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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Vayishlach

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

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)


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 subject.

  • 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).

  • Cooked meat and milk mixtures;
  • Chametz on Pesach;
  • Orlah.

  • 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).

QUESTION: 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 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 details.

17 Bach, Taz Y.D. 117:4; Pri Chadash 117:5; Maharsha"m 1:126; Aruch ha-Shulchan 117:26.

18 Aruch ha-Shulchan 117:27.

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 lenient.

23 Rama Y.D. 117:1; Shach 12.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 5759 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra

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