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Thought for the Day: More on Offering Food to Non-Frum Jews

I was learning with one of my favorite chavrusos last night (ok... all my chavrusos are my favorite, each in his own way), and he related an interesting event that gave me some insight about why we are so quick to offer food to Jews who don't make brachos.

He is a ba'al tshuva and one of his first interactions with Orthodox Jews was to have a whiskey taken out of his hand and poured down the sink.  What happened?  He was becoming more involved with an Orthodox girl (whom he later married) and went to meet her family.  They offered him a l'chaim, to which he readily agreed.  (Besides being enough of a whiskey fan to have gone on a tour or bourbon distilleries, meeting the girl's family is always a good time for a drink!)   He had the shot poured and sitting in front of him.  Suddenly, someone exclaimed, "Wait!  That's the bottle from Aunt SuzyQ and she didn't sell it before pesach!"  The glass was snatched away and he looked on (more than a little nonplussed)  as that and the rest of the bottle was poured down the sink.

I think we all would have done the same thing.  Chameitz sh'avar alav pesach is a serious issur and we all recognize that.  So... lets think about all those excuses we use to permit ourselves offering food to a Jew who doesn't make brachos:
  • What will he think of Orthodox Jews if I don't offer something to eat or drink?
  • It's only rabbinic.
  • He doesn't know about brachos and/or doesn't believe in them.
  • At least he's eating kosher food.
  • and so on...
All those excuses apply equally well to my friend's situation.  Yet, we all agree that you can't offer a non-frum Jew chameitz sh'avar alav pesach.  It seems to me the issue is not with our non-frum guests.  It is with us.  We don't appreciate how important brachos are and how really bad it is not to make them.  By the way, the Avudraham says that since the Torah HaK'dosha tells us directly to bentch after eating (the one bracha everyone agrees is d'oraisa), that is is a logical conclusion that all the more so one must make a bracha before eating!  So, yes, making the brachos with the nusach we have is d'rabanan, but the fact that one must make a bracha before may be d'oraisa.

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tzl, was certainly not meikel in his ahavas yisrael.  In fact, one could argue it was precisely because of his abounding love for all Jews coupled with his deep understanding of how awful it is for a Jew to eat with out making brachos that led him to be machmir in this area.  I am thinking we could all improve in both areas.  Have I mentioned the importance of learning mussar?


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