6

In our home, the non-Jewish housekeeper has strict instructions that only a member of the family is permitted to turn on the stove or oven before she cooks. Not being a rabbi, my understanding is that this level of supervision is required to ensure the kashrut of the kitchen (at least in the Ashkenazic tradition).

Question: What if, in this era of "internet of things", we were to devise a device which allows us to turn on the stove or oven remotely, so that the housekeeper would call us when she is ready to start preparing dinner, and we lit the stove for her from a distance? Would this meet the requirements of kashrut?

10

The OU uses a system where they remotely light an oven in order for the product to be Bishul Yisrael.

From the OU website

Rabbi Yehuda Shain has recently developed an ingenious system whereby the mashgiach can monitor the production from an off-site location. By installing a special device, it is possible to turn the oven on and off through the use of a touch-tone phone.

  • Then I hereby suggest a system similar to CAPTCHA farms where a cooking device's switch automattically submits a turn-on request to a "Jew farm", from where a Jew immediatly remotely sends a turn-on command back. The current rate of one CAPTCHA is 0.2 cents, but this requires much less work, and a subscription based on two turn-on requests per day could be had for a dollar a year. – Adám Aug 19 '14 at 14:17
4

This is from the crcweb questions to Rav Belsky:

Remote Lighting & Timers
Submitted by: Rabbi Eli Gersten

Some factories are located in remote areas and it is difficult for Mashgichim to visit frequently or on short notice. If such a factory requires bishul Yisroel, it may be impossible to send a Mashgiach every time the boiler needs to be turned on. Rav Belsky said that it is acceptable to have the Mashgiach turn on the boiler remotely, from his cell phone, by dialing in a special code. Of course, a system would need to be set up that ensures that this is the only method for turning on the boiler. Also if the Mashgiach sets a timer in the evening to turn on the fire the next morning this is also acceptable. However, Rav Belsky only allows timers for a one time use but not if they turn on the oven again and again, because then the ma’aseh Yisroel is lost. Rav Belsky said that a timer for its first use is a real ma’aseh, similar to aisho mi’shum chitzo [sic], and is not only a גרמא, but subsequent uses are only a גרמא.

2

According to R' Moshe Heinemann, the Star-K's chief authority, the use such remote-control devices does not grant bishul Yisrael status, as it is not sufficiently direct:

If the action that is done by the Yehudi (Jew) causes an indirect lighting of the oven, that action would not qualify for bishul Yisroel. Hence, dialing a number that in turn trips a switch that in turn lights an oven would be considered a “grama”, an indirect action that would not qualify for bishul Yisroel.

(Parenthetical translation mine)

  • So there is a difference of opinion among modern kashrut organizations. Does the Star-K not use OU products? related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18274/759 – Double AA Apr 14 '15 at 14:22
  • @DoubleAA I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if they allow or disallow them on a case-by-case basis. This is certainly not the only point on which they differ; for example, the Star-K does not certify chalav stam products, while the OU does, so any product that's OU-D could well be disallowed (but may not be if, say, the Star-K can determine that it doesn't actually contain milk) in Star-K-certified factories. – Isaac Moses Apr 14 '15 at 14:26

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