|Published Spring 2014
It is not uncommon for food manufacturers to call us with a keen interest in kosher certification without the the slightest idea what it takes to produce a kosher product. What complicates matters is that they would like to have a kashrus tutorial capsulized into a telephone conversation. Obviously, we can’t give a thorough kashrus course over the phone, but we can categorize practical kashrus into three main areas: ingredients, equipment, and process.Occasionally, there may be circumstances where both ingredients and equipment are 100% kosher. Through a violation of a rabbinic ordinance, some foods or food products would be prohibited, while other food products undergoing the very same process would remain 100% kosher. This disqualifying process occurs when certain foods are totally and exclusively cooked by an aino Yehudi, a person who is not required by the Torah to keep kosher. When a kosher raw chicken is boiled in a pot of water by an aino Yehudi, it is as non-kosher as chicken cooked in butter! Our rabbis call this disqualification bishul akum, literally, food cooked by a person not required by the Torah to keep kosher. There are two reasons why ourchachomim, sages, enacted this ordinance: First, as a precaution against inadvertently eating non-kosher food; Second, as a prevention against unnecessary socialization that could lead to intermarriage.In situations where bishul akum would present a problem, our chachomim have instructed us that this disqualification can be avoided by having the observant Jewish homemaker or amashgiach, a kosher supervisor, perform an integral part of the cooking process, such as turning on the fire. When a Yehudi, an observant Jew, assists in the preparation, we say that the food is prepared through bishul yisroel.In order for the consumer to understand these important kosher laws clearly, we will delineate the circumstances where the prohibition of bishul akum does not apply.I. Prohibition of Bishul Akum Does Not Apply To…
Often asked Bishul Akum Questions…
Note1: Even though the White House may never use canned foods, if the food was first cooked before the canning process, then at that time it is perfectly fit for use at a state dinner, and the subsequent canning does not remove the proscription of bishul akum.
Note 2: If a product is disqualified due to bishul akum, the utensils are also considered non-kosher and have to be kashered. If stoneware or teflon-coated utensils were used, one should ask his rav for guidance on kashering.
II. Bishul Yisroel
As previously mentioned, when an observant Jew has played an integral part in the food preparation, that product is known as food that has been prepared through bishul Yisroel, literally, food cooked by an observant Jew.
The cooking processes requiring bishul Yisroel are: boiling, broiling, baking, frying, deep frying and roasting. Some examples of foods requiring bishul Yisroel include: soups, shish kebob, roasts and rice pilaf.
Notable exceptions are bread products that are baked commercially. Bread/cake products have separate laws governing their use.
The Process – The bishul Yisroel process can be achieved in one of two ways: a) The food is placed in a cold stove or cooking apparatus and then the Yehudi lights the fire; b) The fire or pilot light in an empty oven is first lit by the Yehudi and remains lit continuously. After the pilot light is lit, the food can be placed inside by anyone. The first method is the optimal one.
Often Asked Bishul Yisroel Questions…