Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sarah| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Bishul Akum on Powdered Potatoes - From Chavot Binyamin siman 113
Can one give a hechsher to powdered potatoes which are cooked by non-Jews and dehydrated, in such a way that requires them to be lightly fried in order to eat? (Withholding the hechsher will cause the [Jewish] company great losses).
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 113: 9) writes: “If a non-Jew cooked the food till ma’achal ben drusa’i (=mbd) (marginally edible food), and it was completed by a Jew, one should forbid the food unless the question arises soon before Shabbat or Yom Tov or the matter involves great loss.” The Rama adds: “Some are lenient in all cases, even without sh’at had’chak (extenuating circumstances).”
The stringency follows the opinion of the Rashba, who says that once the food is mbd, it is considered cooked and is already forbidden. However, the Tur cites the Rosh, who says that mbd foodis considered cooked regarding bishul akum only for leniency. In other words, if a Jew cooks food until that point, a non-Jew cannot turn it into bishul akum. However, if a non-Jew brings it to mbd, and a Jew completes the cooking process, the food is permitted. [Bishul akum is a rabbinic law with several built-in points of leniency.] The Shulchan Aruch’s strict ruling is based not only on the Rashba, but perhaps more importantly on Rabbeinu Chananel, who says that mbd is considered cooked even for stringency. Yet the Shulchan Aruch rules that under difficult circumstances, one can rely upon the Rosh. It appears at first that the only difference between the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama is that the former is willing to rely on the Rosh in difficult situations, while the latter entertains relying upon him fully. If so, then even the Rama would agree that if a non-Jew cooked the food fully, then the food is forbidden even if a Jew cooks it even further.
However, we will see other factors, which are apparently involved. The author of the Shulchan Aruch discusses in Shut Avkat Rochel (30) the case of wheat which was boiled by a non-Jew until it reached mbd and dried to the point that it required further cooking. Although he usually was lenient by mbd only bish’at had’chak, here he was willing to be fully lenient. It is possible that this is because the strict opinions may agree in a case where the effect of the first cooking is no longer noticeable, as the food requires new cooking. The apparent logic is that the immediate drying of the food after cooking indicates that the preparer of the food did not deem the initial cooking as preparing the food to be eaten, hence, cooking. If we adopt this logic, then even if the original process fully cooked the food, but did so in order to subsequently dehydrate it, we would say that the food did not become forbidden as bishul akum. This leniency is not clear cut as the Avkat Rochel relies also on the opinion of the Rosh that mbd never creates a prohibition of bishul akum. But when the food is cooked and dehydrated in one process, it should be permitted.
[We will continue with other elements of the question].
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