The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
Therefore the Children of Israel are not to eat the displaced sinew of the thigh... (32:33)
CONDUCTING BUSINESS WITH NON-KOSHER FOOD ITEMS
By definition, non-kosher means an item that one is forbidden to
eat, asur b'achilah. But eating is not the only restriction that
applies to non-kosher foods. Certain non-kosher foods are also
asur b'hana'ah: it is forbidden to derive any benefit from them
whatsoever. From other non-kosher foods one may derive benefit,
but eating them is forbidden and they are asur b'schorah: it is
forbidden to "do business" with them. Most foods fall into this
category, for the general rule is that foods which are
prohibited for eating are also forbidden to be bought and sold
for business. [The exceptions to this rule--foods which are
prohibited for eating but permitted to be bought and sold--will
be listed below.] The Rishonim debate whether the prohibition of
conducting business with non-kosher food items is of Biblical (1)
or Rabbinic origin (2).
Do not confuse "deriving benefit" with "doing business." "Doing
business" refers strictly to buying and selling a given item,
while "deriving benefit" includes every imaginable type of
benefit that one could derive from an item. For example,
lobsters, which one is forbidden to eat, are mutar b'hana'ah; it
is permissible to derive benefit from them. Hence, it would be
permissible to drive a truck that delivers lobsters [to a
non-Jew] and get paid for the delivery. Nevertheless, lobsters
are asur b'schorah: business may not be done with them. It is,
therefore, forbidden to buy or sell lobsters for profit (3).
To clarify the distinctions between the different restrictions
on non-kosher foods, we have compiled three lists. While by no
means exhaustive, they will provide general guidelines on the
A) ASUR B'ACHILAH AND B'SCHORAH--FORBIDDEN TO EAT AND FORBIDDEN TO BUY AND SELL
Any edible part of all non-kosher animals, fish or fowl;
Kosher animals that are treifos (rendered non-kosher due to terminal illness);
Kosher animals which are neveilos (rendered non-kosher at the time of slaughter);
All cooked meat and milk mixtures;
Chametz on Pesach;
Orlah (fruit yielded by a tree during its first three years of growth);
Non-kosher wines (4).
B) ASUR B'ACHILAH, B'HANA'AH and B'SCHORAH--FORBIDDEN TO EAT, TO "DERIVE BENEFIT" and TO BUY and SELL
Cooked meat and milk mixtures;
Chametz on Pesach;
C) ASUR B' ACHILAH--FORBIDDEN TO EAT (BUT PERMITTED TO BUY AND SELL AND TO "DERIVE BENEFIT")
Non-kosher fats of a kosher animal (5);
Blood of a kosher animal (6);
Eiver min ha-chai (a limb of a kosher animal which was severed while the animal was alive) (7);
Wormy fruits (8);
All non-kosher items which are Biblically permitted but have been forbidden by the Rabbis (9), such as unsupervised cheese (10);
Food items which are manufactured for animal consumption, even if people could eat them (11);
Live horses, donkeys, camels (12) or household pets (13);
Non-food items, such as furs and soaps (14).
Are there any extenuating circumstances that would
allow for doing business with the items on List A?
The Shulchan Aruch rules that if a hunter happened
to net kosher and non-kosher animals or fish together, he may
sell the non-kosher items along with the kosher ones. This is
permitted because the non-kosher items came to him "by chance,"
unintentionally. Similarly, an animal that was rendered
non-kosher during the slaughtering process may be sold, since
the non-kosher item came to him "by chance." The non-kosher
animal must be sold immediately, without delay, even if he is
able to recover only a minimum price for it (15). He is not,
however, required to sell it below market value (16).
Based on this precedent, many poskim (17) rule that if one is
offered a deal in which he must buy prohibited items together
with permitted items, he may buy the entire package, since the
prohibited items came to him "by chance." Therefore,
if a customer will order from a supplier only if the supplier
will sell him non-kosher items along with kosher ones, the
supplier is allowed to sell the non-kosher items on the
customer's terms, since this is considered "by chance". (18) But
it is clearly forbidden to own a store or a business that stocks
up on prohibited items routinely in order to have them on hand
for customers, even if not stocking them would cause the
business to fail (19).
Some poskim permit buying non-kosher meat to feed one's
workers (20). Others prohibit this practice (21). The custom is to
be lenient in this matter (22).
One who is owed money by a non-Jew may collect his debt by
foreclosing on non-kosher items (23).
1 Tosafos (Pesachim 23a); Rosh (Bava Kama 79b) and others.
2 Rashba quoted in Taz 117:1. According to this view, the Rabbis
forbade profiting from non-kosher items as a precaution against
3 Y.D. 117:1.
4 See following subtitle for clarification.
5 This is permitted since the Torah explicitly allows conducting
business with fat--Rama 117:1.
6 Pischei Teshuvah 117:1 quoting Pri Toar, Noda B'yehudah 2 Y.D.
62 and Chasam Sofer 106--since the Torah compares blood to
7 Pischei Teshuvah 117:1 quoting the Chasam Sofer. Minchas
Chinuch (452), however, remains undecided on this issue.
8 Many poskim quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 117:6.
9 Y.D. 117:1.
10 See Kaf ha-Chayim 117:77.
11 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:37.
12 This is permitted since these animals are used for work or
play and not for food--Shach Y.D. 117:1.
13 Darkei Teshuvah 117:10.
14 Darkei Teshuvah 117:12.
15 Rama Y.D. 117:1.
16 Shach Y.D. 117:11; Chochmas Adam 69:8. See Kaf ha-Chayim
117:40 for more details.
19 Consensus of the poskim--Darkei Teshuvah 117:46; Mishpatei
Uziel Y.D. 2:15; Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:38; Minchas Yitzchak 3:93;
Kaf ha-Chayim 117:67--unlike the Aruch ha-Shulchan 117:26 who
attempts to justify those who conduct their business in this
20 Shach Y.D. 117:3.
21 Rama Y.D. 117:1; Pri Chadash 3;
22 Aruch ha-Shulchan 117:19. See also Maharam Shick 136 who says
we may not object if one is lenient, although a G-d-fearing
person should not be lenient.