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  • Kashrus Awareness Staff

Keeping an Eye on Cleaning Help

Exploring the Kashrus Issues of Unsupervised Cooking

Part 3

Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger continues his discussion with Rav Moshe Heinemann, Rabbinic Administrator of the Star-K and Rov of Agudas Yisroel of Baltimore, regarding potential kashrus issues that can arise when non-Jewish domestic help is employed in the home.

Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger: One final question: if someone has domestic help in the house alone when no one is around, do they have to worry that the non-Jew may have used keilim or appliances to cook food for themselves?

Rav Moshe Heinemann: The Shulchan Aruch speaks about this kind of case, when a non-Jew is left alone in a kitchen and knows the homeowner is on vacation for a week and will not be coming back for a while, which means he is not afraid that anyone will walk in on him. He says that in such a case, one has to be suspicious that the non-Jew used his keilim in a way that would make them treif. However, since you don’t know for sure that he used them, they only are assur for 24 hours. After 24 hours, everything is only a question of a derabanan because foods that are absorbed in keilim get a bad taste after that amount of time; therefore, one can be meikil. But that's only b’dieved if it already happened. One should be careful not to let this happen in the first place.

One thing you can do if you have a gas stove is to shut off the gas in the basement. If your stove is electric, it probably has its own breaker and you could shut that off. Most aides don’t know anything about which breaker to turn on to use the stove so you don’t have to worry that they will do that.

Once you turn off the gas or electricity to the stove, the non-Jew has no way to heat food. You would now only have to worry that they put their own food on your plates. If you gave him permission to use your food, you don’t have to worry that he brought in his own food. If you didn’t, you would not have to worry about cold food. The only problem would be if he washed the dishes in hot water. Water is only considered hot if it is “yad soledes bo”. The cut off point of yad soledes bo is 120 degrees; therefore, you can set the hot water heater to 120, and by the time it gets to the sink it will be less than that, so the dishes will always be considered cold.

Rabbi Hisiger: If you have surveillance cameras in your home and the help knows about it, is that enough of a “mirsas” to assume that they won’t use your keilim when you aren’t home?

Rav Heinemann: If the cameras are trained on the stove or any place that they could cook, it would serve that purpose. Although we said that a microwave won’t be a problem of bishul akum, it would be a problem if he cooked non-kosher food in it, as that would make the microwave treif. If he knows there’s a camera trained on the microwave, that would take care of this concern.

Rabbi Hisiger: How often does one have to enter the house to be considered a yotzi v’nichnas?

Rav Heinemann: There isn’t necessarily any amount of time. Rather, it has to be that the non-Jew is worried that you might come back home at any minute. If you leave for four hours but the non-Jew thinks you may come home at any minute, that would suffice. If they know that you went away and won’t be coming home for a while, that would not be a good yotzi v’nichnas. It is not a matter of time. Rather, it is a matter of whether or not the non-Jew is worried that you could come back.

Rabbi Hisiger: Thank you so much to the Rov for sitting with us today and answering our shailos. We look forward to speaking again in the future.

Rav Heinemann: Thank you. I appreciate it.

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