Ask the Rabbi

Am I considered a non-Jew if I dont keep Shabbat?


Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

Tishrei 14, 5781
Hi, Im a Jewish woman who adheres to halacha to varying degrees; I have a kosher kitchen, dont keep Shabbat entirely according to halacha but do observe Shabbat in other ways (turning my phone off, lighting before shabbos, etc). My best friend, a married woman, is an Ashkenazi Jew and in the Yeshivish community. While she was sitting shiva she had some chicken nuggets cooking in the toaster oven for her kids. She was in the bathroom so when the timer went off, I turned it back on as to continue cooking the chicken nuggets. She came back, asked me if I turned it back on, and it was clear that there was an issue. Her vague response-explanation was that I cant turn it on because I dont keep Shabbat. I think that was code for, "I dont consider you to be Jewish because you dont keep all halachos". Her and her husband talked it through and deemed it OK, but I was (and still am) very hurt. I havent spoken to her about it yet, but would like to. Im wondering two things: 1)Did her concern have any halachic standing, or is that a common minhag? 2) How do you think I should approach asking her about this? Thanks, R
Shalom I think that there was a bit of a misunderstanding in this case. If a non Jew touches wine then the wine is not kosher since there is a concern that the gentile worships idolatry and used the wine for idol worship. Historically this applied to irreligious Jews who were also used to worshipping idols. Thus the law was that if a non Jew or an irreligious Jew touches wine the wine could not be drunk. Even though the circumstances may be different today we do not simply change laws and so the law remains. There is a different law that food cooked by a non Jew is potentially not kosher for two reasons. Either since they may have added not kosher ingredients or simply to keep a distance from gentiles. This law does not apply to irreligious Jews. So in short there is a Halachic basis for her concern but it is misinformed. I would tell her that you were a little offended and I am sure she will apologise and explain her concern. This is not a slur on your religious nature or your connection with the Creator and should not be viewed as such. Kol tuv
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