Thursday, December 07, 2006

mar'is ayin on issurei derabbanan: non-dairy creamer with meat

There is another gem buried in this machlokes Tosfos and Ramban (see yesterday’s post). While the issue of lifnei iveir may or may not apply to issurei derabbanan, it seems that none of the Rishonim had a problem with the sugya's assumption that mar’is ayin applies to issurei derabbanan. R’ Shimon ben Elazar prohibits renting a filed to a kusi; since the field is known to belong to a Jew it gives the mar’is ayin appearance that a Jew is working on chol hamoed, which according to Tosfos is an issur derabbanan, and even Ramban only is forced to say melacha on chol hamoed is an issur d’oraysa because he held an issur derbbanan is incompatible with lifnei iveir, not because it was incompatible with mar’is ayin. The point is notable because of a psak of the Rama in hilchos basar b’chalav. Rama (Y.D. 87) writes that if non-dairy creamer made from nuts is served with a fleishig meal of beef, the nuts should be placed next to the creamer container to avoid a problem of mar’is ayin. However, if served with a chicken meal, which is only basar b’chalav derabbanan, there is no concern for mar’is ayin (take a look in poskim for practical applications like caterers serving non-dairy creamer in serving cups with no label to indicate it is not real milk). The Shach attacks the Rama – who says mar’is ayin does not apply to issurei derabbanan?! While the Shach does not specifically reference this sugya, he brings other proofs and writes in general that this principle is supported from many places in shas. In defense of the Rama, one can perhaps distinguish between mar’is ayin on a public act and something like a meal which takes place in a private setting. While the gemara often quotes Rav’s dictum “kol ha’asur m’shum mar’is ayin afilu b’chadrei chadarim hu assur”, rejecting such a distinction, Tosfos (Kesubos 60a) writes that Rav’s principle applies only where the potential issur is an issur d’oraysa. It is also worth noting that the RIF (see Ran to Beitzah daf 9) may reject Rav completely, as is the opinion of the Yerushalmi (as noted by the Gilyon in a recent daf in Shabbos – I did not get a chance to track down where I saw this, so if anyone else is learning the daf yerushalmi and recalls where it is, please remind me!)


  1. Anonymous11:45 AM

    It is just for that consideration that even at elegant affairs, the creamer is served in its own paper container rather than something fancier. I also noted in the picture of the brochure for Pesach at Stresa that for some mysterious reason came to our home, the buffet tables show the not so attractive bottles of dressing. Probably they are applying the idea of proof positive of parve status to Pesach certification. Otherwise, you would think that at about $5000 a pop and up they could afford some nice cruets.

  2. One could argue that since non-dairy creamer is so prevalent, there is no chashash that someone seeing a cup of coffee served with cream after a fleishig meal will assume that it is real milk. I previously discussed whether the issur of mar'is ayin is because it appears one is doing an issur, or because an onlooker may themselves be led to do an issur I wonder if that plays into this discussion - it seems reasonable to assume the availablility of non-dairy creamer would remove any suspicion that one is drinking milk after a felishig meal, but I think it is harder to argue that someone witnessing such behavior might not be led to conclude that coffee with milk for whatever reason is permitted after a felishig meal.

  3. For what it's worth, in my extended family, the normal practic for many years was put margarine on the table with the wrapper on, to show it was pareve and not butter. This was done by so many people that it must have been the general minhag to do so. Most important point--this was done with chicken as well as beef, etc. That would go against the Rama.

  4. Anonymous9:17 AM

    "I do bump into people in the lift who are dripping with designer wear and I think I'm sure you're not even a head teacher," Ms Hardy told the BBC. "They don't look like doctors and teachers to me."

  5. Anonymous9:36 AM

    koshveni, was it said explicitly that the margarine wrapper was left on for this purpose? Perhaps it was just a practical decision not to remove the wrapper so that the margarine would be easier to put back. If I serve parve ice cream that I made myself, I am not going to put out the carton of eggs, parve whipping cream, etc. that went into it. I have never made parve cheesecake but have been served it by others without a label affixed to it to prove its parve status. So I don't think one need extend the original idea of leaving some nuts visible in the almond milk to anything that may be a dairy substitution. If we start being machmir in this way, we'll need to extend it to parve labelling for soy based schnitzel and veggie burgers, too.

  6. Anonymous9:40 AM

    Kishnevi, I don't mean to get on your case, but sometimes people do take practices as actual minhagim. There is some story about a rav who had to move a broom out of the way on some holiday. As he lifted it, he declared, "This is not a minhag." Nevertheless, his disciples wished to emulate him and so began a practice of lifting a broom while making that very declaration.

    Hey, that gives me an idea for another totally off base shidduch question to ask: "In their home is the nondairy creamer served directly from the carton or poured from a serving piece?" It's no worse, I suppose, than asking about the choice of tablecloths. ;-)

  7. Anonymous10:20 AM


    I'm surprised that you didn't attribute the machlokes between the Rama and Shach to the 2 different ways to understand ma'aris ayin: The Rama would hold that the problem is maybe someone will emulate you (and since it would be a shogeig d'rabonon, there's no issur), and the Shach would learn the issur is that it looks like you're doing an issur (which still applies even for an issur d'rabonon).

    And now you now why the freirdike gedolim railed against pilpul, ki kol ze b'derech tzachus.

  8. Bill,
    I did suggest that hesber in the second comment above. I was going to include it as part of the post, but was not 100% convinced the hesber works.

  9. >>>If I serve parve ice cream that I made myself...I have never made parve cheesecake but have been served it by others without a label affixed to it... So I don't think one need extend the original idea of leaving some nuts visible in the almond milk to anything that may be a dairy substitution.

    Hmmm... I did not think of this. Are these indeed different than the case of the Rama?

  10. Ariella, I was just reporting what seemed to be a universal practice. I don't eat out much anymore, so I don't know if the practice--minhag or not--is kept up. But when I asked as a curious nine year old (roughly) I was told, "so people will know it's pareve!".

    Re Homemade pies, etc: presumably people knew these were homemade, and therefore relied on your reputation as shomer kashrut (which they would have to, if they were willing to eat anything that came from your kitchen, homemade or not).

    Shabbat shalom!

  11. Anonymous12:53 AM

    "Kishnevi, once a person is relying on my being shomer kashrus in preparing homemade dairy substitute desserts, wouldn't they trust that the spread I put out is also parve even without a wrapper?"

    IIRC R ovadya discusses this in a tshuva. I think he says that even those who hold you have to place almonds with almond milk nowadays agree that only together with meat mamash ,but not b'zeh achar zeh so dessert would be no proof for margarine.(agav i think he brings someone who assers margarine without a heker at least in some circumstances

  12. Hey, Chaim, the comment I left that is quoted by anonymous got zapped! Would you zap your own wife's comment?

  13. Sorry about that - There were two spam commments I had to delete and must have zapped it by mistake.

  14. You owe me 5 for that one ;-) Anyway, if we are concerned only with what is served directly with the meat, then we need not be concerned with dessert or coffee served after the main course. But what of kugels made with nondairy creamer?

  15. >>>But what of kugels made with nondairy creamer?

    Since the milk substitute is not obvious, then it would not be mar'is ayin. Not the same as a cheeseburger where you see the cheese dripping from the meat.