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Rabbi Dovid Cohen
Administrative Rabbinical Coordinator of the cRc
Updated August 2023
In the times of the Mishnah, Chazal forbade us from eating bread-like items that were baked exclusively by non-Jews. [The bread-like items are referred to as pas and that term will be defined more clearly below]. If, however, a Jew participated in any part of the baking process, the food items are permitted and are known as pas Yisroel. In later years, Chazal partially retracted this prohibition because the baking ovens were controlled and/or owned by non-Jews, and the aforementioned restriction made it overly difficult for Jews to obtain “kosher” pas.
In partially retracting the prohibition, Chazal created a new class of pas, “pas paltar”, whose literal translation is “baker’s pas”. Pas baked by a non-Jew in his home remained forbidden, but pas sold in a bakery or other commercial setting where the non-Jewish baker and the Jewish customer have no personal contact, was now permitted even if there was no Jewish participation in the baking. However, there are two opinions in the Rishonim as to how this retraction was structured.
– Some say that since the prohibition was only retracted due to the difficulty in obtaining pas Yisroel, pas paltar is only permitted when pas Yisroel is not readily available. However, in situations where pas Yisroel can be purchased, the original halacha applies and pas paltar is forbidden.
– Others hold that the retraction applies to all cases, and pas paltar is permitted even when pas Yisroel is readily available.
The accepted practice is to follow the latter, more lenient, opinion but there are those who have the commendable practice of following the stricter approach (and some do so on Shabbos – see Mishnah Berurah 242:6). To help these consumers, the cRc strives that all “pas” served at cRc certified restaurants and caterers are pas Yisroel year-round, and also makes efforts that commercially produced items should also meet that standard. In all cases, it is best not to assume a food is pas Yisroel, and one should speak to the Mashgiach, or check the packaging, to see whether it qualifies.
The time of year when most people are machmir regarding pas Yisroel is during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah), based on Shulchan Aruch 603:1 who records such a custom. During those 10 days, Jews who otherwise rely on the lenient opinion that permits pas paltar in all cases, are careful to only eat pas Yisroel when it reasonably available. It is worth noting that in this context, Mishnah Berurah’s (603:1) defines “reasonably available” as requiring less than 72 minutes of travel to obtain.
Which Foods are Pas
As noted, the term “pas” refers to bread-like foods, and to qualify as pas the food must meet the following criteria:
|Food||Requires pas Yisroel?|
|Blintzes||Difference of opinion|
|With 5 grains||Depends on cereal|
|Without 5 grains||No|
|Corn tortillas||No (Assuming they don’t contain wheat flour; if they do, see Wraps)|
|Mandel type||Difference of opinion|
|Doughnuts||Difference of opinion|
|Hard pretzels||Yes (Some say very small hard pretzels don’t)|
|Pancakes||Difference of opinion|
|Pretzels||Yes (Some say very small hard pretzels don’t)|
|(soft & hard)|
|With wheat flour||Difference of opinion|
|Wafers (thin)||Difference of opinion|
|With wheat flour||Yes|