Pas Akum (Part 2)- Pas Palter

(Before reading this article please read “Pas Akum Part 1”)

Pas Palter And Pas Baal Habayis-

1. The Tur writes that when the prohibition of pas akum was originally instituted, it was not widely accepted by Klal Yisroel. The reason that the decree was not accepted was that bread is a staple food upon which people’s lives depend, and the prohibition of bread baked by a non-Jew caused hardship for many Jews who lived in an area without Jewish bakers. [According to others this decree was officially rescinded by a later beis din because of the hardships it posed to daily living. (See Ran)]

2. According to virtually all of the authorities the decree was only rescinded to allow Jews to eat pas palter, or baker’s bread. However, one may not eat bread baked by a private non-professional non-Jew, pas baal habayis. [There are extreme cases of urgency when even pas baal habayis is permitted, see Shulchan Aruch 112:8 and Aruch Hashulchan 17-18.]

3. There is a logical difference between bread baked by a non-professional (baal habayis), non-Jew and bread baked by a non-Jewish, professional baker. The prohibition of pas akum was instituted because of the possibility of closeness and eventual intermarriage. This concern is reasonable only when a non-professional non-Jew bakes bread and gives it to his Jewish neighbor. Such a relationship can cause friendliness and camaraderie. However, when a professional baker sells bread (pas palter), it is strictly a business relationship, there is no social or intimate interaction and the chance of intermarriage is greatly diminished.

Sefardic Custom:

4. The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 112:2) writes that one may only eat pas palter if there is no pas yisroel (Jewish baked bread) available. The poskim explain that according to Sefardic tradition, one may not eat pas paltar if pas yisroel can be found within one mil (this is approxamitely .72 or .6 of a mile according to the Chazon Ish and Rav Chaim Naeh, respectively). According to most authorities, this is the distance that one can walk in 18 minutes. One who is traveling may not eat pas paltar if pas Yisroel is available within four mil in the direction that he is traveling or one mil in the opposite or side direction. (Shulchan Aruch 112:16, Darkei Teshuva 95)

5. However, the Shulchan Aruch (112:5) notes that there are those (the Rashba) who rule that if the available Pat Akum is of superior quality to the available Pat Yisrael in a particular locale (or the type of bread that one wants is not available in pas yisroel), then in that locale it is considered that Pat Yisrael is not available and one may eat the pas akum. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:33) asserts that the fact that the Shulchan Aruch does not cite the dissenting opinion (the Tur) to the Rashba’s leniency indicates that the Shulchan Aruch accepts the Rashba’s leniency as normative.

6. Harav Binyamin Cohen shlit”a (Chelkas Binyamin 112:18:81) writes that according to the Shulchan Aruch one can not eat pas palter if there is pas yisroel available, even if the pas yisroel is more expensive. The aforementioned heter is only if the pas palter is of better quality. However, one may question this asssertion, as it is reasonable to contend that if the pas yisroel is more expensive then the pas palter becomes of “superior quality” in the eyes of the buyer as it is more affordable. And perhaps in this instance we can also consider it as if pas yisroel is not available. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

7. A lenient ruling was expressed by the Kenesses Hagedolah. He writes that the Shulchan Aruch only forbade pas palter if the Jewish baker can single-handedly bake enough bread for the entire Jewish community if they are only buying Jewish bread. However, if the Jewish bakers can not bake enough bread for the entire Jewish community (even though they can supply the individual who needs bread) one may purchase pas palter. This teaching is also cited by Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yechava Daas 5:53).

Ashkenazim Custom:

8. The Rama writes that one may eat pas palter even if pas yisroel is available. [Interestingly, the Ben Ish Chai (Shana 2 Chukas 2) cites the view of the Rama and writes that in Baghdad the common custom is to follow the lenient view of the Rama

9. The Shach (112:8) rules that even Ashkenazic Jews should follow the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch and refrain from eating pas palter when there is pat Yisroel available. The Shach adds that one may rely on the opinion of Rashba that one may eat pas palter when it is qualitatively superior to pat Yisrael. The Aruch Hashulchan (112:17) also writes that in his local the common custom is to rule stringently. Indeed, the Arizal feels that one should be very particular not to eat pas palter (Darkei Teshuva 112:18).

View Of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l:

10. Rav Menachem Genack in Mesorah 1:94 cites a ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l to Rav Nata Greenblatt shlit”a that even those who are strict regarding pas palter might be lenient regarding factory produced bread (in a manner that one could not do with household equipment). Concern for social interaction and intermarriage is entirely irrelevant when purchasing factory produced bread, as there is no contact between the baker and the purchaser. There is room, by contrast, to be strict regarding the Palter discussed in the classic sources, as there is contact between the purchaser and the Palter, so there is some concern for intermarriage. One might argue, however, that “lo plug rabbanun,” that rabbinic decrees apply even when the reasons for their enactment do not. Rav Moshe suggests that Chazal’s edict never applied when the bread is baked using industrial equipment that is not used in a home setting. Chazal’s enactment does not apply to industrial baking, since such equipment is never used for baking in a context where there is contact between the baker and purchaser (home or bakery).

11. This is also quoted in Shu”t Rivevos Efraim (5:596) where he adds that Rav Reuven Feinstein confirmed that this indeed was his father’s opinion. Harav Yitzchak Weiss zt”l (Minchas Yitzchak 3:26) accept this leniency when it is combined with other questionable situations (as a snif lehakel). The policy of the OU is to only rely on the opinion of Rav Moshe if there are also other reasons to be lenient (refer to OU Kashrus Manual Bishul Akum page 15).

12. According to this view of Rav Moshe zt”l both Ashkenazim and Sefardim may eat factory baked pas palter, even if pas yisroel is available.

13. The Chazon Ish, cited by Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit”a, however, was unconvinced, and maintained that a factory setting would not be considered any different than any other type of bakery. (Shevet Halevi 6:108:6)

Aseres Yimei Teshuva:

14. During the Aseres Yimei Teshuva (the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) even Ashkenazik Jews should eat only pas yisroel and not pas palter. (Shach 112:9)

15. The Darkei Teshuva cites poskim who maintain that during these days one should not eat pas palter even if it is of superior quality to the pas yisroel.

16. We shall explain in the next post that if a Jew participated in the baking by turning on the fire, stoaking the coals or by throwing a piece of wood into the fire (regardless of the size) the bread is pas yisroel. The Pri Megadim (Sifsei Daas 8) writes that likewise during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva one may eat the bread if a Jew participated in the baking. It seems that he feels that this is permissible even l’chatchila. However, the Mishnah Berurah (503) implies that during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva one should avoid eating this bread. As he writes that if one has no other bread then one should have the non-jew bake bread with the participation of the Jew.

Shabbos:

17. The Mishnah Berurah (242:6) cites Achronim who state that, out of honor of Shabbos and Yom Tov, one should try not to eat pas paltur on Shabbos and Yom Tov (e.g. one should therefore refrain from eating Stella Dora® cookies on Shabbos).

18. If one has no pas yisroel available, one may use pas paltur for lechem mishnah on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

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