Socializing with Non-Jews
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Drinking in a Non-Jewish Store or House
In order to keep the Jewish people at a distance from non-Jews in a venue in which they could become too well acquainted and arrive at intermarriage, the Chachamim prohibited drinking "Sheichar" of non-Jews. Some say this was a takkanah or middat chassidut adopted by the later Amoraim.
What Drinks Are Included
- "Sheichar" in the times of the Talmud referred primarily to date beer, but the general position of the Rishonim is that it applies to grain based beer, as well. Some are lenient and that seems to have been the custom in Ashkenaz, so Ashkenazim can rely on the Mordechai and Rama who hold that it is specifically date beer. Sephardim are stringent.
- Similarly, a honey drink is included in the prohibition according to the strict opinion.
- Drinks that are uncommon are not included in this prohibition. According to some, anything not common in the times of Chazal can not be added later to the prohibition, even if it becomes more common.
- Additionally, expensive alcoholic drinks, such as rum, porter, and cognac are excluded according to some. Despite their ability to engender feelings of closeness, they're not common enough to be included in the gezerah.
- Spirits with high alcohol per volume are also excluded, as it's unusual to have more than a couple of shots, which wouldn't be called "keviut." Drinking more than that is abnormal and someone who does drink excessively is not considered to be a "Bar Da'at," so it's not conducive to generating feelings of closeness.
- With all this in mind, quite a few poskim disagree with the Rama and urge one to be stringent anyway.
- Regardless, at Non-Jewish Parties it's all prohibited according to some. Others disagree.
- Many poskim write how coffee shops are included in the gezerah, so one would not be allowed to drink coffee or hot chocolate purchased in a coffee shop. Rather, he should walk outside to drink it. Yet, the majority of poskim are lenient and the minhag is to be lenient.
- It should be noted that in a location where people are lax in their observance of the prohibition of Stam Yeynam, even sheichar is prohibited.
- Some remain lenient by Sheichar where the injunction of Stam Yeyanm is derelict, if the majority of the population consists of Non-Jews, as long as one is purchasing from a Non-Jewish vendor.
- Some say that if there's no concern for wine being mixed in through negligence, then one can be lenient.
- The Gemara tells how one Amora would take the sheichar out the door of the Non-Jew's home in order to drink it, while a different Amora would go all the way back home. At that point, the concern for intermarriage no longer applies. In practice, one can be lenient and drink once he has fully exited the place of sale, but there is definitely room to follow the second opinion either due to interest in being stringent or because the Halacha follows it.
- Therefore, even in a kosher restaurant, if it's owned by a non-Jew, a Sephardi may not have a beer at the bar; rather, he must take it and sit down at a table in the other room.
- One who is staying overnight in a Non-Jews home (such as in an inn or hotel), and one who is hosting the Non-Jew in his home, however, can be lenient, because of Eivah. The prohibition preventing intermarriage applies only in the context of a drinking party in the store or regularly in the Non-Jew's home.
- In other words, if one is participating in a fashion which is both "aray" (informal, unestablished) and "akrai" (seldom, three or fewer times), it is permissible. Meaning, drinking in an established fashion ("keva" instead of "aray") even once is a problem, and more than three times (ragil) even informally (be'akrai) are still problematic.
- One may also send someone to bring him Sheichar from a Non-Jew in the city and drink it bederech keva in his own home.
- See page on Marit Ayin for relevant halachot in these situations.
Attending Parties With Non-Jews
- Most say that one is not allowed to drink any alcohol or eat any food at a party provided that there are more non-Jews than Jews at his table or immediate social group at the party.
- In order to maintain peaceful relationships with non-Jews some say that one is allowed to attend and eat at the party of a non-Jew, if the food is kosher. Some hold that if necessary one may attend but not eat.
- The prohibition also applies to a case where there are an equal amount of Jews and non-Jews. Where there are more Jews than non-Jews in one's social group or table at a party, the prohibitions do not apply.
- If there is no wine or beer present, some hold that one may attend a party with more non-Jews than Jews at his table or immediate social group, and he may eat (kosher food) and drink other beverages.  Some hold one would still not be able to eat or drink other beverages in such a case. 
Attending Office Parties
- Most hold one is allowed to attend office parties, but preferably only for business purposes (ex. to receive a salary bonus). Many who are lenient in regard to attending office parties still say that one should not remain at the party for too long. Some, however, are strict about attending office parties and say that one may not attend the parties altogether.
- One should not attend an office party that has a sign up sheet (or the like) as opposed to a formal invitation.
- If there is no Avodah Zara present, attending office holiday parties has the same considerations as other office parties.
Attending Non-Jewish Weddings
- One is forbidden from eating and drinking at a non-Jewish wedding even if one brings their own food to the wedding. Some, however, say that it is forbidden to even attend the wedding of a non-Jew even if one does not intend to eat the food there.
- Some say that eating and drinking at the wedding of a Muslim is allowed. Others argue that attending the wedding of any non-Jew, even if the non-Jew is a Muslim, is forbidden.
- For contemporary applications of some of these issues, including the views of Rav Yisroel Belsky and Rav Hershel Schachter, see Coffee and Drinking Coffee on the Road.
- Shiur from Rabbi Yoni Levin
- Article by Rabbi Jonathan Ziring in Torah Musings
- Article by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Avodah Zarah 31b
- Two slightly different articulations of Rabbeinu Tam’s view as quoted by various Rishonim such as Sefer HaYashar Chiddushim 621/727, Tosafot Avodah Zarah 31b, Talmidei R' Yonah ad loc, Or Zarua Avodah Zarah 163, Rosh 2:15, Ramban, Ritva, and Ran ad loc, Torat HaBayit 5:1
- Tosafot Avodah Zarah 31b s.v. utravayhu, Mordechai Avodah Zarah 819, Rama Yoreh Deah 114:1, Bach Yoreh Deah 114 who recommends being strict not to have any beer with non-Jews. Zivchei Tzedek 114:1, Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:1
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:1, Zivchei Tzedek 114:8, Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:11. See Darkei Teshvuah 114:5 for some further explanations of the Rama.
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama Yoreh Deah 114:1. See Pri Chadash Yoreh Deah 114:1 and Pri Toar 114:1 who debate whether or not this gezerah is static or dynamic, respectively. i.e. are the examples set in stone (according to the Pri Chadash) or is there room for the gezerah's reach to expand and include or exclude additional drinks depending on cultural norms (Pri Toar, according to Rav Dovid Cohen’s interpretation). See Mizmor leDavid ad loc who argues that since the whole din is at most MiDeRabbanan and has some fundamental aspects as a "minhag," meaning it was never proscribed by Beit Din, there's a lot of room to employ the axiom of Safek DeRabbanan lekullah.
- Rambam Hilchot Maachalot Assurot 17:11 (Kesef Mishneh ad loc adds that they’re not called Sheichar), Tosafot Avodah Zarah 31b, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah, Rosh Avodah Zarah 2:16, Mordechai Avodah Zarah 819, Torat HaBayit 5:1, Tur and Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:3
- Pri Toar 114:3, Zivchei Tzedek 114:14, Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:17
- Aruch HaShulchan Yoreh Deah 114:11, Darkei Teshuvah 114:7
- Pri Toar 114:1, Darkei Teshuva 114:1, Zivchei Tzedek 114:2 (where for some reason this is quoted incorrectly) and 114:11.
- Aruch HaShulchan Yoreh Deah 114:11, Darkei Teshuvah 114:6
- Pri Chadash Yoreh Deah 114:6 states the Rama is wrong entirely, Chochmat Adam 66:14 recommends being stringent, Kaf HaChaim 114:10.
- Pri Toar 114:1
- Rav Tehrani in Ben Yisrael Lnochri p. 324 and Mechon Hameor fn. 2 to Pri Toar 114:1
- Erech Lechem Yoreh Deah 114:1 writes how in Egypt coffee should not be drunk where it is sold due to this concern of intermarriage, and because sitting in the coffee shop is a violation of Moshav Letzim. Yad Ephraim ad loc quotes the Yaavetz as saying the same, and the Sama in his Hagahot ad loc notes how the Vaad Arba Aratzot also prohibited it. On the other hand, the Pri Chadash Yoreh Deah 114:6 writes how if one is lenient on defining sheichar, then coffee in a coffee shop would not be an issue. This is echoed by the Maharit in his Be'er Heitev, but the Pitchei Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 114:1 quotes his grandfather the Panim Meirot as being strict (because Goyim invite each other over coffee). He also cites the aforementioned Yaavetz who argues to be lenient. In Pitchei Teshuva 122:4 he quotes a Noda BeYehudah who raises concerns of the constant use of the coffee utensils in the shop as a lack of opportunity to apply "Stam Kelim Bnei Yoman," thereby leaving the taste absorbed in the utensils prohibited always. Those who are lenient are worthy of rebuke. The Chochmat Adam 66:14 admits that coffee in a coffeehouse really is ok, but in our disastrous situation, people drink coffee with Chalav Akum, which is a real prohibition, and it also leads them to promiscuity with non-Jews, so those who are associated even slightly with Torah should stay away. See the Star-K’s article WHEN YOU CAN DRINK AND DRIVE: THE HALACHIC IMPLICATIONS OF DRINKING COFFEE ON THE ROAD for more on this topic. Darkei Teshuvah 114:2 and Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:12 cite the aforementioned sources. Zivchei Tzedek 114:9 testifies that we assume like the Pri Chadash that it's not included and that the custom in Baghdad is to be lenient. The Pri Toar's point about parties is well taken, and it must be that the custom in Baghad is rooted in Darkei Shalom and preventing Eivah, as the coffeehouse is a venue of honoring one another. (Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:14) Rav Hershel Schachter accepts the stringency of the Chochmat Adam but admits that if it is uncommon to socialize with strangers in coffee shops, there is room to be lenient.
- According to the Rama 114:1 obviously it is permitted since it isn’t date beer. Furthermore, even according to Shulchan Aruch, the Pri Chadash 114:6 writes that coffee isn’t a beer at all and is obviously permitted. Furthermore, the coffee is nullified in the water like it is in hilchot brachot. Maharit cited by Pitchei Teshuva 114:1 agrees. Chelkat Binyamin 114:22 cites the Gra and Pri Chadash as holding coffee isn’t included in sechar akum unlike the stringency of the Chaye Adam who advises against it.
- The Gemara (Avodah Zarah 31b) tells how Rav Shmuel bar Bisna went to a place called Margoan and didn't drink their wine or their sheichar because of "shimtza" and "shimtza deshimtza." Rashi ad loc interprets Margoan as a place where Jews weren't so careful with Stem Yaynam and Shimtza as wine mixed in. The Ritva ad loc argues that it was a Non-Jewish place, and that they sent him a present. The Rif and Rosh omit this din altogether. Meanwhile, the Rashba writes like Rashi in Torat HaBayit HaAroch 5:1 and that it's a stringency that a Baal Nefesh should accept upon himself; however, in Torat HaBayit HaKatzar he writes that it's prohibited unequivocally. The Tur Yoreh Deah 114:2 only brings the Rashba's opinion from the Katzar (he didn't have the Aroch), and the Beit Yosef ad loc fills in the Aroch. See Perishah Yoreh Deah 114:2 and Bach Kuntres Acharon ad loc for a discussion regarding why the Tur chose to include a Halacha about Stam Yeynam here next to Sheichar Akum, since it's seemingly unrelated. Shach Yoreh Deah 114:4 cites both. In Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:2 he copies the unequivocally prohibited articulation.
- The Maharshal is quoted as saying that the whole issue is irrelevant nowadays because it's so commonplace to be lax, so it should be permitted to drink the beverage outside the Goy's home. The Bach, however, argues that the Maharshal's reasoning does not obviate the concern for wine mixed in. Instead he interprets the Gezerah as enacted only in a place with a majority of Jews in the population, but, if the majority are non-Jews, one may purchase from the non-Jews but not the Jews who are suspect. On the other hand, Taz Yoreh Deah 114:3 contends Maharshal means that where it's widespread, not drinking sheichar won't mean anything for people because they won't know what to be distanced from. Shach Yoreh Deah 114:4, Pri Chadash Yoreh Deah 114:7, Zivchei Tzedek 114:13, and Kaf HaChaim 114:16 side with the Bach on this.
- Pri Toar 114:2 considers that in Margoan they weren't careful with the storage of the Sheichar and there was a real chance that wine was mixed in in their negligence. Therefore, if that is not the case one can be lenient, against the Shulchan Aruch's ruling. See Darkei Teshuvah 114:9 who is willing to consider this as part of a multifaceted leniency.
- Avodah Zarah 31b.
- Rif, Rabbeinu Chananel, Ramban, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah, Rosh 2:15, Ran, and Tosafot Rid ad loc, Beit Yosef Yoreh Deah 114:1
- Most authorities (Rif, Tosafot, Rashba) argue that the second Amora was only acting stringently on himself, but the Rambam (Maachalot Assurot 17:10) took him more seriously and holds like him. Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:1 presents the language of the Rambam, but Pri Chadash Yoreh Deah 114:3 and Darkei Teshuva 114:3 disagree. In the Pri Chadash's view, the second, more stringent Amora only went all the way home because he was a regular. A person who doesn't go regularly can even drink in the doorway of the place of sale. Mizmor leDavid (Pardo, ad loc.), Chochmat Adam 66:14, Aruch HaShulchan Yoreh Deah 114:10, and Zivchei Tzedek 114:3 argue back in favor of Shulchan Aruch's ruling and note that the Rama doesn't even disagree. However, the Shulchan Gavoah interprets Rambam and, by extension, Shulchan Aruch to not be literal in their insistence on going all the way home.
- see the leniency for Ashkenazim above
- R' Dovid Cohen (cRc)
- Sefer HaTerumah 158, Tosfot Avodah Zarah 31b s.v. Utravayhu, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah and Ritva ad loc, Ohr Zarua Avodah Zarah 163, Rosh Avodah Zarah 2:15 adds that "Gedolei Eretz HaEey (England) were lenient, Mordechai Avodah Zarah 819, Hagahot Maimoniot, Tur and Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:1, Kenesset HaGedolah Hagahot Beit Yosef 114:10, Zivchei Tzedek 114:6-7, Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:7
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 114:1, Kaf HaChaim Yoreh Deah 114:8
- Gemara Avoda Zara 8a, Rambam Ma'achalot Asurot 17:9-10
- Levush Yoreh Deah 152:1
- Mishna Halachos 7:118 writes that one is allowed to attend if necessary, but one is forbidden from eating at the social event.
- Pri Chadash 114:1
- Rambam Ma'achalot Asurot 17:9-10
- Ben Yisroel Lenochri pg. 324 according to his interpretation of Rambam Maachalot Asurot 17:9-10.
- Lechem Mishna on the Rambam Maachalot Asurot 17:9-10, Pri Chadash 114:101 according to his interpretation of Rambam Maachalot Asurot 17:9-10.
- Rabbi J. David Bleich holds that if one was invited to the office party then he would be allowed to go.
- Rabbi Baruch Chaim Hirschfeld, cited in Rabbi Yerachmiel Dweck’s article Beiur Inyan Mesibot Shel Goyim in Yismach Yisrael 3, Shevat 5771. Rabbi Hirschfeld argues that the decree does not apply to attending parties for business purposes because it was only decreed to create social distance (cited in Rabbi Jonathan Ziring's article Bars and Office Parties in Jewish Law II in Torah Musings).
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Shut Mishne Halachot 7:118
- Rabbi J. David Bleich explained that one should not attend an office party with a signup sheet. The reason for this is because a signup sheet indicates that attendance to the holiday party is completely optional and, therefore, not attending will not cause one to lose out from a business perspective.
- Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
- Avoda Zara 8a, The gemara explains that the issue of eating and drinking at the wedding of a non-Jew is that one will come to do Avoda Zara.
- Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 152:1, The Shulchan Aruch implies that one is allowed to attend the wedding as long as one does not eat or drink at the wedding.
- Derisha 152:1, The Derisha suggests that there may be a heter to attend (but not eat at the wedding of a non-Jew) in order to ensure that there is no ill will or hatred that develops between Jews and non-Jews.
- Ben Yisrael Lenachri 152:1, There is a discussion in the rishonim whether one can go to a non-Jewish wedding and not eat or if one is forbidden from attending the wedding whether one intends to eat or not. The Taz 152:1 implies that it is forbidden to attend the non-Jewish wedding even if one does not intend to eat at the wedding.
- Yabia Omer Section 10, Yoreh Deah 13, Rav Ovadia argues that since Muslims are not idol worshipers the prohibition of eating and drinking at a non-Jewish wedding does not apply to Muslim weddings.
- Shut Chessed L'Avraham 14:26 pg. 127a, Darkei Teshuva 114:1, Ben Yisrael Lenachri pg. 398. According to view that it is forbidden to eat and drink at the wedding of a Muslim, the issue of eating and drinking at the wedding of a non-Jew is that it will lead to intermarriage. Therefore, it is still an issue to eat and drink at the wedding of a muslim as this practice may lead to intermarriage.