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PrinterPros Enterprises, owned and run by Mr. Stein, employed 20 workers, half of them Jewish and half non-Jewish.

An all-staff meeting was scheduled for the end of Chanukah.


“In honor of Chanukah, we’ll do it over lunch,” Mr. Stein said to his secretary. “Something nice, but not expensive. I would also like to give out a small dairy gift, like cheese or chocolate. Could you please check some possible options?”

“I’ll do that,” said the secretary, “and let you know later today what I was able to find.”

The secretary researched appropriate food vendors and made several phone calls.

“Were you able to find any relevant options?” Mr. Stein asked in the afternoon.

“I found two kosher dairy restaurants that I can order from,” the secretary said. “A nice portion runs about $30 a person. Quality kosher cheese runs about $10 apiece.”

“What else did you see?” asked Mr. Stein.

“Bear in mind that half the workers are not Jewish,” replied the secretary. “If you’re willing to consider non-kosher vendors for them, the prices are somewhat lower. There is a non-kosher restaurant a block away and there is a large selection of cheese and chocolates.”

“Do you think that differentiating between the workers might cause resentment?” asked Mr. Stein.

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” said the secretary. “Each person is probably happy to eat what he or she is used to. If I order everything kosher, it will come out $100 to $200 more.”

“I would consider it,” said Mr. Stein, “but I’m not sure I’m allowed to order non-kosher food.”

“Why not?” asked the secretary. “You’re only giving it to the non-Jewish workers! What problem could there be?”

“I remember hearing something about it,” replied Mr. Stein “but I’m not exactly sure what the issue is.”

“Can you please find out, then?” asked the secretary. “I need to place the orders tomorrow.”

Mr. Stein called Rabbi Dayan, and asked:

“Can I order non-kosher food and gifts for my non-Jewish workers?”

“The Mishna (Shevi’is 7:3) prohibits doing business with non-kosher food that is prohibited mid’Oraysa, lest the person accidentally come to eat it,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “However, if the food is prohibited only mid’Rabbanan, one may do business with it (Y.D. and Gra 117:1; Shach 117:2).

“Rema (ibid.) rules further that one may not purchase non-kosher food to feed his non-Jewish employees. Presumably, he considers buying to give to a non-Jew a form of business.

“However, Shach (117:3) and many other Achronim dispute this. They write that the common practice is to buy non-kosher food to feed non-Jewish workers, and not to view it as business, since the person does not intend to sell it for profit (Darchei Teshuvah 117:27; Aruch HaShulchan 117:19).

“Thus, one who wants to can rely on the many Achronim who allow purchasing non-kosher food to feed non-Jewish workers (Chelkas Binyamin 117:10).

“On the pragmatic level, though, one must take extra care when the workers are eating together, especially if there are also non-observant Jews who might be tempted to taste the non-kosher food.

Shach (Y.D. 117:3) indicates, though, that buying to give as a gift to a non-Jew is considered problematic business. Nonetheless, buying non-kosher chocolate and cheese is allowed, since it is most likely prohibited only mid’Rabbanan.

“Regardless, meat from kosher animals (beef) and milk that was cooked together is prohibited mid’Rabbanan to benefit from. According to many poskim this applies even if the animal was not slaughtered properly, and according to some, also if it is fried or baked.

“Therefore, buying a cheeseburger or Pepperoni pizza including beef to feed a non-Jew is not allowed, except in situations of great loss,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “In the case of pork or fowl with milk, though, it is not prohibited to benefit from it.” (Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 87:3,6).

Verdict: Rema prohibits buying biblically prohibited food to feed non-Jewish workers as a form of business, but many Achronim allow it. Regardless, if beef and milk are cooked together it is prohibited to benefit from them.


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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to [email protected]. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail [email protected].