A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SERVING FOOD TO A NON-OBSERVANT JEW
QUESTION:Is it permitted to offer food to a non-observant Jew who will not
wash his hands and/or recite the proper blessings over food?
DISCUSSION: The Shulchan Aruch prohibits offering food to anyone who will
not wash his hands over bread(1) or recite the proper blessings over
food(2). This is based on the principle that we may not be an accessory to a
fellow Jew's sin. Even if the food belongs to the non-observant Jew, it may
not be served to him(3).
Often, when a non-observant Jew is asked politely and respectfully to
recite a blessing or to wash his hands, he will respond positively. Even if
a guest does not know how to recite a blessing or to Whom the blessing is
being directed, it is still possible for the host to recite the blessing
aloud and exempt the guest(4). The mere fact that the guest agrees to listen
is sufficient to make the blessing valid(5).
The poskim suggest several leniencies that alleviate the severity of the
prohibition of serving food to a person who will not recite a blessing over
it. In the following cases it would be permissible:
If the food will not be eaten immediately but will be taken home to be
eaten at his discretion(6).
If there is a chance that a blessing will be recited. The prohibition
applies only in a situation when a blessing will definitely not be said(7).
If the food is given as a form of charity. Some poskim stipulate that
this leniency may be relied upon only when there is a chance that a blessing
will be recited. If the non-observant Jew is not rebellious but merely
unaware of the proper procedure, one may be lenient even if the recipient
will definitely not recite a blessing or wash his hands(8).
If the non-observant Jew is a prominent person who, despite beingnon-observant, still respects the Torah and appreciates those who observe
the mitzvos, and by asking him to wash or recite blessings he may get
insulted and become hostile towards the Torah and/or Torah observant
If, by offering him food, there is a better chance of bringing a
non-observant Jew closer to religous observance(10).
If the food is offered for pay, like serving a customer in a
If the non-observant Jew is a business partner or associate, and denying
him food will cause a monetary loss or a breakdown in their