How Kosher? Bava Kamma 69


The poskim discuss different cases of people who transgress, and how we relate to them, in light of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel (Rashbag)’s opinion.  One situation discussed in recent times is a hotel that wishes to be certified as kosher, but with limitations.  The hotel owners agree that all the food prepared in the hotel will be kosher (including only kosher meat, and no cooking of meat and milk together).  However, they explicitly do not want to restrict their guests from eating milk right after meat, or even mixing (not cooking) meat and milk together.  These actions are Rabbinically forbidden, but not as severe as the other potential transgressions being avoided by the certification.  Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer Y”D 4:7 and 6:3:3) rules that the rabbinate may – and should – certify the hotel, and says that Rashbag’s statement does not apply to this case.  The Rambam rules like Rashbag, but says it’s good to be like the tznuim, making it a positive trait to be concerned with people’s religious welfare.  Further, the Rambam may rule like Rashbag only in the case of robbery, which is more severe.  Further yet, in the case of the trespassers, they may avoid the land altogether if they know that it may involve other prohibitions.  In this case, without the certification, no one will avoid prohibitions, but, on the contrary, violate other ones.  Finally, there are many customers who will not eat milk and meat together, and therefore the certification will make the difference for them between forbidden and permitted food.  These people (including unwitting tourists) know no better, and therefore are considered anusim (forced), and we are concerned with their welfare. 


Rav Moshe Feinstein (Y”D 1:52) also discusses a similar case of an establishment that agrees to only prepare kosher food (with certification), but not restrict the uses of the food by its patrons.  Rav Moshe rules that the restaurant should be certified, since a certification does not have to relate to and concern external matters, even in the use of the certified food.  Rav Moshe adds that this is especially true, since some of the patrons may be totally ignorant, and have the status of tinok shenishba.  This would remove the rule of haliteyhu entirely, even according to Rashbag.


The Tzitz Eliezer (11:55 and 12: page 224) strenuously disputes these rulings, and states that only bad results can come from such a certification.  The public at large will take the rabbinate certification much more lightly, and even the certification will be hard to enforce.  The Tzitz Eliezer states that Rashbag’s statement definitely applies here, as we want to have no hand in enabling transgressions, and have no interest in ameliorating any of the transgressions involved.  In his response to Rav Ovadia Yosef’s letter to him, the Tzitz Eliezer says that it seems that he and Rav Ovadia Yosef approach this halachic area differently.