While visiting Japan, Donald Trump was served a hamburger at a lunch with the Japanese Prime Minister. (See here.)

One of the halachos of bishul akum, the restriction of eating even kosher food which was cooked by a non-Jew, is that it is only a problem if the food is oleh al shulchan melachim, it would be served at a royal table (Y.D. 113:1). This standard has commonly been applied in modern times as that which would be eaten at a state dinner (see here for example).

Does Trump's hamburger mean that now hamburgers are subject to the restrictions of bishul akum in Japan? Does one ruler's culinary taste, particularly if it determined the menu of a diplomatic meal, affect the status of oleh al shulchan melachim?

  • 1
    The Star-K article you quoted seems to say pretty clearly that it is subjective, and seemingly, if that's something that is served during a state function, it would be a problem. Also, if I had to guess, I would assume that hamburgers were always under the restriction of Bishul Akum. It's a slab of meat, the fact that you place it between two pieces of bread wouldn't no longer make it Bishul Akum (source: pure conjecture). Jan 9, 2018 at 1:44
  • @Salmononius2 see here haoros.com/Archive/index.asp?kovetz=912&cat=9&haoro=11 about general hamburger status for bishul akum Jan 9, 2018 at 1:56
  • 3
    I have heard this argument before matzav.com/rav-elyashiv-obama-and-french-fries
    – rosends
    Jan 9, 2018 at 2:15
  • 1
    I think the concept of Shulchan Melachim has a far different concept than what President Trump ate in Japan. First, I believe that when they refer to melachim they mean a king that has a palace with servants and rules the country on his own as that. Saudi Arabia would prob. qualify as such as place and prob. Jordan. There's a debate as to whether any U.S. President would be considered, halachically, a king. Secondly, in this situation, it seems that they specifically accommodated Trump's culinary preference. Japanese kings may prefer sushi vs. hamburgers.
    – DanF
    Jan 9, 2018 at 14:57
  • @DanF You're free to believe what you want to believe, but it's against the consensus of most major poskim today. Jan 9, 2018 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


As you pointed out from Rabbi Heinemann, it would only apply if this was served at a state dinner, which this was certainly not. According to other Poskim, who take "Oleh al Shulchan Melachim" literally, if we assume that a president has the status of a king, it would now be prohibited.

If we assume that a Melech refers only to a king, and not to a president, see page 41 of this paper which brings a Machlokes as to whether or not "Sarim" of a particular place would have the status of Melchim for this Halachah. Kaf Hachaim and others (Based on Arizal) say that a local important ruler's table is considered Shulchan Melachim, whereas the Divrei Yatziv seems to disagree with this:

כף החיים יו"ד סימן קיג ס"ק ב וגם עולה על שלחן מלכים וכו', לאו דוקא מלכים אלא אפילו עולה על שלחן שרים שבארץ ההיא אסור. רבינו האר"י ז"ל בספר טעמי המצות פרשת עקב ובשה"מ פרשת וילך. ברכי יוסף בשיורי ברכה אות ב' ור"ל אנשים חשובים שראוי מאכל זה לתת לפניהם.

שו"ת דברי יציב חלק יורה דעה סימן ל יג( ויש להעיר בדבר שכתבתם שמבשלין להם ביצים, שצריך לברר בזה, הגם שבליקוטי תורה פרשת עקב ]בטעמי המצוות[, ובשער המצוות פרשת וילך, דלאו דוקא מלכים דה"ה כשהשררות אוכלין אותן, ובכף החיים ]סי' קי"ג סק"ב[ דר"ל חשובים, לא ידעתי מנ"ל הא, דפשיטא דחשובים ומלכים ושרים אינו גדר אחד.

  • 3
    You are assuming the President and the Prime Minister have the status of Sarim and not Melachim? I think you need to support that assumption. Both are the highest office in their respective lands. Jan 9, 2018 at 1:41
  • @Yez excellent point, I'll edit it in. Jan 9, 2018 at 1:47
  • @Y e z I'm unaware of any country in the world having a king or queen where they are democratically elected by the populace. Perhaps, that definition is the halachic distinction and makes Trump, Bibi, and numerous others halachically non-kings.
    – DanF
    Nov 25, 2019 at 16:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .