About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
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Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ask the Raavad

QA Responses to your halachic questions
from senior posek
Raavad of Yerushalayim
QA Your questions in hashkafah and machshavah

By Rabbi Daniel Travis based on divrei halacha heard from Rav Moshe Sternbuch, rosh av bais din of Yerushalayim. Questions may be sent to editor@yated. com and selected answers will be printed in this column. The answers given here are the general rule, but each case has its merits and drawbacks and must be referred
to a posek.

Question: I understand that any food that can be eaten raw does not present a problem of bishul akum. Today,
many people enjoy raw fish in the form of sushi. Does this mean that the prohibition of bishul akum does not apply to fish?

Another question I have is regarding the halacha of nechal al shulchan melachim, i.e., bishul akum only applies to a food that is served at a stately banquet. What if a food is cooked in a place where a food is in this category and then brought to a place where the food does not fit in this category? Does this remove the prohibition of bishul akum?
Asher Sebbag

Answer: In regard to your first question about cooking fish, the vast majority of fish is not used for
this purpose, so the fact that fish is used today for sushi does not remove the prohibition of bishul akum. If there is a fish whose majority use is for sushi, then the prohibition of bishul akum would not apply to it.

As far as your second question is concerned, if food is cooked by a non-Jew in a place where it is fit to be served at a stately banquet, then it is considered bishul akum and is prohibited. However, if that food is taken to a place where it
is not fit to be served at such an affair, since it is no longer considered to be oleh al shulchan melachim, it is permitted to be eaten.

The reason for this is that the prohibition of bishul akum is eating it, not cooking it, so it is permitted as long as one does not eat it in a place where it is oleh al Shulchan melachim.

Question: I am a working mother and have non-Jewish help in our home. I leave the house early in the morning and only return later in the afternoon, and I would like my non-Jewish help to cook lunch for my children. Is there anything I can do to avoid the problem of bishul akum?

Very grateful,
Lynn G.

Answer: The Rama (Yoreh Deah 113:7) mentions a number of ways that Ashkenazim can avoid the problem
of bishul akum. One way is for a Jew to participate in making the fire. In this vein, Rav Yisroel Salanter would go to the non- Jewish bakery and throw a cigarette into the fire.

Another option the Rama mentions is for the non-Jew to take from a fire started by a Jew. If you have a gas stove with a pilot light that a Jew lit, then every time you light the fire of the stove, it is as if you are taking from the
fire lit by the Jew. This makes it as if a Jew lit the fire. Some factories rely on a heter of putting the equipment on a timer that turns it on every day.

While this leniency is acceptable for a one-time use of an appliance, it cannot be relied upon on a daily basis, but rather one must reset the timer every day that he wishes to use it, and this way it is as if a Jew turned it on every day.
Some rabbonim, like Rav Eliyahu Falk, do not permit this method, for they do not consider this to be as if the Jew lit the fire.

Some factories have the mashgiach light the machinery every day via a cell phone. Since the mashgiach is restarting the equipment every day, this is an acceptable way to avoid the prohibition of bishul akum. Therefore, this is
considered an acceptable way to avoid bishul akum. The Rama mentions another heter of throwing a small piece of
wood into the oven. In this vein, some factories have a light bulb in the oven that adds a minute amount of heat to the oven. This is not an acceptable way to permit bishul akum, since a new action is not being performed each day.

Question: Does the prohibition of bishul akum apply to cooking or heating up food in a microwave oven?
Thank you.

Avraham Dovid Michael  Salasnik

Answer: The halacha of a microwave depends on whether we consider it to be like kavush, pickling,
which is not considered cooking, or like regular cooking. Since a microwave can cook food in a
similar and at times equal way as cooking on a fire, the prohibition of bishul akum applies.