Selected Halachos Related to Rosh Hashanah
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
PAS YISRAEL DURING ASERES YEMEI TESHUVAH
THE BASIC BACKROUND
As part of their overall strategy to guard the Jewish People from
assimilating among the nations of the world, our Sages decreed against
eating [kosher] bread that was baked by a non-Jew. This edict was one of
several which served to limit social interaction between Jews and non-Jews.
Thus non-Jewish wine, oil, bread, and cooked foods were all declared
off-limits for the Jew(1).
Since bread is so much more of a dietary staple than wine and other cooked
foods - indeed, the Rabbis call it chayei nefesh, the vital element of the
diet - the decree against non-Jewish bread was not as widely accepted as the
decrees against other foods(2). Consequently, in many communities where
quality Jewish-baked bread was not easily available, it became customary to
eat pas palter, which is [kosher] bread that is baked in non-Jewish
bakeries. The rationale behind allowing pas palter is that eating bread that
was baked in a non-Jewish bakery does not lead to mingling and socializing
Although eating pas palter became commonplace and was endorsed by the
leading authorities of the day, it was not universally accepted. Indeed, as
soon as Jewish-baked bread was available, the Rabbinical decree against pas
palter was reinstated in many communities, and non-Jewish bread was not an
option. Only Jewish-baked bread, called pas Yisrael, was allowed. Thus,
depending upon the locality, this Rabbinical decree was observed in varying
Some communities adhered to it strictly,- not allowing any pas palter at
Others allowed pas palter to be eaten even when pas Yisrael was
Others allowed pas palter to be eaten only when pas Yisrael of the same
quality was not available(6).
Even today, when pas Yisrael is available almost everywhere, there are still
many communities who rely on the custom of yesteryear and allow the
consumption of pas palter, especially when pas Yisrael of similar quality is
The Shulchan Aruch(8) rules, however, that during aseres yemei teshuvah
everyone should be careful to eat only pas Yisrael(9). There are several
reasons,- all inter-related - for this halachah: a) so that we conduct
ourselves with an extra measure of purity during these Days of Awe(10); b)
to serve as a reminder of the unique status of these days(11); c) to beseech
Hashem not to judge us stringently, just as we have adopted a practice which
is not strictly required of us(12).
The following rules, therefore, apply to those who observe the halachos of
pas Yisrael all year round, and for everyone during aseres yemei teshuvah.
[Note: The following rules pertain only to the prohibition of eating items
which were baked by a non-Jew. There exists another Rabbinic prohibition,
called bishul akum, which prohibits eating any "important" food item
(important enough to be served at a dinner for dignitaries) that was cooked
or roasted by a non-Jew. Thus, there may be items which are not included in
the prohibition of pas Yisrael, but are still forbidden because of bishul
akum, provided they are "important" enough to be classified as such.]
IF PAS YISRAEL IS NOT AVAILABLE
If pas Yisrael is available within an 18-minute drive from one's house, he
should drive there and purchase it. If pas Yisrael is not available within
that distance, one should bake his own bread or assist a non-Jew in the
baking process. If one is on the road, he should travel ahead another 72
minutes in order to obtain pas Yisrael. If pas Yisrael is not available
within those distances and one cannot bake his own bread, then he may eat
WHICH FOODS ARE INCLUDED IN THE REQUIREMENT OF PAS YISRAEL?
Only bread made from the five species of grain are included in this
prohibition. Rice bread and corn bread are exempt from both pas Yisrael(14)
and bishul Yisrael(15).
"Bread" includes any food over which one would recite the ha-Motzi blessing
if he were to make a meal (kevius seudah) consisting of that food(16). Thus,
all breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, pretzels, etc., are included in the
category of bread(17). Pasta, flat pancakes, crepe-like blintzes, farfel,
soup croutons, doughnuts, etc., are not considered "bread", and need not
meet the requirements of pas Yisrael (18).
Many poskim hold that pure mezonos cereals [whose raw batter rises like
bread dough], e.g., Cheerios, Grape Nuts, Wheat Chex, are also required to
be pas Yisrael(19).
THE BAKING PROCESS:
There are three halachic phases in the bread-baking process: a) pre-heating
the oven; b) placing the dough into the oven; c) regulating and adjusting
the temperature. The halachah is that if a Jew was involved in any one of
these three phases, even if he merely adjusted the temperature by a few
degrees, the bread is considered pas Yisrael (20).
If a Jew was not involved in any of the phases of baking, however, the
bread is prohibited. Ironically, in the atypical case in which dough is
prepared by a Jew but baked by a non-Jew, the halachah is more stringent,
and the leniency of pas palter does not apply(21).
There is a minority view that tends to hold that factories which produce
foods on an assembly line, in a process which is totally different from the
one used in standard bakeries, were not included in the prohibition of pas
palter(22). The majority of contemporary poskim do not accept this
QUESTION: It often happens during aseres yemei teshuvah that one forgets and
prepares a dish containing pas palter (e.g., chicken or fish with bread
crumbs, an ice cream dessert with cookie crumbs, etc.). May such a food be
eaten during aseres yemei teshuvah?
ANSWER: If the pas palter is recognizable, as it is in the above cases, it
is prohibited. If the pas palter is not recognizable, e.g., it dissolves, or
all visible pas palter is removed, it is permitted, as long as pas palter is
not the majority ingredient. [There is no requirement of shishim for this
prohibition to be bateil (24).]
1 Since the edict was issued to prevent intermarriage, it would seem that
bread baked by non-observant Jews should be permissible (Pischei Teshuvah
Y.D. 112:1; Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:45-46). Many leading poskim disagree and
prohibit bread baked by non-observant Jews (see Chasam Sofer Y.D. 120;
Maharam Shick O.C. 281; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:2; Avnei Nezer Y.D. 92;
Chazon Ish Y.D. 49-7; Darkei Teshuvah 113:15; Minchas Yitzchak 1:10; 3:73).
Nowadays, however, when the vast majority of non-observant Jews are ignorant
of Jewish Law and are halachically classified as tinokos she-nishbu, their
bread is permitted (Chazon Ish Y.D. 1:6; 2:16 and other poskim).
2 According to the Yerushalmi, this decree was officially rescinded by a
later beis din because of the hardships it posed to daily living.
3 Some communities went as far as permitting home-baked bread, too, when
absolutely no other bread was available; see Rama Y.D. 112:8.
4 Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 112:2; Pri Chadash; Aruch ha-Shulchan.
5 Rama Y.D. 112:2.
6 Shach 112:9.
7 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:33; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Madrich Kashruth, Orthodox
Union, 1996, pg. 90). See Mishnah Berurah 242:6, who states that even those
who eat pas palter all week long should preferably not do so on Shabbos and
Yom Tov. This is one of the reasons why it became customary for women to
bake their own challah for Shabbos and Yom Tov; Magen Avraham 242:4.
8 O.C. 603:1.
9 From the way the halachah is presented in Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah
Berurah, it sounds as if it is a requirement. [See also Teshuvos Nachalas
Shivah 72, who rules that it is an absolute obligation.] Chayei Adam 143:1,
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 130:2 and Aruch ha-Shulchan, though, quote this
halachah as the "proper" thing to do, not as an obligation. See also Igros
10 In Talmudic times, everyone was careful not to allow their food to become
impure (chullin b'taharah) during aseres yemei teshuvah; Tur quoting the
Yerushalmi (Shabbos 3:3).
11 Levush O.C. 603.
12 Chayei Adam 143:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 130:2. See also Elef ha-Magen
603:2, quoting the Ramak.
13 See Chochmas Adam 65:4; Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 112:6; Mishnah Berurah
603:1; Beiur Halachah 163:1; Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 112:18.
14 Y.D. 112:1 and Aruch ha-Shulchan, since they are not from the five
species of grain.
15 Since they are not "important" enough to be served at a dinner for
dignitaries; see Shach 113:1 and Chochmas Adam 65:1.
16 For more details as to what exactly constitutes kevius seudah, see
discussion on Parashas Eikev.
17 Rama Y.D. 112:6, Pri Chadash and Aruch ha-Shulchan 31.
18 Some of these items, however, depending on how they are prepared, may be
considered "important" foods and may be prohibited because of bishul akum.
19 Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah,
20 Y.D. 112:10. Some rabbanim suggest that a Jew turning on an electric
light bulb installed inside a gas oven is sufficient involvement in the
baking process, since the heat generated by the bulb is considered as aiding
the baking process. Harav Y.S. Elyashiv, though, does not agree with this
leniency (Madrich Kashruth, Orthodox Union, 1996, pg. 98).
21 Y.D. 112:11, as explained by Shach 7, Taz 7, Pri Megadim, Chochmas Adam
65:6, and Avnei Nezer 95-8. See, however, Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:45, who takes a
more lenient approach.
22 An oral ruling rendered by Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in Mesorah, vol.
1). In Igros Moshe Y.D. 4:48 he quotes a similar ruling but maintains that
although this is not a clear heter, we need not object to those who rely on
it since it is a Rabbinical prohibition.
23 Shevet ha-Levi 6:108-6, quoting the Chazon Ish; Minchas Yitzchak 3:26-6;
3:72; Debrecener Rav (quoted in Pischei Halachah, pg. 117); Harav P.E. Falk
(Am ha-Torah, vol. 3 #12). Some of these poskim accept this leniency when it
is combined with other questionable situations.
24 Y.D. 112:14.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 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.
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