30 Jun Kashruth Question of the Week
I was barbecuing hamburgers in my backyard and I went inside to prepare some side dishes. I left the hamburgers totally unattended. I then remembered that I’m not supposed to do that. Can I still eat the hamburgers?
Basar she’nisalem min ha’ayin refers to meat left unsupervised, which leads to a concern that the kosher meat was
switched for meat that is not kosher. Even in the context of one’s backyard, where there is essentially no likelihood that a non-Jew may have eaten the meat and replaced it with non-kosher meat, Rav (Chulin 95a) contends that
we nevertheless must be concerned that an animal picked up the unattended meat and replaced it with non-kosher
meat. This seemingly far-fetched concern, the Yerushalmi (Shekalim 10:2) explains, stemmed from Rav’s observa-
tion that people were being more lax with the kashrus of meat than they should be. He concluded that this measure was therefore in order. The Rishonim dispute whether the halacha is like Rav or like Levi who disagrees with him. Rama (YD 63:2) ruling like Levi, writes that, provided the meat is in the same place one left it, one can assume that it is the original meat. In our case, provided the hamburgers are still on the grill, one can assume nothing has changed. Ashkenazim follow this ruling.
I am preparing a picnic. Can I buy sliced watermelon from the supermarket?
The Shach (YD 96:3) cites a concern that a knife often contains a fatty residue even after it has been washed or wiped with a rag. Therefore, if a non-kosher knife was used to cut kosher food, some of the residue on the knife would transfer to the food. Rama (96:1, 4) writes that with regards to fruit, we can assume that the manufacturer or processor has dedicated utensils. Even if the knife is not dedicated to cutting fruit, however, if large quantities of fruit are being cut or sliced, we can assume that whatever non-kosher residue was on the knife was removed when cut- ting the first few fruit, which are batel (nullified) in the majority of other fruit.
One may, therefore, purchase cut watermelon in a supermarket or in a fruit store. The market would
likely have dedicated utensils and in any event it is preparing large quantities of fruit. In a non-kosher restaurant or catered event, however, the fruit would not be permitted because the knives very likely are not dedicated and food preparation switches from one product to the next.