Insights from the Institute
Q: Can a child who is under bar mitzvah or bas mitzvah check eggs for blood spots or check lettuce for insects?
A: The Terumas Hadeshen1 states that tevilas keilim can be performed by a koton, as long as a godol is present to ascertain that the tevila was performed correctly. However, a koton who claims to have performed tevilah is not relied upon without verification by a godol. The Terumas Hadeshen explains that the koton is not to be relied upon because tevilas keilim is a d'oraisa obligation, and a koton is not believed to have performed an action which is a chiyuv d’oraisa. The Shulchan Aruch and Rema pasken in accordance with the Terumas Hadeshen.2
Reb Akiva Eiger3 quotes the Pri Chadash4 as stating that only the tevilah of metal keilim is a d’oraisa obligation, but the tevilah of glass keilim is a d'rabbonon obligation. Reb Akiva Eiger, therefore, argues that a koton would be believed to have toveled a glass utensil. The ruling of the Terumas Hadeshen that a koton is not believed is limited to statements that the koton makes concerning d’oraisa obligations, but a koton would be believed regarding a d’rabbonon obligation.
However, Reb Akiva Eiger adds that there is an opinion in Tosefos5 which states that, even regarding d’rabbonon obligations, a koton is believed only on issues which affect the koton himself. According to this viewpoint, if the koton was designated as a shaliach to perform an action on behalf of someone else, he is not believed to have carried it out, and a koton could not be a shaliach to perform tevilas keilim.
A similar issue to this is whether a koton can be relied upon to perform bedikas chometz. Before Pesach, a person is obligated to verbally be mevatel all chometz that he owns. In addition to this, there is a d’rabbonon obligation of bedikas chometz in order to verify that he has no chometz in his possession. The Shulchan Aruch6 paskens that a koton is believed to have performed bedikas chometz. As stated above, a koton is believed to have performed an action which is a d’rabbonon obligation and is, therefore, believed to have performed bedikas chometz. The Shulchan Aruch adds that the koton is believed only if he is old enough to understand what checking for chometz involves and there is confidence that he will do a thorough job.
The Shaar HaTziyun7 cites the viewpoint of the Tosefos mentioned above, that the koton is believed only regarding chometz in a house in which he lives, but cannot be a shaliach for bedikas chometz in someone else’s house. However, the Shaar HaTziyun concludes that the consensus of the Poskim is that a koton is believed even to be a shaliach and to have performed bedikas chometz on behalf of another person.
As previously mentioned, the Shulchan Aruch paskens that a koton is believed regarding bedikas chometz. However, the Mishna Berura8 states that, lechatchilah, one should not rely upon a koton. He explains that checking for chometz is a laborious activity, and there is the concern that a koton may not carry it out diligently.
It is customary to check eggs for blood spots before consuming them.9 However, this is not a d’oraisa obligation,10 and is not a laborious activity. Therefore, a koton may check eggs for bloodspots, as long as he is old enough to understand what is involved. There is also a requirement for a person to check vegetables for insects before consumption. If the majority of a particular type of vegetable has insects, there is a Torah obligation to check the vegetable,11 and a koton would not be believed to have done so. If a significant minority of this type of vegetable has insects, there is a d’rabbonon obligation to check the vegetable, and a koton would be believed to have done so as long as he is old enough to understand what is involved and there is confidence that he will do a thorough job. However, checking for insects would be classified as a laborious activity.12 For this reason, lechatchilah, one should not allow a koton to check vegetables for insects.13
Q: My father has a full-time nurse who lives with him and takes care of him. When I hired her, I told her that under no circumstances may she cook any food for my father. However, I went to visit this morning and saw that she had baked him a potato. What is the status of the utensils that she used?
A: In order to discourage intermarriage, Chazal established the prohibition of bishul akum.14 Food which was cooked by an akum without the involvement of a Jew may not be eaten, and the utensils which were used for the cooking must be kashered.15 However, this prohibition does not apply to all food cooked by an akum. In fact, there are five potential reasons to be lenient:
In conclusion, in the situation of the nurse who baked a potato, none of the five possible reasons for leniency would apply. Therefore, the utensils which came into contact with the hot potato should all be kashered.34 One should also try to ascertain whether or not the nurse has used any additional utensils to cook any other food. If she has done so, there may be a further issue of bishul akum, depending upon which foods she cooked.
Halachic queries regarding all topics may be presented to The Institute of Halacha at the Star-K by calling 410-484-4110 ext. 238 or emailing email@example.com.
1.תרומת הדשן סי'רנז הובא בב"י יו"ד סו"ס קכ
2.שו"ע ורמ"א יו"ד סי' קכ סעי' טו
3.חי' רע"א שם
4.פר"ח שם ס"ק ג
5.תוס' עירובין דף לא ע"ב ד"ה כאן
6.שו"ע או"ח סי' תלז סעי' ד
7.שעה"צ שם ס"ק יט
8.מ"ב סי' תלב ס"ק ח
9.רמ"א יו"ד סי' סו סעי' ח
10.רמ"א שם וכש"כ בביצים שלנו דספנא מארעא, ועי' בשו"ת אג"מ יו"ד ח"א סי' לו שלכתחלה ראוי לבדוק אף ביצים שלנו
11.עי' בערוך השלחן סי' פד סעי' עב
12.עי' בש"ך סי' פד ס"ק לה ובערוך השלחן שם סעי' פ-פב
13.וכן פסק ע"פ דרכו בשו"ת בית שלמה ח"א יו"ד סי' קנו
14.רמב"ם פי"ז מהל' מאכלות אסורות וכ"כ רש"י ע"ז דף לה ע"ב, אמנם ברש"י שם דף לח ע"א כתב טעם אחר שמא יאכלנו דבר טמא, ועי' בתוס' שם ד"ה אלא ובב"ח יו"ד ר"ס קיב
15.עי' בשו"ע יו"ד סי' קיג
16.ר' אברהם ב"ר דוד הובא בתוס' ע"ז דף לח ע"א ד"ה אלא
17.ר' תם הובא בתוס' שם, ובב"י ס' קיג כתב שכן דעת הפוסקים
18.שו"ע שם סעי' א
19.רמ"א שם סעי' ז
20.רמ"א שם סעי' ד
22.שו"ת הרשב"א המיוחסות להרמב"ן סי' רפד, ונדפס ג"כ בכתבי הרמב"ן ח"א עמ' שפא
23.שו"ת הרשב"א ח"א סי' סח ונכפל במיוחסות להרמב"ן סי' קמט
24.שו"ע ורמ"א שם סעי' ד
25.שו"ת הרשב"א שם
26.ש"ך שם ס"ק זו
27.ביאור הגר"א שם ס"ק י וס"ק יא
28.חכמת אדם כלל סו דין ז שבמקום הפסד מרובה יש להתיר
29.שו"ע שם סעי' טז
30.שו"ע שם סעי' א
32..חכמת אדם כלל סו דין ד
33.ערוך השלחן סי' קיג סעי' יח
34.וכן שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א