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Ask the Rabbi - 311

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May 26, 2001 / 5 Sivan 5761; Issue #311

Dining Out


Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,
I recently got a new job that requires I am often invited to lunch, dinner or "happy hour" on the company’s expense. Along with this privilege, I also am required to take prospective clients out to lunch (once again company’s treat) in order to "wine and dine." My problem is that I keep kosher (i.e., I only eat in certified restaurants and buy only kosher supervised products as well). Obviously, there arises a great conflict between my religious convictions and the norms of the American corporate world.

My question is: Are there good ways to possibly still keep kosher in non-kosher eating establishments? Are there any good resources for suggestions, etc.?

Dear Name@Withheld,

It’s preferable not to enter a non-kosher restaurant, even if don’t eat anything. Your being there gives the impression to onlookers that the restaurant is kosher. They may not realize that you are not eating, or that you have brought your own food.

But if you must attend a non-kosher restaurant, you can manage by eating only fresh, uncooked and uncut fruits and vegetables and kosher drinks. Or bring your own food. But if you do this, it may be wise to clear it with the restaurant beforehand.

Come to think of it, there are kosher caterers, like the ones who supply kosher food on airplanes, who can ship kosher meals almost anywhere overnight. These meals are sealed in a double layer of tin foil and therefore they can be heated in a non-kosher oven. With a little planning ahead, you may be able to arrange with some local restaurants to serve these to you, sealed and on disposable utensils.

Other than that, I have found that the best way to approach this issue is by being straightforward. Nowadays, people usually are very respectful of someone who adheres faithfully to their religious principles. On the contrary, if you don’t explain yourself, folks will probably wonder why your eating habits are so odd!

Think of Joseph Leiberman, a kashrut and Shabbat observant Jew, who was candidate for the U.S. vice presidency. His career doesn’t seem to have suffered from his observance! On the contrary, the respect he commands is due in large part to his firm adherence to his religion.

An excellent book which contains a section on the topic of non-kosher restaurants is "After the Return" by Mordechai Becher and Moshe Newman, Feldheim Publishers.

Why Can't We Be Friends


Marjorie Wolfe wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

What are the Hebrew terms for "sorry" or "very sorry"? President Bush and Colin Powell said they were "very sorry" over the apparent death of a Chinese pilot. The U.S. was also "very sorry" that their severely crippled plane entered China’s airspace and made an emergency landing on Hainan Island without verbal clearance. However, our political leaders did not express "deep apology." Question: Is there a Hebrew term for "sorry," "very sorry" or a "deep apology"? Do Jews differentiate between these forms of apology? I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear Marjorie Wolfe,

First let me say that I am sorry for the delay in answering your question. I apologize. Deeply.

An apology is a "regretful acknowledgment of fault," whereas "sorry" implies regret but does not necessarily imply fault. Saying I’m sorry could mean "I’m sorry the thing happened."

That’s English. In Hebrew, the same distinction exists. You apologize by asking for "selicha" or "mechila" (pardon or forgiveness). But "ani mitzta’air" means "I’m sorry" without necessarily implying fault.

So, for example, if you go to a local Israeli store at 2:00 Tuesday afternoon only to find the owner locking up, and he says to you "Sagoor (closed). Ani mitzta’air," what he means is that he’s sorry you didn’t know that many stores close early on Tuesday, but he’s happy to be going home and it’s not his fault.

Crying "Wolf" Over Spilled Milk


Aharon in Paris, France wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Someone sent me an article from a Muslim website entitled: "The touch of non-Jews means millions in spilt milk." The article reported that "in April 2000, millions of liters of milk were thrown out because it had been touched by non-Jews, which violates Jewish law." Citing a Hebrew newspaper, the article claimed that Israel’s High Rabbinate ordered Jewish farmers in the Jafa-Tel Aviv region to throw out about 2.4 million liters of milk because non-Jews had touched it. The article went on to compare this to the Hindu law of Manu Smirti that food gets spoiled by the touch of outcaste untouchables.

I can’t believe that all this is correct. Something doesn’t fit. We don't have "untouchables," do we? Could you help me find the right information?

Dear Aharon,

You are right, the above is false. A non-Jew may touch our milk and it is kosher.

Like all good lies, this one starts off with the truth: Kosher food needs special supervision. (Otherwise, how would we know if it was kosher?) Regarding milk, the Talmud requires that the milking be done under Jewish supervision to make sure no milk from non-kosher animals is mixed in. But a non-Jew may do the milking and may touch the milk and the milk remains kosher.

And if it happened that non-kosher milk were mixed in, we would still be able to sell the milk. There is no requirement to spill it out.

In sum, the article your friend sent you is the work of just another one of our many enemies; it’s a willful distortion intended to defame Jews and Judaism.

  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 115:1


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