Trusting Others for Kashrut

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The principle of neemanut is that halacha deems certain individuals worthy to trust and rely upon with regards to Kashrut or for any matter. Generally, if a religious Jew tells you that something is kosher or not kosher you can trust them. How does that play out with regards to children, non-religious individuals, or non-Jews? Additionally, which hechsher can one rely upon?

Ed Echad Neeman Bissurim

  1. There is a biblical principle that a single adult Jew is trust about the permitted status of an object or food.[1]

To Forbid Something

  1. One witness is trusted to permit something but not to forbid something.[2] Something which has no chazaka that it is permitted or forbidden a single witness is trusted to even make it forbidden.[3]

If There Is a Chazakat Isur

  1. Something which has a chazaka to be forbidden a single witness is not trusted unless it is in his hands to fix.[4]

Women

  1. This principle applies equally to men and women.[5] However, something which isn't clearly forbidden and is only forbidden because of an uncertainty such as checking for non-kosher fish among kosher ones, or something which could be rationalized to be permitted, or it is very difficult and tedious process such as removing the gid and chelev of the hide quarters of an animal a woman is not trusted.[6]
  2. If a woman says that she gave birth to a baby boy immediately after 3 stars came out on Friday night and the milah should be on Shabbat, some say that they can't do the milah on Shabbat.[7]

Relatives

  1. Someone who is invalid to be a witness for testimony, such as relatives,[8] is trusted as a single witness for ritual matters.[9] However, someone who is invalid to be a witness because of sins is a question if he is trusted as a witness for ritual matters.[10]

Ein Dvar She'be'ervah Pachot Mshenayim

Marriage

  1. One witness is not trusted in matters of Dvar She'be'ervah such as to say that a woman is married or divorced.[11]

Conversion

  1. There is a dispute whether testimony about conversion is considered dvar she'be'ervah and requires two witnesses or not.[12]

Adultery

  1. Testifying that a woman had an affair requires two witnesses because it is dvar she’be’ervah.[13]

Not Against a Chazaka

  1. If the witness is not contradicting a chazaka, previously presumed status, he is trusted even for dvar she'be'ervah.[14] Some argue that a single witness is not trusted for dvar she’be’ervah even if there’s no chazaka.[15]

With Migo

  1. A single witness is trusted even against a chazaka if it is in his hands to fix and there is a migo he is trusted even for a dvar she’be’ervah.[16]

Chalitza

  1. Testifying whether a woman requires chalitza or not to be permitted to remarry is a dispute if it is a dvar she’be’ervah or not.[17]

Establishing Someone a Cohen or Removing Them

  1. Testifying that someone is or is not a cohen some say that it requires two witnesses from the Torah.[18] However, others hold that it can be established with one witness from the Torah.[19]
  2. Testifying that a woman is a divorcee or a chalala some say it requires two witnesses because it is a dvar she’be’ervah,[20] while others hold one witness is enough if afterwards a chazaka will be established on that basis.[21]
  3. Testifying that a child is the son of a divorcee and a cohen or a woman who had chalitza and a cohen requires two witnesses.[22]

Non-Religious

Mumar

Chashud

  1. Someone who is suspected of not eating kosher may not be trusted if he makes statement about the kashrut of something. Therefore, if you are invited to the house of someone who is suspected of eating non-kosher one may not eat anything which is subject to any suspicion.[23] Furthermore, one should not accept the invitation of someone suspected on kashrut at all. Only after the fact that one accepted the invitation one doesn't have to cancel but should only eat food which the person is not suspect on.[24]
  2. Someone who sells non-kosher food as a though it is kosher, although it is a terrible sin religiously and monetarily to others, he can still be trusted about the kosher status of his food at home. Even though he is suspected of fraud in business that doesn't mean he will personally eat non-kosher. Therefore, if invited over one could eat his food.[25]
  3. Someone who is suspected in one area of halacha is only suspect in that area or in areas that require that halacha as a prerequisite, however, for unrelated halacha's he is trusted.[26]
  4. Someone suspected of a serious sin is also suspect of a lighter sin in terms of the Torah's system of punishments, unless the lighter sin is more serious in the eyes of people in which he isn't suspect of that sin.[27]
  5. If parents who are religious are eating at one of their children's house who is non-religious but they know that they're trustworthy to say that they prepared something for them that is completely kosher they may eat the food. The same is true of a husband who is religious trusting his wife who isn't.[28] This only applies to very close relationships like parents or a spouse where you know them very well and they wouldn't trick each other. However, this does not apply to a friend or community member.[29]

Someone with Unknown Reliability

  1. If there is someone who you do not know whether he is careful to only eat kosher or he is suspect to eat non-kosher one may rely upon his kashrut if invited to his house.[30]

Non-Jews

  1. A non-Jew is not trusted to permit or forbid anything. If he is speaking casually and he isn't aware the the halacha is concerned for this matter then for rabbinic matters and there's no presumption of it being prohibited we can trust them.[31]

Children

  1. Children are not reliable when it comes to anything of biblical standards and is not included in Ed Echad Neeman Bissurim. Nonetheless, if he is wise and it is circumstantially reasonable what he is saying then we can trust him to prohibit something or to permit something if it was previously assumed to be forbidden if it is within his ability to fix it. Some say that even with these conditions we only trust them only for rabbinic questions and some say it is even for biblical matters.[32]
  2. They are trusted with regards to any concern that someone switched the kosher food with non-kosher food as could happen with deliveries or having a non-Jew watch kosher food.[33]

Hechsher and Mashgiach

  1. crc list, job of mashgiach, what does a hechsher certify
  2. In a place where they sell non-kosher meat they can't also kosher meat that isn't marked with a clear demarcation, such as a hechsher. It doesn't help that the merchant knows which pieces are kosher and which aren't.[34]

Sources

  1. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 127:3
  2. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 127:3
  3. Rama Y.D. 127:3
  4. Rama Y.D. 127:3. Shev Shmaytata 6:1 quotes that Tosfot kiddushin 65b and Mordechai Yevamot 88a hold that an ed echad is not trusted against a chazaka, but Rashba holds that he is.
  5. Tosfot Pesachim 4b s.v. heymnuhu, Rashba (Torat Habayit 1:1 7b, Likutim Pesachim 4b s.v. hakol), Maharam Chalavah Pesachim 4b s.v. kiyvan, Ritva Pesachim 4b s.v. hiymninhu, Rama Y.D. 127:3. The Meiri Pesachim 4b summarizes 6 approaches in the rishonim:
    • One opinion holds that women are not trusted for anything which has a forbidden status which would need to be changed. Therefore, one couldn't trust a woman about removing trumot, maaser, doing nikkur on the gid or chelev. However, one could trust them about checking vegetables for bugs since there is no forbidden status on the vegetables.
    • One opinion holds that women are always trusted even if it is a difficult or arduous task. This is the opinion of the Ritva and conclusion of the Meiri.
    • One opinion holds that women are trusted unless it is a matter of a biblical prohibition and it is an arduous and difficult task. If it was an issue with only a rabbinic consequence they would be trusted even with a difficult task. This is the opinion of the Tosfot and Rashba. The Shach 127:30 codifies this opinion as the halacha.
    • One opinion holds that women are trusted only if it is possible that they could be found out if they were lying. For example, if they said that they remove the gid or chelev they are trusted since it is possible to confirm this later.
    • One opinion holds that women are trusted only on matters that they usually do. See Tosfot Rid.
    • One opinion holds that women are trusted only about what men did and not about what they did themselves. This is the opinion of the Raavad Ketubot 72a in Katuv Sham.
  6. Hagahot Ashri Pesachim 1:3, Shach 127:30, Chachmat Adam 72:14
  7. Divrei Emet YD 1:1, Rav Bechor Dovid (Rabbi of Constantinople beginning of eighteenth century) writes a lengthy responsa on this case. He explains that although the Tosfot Eruvin 59a holds that we can't trust a woman about establishing the techum if it would have been a biblical prohibition, and therefore, to establish any matter of Shabbat that is biblical she wouldn't be trusted, most rishonim disagree. In fact, he proves this from the Ramban, Rashba, Ran, Raah, Rosh, Maharam, Mordechai, Riaz, Tosfot Gittin and Yevamot and thinks that we follow them against the Tosfot Eruvin and in general a woman has the status of an ed echad, one witness. However, with regards to establishing when is Shabbat or a Yom Tov, he concludes that there is a dispute between the rishonim whether an ed echad is trusted. According to the Yerushalmi Yoma 3:1 one witness is trusted if his statement can be verified by other people. According to the Rambam Kiddush Hachodesh 3:14 only a witness who is kosher for regular testimony of two is kosher on his own to establish something of Shabbat or Yom Tov. According to the Riaz cited by Shiltei Giborim Ketubot 72a even a woman is trusted regarding the establishment of Shabbat or Yom Tov whether or not it could be verified. Therefore, in a regular case when one woman says she gave birth on Shabbat unless others were around at the time, it isn't verifiable by others and only the Riaz who allow relying on the woman in this case.
  8. Darkei Teshuva 127:27 quoting Yeshuot Yisrael and Sheilat Dovid (Drishat Tzion Vyerushalayim n. 2). See Ketubot 25b where a relative is not trusted for testifying that a certain person is a cohen to eat trumah which many rishonim write is a dvar she'be'isur (Ran on Rif 10b, Tosfot 24a s.v. vchen, Rosh Gittin 5:8:12, Bet Shmuel 2:7). This would imply that a relative is not trusted to testify about isurim.
  9. Rama Y.D. 127:1
  10. Darkei Teshuva 127:27 quoting Yeshuot Yisrael
  11. Kiddushin 65b. There are several approaches conceptually how to understand dvar she'be'ervah:
    • Some say that testimony about an individual that would establish a marriage as being ineffective (ein tefisat kiddushin) is considered dvar she'be'ervah (Rabbi Akiva Eiger teshuvot 124-125). Rabbi Akiva Eiger argues that dvar she'be'ervah doesn't depend on how strict the prohibition is. Since mamzerut is a result of marriage not being able to be effectuated (ein tefisat kiddushin) that is why it is dvar she'be'ervah. Establishing the children as mamzerim even though the parents aren't part of the question is also dvar she'be'ervah. His proof is that adultery is dvar she'be'ervah even though afterwards it is only a lav for a husband to stay married to his wife and not karet. He explains that adultery is considered to have the status of ervah in Yevamot 11b like a chayvei karitut. Whether a woman needs chalitza is also dvar she'be'ervah (Mordechai Yevamot 12:58) since it can cause the marriage without chalitza to be invalid (ein tefisat kiddushin) as in Yevamot 92b. Even regarding a cohen's wife being violated is also dvar she'be'ervah since that considered like ervah (Yevamot 56b).
    • Some say that testimony about an event that involved an act that was chayev karet is considered dvar she'be'ervah (Chavot Daat cited by Rabbi Akiva Eiger 124-125). Chavot Daat says that proving someone is not a mamzer is not a dvar she'be'ervah because if the children would marry someone else that would only involve a lav and not karet. Adultery is dvar she'be'ervah since it is about an act of ervah. He explains that requiring a woman chalitza is dvar she'be'ervah since it the act of marrying without chalitza is like ervah. So too with a cohen's wife being violated that it too is act an act of erveh even though the resulting prohibition is only a lav. Nodeh Beyehuda adopts this type of approach and writes that there's only dvar she'be'ervah if it involves karet but since lacking chalitza is only a lav it isn't a dvar she'be'ervah, unlike the Mordechai.
    • Some say that testimony which forbids a husband to his wife is considered dvar she'be'ervah (Eretz Hatzvi siman 14 in explaining the Rambam).
    • Some say that testimony about the status of a person from birth which is passed to his descendants is considered dvar she'be'ervah (Kehilat Yakov Ketubot 14 explaining the Shev Shmaytata 6:15, cited by Shamayta Hamevueret). [Shev Shamaytata 6:15 can be explained to mean that personal status requires two witnesses but is not dvar she'be'ervah as Shmayta Hamevuret explains.] A similar idea is found in Eretz Hatzvi siman 14 in explaining most rishonim where he writes that testimony about the status of a person is considered dvar she'be'ervah. There he quotes this from Machaneh Efraim (Hilchot Edut 13) and Avnei Nezer CM 40. [Even though both say that testimony about the status of a person requires two witnesses, neither say that this is based on dvar she'be'ervah. Machaneh Efraim in fact sounds like that this is another principle.]
      • [Machaneh Efraim (Edut n. 13) answers for the Rambam that saying a woman is a divorcee isn't dvar she'be'ervah since at the time of the testimony she wasn't married to a cohen. Alternatively, he explains that testimony about a person requires two witnesses, while testimony about an object does not. Alternatively, testimony to change a chazaka requires two witnesses. Testifying that someone is a ben gerusha or chalutza when we thought he was a cohen requires two witnesses. The last two answers seem to just be discussing whether it needs two witnesses and not whether it is dvar she'be'ervah. Igrot Moshe YD 2:127:6 s.v. vshitat clarifies this point.]
  12. Nodeh Beyehuda 54 holds that testimony whether a person is Jewish or not is considered dvar she'be'ervah. Igrot Moshe YD 2:127 argues because the primary question of whether he is Jewish has many ramifications and isn't purely about marriage.
  13. Kiddushin 66a, Rambam Ishut 24:18, Shulchan Aruch E.H. 178:9
  14. Shev Shmaytata 6:3 based on Teshuvot Maimoni and Maharik. Hamikneh (Kiddushin 66b) and Maharam Shik EH 141 s.v. vezeh nireh agree to this principle.
  15. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1:124 s.v. gam byesod) argues that from Tosfot and the Ran it sounds like he is not trusted on dvar she’be’ervah even if there’s no previous chazaka.
  16. Shev Shmaytata 6:1 based on Yevamot 88a
  17. Nodeh Beyehuda EH 54 writes that it is not a dvar she’be’ervah since it is only a lav and not karet. He disputes the view of the Mordechai that it is a dvar she’be’ervah. Maharam Shik EH 141 brought a proof for the Mordechai. Rabbi Akiva Eiger 1:124 s.v. lechora accepts the Mordechai.
  18. Sifrei Devarim (Parshat Shoftim 188:15) explicitly states that in order to establish someone as a cohen or not a cohen two witnesses are necessary. Yereyim (siman 204-205) quotes it. Rav Dovid Karliner in Sheilat Dovid (Drishat Tzion Vyerushalayim n. 2) quotes this Sifrei and expands upon it. Maharam Shik (Yevamot 87b 3:3) explains that the reason two witnesses are necessary is because it is like monetary law since it involves receiving trumah. Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Kiryat Melech (Isurei Biyah 20:2) uses the Sifrei to explain the Rambam. Lhorot Natan 4:96 challenges Chazon Ish (cited in next note) based on the Sifrei.
  19. Chazon Ish EH 2:7. Ran on Rif 10b, Tosfot 24a s.v. vchen, and Rosh Gittin 5:8:12 all indicate that trusting a single witness that someone is a cohen to be able to eat trumah from the Torah one witness is sufficient since it is considered isur.
  20. Tosfot Rid (Kiddushin 66a) and Ritva (Kiddushin 66a)
  21. Rambam (Sanhedrin 16:6)
  22. Kiddushin 66a. Shev Shamaytata 6:15 explains that even the Rambam agrees two witnesses are necessary to testify about the child because the testimony about a child is about his status from birth. Testifying that the mother is a divorcee is testimony about an event and one witness is sufficient. Maharam Shik (Yevamot 87b 3:3) answers the Rambam that testifying about the mother that she is a divorcee only needs one witness, but testifying that the child is not a cohen requires two witnesses as per Sifrei Shoftim 188:15.
  23. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 119:1, Bechorot 35a
  24. Shevet Halevi 4:90 based on Bechor Shor A"Z 39b against Pri Chadash 119:6
  25. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 119:2. Shach 119:5 explains that although the person isn't careful about the sin of lifnei iver he is careful not to eat non-kosher himself.
  26. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 119:4
  27. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 119:5
  28. Igrot Moshe YD 1:54. His main thesis is that a person can trust someone to be telling them truth if they know them very well and know that they're not lying. He proves this concept from Ketubot 85a where Rava trusted his wife's judgement about something that required testimony even though he wouldn't trust another Torah scholar about that same thing. Where the Torah requires testimony it doesn't matter how trustworthy of a person they are the Torah requires two witnesses. Even Moshe Rabbenu wouldn't be trusted by himself. However, even there it is possible to trust someone like your wife who you know well. It is like knowing the information directly without testimony.
  29. Igrot Moshe YD 2:43
  30. Rama Y.D. 119:1
  31. Chachmat Adam 72:17
  32. Chachmat Adam 72:16 citing a dispute between the Shach 127:31 and Magen Avraham 437:8
  33. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 127:4, Chachmat Adam 72:15
  34. Igrot Moshe YD 3:18