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
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 subject.
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
Kosher animals which are neveilos (rendered non-kosher at the time of
All cooked meat and milk mixtures;
Chametz on Pesach;
Orlah (fruit yielded by a tree during its first three years of growth);
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);
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).
QUESTION: Are there any extenuating circumstances that would allow for doing
business with the items on List A?
DISCUSSION: 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
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."
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 gentile may collect his debt by foreclosing on
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 eating them.
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 water.
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
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 manner.
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