Ask the Rabbi

Selling non kosher kitchen items online


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 2, 5780
Hi there, I have some non kosher kitchen items in very very good condition that I would like to sell in a very popular online website. I am wondering if I have to list on the ad of each product, that these dishes are not ok to serve in a Jewish kosher kitchen? Before I was Baal Teshuva I knew of some kosher laws but did not realize they can be as complex or layered as I learned they were. My family used to shop for kitchen ware second hand because it was more affordable. Am I at risk of violating a Halacha by not listing the non kosher status of the items I’m selling second hand? Am I at risk of possibly tripping up potentially Jewish and potentially unaware of kosher laws customers? I also am not entirely sure if my online presence on this website will show that I am Jewish. The website allows you to customize, so for example it might be written that I don’t work on Shabbat or Jewish holidays (I wouldn’t be regardless, but I still don’t know if the website will have a spot where it will say this to the customer directly, or just close the buying feature down during the times I have fed into it to not work, and just state it’ll open at so and so time without an explanation) If it does describe, it could potentially lead customers to think that as a Jewish person I am selling these things that I think are perfectly ok for someone else who is Jewish to use. Is this selling of nom kosher cups and plates a problem with Halacha in and of itself, or only a problem with Halacha if I show people that I am a Jewish seller? I can definitely imagine myself before I was a Baal Teshuva, being excited about supporting a fellow Jewish seller online, and then feeling slightly weird about the fact that they sold me beautiful dishes that aren’t exactly kosher to be used.... I’d really like to do this the right way. Am I best to list on each product ad a description like: due to the used nature of this item, the following item is not kosher for use in a Jewish kitchen.? Are there other protocols that a Jewish person should follow when they are selling second hand cups and plates online? I really care about them going to a good home and I truly hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but I can possibly make a good amount of money out of them and I would really love to be able to have the opportunity to do it..... Also, is there any problem with the intentions of this? For instance there is a second hand store that I love that needs their kitchen items cleared regularly as they are so full. Whatever doesn’t get cleared by a certain time period unfortunately goes to landfill. They have stunning, beautifully made china teacups that I would love to rescue from there, I would absolutely love to take these items off their hands, clean them, care of them, polish them, and give or sell them. Would there be any problem with me doing this if I make sure I do not c”v sway anyone? These are beautifully crafted old kitchenware and there is no issur in goyim using them. And it’s a real shame if the store cannot get the items cleared by a certain time frame, they have to throw all the items away... I would love to do this but before I do I wanted to make sure it was ok first by asking here. I realize that for something like this it really is best to have a local rabbi see the situation with you, unfortunately there is no Jewish infrastructure in the fishing village I currently live in for my fathers work, we are now working actively towards moving to a Jewish area. Thank you so much for your help,
Shalom, Thank you for your question. When it comes to selling non kosher utensils, it will depend on if you are selling them to a Jew or a non-Jew. (I realize that you will not be able to know who you are selling to over the internet – we will get to that shortly). If one knows that they are selling to a non Jew there is certainly no problem. The non-Jew does not have to keep kosher, and as such, there is no problem with them buying your non kosher plates (or you even giving them to them as a gift). If the person is a Jew, we need to address the problem of assisting a Jew to do a sin. While the details of this law are very involved, in general it would be correct to refrain from such a situation. (However, as the laws here are complex, and each situation is slightly different, if someone needed to sell non kosher vessels to a Jew, they should ask a Rabbinic question). Now we come to your question. What is the law when we do not know who is buying the goods? In general the law says to follow the majority of people who are likely to buy the goods. I assume that in your location the majority (if not the vast majority) of potential buyers are not Jewish. If so you have no problem selling them over the internet. While you are correct that there is in fact a possibility that a Jew will buy them – we do not have to worry about such a (unlikely) possibility. You do not have to list the items as not kosher – as we can assume that the buyer will be a non Jew. If after you have sold them you have good reason to assume that the person who bought them is in fact Jewish (their name is “Rabbi Moshe Levi HaCohen” for example – which might indicate that they are Jewish) then it would be the correct thing to do to slip a note into the dishes which says “not for kosher use”. But again, if you do not know the religion of the purchaser, you should follow the halachic rule that we assume the buying is from the majority, and not Jewish. As to buying non kosher utensils to save them from destruction – I assume that you would then find them a non Jewish home, or keep them as a museum piece. Whilst there are restrictions on doing trade with non kosher items (such as milk and meat, or non kosher foods), this does not apply to utensils that were once used for non kosher items and are now not kosher. So, yes, you may buy these items. You should make sure you keep them in such a way as to be certain that there will be no chance that you will use them by mistake for yourself or another Jew. Blessings.
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