Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 8 October 2011 / 9 Tishri 5772

Pie Crusts, Pas Paltur and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
Library Library Kaddish

The wife of one of my neighbors recently asked if I would be able to help her understand why some of her relatives did not partake of her dessert specialty, (pareve) ice-cream pie, on the previous Shabbos. I asked her if the pie-crust was Pas Yisrael. She said it was not but, as far as she knew, these relatives were not stringent with that halacha, rather relying on the common leniencies (see below). I explained to her that, even so, Shabbos changes everything! But, to properly understand why, some background is in order.

In the times of the Mishna[1], Chazal forbade us eating Pas Akum - bread and bread-like items that were baked by non-Jews, (even if said bread does not have any kashrus concerns[2]) in order to dissuade us from assimilation and intermarriage[3]. This prohibition pertains exclusively to bread products containing one or more of the five major grains: wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye[4], and generally includes baked goods that have the form of bread (tzuras haPas)[5].

If, however, a Jew participated in the baking process[6], even in some small way[7], the bread becomes permitted, and is known as Pas Yisrael. In later years, due to the fact that many baking ovens were owned or operated by non-Jews, making it difficult to procure Pas Yisrael products, Chazal laterqualified this prohibition, and created a new class of bread products - Pas Paltur, literally “Baker’s Bread”. This refers to bread products baked in a bakery or commercial setting, where there is no personal or intimate contact between the baker and customer, thereby drastically reducing the chance of intermarriage, and is therefore permitted[8].

Some authorities, including the Rema[9], maintain that Chazal’s hetter of Pas Paltur applies in all cases, even when Pas Yisrael is readily available. However, many decisors, including the Shulchan Aruch and the Shach[10], maintain that this hetter is only applicable if one cannot purchase Pas Yisrael of similar type, quality or price.

Although this leniency remains in effect year round, the Shulchan Aruch in the laws of Rosh Hashana[11] qualifies it and writes that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, one must be stringent and eat only Pas Yisrael. What is most interesting is that the cited source of this ruling, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shabbos Ch. 1, 3), makes no real mention of this! The exact quote is that one should make sure to eat chullin b’tahara, meaning to make sure that their food should not become impure, for 7 days a year.

Rabbeinu Yona[12] explains this passage as meaning that even if one cannot make sure that his foods remain “pure” the whole year, he should nevertheless do his utmost to make sure it remains so at least seven days a year. Many early Rishonim, including Rav Nissim Gaon, the Machzor Vitri[13], and R’ Yehuda HaChassid[14] understand that the seven days mentioned in the Yerushalmi refer to the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur[15].

The first mention of “pure foods” actually referring to Pas Yisrael is by the Rosh[16], who writes that the minhag is to refrain from eating Pas Akum during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva; which is also how his son, the Tur[17], and later the Shulchan Aruch, codified the halacha.

The only issue remaining is that the Yerushalmi mentioned only seven days that one should refrain. However, the Aseres Yemei Teshuva are ten days! How can this be reconciled?

The Tur explains that since there is a mitzvah that one must purify himself before a Holiday[18], it was unnecessary for the Yerushalmi to mention the actual days of Rosh Hashana. Similarly, it is needless to mention the prohibition on Yom Kippur, since aside from its being the holiest day of the year, it is a Biblical fast day. The Ran[19], on the other hand, offers an alternate explanation. He reasons that it is unnecessary to mention Rosh Hashana, as everyone cooks and bakes in their own homes in honor of the Holiday, and therefore the bread is automatically considered Pas Yisrael.

However, other authorities learn that the extra missing days include the Shabbos between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (Shabbos Shuva)[20]. They extrapolate that just as on this Shabbos one must be vigilant, so too on every Shabbos one must be also be vigilant, as every Shabbos of the year is considered more important and holy than the Days of Repentance[21].

Therefore, as a corollary to the halacha of being vigilant with eating Pas Yisrael during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, many authorities rule that on Shabbos and Yom Tov one should refrain as well from eating Pas Paltur, and be makpid on eating Pas Yisrael exclusively[22].

This is why our frustrated housewife’s relatives preferred to forgo a delicious dessert in this world, while picking up some “just desserts” for the next.

Postscript: There are several other reasons brought to explain why it is proper to be makpid on Pas Yisrael during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, including: to serve as a reminder of the unique status of these days (Levush O.C. 603), and to beseech Hashem not to judge us stringently, just as we have adopted a practice which is not stringently required of us (Chayei Adam 14, 1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 130, 2). The Mishna Brura (Shaar Hatzion 609, 1) and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Shu”t Igros Moshe O.C. 3, end 12) mention that it is proper during this time period to be stringent when it comes to all questionable issues, not just Pas Paltur. See The Daily Halacha Discussion (pg. 5) who posits that based on this, it is appropriate to be machmir on Chalav Yisrael during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva as well.

Much of this article is based on the sefer Bein Kesseh L’Essor by Rabbi Eliezer Brodt, Chapter 2.

[1] Avoda Zara 35b.

[2] See Pischei Teshuva (Y”D 112, 2).

[3] Shulchan Aruch (Y”D 112, 1).

[4] Tur (Y”D 112) quoting his father the Rosh, as well as the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 1), and Taz (ibid. 2). The Pri Chadash (ibid. 5), however, advances the notion that in far-off islands where all bread is made out of an inferior grain (ex. rice), then this prohibition might possibly apply to it as well.

[5] There are differing opinions as to which food items are included in this. IY”H this will be addressed in a future article.

[6] This includes lighting the fire, stoking the coals under the bread being baked, or putting the bread on the fire, thereby taking an active part in the actual baking process - Shulchan Aruch - ibid. 9.

[7] Including increasing the heat level even minutely, by throwing a toothpick into the fire or blowing on it - Shulchan Aruch and Rema (ibid. 9 and 113, 7). The Aruch Hashulchan (112, 27), however holds that one may only rely on these leniencies under extenuating circumstances; rather, one should strive to do the actions mentioned in the previous footnote.

[8] Tur, Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 2).

[9] Rema (ibid. 2), Gr”a (ibid. 4), Levush (ibid. 3), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (38, 1), Ben Ish Chai (Year 2, Chukas 2).

[10] Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 2, & 5), Shach (ibid. 9), Arizal (brought down in Ben Ish Chai above), Chochmas Adam (65, 2), Aruch Hashulchan (112, 9), Kaf HaChaim (ibid. 23).

[11] O.C. 603, 1, based on the Tur ibid. quoting the Yerushalmi. Also ruled by the Levush (ibid. 1), Shach (Y”D 112, 9), Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 103, 1), and Kaf HaChaim (ibid.1). However, if one is unable to obtain Pas Yisrael products during this time, one may rely on Pas Paltur (Mishna Brura ibid. 1).

[12] In his commentary to Avos Ch. 3, 13, cited in the sefer Bein Kesseh L’Essor Ch. 2, pg. 21.

[13] Vol. 1, 337.

[14] Sefer HaChassidim 1069.

[15] There are also other minority opinions that explain that these 7 days are referring to other times of the year. See Bein Kesseh L’Essor ppg. 28 - 32 at length.

[16] Piskei HaRosh, Rosh Hashana Ch.4, 14.

[17] O.C. 603.

[18] Gemara Rosh Hashana 16b.

[19] Rosh Hashana 12b (Rif’s pages s.v. garsinan).

[20] Gr”a (O.C. 242, 1; 529, 1; 603, 1), Damesek Eliezer (O.C. 242, 3). See explanation in Bein Kesseh L’Essor (Ch. 2, pg. 40 footnote 87).

[21] Bigdei Yesha (O.C. 242, 4), brought in Bein Kesseh L’Essor ppg 38 - 39.

[22] Including the Magen Avraham (O.C. 242, 4), Matteh Yehuda (ibid. 5), Shulchan Aruch HaRav (ibid. 13), Chayei Adam (Shabbos 1, 4), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (72, 6) Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 242, 45) and the Mishna Brura (ibid. 6).

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author:

Disclaimer: These are just a few basic guidelines and overview of the Halacha discussed in this article. This is by no means a complete comprehensive authoritative guide, but rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issue. One should not compare similar cases in order to rules in any real case, but should refer his questions to a competent Halachic authority.

Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda, and l'zchus for Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam and her children for a yeshua teikef u'miyad!

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