfer the taste by washing and cooking the kitchenware to cook meat and dairy, but this can be more technically explained here. You can (according to law, not according to the rules of the household) use kosher kitchenware that the family uses as long as you do not prepare anything fit for a king's table (or anything else not kosher, of course). The reasoning for this is that if you prepare food that is bishul akum, then the utensils are now not kosher. That's why there's an advantage to you having your own kitchenware, but then there's a load of questions with whether or not you're using her oven, if you're cleaning in her sink, et cetera. I don't feel comfortable enough in this area to discuss it in detail, so ask her or a rabbi for more information on this subject.

Avoid playing music in the house during the Counting of the Omer and during certain holidays and periods of times (like the Three Weeks and the 9 Days). She might not even consider it a prohibition to listen to recorded music, but it's better to ask than assume. If you really need to listen to music, get a pair of headphones.

Besides that, you should be okay. Maybe there are some female oriented concerns for Jewish life that I'm not looking at, but I'm not very well versed in any of that. Be considerate, be nice, have a good relationship with your friend and reach an understanding between the two of you. I wish you the best of luck.

  • I'll add things to consider as I think about them, so this answer might change often.
    – rosenjcb
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 14:43
  • 2
    Can you cite a source for the claim that someone shouldn't live in a home where one's housemate is gentile owning chametz or for the claim that the same applies to kitniyos? (I'm almost sure the one about kitniyos is wrong; don't know about the other.) Can you cite that yichud applies to a non-Jew? (Again, maybe it does, but a source would be nice -- or at least an argument saying that the asker's roommate might think it applies to a non-Jew, which would also make it a concern.) Can you explain the relevance of being shomer n'gia?
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 14:43
  • I'm not claiming that kitniyot can't be in a house. I'm just saying you should avoid bringing it in. As for yicchud. I'm just saying, what happens if she brings over a friend and her host and male friend find themselves being alone for some conceivable reason. I should specifically cite the prohibition of bringing in chametz during Pesach though, I had accidentally assumed the article had covered it. Also yeah, I brought about the relevance of shomer negiah into the answer. A lot of this is self explanatory and obvious, but I want to be very detailed.
    – rosenjcb
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 14:46
  • Re yichud, I meant a source that yichud applies to a Jewess and a male non-Jew (which is who the visitor most likely will be).
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 15:09
  • 1
    For Pesach, if everyone involved is agreeable, it is far easier for the gentile to bring no food into the house, the Jew to feed the gentile, and the gentile to pay a share of the costs. That way nobody has to worry about non-obvious chametz (and then using the kosher-for-Pesach dishes to cook/eat it). Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 15:30

I happened to have been reading the part of the Talmud (Tractate Pesachim) just yesterday where it discusses the issue of chametz (leaven) owned by a non-Jew who rents a residence (even a room) in the home of a Jew.

There are three source mitzvot in the Torah that are of concern here (I'm eliding them): "…yet on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses…" (Exodus 12:15), "Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses…" (Exodus 12:19), and "…and no leavened bread shall be seen with you…" (Exodus 13:7). The penalty for transgressing these is getting "cut off from the Congregation of Israel". I've heard a Rabbi say that this is basically the only thing that can get you excommunicated from Judaism, so it's a very serious set of mitzvot.

I'm working from the Steinsaltz English translation, PI 5B-6A (pgs ~23 - 28). The Talmud being the Talmud there's a lot of back and forth. The gist of it is that there is a strong prohibition against having leaven in your home, under your control, in your responsibility, or appearing to belong to you. So the discussion revolves around the edges of what does "your home" mean? What are the boundaries of taking ownership of or responsibility for (even if you don't own it, you're liable for it) a piece of property?

The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to a gentile who enters the courtyard of a Jew with his dough in his hand, the Jew need not remove the leaven by evicting the gentile from his property. However, if the gentile deposited the leaven with him, and the Jew accepted responsibility, he must remove it. If he designated a room in his house for the gentile* to place his leavened food, he need not remove it… (h) (Steinsaltz Pesahim I, v6 p27)

There are a couple of footnotes on this:

(*) See Rashi and Tosafot, who disagree over the significance of this issue. The Rambam explains that according to Rashi, the assumption is that generally one who deposits an object with no stipulations expects the bailee to take responsibility for it. However if he designates a particular room for the deposit, that indicates that the bailee did not accept responsibility for it.


(h) …If the Jew designated a space for the gentile to leave his leaven, but the Jew did not take responsibility for it, the Jew is likewise not obligated to remove it. The halakha is in accordance with the opinions of Rashi, the Rif, and the Rambam, who maintain that the designation of a place exempts the Jew from the obligation to remove the leaven only if he did not acept responsibility for it… (footnote)


Rav Ashi said: …If [the Jew] designated a room in his house for the gentile to place the leavened dough, he need not remove it, as it is stated: "It shall not be found in your houses," and that house is not his; since when the gentile brings the dough into the house, he brings it into his own house, as the space was designated for his use. (Steinsaltz Pesahim I, v6 p27)

(They then rule that other related rulings regarding renting to a gentile who might bring in idols to a space s/he rents from a Jew do not apply here.)

And finally a recommendation that in the case of a gentile who brings leaven into a rented room in a Jew's household, the leaven should be very clearly segregated and marked so it's not accidentally consumed.

And Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: If leavened bread belonging to a gentile is in a Jew's house, [the Jew] should erect a barrier ten handbreadths high around it on the fourteenth of Nisan, as a conspicuous marker, so that he will not mistakenly eat it. (Steinsaltz Pesahim I, v6 p28)

"Taking responsibility" would mean that if something happened, e.g. the house got broken into and the leaven was stolen, the Jew would be obligated to reimburse the gentile for the value of the leaven. I don't think this would be the understanding in a modern roommate situation (if your house gets broken into you wouldn't expect the landlord to make good on your losses and anyway that's not legally allowed perhaps except in a case of gross negligence i.e. the locks stop working and the landlord dallies in fixing them).

Anyway, the net net is that of course all this depends on which particular thread of Judaism your roommate practices. The most courteous would be for you to refrain from bringing leaven into the house during Passover (so she doesn't accidentally eat it, or have others think she is eating leaven). However, it does seem like it would not put your roommate in violation of halakha if you were to bring leaven into your own personal bedroom and keep it there during Passover.

Oh and by the way, you could help her out here — you can offer to buy all her leaven (for $1 or something) so it is not under her control or ownership during Pesach. Box it up, stick it in your room for the week, and perhaps you're willing to sell it back to her at the end of the week. It is a bit of a legal construct that she has to truly sell it to you for it to have been a true relinquishing of chametz, so technically you don't have to sell it back. Which might be great if she is a dedicated Scotch drinker like me. ;) But then it would probably really piss her off if you didn't.

  • Nice discussion. I answered mostly in terms of practicality, but this is a precise halachic answer.
    – rosenjcb
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 0:47
  • I don't understand the ruling here. It says 'in your houses', not just 'in your possession'...
    – Annelise
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 2:37

People already said this but the complications with kashrus is already enough to know it’s a bad idea. but moreover pesach would be a huge problem because even though in pesachim we learned a baraisah that told us that as long as you don’t accept responsibility of chametz it can be in your house, but earlier tosafos said that a Jew can be tempted to eat it, to me I see it as you can have it in your house (under certain conditions) but you really should stay away from it. The conclusion is that im in now way a halachic authority and you should talk to an orthodox rav about this, either way I see this as a bad idea, and a lot of arguments

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Menachem Mendel and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 15, 2022 at 16:29

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