Pas Yisroel

QUESTION: I understand there is a Halacha of Pas Yisrael (Jewish bread). Is the issue of Pas Yisrael only relevant in Elul or between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? I believe I heard a Rabbi say that during the 10 Days of Penitence we must be strict but there is no need during the year if bread has a good Kashrut supervision. Is bread from non-Jews permitted if there is a Hechsher?

RESPONSE: Chazal forbade pastries baked privately by a non-Jew even if all the ingredients and utensils are known to be Kosher because they saw risk of assimilation and intermarriage could result from partaking in meals together. However, it is questionable if there exists any problem with items baked by an irreligious Jew, since there is no prohibition against marrying his daughter. While there are some Seforim which rule strictly, Reb Moshe Feinstein zatzal was lenient.

Pas Akum applies even to breads that are not appropriate for a royal table, and in this aspect it is more stringent than Bishul Akum.

To determine whether the bread (I use the term bread as it is the literal translation of “PasAkum, but the same Halachos apply to most baked pastries) is considered “Jewish” or not, the ownership of the bakery is irrelevant; the significant factor is who physically baked the bread. In fact, many Poskim rule that a Jewish owned bakery with non-Jewish workers is even more stringent than a facility owned by a gentile, as we will discuss soon.

To render the bread as “Jewish baked”, a Jew must either light the fire, add fuel to it or place the dough in the oven. Even though the Mechaber and Sefardim are Machmir to require both steps regarding Bishul Akum; for bread they rely on adjusting the flame alone.

The Shulchan Aruch differentiates between bread baked by a non-Jew privately for his family’s consumption where there is assumed to be a degree of risk of developing a personal relationship and bread baked commercially by a non-Jew primarily for sale. Bread baked for personal consumption is called Pas Akum. True Pas Akum is almost NEVER permitted. When the bread is produced to be sold, and not for the non-Jew’s personal use, it is called Pas Palter and is permitted when Pas Yisroel of comparable quality is unavailable for similar price. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy to refrain.

However, if the bread belongs to a Jew, the Heter of Pas Palter does not apply and the resulting baked goods would be forbidden to eat. Furthermore, according to many Poskim the leniency of accepting a minor adjustment to the flame is not acceptable in this case. This would commonly be an issue with a Jewish owned bakery, restaurant or catering establishment with non-Jewish workers in the kitchen. If there is insufficient supervision of the facility, it is eminently conceivable that all of their pastries would be absolutely forbidden to eat.

Another practical issue arises with electric convection ovens, where the heating element automatically turns off when the door is opened. In this case, even if a Jew was careful to turn on the oven initially, when a non-Jewish worker opens the door to add more food or check on their status before they were fully baked, the action of the Jew has terminated and is no longer relevant. When the worker closes the door and the oven automatically reignites, it is the non-Jewish worker’s action relighting the oven and the food will become Pas Akum!

While the Halachos of Pas Akum apply equally every day of the year, many people who are lenient regarding Pas Palter the majority of the year when Pas Yisroel is unavailable, are more Machmir during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva to exert themselves to obtain Pas Yisroel. However one who is travelling and has no access to Pas Yisroel may eat Pas Palter even during this time.

12 thoughts on “Pas Yisroel

  1. I recently heard from a Dayan in Canada that because of the Prohibition of a non Jew baking the Pas in a Jewish owned bakery it has basically the same restrictions as Bishul akkum and therefore he required the bakery to kasher the trays! But since it was not really feasible to kasher the trays in practice they were required to buy new trays. I debated this point with the Rav in question, and I suggested that if it has all the stringencies of bishul akkum, then the leniencies that are available should also apply.
    in Yore Dea siman 113 seif 4 The remo is lenient in the case of non Jewish servants in a Jewish home. The shach debates whether this is based on shita of Rabenu Avraham brought down in the Tur. In the past I have owned a catering business and when such a shaalo arose the Dayan did rule according to this leniency, and I believe it is accepted practice to rule like this in cases of bedieved. In my opinion to require to kasher the trays is a little severe, but on the other hand it is a good deterrent for the offending parties and strengthens the standard of kashrus.

  2. With regards to other baked items like cookies, The Remo is very specific that the heter of palter extends to this, though is not so clear what the mechaber holds. In sefer חלקת בנימין From Rav Cohen in siman 112 seif 6 in biurim he debates this.
    However the Kaf hachaim brings down a number of Poskim that is clear the sefardim also accepted this leniency, but he does mention later that lechatchila when is a soft dough the yisroel should place the dough in the oven, I.e. is not sufficient just to adjust the fire so in reality this would not have the leniency of pas according to mechaber.
    So in practice it is still debatable, whether Sefardim can rely on a yisroel lighting the oven on something that is not considered pas according to the mechaber. Quite a tricky issue

  3. “However, if the bread belongs to a Jew, the Heter of Pas Palter does not apply and the resulting baked goods would be forbidden to eat. Furthermore, according to many Poskim the leniency of accepting a minor adjustment to the flame is not acceptable in this case.”

    Who says this? The Mechaber 112:11 is maikel, see Mishb’tzos Zahav 7.

  4. “Another practical issue arises with electric convection ovens, where the heating element automatically turns off when the door is opened. In this case, even if a Jew was careful to turn on the oven initially, when a non-Jewish worker opens the door to add more food or check on their status before they were fully baked, the action of the Jew has terminated and is no longer relevant. When the worker closes the door and the oven automatically reignites, it is the non-Jewish worker’s action relighting the oven and the food will become Pas Akum!”

    I don’t see why this is a problem see Rama 112:10.

    • The Rema says אפ’ אפאו בו כך כמה ימים, the implication is we are dealing with a stone oven that retains enough heat to bake even without a new Hesek. The OU is Meikil if the oven remained hot enough to bake, I forget the precise temperature but I believe it was around 180F. I spoke to Reb Herschel Shachter about it and he agreed with me that the original Hesek is completely finished when the oven switches off and he disagreed with this policy.

  5. One should also explain that there are some different opinions as to how much involvement of a Yisroel is necessary for the bread to be considered Pas Yisroel. I have seen it quoted in the name of Rav Moshe Sternbuch that the glow plug which is always on is not sufficient for the bread to be Pas Yisroel, since the gemara only allows זרק בו קיסם which is the involvement of a Jew in this baking, not the involvement months or years before. Many bakeries rely on this type of arrangement for it to be pas Yisrael. Secondly, the Baltimore Vaad under the guidance of Rav Moshe Heineman requires all bread to be Pas Yisroel for their hashgacha but they consider it Pas Yisroel if the oven never became completely cool since the last time it was lit by a Jew. Not everyone agrees. So, in addition to questions of whether Pas Yisroel is mandatory, and different minhagim, there are also different opinions about what is pas Yisroel
    Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein, Mehadrin Kashrus NYC

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