Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eating With People - Some Questions

I just saw an interesting discussion about whether you can trust the kashrut of someone who has not kept other Torah commandments. Here are some interesting questions - I don't think there are any easy answers to these.

For the purpose of these questions, "eat in their house" means that you would be confident in going over to their home and eating whatever was served from their kitchen. This means you are confident that (1) they have knowledge of the laws of kashrut, (2) that they observe the laws of kashrut, and (3) that they are not going to purposely feed you something unkosher for nasty reasons.

Would you eat in the house of someone who:

1. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle, but is openly a criminal, such as embezzling money? (Referring to crimes that are not only against secular law but also halacha)

2. Is openly gay, but keeps a kosher home? (We actually know someone who this would apply to.)

3. Does not keep kosher at all, but puts in the effort to learn about what you would require in order to eat there? I have a cousin who bought me new dishes and cookware, and learned the basics of (non-meat) kosher food requirements, so that I could visit her.

4. Is a close friend of yours who used to be religious and became extremely anti-religious? This person would have the knowledge of how to prepare kosher food for you, but would you be able to trust that they wouldn't purposely serve you something not kosher?

5. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but says nasty things about other groups of Jews non-stop during the meal?

6. Keeps chumras that serve to prevent them from eating at almost anyone else's house, and feels they are "on a higher level" than anyone who doesn't keep these chumras? (chumras=customs not required by Jewish law, that are more strict than the already-extensive laws that we do follow.)

7. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but didn't have any formal halachic learning, follows most laws because "someone told them to", and therefore may not actually know the details of kashrut?

8. Lives an Orthodox lifestyle but is a bad cook? =-)


Esther said...

FYI, I have not actually been in situations #1, 2, and 4. i have been in all the other ones.

Ezzie said...

Interesting post.

1) No.
2) Hard to imagine facing that one; openly gay in a relationship, no. Gay but not acting on it (to knowledge), possibly yes?
3) Yes, if I think they can pull it off.
4) Depends on if I thought I could trust them to respect my beliefs.
5) Sadly, probably have way too many times.
6) See #5.
7) That's a lot of Orthodox people; if they seemed to have an understanding of what they can/can't do, sure. If not, not.
8) Yes, but I'll offer to make more. :)

Elisheva said...

1. If they cheat in business, what would stop them from deceiving others about how reliable their kashrut is?

2. I haven't been in this situation.

3. E, remember Cub Scout Camp and the ice cream (aka "milkshake")? The non-Jewish people running the camp sincerely wanted to accommodate us.

4. I thought you had a friend who was once observant and gave it up. If such a person is a friend, then you would be able to trust them to not give you non-kosher food since they know it matters to you.

5. I've sat through several Shabbat meals where more lashon hara was served than food by the ba'alat ha-bayit. Since then, even though she's a known "reliable" person in the community, I stopped accepting her invitations.

6. I'm sure I've eaten at people's houses who may not eat in my house since I'm not keeping all these chumrot, but it's sad since I can't return the invitation.

7. It's hard to spend time with religious robots b/c they seem to lack that critical thinking component which is so important in these situations. They may decide that something is not kosher since the ingredients were not purchased at the local kosher store.[Ironically, I know non-observant Jews who also operate under this assumption. With good intentions, they will purchase something from the store that begins with a "U" and I want to turn my nose up at it due to its poor quality.]

8. I can forgive bad cooking because the socializing is seasoning enough.