Guest Posting By Chabakuk Elisha - Non-Jewish Food?
It often amazes me the things that get people outraged… For example, look at the comments to this story about a restaurant that is now serving kosher cheeseburgers. From the comments decrying this item on the menu, you would think that this was a disaster of epic proportions. You would think they were talking about a serious issue in Klal Yisroel... I just don't get it. I guess it shouldn't be so surprising to me after all these years – maybe people are so afraid of the big issues out there that they focus on really silly stuff instead?
Now, let me state clearly that I am opposed to forcing anyone to eat this product. Under no conditions can I tolerate restaurants grabbing people off the street and stuffing cheeseburgers – kosher or otherwise – into their mouth. But, unless I missed something here, they don't make you eat it. So here's a free public service message to all the folks that don't like it:
"If you don't want it, don't buy it."
But here's the real question: Is there anything wrong with a kosher cheeseburger? And that's not the only question: Is there anything wrong with kosher sushi? Kosher (mock) bacon? Kosher (mock) shell-fish? How about kosher chinese food? Kosher Italian food? Kosher fast-food in general? Kosher Apple Pie? Kosher Ice Cream? Kosher anything other than kugel? Matza? What?
Throughout history Jews who kept kosher have eaten what was available in the countries that they lived. The key is simply that it must be kosher – and if it is, then it is. End of story. We eat, and have always eaten, many foods that come from non-Jewish origins – what's the problem here? Is the outrage limited to eating foods that "look" unkosher? Why? Frum Jews do countless things than can be said to look very similar to something "unkosher." Is Maaris Ayin the problem? I don't think a case can be made for Ma'aris Ayin in a clearly kosher restaurant. Is tayvos the problem? Well, if it is, I hate to break anyone's bubble, but the entire concept of eating out in a restaurant is really in the realm of tayvos – and folks that care about the curbing their tayvos, they try avoid even the most kosher looking food.
"Kadesh es atzmecha bemuttar lach (sanctify yourself by withdrawing from that which is permissible to you)" is a very important aspect and ideal for a religious Jew. I encourage everyone to work on it – but I never saw that we are supposed to impose a personal sensitivity on someone else. So, here's the deal: Instead of worrying about the ridiculous, why don't we worry about the problems that go on in regular – no fake cheese added – meat? Today, kosher shechita is full of bedieveds, and the tzaar baalei chaim issues are real halacha problems to be concerned with – maybe we can talk about that.
But seriously folks, kosher mock-cheeseburgers?