05 Oct HALACHICALLY SPEAKING: PAS AKUM, PAS PALTUR, AND PAS YISROEL (PART 1)
Chazal wanted to protect the Jews from assimilating with the non-Jews and therefore enacted a gezeira that the bread of a non-Jew is forbidden for a Jew to eat. This is known as pas akum. This issur applies even in a situation where assimilation is not a concern. This issur applies to men, women, and children.
Non-Jew / Non-Frum Jew
The consensus of the poskim is that the bread of a non-Jew who does not bow down to avodah zarah is also included in this issur.According to some poskim the bread of a non-frum Jew is also included in the above issur and one is forbidden to eat it.
Which Items are Included?
Only bread made from the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye) is prohibited since these are chashuv and will bring one to come close to non-Jews. Rice bread and corn bread are excluded from the gezeira. In addition, any other grains which are not part of the five grains mentioned above are also excluded from the gezeira.
If an item which is not included in the gezeira is mixed with an item which is included one should follow the rov (majority) of the ingredients.
Pas Paltur –
Bread Baked by a Baker
Bread is the food which most people depend on for their sustenance. Therefore, some are lenient and say that bread which is baked by a professional non-Jewish baker known in halacha as pas paltur, may be eaten without it being pas yisroel (obviously it has to have a reliable kosher certification, because various shortening, and oils can be used to bake the product). According to the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch this is only permitted where Jewish baked bread is not available. This is the opinion of other poskim as well. However, the opinion of the Rama and others is that even if Jewish bread is readily available one may eat pas paltur. The minhag of many is that if even if there is pas yisroel available one can still eat the bread baked by a non-Jewish baker.
The Chochmas Adom says it is proper for a bal nefesh to be careful and not eat pas paltur since one can easily find bread baked by a Jew. The Aruch Hashulchan says in his land all are careful with this all year, except in far places where there are few Jews and there is no Jewish bakery. He concludes by saying that one who is hungry and has nothing else to eat can be lenient. One who is more scrupulous in his mitzvah observance should adhere to the stringent view in this regard when possible. If one who is careful to only eat pas yisroel finds himself by someone’s house who is serving pas paltur he should be told it is pas paltur. One who does not eat pas paltur may give it to someone who does eat it.
Jewish Owned Bakery
The above heter to buy bread which was made by a non-Jewish company only applies to bread owned by a non-Jew, however, if it is owned by a Jew this would not apply (if the Jew did not do anything to permit the fire). This would apply even to those who are lenient and buy pas paltur (baker’s bread).
Based on the above, a Jewish bakery would not be allowed to employ non-Jewish bakers where there is no hashgacha to ensure that the fire is being dealt with properly. However, the opinion of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l is to permit bread baked in large commercial bakeries where it would not be possible to bake without the non-Jewish workers and there are no Jewish workers available.
It is reported that Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l said that when a factory cooks food in equipment that is not in found in one’s home there is no concern of bishul akum (this would apply to bread as well). Furthermore, the opinion of the Birchei Yosef is that in any factory there would be no bishul akum because one does not recognize the non-Jew and he won’t come to chasnus (intermarriage). Many poskim say this can only be relied upon as a snif.The Shevet Ha’Levi says in the name of the Chazzon Ish to be stringent. The Minchas Yitzchok is stringent as well.
Fit for a King’s Table –
Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim
Bread is the staple food for everyone and there were leniencies that the poskim mention because of it. One leniency by bishul akum is if a food is not fit to be served on a king’s table it is not subject to the halachos of bishul akum. This does not apply to bread, and even if bread is not fit to be served on a king’s table it is subject to the halachos of pas akum.
Pas Paltur is Higher Quality
The Shulchan Aruch says a heter to eat pas paltur is if it is higher quality (in taste or appearance) than the Jewish bread since then it is considered you do not have Jewish bread. It would seem that the only time it would be permitted in this situation according to the Shulchan Aruch is if the pas paltur is better in taste etc, but if it costs less than the pas yisroel then one would not be able to buy the pas paltur. Others say that if there is a big price difference then one would be able to buy the pas paltur over the pas yisroel.
Days When one should Avoid
During Aseres Yemi Teshuva
There is a well known concept that during aseres yemi teshuva one should pick something that he does all year and be careful to refrain from doing it during aseres yemi teshuva. This is in order to realize that these days are different than all year and one has to do teshuva. This only refers to things which are not prohibited to be done according to the letter of the law. One of these items is refraining from eating pas paltur. One who does not eat pas paltur all year anyways should pick something else to be stringent with during these days.
There are those who try not to buy pas paltur foods (even for a snack) out of honor for Shabbos, even if one normally eats it during the week. Therefore, people refrain from eating Stella Dora® cookies on Shabbos.
For Lechem Mishnah
If one has no pas yisroel then one may pas akum or pas paltur for lechem mishnah.
What is Considered Bread?
In order for something to be considered bread and subject to the halachos of pas akum and pas paltur it has to be from the five grains as mentioned above. In addition it has to be a baked item, and it must be a product on which one would recite hamotzei on (even if he is not koveah seuda on it), or a mezonos food on which one would have to bentch if he ate a large enough quantity referred to as pas haba b’kisnin. The Shach and others say only a product which has thick dough would be subject to the law of pas akum or pas paltur. Others say that there is no difference between a thick or thin batter, and they are both subject to the halachos of pas akum or pas paltur. The custom is in accordance with the latter opinion. According to some poskim, items which are deep fried are not subject to pas akum or pas paltur but to bishul akum. The Aruch Hashulchan maintains that even if one deep fries it, it is still subject to the halachos of pas akum etc and not bishul akum.
Included in pas haba b’kisnin are cakes, cookies, crackers, bagels, bagel chips, pita, melba toast, matzah, pizza, and Ezekiel bread®. Some items which are not included in the halachos of pas akum are many types of noodles, such as spaghetti, baked ziti, etc.
Some poskim are of the opinion that Cheerios®, Grape Nuts® and Cap’n Crunch® all look like bread and accordingly these products would be subject to the halachos of pas paltur. However, others say these items do not have an appearance of bread.