Bishul Yisrael

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Bishul Yisrael
Halakhic texts relating to this article:
Mishnah: Avodah Zarah 2:6
Babylonian Talmud: Avodah Zarah 37b
Shulchan Aruch: Yoreh De'ah 113:7, 113:16, and 118:12
Other rabbinic codes: Yabia Omer, Vol. 5, responsa 20:7 and Igros Moshe Vol. 1,61
* Not meant as a definitive ruling. Some observances may be rabbinical, custom or Torah-based.

Bishul Yisrael is a Hebrew term for one of the laws of kashrut in Judaism. The rule prohibits eating certain foods if they are cooked entirely by non-Jews.[1] The term bishul Yisrael (literally "cooking of Israel" - i.e., by a Jew) is the opposite of bishul akum, (cooking of a non-Jew), which the rule forbids. ("Akum" (עכו"ם) is an acronym of "Ovdey Kochavim U'Mazalot" (עובדי כוכבים ומזלות), literally "worshippers of stars and zodiac signs", but is actually a term for non-Jews).[2]

This rule is part of a set of decrees instituted by the rabbis of the Talmud to prevent intermarriages with non-Jews.[3] The prohibition of bishul akum applies to a formal meal prepared exclusively by non-Jews, even if the situation was one which had no other kosher food problems.[4]

The prohibition applies only if the food is prepared exclusively by non-Jews.[5] A small amount of Jewish participation can suffice to keep the food kosher.[3] Different rabbis have different views on the absolute minimum: Sephardi poskim state that the minimum participation is to light the fire and place the pot on it to cook, while Ashkenazim are satisfied with merely lighting the fire, or even making a slight adjustment to a fire which was already lit by a non-Jew.[3]

The law applies only to foods which, according to the Talmud, are "fit for a king's table" (and could not be eaten raw).[3] Foods which would not be served at a state dinner are exempt from bishul akum, and are kosher even if cooked totally by non-Jews, provided that all the other requirements of kosher food are met.[1] Maimonides explains that this prohibition was originally decreed in order to avoid a Jew being invited over by a non-Jew for a meal (which may lead to intermarriage), and people do not invite each other for dinner over food which is not "fit for a King's table" (Maimonides, Ma'akhalot Asurot 17:15).

In contemporary observance, the mashgiach, along with supervising food preparation, typically helps start the stove and/or provides other participation in the cooking sufficient to ensure that the rule of bishul Yisrael is complied with.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Heinemann, Moshe. "Food fit for a king: Reviewing the Laws of Bishul Akum & Bishul Yisroel". Star-K. Retrieved May 15, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Keeping Kosher in a Non-Kosher World". www.shemayisrael.co.il. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jachter, Howard (February 1, 2003). "Bishul Akum". Kol Torah. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ Luban, Yaakov. "Playing with Fire". Orthodox Union. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ Posner, Menachem. "Is a non-Jewish housekeeper permitted to turn on the oven or stove?". Chabad.org. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 

See also[edit]