By: Rabbi Tsvi Heber, Director of Community Kosher
Walking through the kosher l’Pesach aisles of COR certified supermarkets before Pesach, with their array of available products, is a dizzying experience. Even more startling is the availability of non-chometz, non-gebrokts bagels and pizzas for Pesach…
Chaim took his two sons to the pizza shop for lunch one Sunday. His six year-old pointed through the glass counter and exclaimed with delight, “Tatty, I want that type of Pizza!” Chaim looked down and observed the mock pepperoni pizza that his son was pointing to…
Many fleishig smachos include a sweet table full of delicious delicacies and desserts. Often, there is a coffee station equipped with non-dairy creamer that looks identical to milk…
The above scenarios unquestionably follow the technical law of kashrus.But we must further examine them from the point of view of an onlooker. Chazal understood that an onlooker may mistake a halachically innocent act for a prohibited one. Furthermore, he may ridicule and even transgress a real prohibition because of his mistaken observation. In order to prevent this from happening, Chazal prohibited certain ambiguous acts that could be misinterpreted. This is known as the rabbinic prohibition of mar’is ayin.
One Talmudic example of mar’is ayin is the prohibition of taking one’s animal out to a public area with a bell around its neck on Shabbos lest an onlooker think that he is going to the marketplace to sell the animal.1 Another example is in regard to the consumption of blood. Both fish blood and human blood are essentially permitted for consumption. Nevertheless, Chazal2 prohibited fish blood that has been drawn into a cup and human blood that has been separated from the body lest the onlooker think that it is permitted to consume the blood of an animal.
Extending this logic, Poskim 3 prohibited acts of cooking4 and eating meat5 with “substitute milk” such as almond milk and human milk. Although using such milk with meat would not technically fall into the category of basar b’cholov, Poskimmar’is ayin. prohibited mixing the two for fear of
There are three primary dispensations to this prohibition. The Rema6 posits that one may place meat into almond milk if he places almonds near the milk so that the onlooker will properly identify it as almond milk. By extension, product packaging may also be used as an identifier to alleviate the problem of mar’is ayin.7
A second dispensation is brought by Poskim. Chazal’s concern was that an onlooker may mistake a permitted act for a prohibited one. This should only be true if the kosher substitute is not well known thus leading the onlooker to believe that the authentic product is being used. As many types of “substitute products” become available and more readily used, consumers become aware of their identity and recognize them as such.8 In such cases, the problem of mar’is ayin should be alleviated.
Earlier Poskim discussed the permissibility of gebrokts cakes on Pesach due to the issue of mar’is ayin.9 Certainly, this has become an accepted practice. Since the use of matzo meal is widespread, an onlooker would not suspect that his friend is eating chometz on Pesach.
Finally, it can be argued that Chazal forbid only specific cases where one would get confused between two completely comparable products such as animal blood with fish blood. They would not have been concerned with mar’is ayin in cases where the substitute product is different from the authentic product in name, texture and taste - even though they appear similar.10
In conclusion, there may be room to apply these dispensations to the aforementioned scenarios.11 Nevertheless, placing product packaging or signage nearby is a recommended practice.12
1Shabbos (54b, 64b), Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (305:11)
2Krisos (21b), Rashi s.v. “assur”; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah (66:9-10)
3Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah (87:4), Rema ibid. (3, 4)
4 See also Shach ibid. (7)
5 Regarding chicken in almond milk, see Rema ibid., Shach (6), Pri Megadim, SD (6), Badei HaShulchan (87:40)
7Daas Torah (87:3), Badei HaShulchan (87:47)
8Daas Torah, Yoreh Deah (87:3); Pleisi, Yoreh Deah, ibid. (8), Shut Yabia Omer, YD (6:8) and Shut Yechave Daas (3:59) bring a proof to this logic from Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah (298:1). See Badei HaShulchan (87:48) and Bi’urim s.v. “Meshum Mar’is Ayin” who poses a dissenting opinion.
9Knessess Hagedolah, Orach Chaim (461), Pri Chadash ibid.
10Pleisi ibid. (7) Pleisi argues that if Chazal had extended their prohibition to such cases then we should prohibit certain red wines because they look like blood and some vegetables because they look like worms. See also Pri Chadash (87:7).
11 One should consult with their own Rav for specific heterim.
12 I have heard from Harav Shlomo Miller shlit”a that due to the fact that non-dairy creamer has become increasingly popular, it may be served after a fleishig meal without an identifier. Harav Miller shlit”a also said that soy pepperoni pizza requires signage to indicate that the pepperoni is made from soy.