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Making a bracha on kosher food in a non kosher kitchen


Rabbi David Sperling

Tammuz 1, 5780
Hi there, I am a Baal Teshuva living with my family. This last year I put a big focus of my study to learn to memorize brachot in Hebrew. It was a really big and nerve racking thing for me, especially with family/co workers around so I took it really slow. I started by just trying to remember to thank Hashem in my own words for food and drink, and over time trying to say the brachot as I remembered them. B”H I now know them better, but have recently learned that one is not allowed to make a bracha on non kosher food (I live in a foreign fishing village with no rabbis here, so I don’t have someone overseeing my work...) So what I’ve started doing is when I receive food that I know is not kosher, I thank G-d in my own words and not using His name. When I get kosher food from a package, I recite the blessing as best I can. But recently I started to worry, if a non kosher utensil, touched the inside of the package (like a knife in peanut butter jar) does the kosher peanut butter still get a blessing, or because the knife touched it, it makes it invalid. Or for another example, pure water but from a cup that was washed in a non kosher sink, does this get a real blessing? So far I have been making a blessing on those items...I feel very very sorry if I’ve done it wrong....I didn’t mean to... I was trying to do the good thing... As I realized this, I call to you. Please let me know if I should continue simply saying thank you in my own words for now and not making any official blessings until I can have a fully kosher kitchen, or if there are any things that do require blessing upon. Thank you so much for your incredibly helpful website!
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It is so amazing to read about how much effort you are putting into your religious growth. You are doing great things in what sounds like a challenging environment – and it looks like you are making great strides. May you be blessed to continue your growth with joy and blessings. As to the question of making a blessing over non-kosher food. Without knowing all the details of exactly what you are eating, it sounds like what you’re doing is fine. In general, when kosher foods touch non-kosher utensils, as long as they are clean and are cold (that is the food and utensils are not hot to touch), then the food remains kosher. So, cold water from any cup is kosher, and you should say a blessing over it. So too, a fruit or salad you eat is all probably kosher and you should say a blessing. One way to always get to say blessings over all the food you eat would be to obtain some kosher bread or matzah (you can buy matzah and it stores for ages). Then, you can wash your hands before eating (you can pour water over your hands from any cup and then, just before drying them say the blessings “Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al n’tilat yadayim”). Then say the blessing over the kosher bread or matzah saying the blessing “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz”. The advantage of doing this is that the blessing for bread when eaten at the start of a meal covers all the food you will eat at the meal, and so you will not have to say any more blessings until you finish the meal. At the end of the meal (that you ate bread or matzah in) you then recite the grace after meals. (It’s rather long, and you might want to work your way to learning how to say it). In any events, it sounds like you’re doing great things there. May you continue and merit to have a full kosher kitchen (as you wrote), and to become part of a strong and active Jewish community. Please feel free to write to us again – we'd love to be in touch and help you with any questions you have. Blessings.
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