Ask the Rabbi – Doughnut Crisis

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The following Q&A is based on a text exchange:

Q) Hi Rabbi Simon. I saw that one day this Chanukah customers of a certain Kosher bakery were encouraged to return for a refund any doughnuts purchased that day because the fryer was turned on by a non-Jewish employee. I know the principle that a fire should be started by a Jew – but even for doughnuts?

A) The short answer is, Yes, even for doughnuts. Usually there is a system to insure bishul yisroel [“Jewish cooking”] but in this case I suppose the protocol was compromised or the mashgiach [kosher overseer on behalf of the Beth Din] fell short. However there may be grounds to be lenient in a situation of need. The key question is whether doughnuts are “fit for a king”. Some authorities (such as in USA) maintain that they are not, in which case they are not subject to the restrictions of bishul nochri (“gentile cooking”). Read lots more about it here: https://www.star-k.org/articles/articles/1182/food-fit-for-a-king-reviewing-the-laws-of-bishul-akum-bishul-yisroel/

Q) What about pas yisroel [“Jewish-baked” bread]?

A)  Since doughnuts are deep-fried rather than baked, they are subject to the laws/guidelines of bishul nochri rather than pas nochri.

Q) In general for bread – why do we accept for example Hovis bread with KLBD or Sephardi certification? Isn’t bread always a distinguished food?

A) Yes it is, but pas nochri and bishul nochri are governed by somewhat different rules. Factory bread can be kosher for consumption (although not pas yisroel) even without a mashgiach lighting the oven. As I said, the guidelines are not identical.

Bon appetit and Hanukah Same’ah

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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