Kosher Food Packaging for Deliveries

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General

  1. Meat, and, in general, other food that is out of a Jew's sight for a certain amount of time no longer retains its status as Kosher.[1] This fundamental principle is called Basar SheNitalem Min Haayin, and it can be applied to cases when a Jew sends food to another Jew using a non-Jewish delivery person.
  2. The concern is rooted in our inability to know the motivations for the non-Jews to possibly switch the Kosher food for non-Kosher equivalents. We thus would prefer the food to be watched by a Jew from the time of its production until its consumption.
  3. In order to assuage our need for the food to be as if it is watched constantly, we rely upon either Simanim (clear symbols)[2], a Jew being able to identify this object as being exactly the piece of food that they knew to be Kosher previously[3], or, most significantly, Tzarur v'Chatum - ensuring that the meat or other food is wrapped, packaged or sealed (either once or twice, depending on the situation.
  4. This concern applies to rich delivery persons as well as it does to poor ones.[4]
  5. Leaving a deposit of food with a non-Jew is considered with the same analysis as cases with a non-Jewish delivery person.[5]

How Many Seals are Needed?

  1. There is a disagreement among Medieval Rabbis about how to understand a seeming contradiction in Rav's opinion[6]regarding the number of seals which are needed.[7] The Shulchan Aruch holds that if the food presents Kashrut concerns on a DiOrayta level, then two seals are needed. However, other food would only require one seal.[8] The Shulchan Aruch nevertheless cites other opinions which are more stringent when it comes to which situations require two seals.
  2. Ashkenazim hold that after the fact, only one seal is needed if the food was delivered by a non-Jew.[9]

Types of Effective Seals

Unique Knots

  1. Two uncommon knots which are tied around a package could be considered two seals, however two regular knots would not count as two seals.[10] Some say, however, that if the first knot is uncommon, then even if the second knot is common the combination of the two would be considered two seals.[11]
  2. If you have a unique seal on a package of some kind (which is distinct from the usual way to seal the type of package in question), then adding a knot[12] on top of the box is sufficient to establish this package as doubly-sealed.[13]

Signing With Two Letters

  1. It is considered two seals if a Jew signs or writes two letters across the closures of a package.[14]

Locks

  1. A seal and a lock is like two seals, but one lock isn't even like one seal.[15]

Sealing Bottles Effectively

  1. Bottles that are closed strongly with a cork or another type of cap which cannot be opened without a special tool (bottle-openers, corkscrews, etc.) are considered to have one seal. Adding a clay seal on top of the cork would be considered the second seal.[16]
  2. Bottles for drinks that do not need two seals (milk, juice, lemonade, etc.) may be sent with a non-Jew with only a single seal.[17]
  3. Some poskim hold that you can seal a bottle loosely and then fasten a clay seal on top of that in order to render its one seal. However, some authorities recommend being stringent.[18]

Using Nails on Wooden or Metal Boxes

  1. If you get food delivered in a wooden or metal box, and the cover is attached with nails- that is considered a seal, because it is very hard to open that type of closure.[19]

Wine Delivered by a non-Jew

  1. In general, there is a disagreement about whether wine would require one seal or two.[7] However, some authorities maintain that nowadays everyone would agree that wine always only needs one seal.[20]
  2. If you want to send cooked wine or wine which is flavored with honey or another similar additive, then perhaps you will only need one seal, as the wine is extra identifiable. However, some suggest that this leniency would only apply if the delivery person is informed about the uniqueness of the wine.[21] If the delivery person is not aware of the uniqueness of the wine, then there would not be any additional factors in this situation which would inhibit the delivery person from tampering with the wine. However, after the fact, if the non-Jew did not know the state of the wine when they were delivering it, then the wine is still considered Kosher according to some authorities.[22]

Meat Products Delivered by a Non-Jew

  1. If the shape of the slices of meat are distinguishable due to a specially shaped cut or a there is a special string strung through the meat which you know as a sign of Kashrut, then you can eat such meat when it is delivered to you by a non-Jew.[23]
  2. If a non-Jew delivered you several pieces of meat and some had Kosher-signs and some did not, if there is reason to think that some were switched then the ones without Kosher-signs are forbidden.[24] This would be true even if all the pieces of meat in question were in a bag together with a single seal.[25]
  3. If you got a piece of thigh meat delivered by a non-Jew, and it is cut in such a way that makes it clear that only a Jewish butcher could have slaughtered this piece of meat (because the sciatic nerve is removed seamlessly) then no seal is needed, because this is an absolute sign of Kosher meat.[26]
  4. Consider a case where someone sent a bird with a non-Jewish messenger to get slaughtered in a Kosher way. If the delivery person comes back with a slaughtered bird, it is okay to eat if you can identify something unique about the bird which assures you that this bird was yours previously.[27]
    1. If, however, you send the non-Jew with money for the Shechita, or the place of Shechitta is very far away, then it is not okay to eat the bird that he the delivery person comes back with, as he would have great motivation to slaughter the animal himself, pocket the money, and avoid the long travels.[28]

Butter Delivered by a Non-Jew

  1. After the fact, you can eat butter delivered to you by a non-Jewish messenger even if it doesn't have any seals.[29]
  2. However, if there is a reason to expect that there are problems more severe with the butter than just ‘Milk of a non-Jew,’ then the butter must have a seal for it to maintain its Kashrut when it is sent with a non-Jew.[30]

Bread Delivered by a Non-Jew

  1. In places where the Jews eat bread made by non-Jews, then some say it is permitted to eat bread sent to you through a non-Jewish delivery-man with no seals.[31] However, some disagree with that position.[32]
  2. If the bread in questions seems to have things inside it which are not permitted to eat if they were delivered to you by a non-Jewish delivery man, then the appropriate number of seals are required according to everyone.[33]

Sources

  1. Chullin 95a, in the name of Rav. Rashi ad. loc explains that the time period in question is an hour. The Ritva ad. loc says that the period of time is actually a relatively short amount of time. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 63:1
  2. Chullin 95a, see Rashi ad. loc
  3. This is known as Teviyat Ayin, defined by Rabbi Moshe Heineman from Star-K as, "if a Jew can recognize that this is the original piece of meat or poultry that was previously known to be Kosher, and[it] can be clearly identified without any question."
  4. Shu"t HaRadbaz 4:1
  5. S"A Y.D. 118:1
  6. Avodah Zarah 31a and Avodah Zarah 39a-b
  7. 7.0 7.1 Rabbeinu Tam and Rashba on Avodah Zarah 39a say that the distinction is that if one is using a non-Jewish delivery person, then one seal is needed, but if one was using a delivery person who is a Jew who is suspect to eat non-Kosher food, then two seals are needed. Tosfot on Avodah Zarah 39a says that the distinction is that if you are using a non-Jewish messenger, but you can see the product on both sides of his delivery, then only one seal is needed. However, according to Tosfot, if there are different Jewish people on the two ends of the delivery, then two seals are needed. Rambam in Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 13:10, Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 118:2, and Shach Y.D. 118:3 says that the distinction is about what food products are being sent and what level the concern about their Kashrut reaches. To the Rambam and the others listed here, if the food presents a DiOrayta Kashrut concern, two seals are needed. If, however, the food only presents a DiRabbanan concern, only one seal is needed.
  8. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:1
  9. Tosfot Avoda Zara 31a s.v. damar quotes Rabbenu Tam as holding that for a non-Jew one seal is sufficient two seals are only necessary for a non-religious Jew. Ramban Avoda Zara 31a s.v. umafteach and Rashba 31a s.v. echad disagree with Rabbenu Tam. Ramban argues that the Rif and Bahag agree with him. Meiri 31a implies that the majority don't follow Rabbenu Tam. Nemukei Yosef Avoda Zara 31a cites Rabbenu Tam. Raah 31a distinguishes between food left in the property of a non-Jew that requires two seals but not if it is in the property of a Jew. Rama 118:1 follows the Rabbenu Tam after the fact based on the Iser Vheter 22:11. However, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:1 rejects the opinion of Rabbenu Tam. Kaf Hachaim 118:21 writes that Rabbenu Tam isn't accepted even for a major loss but it could be used for a factor to be lenient together with other reasons.
  10. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 130:5. The Taz Y.D. 130:8 explains that simple and common knots are too easy to untie and tie again, so there is not a sure enough guarantee that the food has not been tampered with by the delivery person
  11. Sefer Bein Yisrael LNachri Y.D. 17:21
  12. Or a wax seal.
  13. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:4
  14. Ran Avoda Zara 11a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:3
  15. Ran Avodah Zara 11a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:4
  16. Kaf HaChaim Y.D. 118:24, Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 118:18.
  17. Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 118:18
  18. Kaf HaChaim Y.D. 118:24
  19. Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 118:19
  20. Taz Y.D. 118:4 and Kaf HaChaim Y.D. 118:24. The reasoning is that non-Jews are not suspected to be idol worshipers nowadays.
  21. Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 123:4
  22. Sefer Bein Yisrael LNachri 17 note 13.
  23. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 118:5
  24. Rama Y.D. 118:5
  25. Kaf HaChaim Y.D. 118:64
  26. Pri Toar Y.D. 188:8
  27. Minchat Yaakov Klal 32:40, cited in Bein Yisrael LNachri 17:10.
  28. Shach Y.D. 118:26
  29. Teshuvot Mahari HaLevi Y.D. 14, quoting the Taz Y.D. 127:7.
  30. Teshuvot Mahari HaLevi Y.D. 14
  31. Shach Y.D. 118:10
  32. Pri Chadash Y.D. 118:9.
  33. Sefer Bein Yisrael LNachri 17:16