Pat Akum - Part Two: Varieties of its Observance and its Application to the Aseret Yemei Teshuva by Rabbi Chaim Jachter

(2004/5764) In last week’s essay, we outlined the range of opinions
regarding the observance of the rabbinic edict forbidding the
consumption of Pat Akum (bread baked by a Nochri). We cited
four primary opinions in the Rishonim and classic Poskim
regarding this edict. Some rule that this edict fully applies with no
exceptions. Other Rishonim believe that this edict was rescinded
and does not apply if one obtains the bread from a Palter
(professional baker). Compromise opinions permit Pat Palter if
no Pat Yisrael is available. A lenient modification of this
approach permits eating Pat Palter of a Nochri even if Pat Yisrael
is available, if the Pat Palter is superior to the Pat Yisrael. This
week we shall review the application of the Pat Akum edict in the
modern context and the preference to avoid Pat Palter during the
Aseret Yemei Teshuva.
Application to the Modern Era – Four Possible Leniencies for
Factory Produced Bread
Rav Moshe Feinstein (ad. loc.) notes (in 1962) that most
observant Jews adopt the lenient approach of the Rama. A
defense of this practice beyond the classic leniency of Pat Palter
appears in a ruling of Rav Moshe that is cited by Rav Nata
Greenblatt and Rav Menachem Genack in Mesorah 1:94. Rav
Moshe implies (this seems not to be a full endorsement of this
practice, rather a possible avenue of leniency; see Teshuvot Igrot
Moshe Y.D. 4:48) that even those who are strict regarding Pat
Palter might be lenient regarding factory produced bread.
Concern for social interaction and intermarriage is entirely
irrelevant when purchasing factory produced bread, as there is
no contact between the baker and the purchaser. There is room,
by contrast, to be strict regarding the Palter discussed in the
classic sources, as there is contact between the purchaser and
the Palter, so there is some concern for intermarriage.
One might argue, however, that “Lo Plug Rabbanan,”
that rabbinic decrees apply even when the reasons for their
enactment do not. Rav Moshe suggests that Chazal’s edict
never applied when the bread is baked using industrial
equipment that is not used in a home setting. Chazal’s
enactment does not apply to industrial baking, since such
equipment is never used for baking in a context where there is

contact between the baker and purchaser (home or bakery).
Interestingly, Rav Eliezer Waldenburg (Teshuvot Tzitz Eliezer
8:15:1:4) presents a similar lenient consideration in the context of
the prohibition to use medicine on Shabbat. However, Rav Shmuel
Wosner (Teshuvot Sheivet Halevi 6:108:6) clearly rejects Rav
Moshe’s line of reasoning, at least in the context of Bishul Akum
(the prohibition to consume food cooked by a Nochri).
Safek (Possible) Pat Akum
One may suggest (based on Diyunei Halacha page 582) two
other approaches to further defend those who adopt the lenient
approach (although the author of that Sefer encourages adopting
the strict approach to this issue, especially during the Aseret Yemei
Teshuva). The first of these approaches is that although the major
accepted Kashrut organizations in this country adopt the lenient
position regarding this issue, some Mashgichim make the effort to
render the bread that they supervise as Pat Yisrael. (However, Rav
Menachem Genack, Rav Yaakov Luban of the OU, and Rav Daniel
Senter of the Kof-K informed me that only a minority of the
Mashgichim do this).
The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 112:9) rules in accordance with the
Rambam (ad. loc.) and Tosafot (Avoda Zara 38b s.v V’ata) that it is
extremely easy to render bread as Pat Yisrael. He rules that as
long as a Jew engaged in even the most minimal participation in the
baking process, such as adding a stick to the fire (see Chelkat
Binyamin 112 pp.34-36 for a full discussion of whether this is only
Bediavad or even Lechatchilah), the bread is considered Pat
Yisrael. Indeed, it is related that Rav Yisrael Salanter would make
every effort to throw a toothpick into the oven used by the local
Nochri baker from whom Jews purchased bread, in order that the
bread that the Jews of that locale ate would not be Pat Akum.
Interestingly, some major Kashrut agencies have developed
methods utilizing modern technology that are analogous to the
classic adding of a stick, thus rendering the bread as Pat Yisrael.
Moreover, Rav Elazar Meyer Teitz (of Elizabeth, N.J.) once told me
that the ovens in some bakeries are never intended to be
extinguished. Thus, once a Jew makes even a most minimal
contribution to the fire, any bread baked in such an oven might be
considered Pat Yisrael indefinitely (see Shulchan Aruch Y.D.
112:10, Chelkat Binyamin 112:97, and his Tziyunim number 279).
Accordingly, even if the Kashrut agency does not certify the
bread as Pat Yisrael (because they cannot guarantee that it is Pat
Yisrael, as they only periodically inspect the factory), it is still
possible that the bread is Pat Yisrael. It is thus possible to be
lenient, following the rule of Safek Miderabbanan Lekula (one may
be lenient in case of doubt if only a rabbinic prohibition is involved),
as noted by the Shach (Y.D. 112:20, and see Darkei Teshuva
112:68). We should note that this lenient possibility might be
relevant only if there is a considerably strong possibility that the
bread is Pat Yisrael (see Tosafot Ketubot 9a s.v. Ve’iba’it Eimah
and Shach Y.D. 110 Kelalei Sefeik Sefeika 33). The Kashrut
agency that supervises the bread would be able to make such a
determination.
A prominent Rav told me, though, that in the context of Pat
Akum even a small chance might qualify as a Safek (see Darkei
Teshuva ad. loc. which might be interpreted in this manner;
however, Rav Binyamin Cohen told me that he is not aware of any
of the Poskim who explicitly articulate this idea). Perhaps it is
appropriate to hope that the major Kashrut agencies will evolve to
the point where they will request that their Mashgichim contribute to
the fire in some meaningful manner. They will thus render the
products they certify as Pat Yisrael or even Safek Pat Yisrael, which
the Shach specifically permits even according to the strict opinions
regarding Pat Yisrael. Perhaps technology might be developed that
will allow the Mashgiach to remotely turn on a heating element in
the oven of a Kosher certified factory, even though it is only visited
for inspection on a monthly basis.
Indirect Baking (Ko’ach Sheini)
A third possible avenue of leniency may be relevant regarding
factory produced bread. In a factory, the bread is produced entirely
by industrial machinery, and the Nochri workers have very minimal
involvement in the actual baking of the bread. Based on Chullin
16a, one could argue that only the very first breads that are baked
in such circumstances are considered Pat Akum. The rest of the
bread that is produced is considered bread produced by an
industrial machine (and not Pat Akum) because of the remote

connection between the baking of the rest of the bread and the
Nochri who set the process in motion (Ko’ach Sheini; see the
Rabbinical Council of America’s Torah journal Hadarom (72-
73:60-61), where I quote a similar lenient approach from Rav
Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the context of Chalav Yisrael). One
might be able to assume that the factory-produced bread that
one purchases is from the Rov (majority) of breads that are not
considered Pat Akum (based on the principle of Kol Deparish
Meiruba Parish, see Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 110:3).
However, this lenient approach may be questionable, as
even the classic process of baking is accomplished by machine
(the oven), with the baker merely setting the baking process in
motion. Thus, the action of baking seems to be attributed to the
one who started the process in motion, even though his
connection to the actual baking is only Ko’ach Sheini. We may
respond that in modern industrial machinery, the connection
between the baking of almost all of the bread and the one who
sets the baking process in motion is even more remote than it is
in the classic baking process. Therefore, the Halacha does not
consider the bread to have been baked by the one who started
the industrial baking process.
A precedent for such an approach might be based on
those Poskim who disqualify machine-baked Matza because of
the remote connection between the one who sets the process in
motion and the Matza-baking process (see the Poskim cited in
Teshuvot Yechave Da’at 1:14). Moreover, many of the Poskim
(Teshuvot Achiezer 3:69 and Chazon Ish Orach Chaim 6:10) who
accept machine Matza are lenient because they believe that in
the context of Matza baking, the Halacha only requires Lishmah
(that the Matza be baked for the purpose of the Mitzva of Matza).
It does not, however, require Ko’ach Adam (that the Matza be
created by force of an observant Jew). Thus, even though these
authorities accept machine-baked Matza for use at the Seder,
they do not consider the Matza to be baked by the observant Jew
who set the baking process in motion. Similarly, it is possible
that bread that is baked in factories using industrial equipment is
not considered Pat Akum.
Bread Worthy for Dignitaries (Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim)
A fourth lenient approach regarding factory baked bread
is the concept of “Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim.” The rabbinic
edict that forbids eating food cooked by a Nochri (Bishul Akum)
applies only to food that is “fit for a king’s table” (Oleh Al
Shulchan Melachim; Avoda Zara 38a and Shulchan Aruch Y.D.
113:1). The Acharonim debate (see a summary of the debate in
Mesorah 1:86-89) whether this term is defined as something
worthy for a king to eat even at an ordinary occasion, such as his
breakfast, or whether it refers to food that is worthy to be served
at a state dinner. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik rules that the
Bishul Akum prohibition applies only to food that is worthy to be
served at a state dinner. Rav Hershel Schachter is quoted as
ruling that the Bishul Akum prohibition applies even if the food is
worthy to be served at a Shabbat table.
It is possible that the Pat Akum edict does not apply to
factory produced bread since it is not Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim
(according to the lenient interpretation of this rule). However, this
suggestion is based on the assumption that the leniencies that
apply to the Bishul Akum edict apply to the Pat Akum edict as
well. Indeed, we are much stricter about Bishul Akum than about
Pat Akum. For example, the Palter leniency does not apply to
Bishul Akum (see, for example, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 112:6).
Thus, a leniency that applies to Bishul Akum should apply to Pat
Akum as well. Indeed, the Chelkat Binyamin (page 9, Biurim s.v.
Shemeikilim and page 26 Biurim s.v. Kichlich) applies a leniency
that appears only in the context of Bishul Akum to Pat Akum.
Rav Genack commented to me that the Rishonim (cited in the
Encyclopedia Talmudit 4:657-658) who believe that the Pat Akum
edict predated the Bishul Akum edict would probably reject the
idea of applying Bishul Akum leniencies to Pat Akum. They
believe that the Pat Akum edict fundamentally is not
characterized or controlled by the Bishul Akum edict, and
therefore a leniency that the Poskim articulate in the context of
Bishul Akum does not necessarily apply to Pat Akum.
Furthermore, many Poskim explicitly or implicitly state
that the Eino Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim leniency does not apply
to Pat Akum (see Chelkat Binyamin 112:12, Tziyunim
112:112:46, and Biurim 112 p. 5 s.v. Vegam Eino). However,

Teshuvot Avnei Neizer (Y.D. 1:92) is inclined to rule that the
Eino Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim leniency does apply to Pat
Akum as well. Thus, it is possible to use this argument as a
lenient consideration regarding a food that is essentially
permitted.
Accordingly, there are four possible arguments that
factory produced bread is not considered Pat Akum, even if
the Kashrut agency does not certify the product as Pat
Yisrael. Despite these four avenues of leniency that might
apply in the modern era, there may be more reason to be
strict about this issue in our times when intermarriage is
rampant (and the need to create social barriers between
Jews and non-Jews is great), and Pat Yisrael is relatively
easy to obtain. One could argue that Chazal and the
Rishonim were lenient about Pat Akum because of the great
difficulty involved in observing this Halacha in their time.
Today, however, while it might not be easy to fully observe
this Halacha in many Jewish communities, it is
unquestionably considerably easier than it was in
generations past. For example, Rav Binyamin Taub (the
Kashrut coordinator for the Rabbinical Council of Bergen
County) told me (on August 11, 2004) that all of the Jewish
owned bakeries in Bergen County are Pat Yisrael (another
reason that it is preferable to purchase bread at these
establishments is the preference to purchase products from a
fellow Jew, Memkar La’amitecha; see Rashi to Vayikra
25:14). One could question whether the tradition to be
lenient may be preserved when the original motivation for this
leniency is no longer relevant (generally speaking).
We should note that similar questions arise in the
context of many other areas where Ashkenazic Jews have
traditionally adopted a lenient approach, but the reasons for
the leniencies are much less relevant. Examples of this
include relying on communal Eiruvin, consuming Chadash in
Chutz La’aretz and relying on Mechirat Chametz.
Aseret Yemei Teshuva
The Tur (O.C. 603) cites the Jerusalem Talmud
(Shabbat 3:3) that states that if one is not able throughout the
year to eat food that is Tahor according to the rules of ritual
purity, then one should strive to eat such food during the
Aseret Yemei Teshuva. The Tur then cites the Ra’avya (an
important Ashkenazic Rishon) who notes that the Ashkenazic
practice is to follow in the spirit of this passage, and therefore
even those who adopt the lenient approach to Pat Akum
throughout the year adopt the strict view during the Aseret
Yemei Teshuva.
The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 603) rules in accordance
with the Ra’avyah. Accordingly, one should obtain Pat
Yisrael during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva. Moreover, the
Chayei Adam 143 and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 130:2 write
that one should adopt other Chumrot (stringencies) during
the Aseret Yemei Teshuva that one does not observe during
the year. For example, Rav Moshe Tendler once stated (in a
Shiur at Yeshiva University in 1986) that even one who
practices the lenient approach to the Chalav Yisrael issue
should drink only Chalav Yisrael during the Aseret Yemei
Teshuva.
Nonetheless, one might wonder why so many
otherwise carefully observant people seem to neglect this
Halacha. It is possible that they are relying on the four
lenient considerations outlined above that suggest that any
bread that we purchase might not, technically speaking, be
defined as Pat Akum. Additionally, later Acharonim (see
Sha’ar Hatziyun 603:4, Aruch Hashulchan ad. loc., Chayei
Adam ad. loc. and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch ad. loc.) clearly
indicate that this is merely preferred behavior and not, strictly
speaking, a required observance. Thus, Rav Neustadt (ad.
loc.) writes that one should not rebuke those who do not
avoid Pat Akum even during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva. In
addition, it might be sufficient to follow the compromise view of
the Rashba and the Shach during the Aseret Yemei
Teshuva, especially in regards to factory produced bread.
Rav Zvi Soblofsky (a young Posek, who is a Rosh
Yeshiva at Yeshiva University) offers an interesting
explanation for the practice to avoid Pat Palter during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva. Rav Soblofsky notes that it is clear from the sources
we have cited that the Pat Akum decree was not completely
rescinded. It was only rescinded in situations when it was quite
difficult for most Jews to implement. He suggests that just as the
Pat Akum decree was not rescinded regarding home baked
bread of a Nochri, so too it was not rescinded for the Aseret
Yemei Teshuva, since it is not an excessive burden for most
people to adhere to the Pat Akum decree only during these days.
Rav Sobolofsky similarly explains a puzzling ruling of
Rav Saadia Gaon (cited by the Rosh, Yoma 8:24), that men
should recite a Beracha upon immersing in a Mikva on Erev Yom
Kippur (this opinion is not accepted as normative). Rav Saadia
Gaon’s ruling is difficult as we do not, generally speaking, recite a

Beracha on a Minhag (custom) that emerged after the Talmudic
era. Rav Sobolofsky suggests that Rav Saadia Gaon seems to
believe that the edict of Ezra (in biblical times) that a Ba’al Keri (a
man who has experienced a seminal emission) must immerse in
a Mikva remains in effect for Erev Yom Kippur, even though it
was rescinded for the rest of the year. Chazal (Berachot 22a)
rescinded Ezra’s edict because it was too difficult for most Jews
to follow (Rambam Hilchot Tefilla 4:5; but see Meiri, Berachot
22a). However, it is not an excessive burden for most of the
community to observe on Erev Yom Kippur. Thus, Rav Saadia
Gaon believes that a Beracha should be recited on the Erev Yom
Kippur immersion, since the original enactment of Ezra remains
in effect on that day.
Conclusion
The practice in our communities is to follow the
longstanding practice of Ashkenazic Jewry in adopting the lenient
approach regarding Pat Akum. However, it is proper to follow the
strict opinion during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva as well as
Shabbat and Yom Tov, since in most Jewish communities it is
currently not very difficult to do so. Moreover, it is worth
considering the possibility of “upgrading” one’s practice regarding
Pat Akum at least to the compromise approach of the Shach, at
least in regards to bakery bought bread, provided that such a
Chumra does not impinge on Shelom Bayit. See the Rama Y.D.
(112:15) who presents the extraordinary ruling (that the Rama
notes is unique to the issue of Pat Akum) that one who follows
the strict opinion regarding Pat Akum is permitted to follow the
lenient ruling if his host serves Pat Palter. Thus, one should
follow the lenient ruling if his parents or in-laws serve Pat Palter.
Nevertheless, it would seem that Sephardic Jews
should make every effort to follow at least the compromise view
of the Rashba and Shach. However, there appears to be more
room to be lenient regarding factory baked-bread as opposed to
bakery-baked bread even for Sephardic Jews, although the
lenient approaches to factory-produced bread are each
somewhat debatable.
In our next issue, we will (B’ezrat Hashem and Beli
Neder) discuss some of the details regarding the Pat Akum edict,
such as its application to cakes, cookies, donuts and bagels, as
well as its application to bread baked by Nochrim who assist us
in our homes.

Pat Akum Part Three – The Parameters of the Edict by Rabbi Chaim Jachter

Pat Akum, Part One: Varieties of Observance and its Relevance to the Asseret Yemei Teshuva by Rabbi Chaim Jachter