Buying Non-Kosher Lunch for Employees

Ask the Rov: I’d like to buy lunch for my movers. Can I order it from a non-kosher eatery?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Non-kosher foods forbidden in benefit—such as foods containing basar b’chalav or yayin nesech—may obviously not be given for a beneficial purpose. Giving them to a worker or acquaintance is a benefit since it will result in some benefit along the way.

Even if the food is permissible to benefit, Chazal set a prohibition to go into business with non-kosher foods. If the item came to him by chance—e.g., an animal that turned out to be a treifa or non-kosher fish that one caught—he may sell it, as he is not considered to be “going into business.” Another exception is chelev, forbidden fats, which the Torah explicitly permits to sell to non-Jews. (While Chazal may add decrees, they cannot go against the Torah’s words by prohibiting what the Torah permitted.)1

Due to this prohibition, the Rama rules that one may not purchase non-kosher food to feed his non-Jewish workers. Since it was standard practice to feed workers, it is like paying a debt, and he is engaging in a form of “business” by using cheaper non-kosher food.2

Other acharonim argue that buying food for workers isn’t considered commercial business. Some say that even the Rama only referred to purchasing non-kosher animals to raise at home for this purpose and not merely buying such food from the market.3

Providing money for the worker to buy himself food is certainly permitted, even if the worker will buy non-kosher food.4 Some also permit if the worker buys himself food and the Yid pays the bill, since the Yid did not make the economical choice. (Yet, this would still not allow foods that are forbidden in benefit, since he would be benefiting from the lesser cost.)5

If a Jew owns a nursing home, the food served there is considered part of his business. Thus, he cannot serve non- kosher food to the non-Jewish residents. Poskim write that he may hire a company to manage all food arrangements and expenses. In this manner, he is not considered to be the one engaging in business with non-kosher food.6

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

advertise package