Refusing To Eat In Other People’s Homes

Rabbi Gil Student writes: "There is a practice among some to refrain from eating at the home of others on Passover (what I believe some call "mishing"). While it is difficult to pin down a label of permissible or forbidden on this practice, I was wondering whether this custom is proper or not. It seems to imply that other people are insufficiently religious and that you don’t trust their kosher standards. That doesn’t seem like a good thing to do. I’d like to suggest that it is a dispute between Rashi and Tosafos whether this practice is proper."

Eskimo posts to Hirhurim: There are a lot of Jews that truly don’t want to offend others. There are a lot of communal rabbis, especially in smaller towns, that don’t eat out as a rule. The ideal would be that everyone is careful about kashrus, and everyone is frum. But that isn’t reality. What about people who don’t keep kosher at all, or barely, and aren’t shomer shabbos who a rabbi invites over? Would Tzvi call it "offensive and obnoxious" for the rabbi to say that he doesn’t eat out when the offer to reciprocate comes? Or is it better to eat with some but not others? Or should kashrus just go out the window because of k’vod habrios, which is also a d’oraisa?

I just had a rebbitzen widow at my table. She told me that there was a family that came to her house on Pesach for many years. One year, the family wanted to reciprocate. The rebbitzen explained (nicely) that she couldn’t eat at the house of someone who wasn’t religious. The woman was very offended and said, "I feel sorry for you." They didn’t come again on Pesach.

This was a no-win situation, of course, because (as anyone who has lived in a smaller community knows) it is exactly this sort of person who will be offended, not the person who keeps yoshon and cholov yisroel. Would it have been better if she had said, "We don’t eat out at all?" I don’t know the answer. Do you, Tzvi?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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