On the basis of Vayikra 11:8, is it permitted to work as an employee at a grocery store as a cashier (not the owner of the business), which would entail touching packaged yet non-kosher food items when you need to scan them? I am asking solely from an employee vantage point, not an owner – the employee making no direct benefit from the transaction other than an hourly wage to scan items and work the till.

  • It seems that the focus of your question is can a Jew touch a packaged non-kosher item, correct? We do this often, in the super market, already! Unless you purchase it, why should there be a problem? You gain no benefit from it.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 17:59
  • @DanF, note the first six words of the question.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


Since the question is asked based solely on Vayikra 11:8, the answer is (as quoted by Rashi there, but this is the generally accepted view) that there is no issue with touching them, except in connection with the Temple at the time of the holidays of Pesach, Sukkos and Shavuos (or any other time a Jew wanted to be there).

and you shall not touch their carcasses: One might think that Israelites are prohibited to touch a carcass. Scripture, however, says, “Say to the kohanim …[(a kohen) shall not defile himself for a (dead) person among his people]” (Lev. 21:1); thus, kohanim are prohibited [from defiling themselves by human corpses], but ordinary Israelites are not prohibited. Now a kal vachomer can be made: Since in the more stringent case of defilement by a human corpse, only kohanim are prohibited, then in the more lenient case of defilement by animal carcasses, how much more so [should only kohanim be prohibited! If so,] what does Scripture mean by, “you shall not touch their carcasses”? [It means that Israelites may not touch animal carcasses] on the Festivals [since at those times they deal with holy sacrifices and enter the Temple]. This is what [the Sages] said: A person is obligated to cleanse himself on Festivals. - [R.H. 16b, Torath Kohanim 11:74]

This means that even for a Kohen, the only prohibition of becoming impure is for a dead person. Animal meat is not an issue for anyone, absent some other requirement to be pure for a Temple service purpose.

That being said, there are other potential issues with doing business with non-Kosher food. See for example here. However that has to do with a different, Rabbinic prohibition where someone may come to eat from the food. Vis-a-vis this verse, there is no prohibition to handle the non-Kosher per se, rather it is prohibited to handle it when it would take away from the holiday obligations in the times of the Temple.

  • would the plastic wrapping around the carcass salso make a difference for a kohen since he would not be touching the carcass directly? Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 20:51
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    @BruceJames, I clarified in my post - in the end a Kohen is only prohibited with regards to a dead (human) body.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 21:13
  • So from the last part of your answer, would you say that someone working as a cashier is "deriving benefit" from the food or the sale of it, if they are not the owner of the corporation? Regarding selling to a Jew accidentally, at what point does their power of choice kick in? For example, the other day I saw a man wearing a printed Hebrew t-shirt buying bacon. Other than the Hebrew shirt, there were no signs of Jewishness. Should the Jewish cashier refuse to sell the bacon to such a customer on grounds he may be Jewish?
    – Kovesh
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 23:58
  • @BruceJames Neveilah and Meit are Metammei through movement even without touching ("beMassa"). (see Keilim 1 and Zavim 5)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 1:39

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