Aish M’aish: Bishul Yisroel

In many companies the method for dealing with the issue of bishul akum is to have the mashgiach light the pilot light of the boiler. This is based on the ruling of the Rama (Y.D. 113:7) that if a non-Jew lit his fire from a fire that was lit by a Yisroel, then the food cooked with that fire would not be subject to the issur of bishul akum.

Although the Minchas Yaakov (75:41) holds that one can rely on this leniency even lichatchila, most poskim (Chachmas Adam 66:8, Aruch Hashulchan 113:44) point out that the leniency of the Rama is only bidieved at best. Lichatchila, one may not allow a non-Jew to cook one’s food with such a fire. If so, how do we rely on having the mashgiach light the pilot lights of boilers in non-Jewish companies?

It is important to keep in mind two other sevaros discussed by poskim.

The Maharit Tzalon (161) says that although Chazal initially forbade pas paltar, they never forbade bishul of a paltar. Only bread which is the staple of the meal can lead to intermarriage even when baked by workers for the purpose of selling. Other items, although they may be oleh al shulchan melachim, are not forbidden when cooked for the purpose of selling.

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l held that items cooked in factories in a manner that is different from the way that one cooks in one’s home are not subject to the issur of bishul akum.
Although we do not rely on these sevaros by themselves, we are mitztareif them in conjunction with other sevaros.

For example, we permit steamed tuna fish without bishul Yisroel. Although there is a disagreement as to whether steaming is exempt from the prohibition of bishul akum, we are lenient b’tziruf the above two sevaros (The Maharit Tzalon and Rav Moshe). Similarly, perhaps we can rely on pilot lights in conjunction with the above sevaros.

Rabbi Belsky said that we may be lenient to allow the use of pilot lights in companies; however, the mashgiach should relight the boiler whenever he visits the plant. Since many poskim hold that the heter of pilot lights in only bidieved, when there is a mashgiach available to light the fire, we should not rely on a bidieved. In restaurants since there is a mashgiach temidi available to light the fires, we do not rely on the heter of aish m’aish.

In summary:

  • Although we are lenient to allow the use of pilot lights in factories to remove the issur of bishul akum, the boilers should be relit every time the mashgiach visits the factory.
  • In restaurants we do not rely on this leniency.
OU Kosher Staff