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Is a blessing recited over non-Kosher food?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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Question:

I have a Kosher kitchen, but I still eat at non-kosher restaurants (even though I don’t mix milk and meat or eat pork or seafood.) Am I still supposed to wash for bread, recite Brachot, Grace After Meals, etc., for these not so kosher meals I eat?


Answer:

It is wonderful that you keep a kosher kitchen and that you make the appropriate brachot before and after eating.

However, making a blessing over non-kosher food, or to say Grace after Meals afterwards, is not permitted. The Talmud1 discusses a similar case: “Rabbi Eliezer said: If a person steals wheat and bakes bread with it, what blessing does he make when he separates Challah? [He does not make a blessing, since] this is no blessing, but an insult, as the verse states, “One who blesses ill-gotten gains insults G-d.”2

A person makes brachot before and after eating in order to elevate the spark of G-dliness that is in the food. This can only be done when the food is kosher
The reasoning is as follows: A blessing expresses one’s acknowledgement of G-d’s ownership over all of Creation, which automatically obligates one to “ask permission” before benefiting from any of its pleasures. How can one acknowledge G-d’s authority whilst flouting His rules?

On a mystical level, a person makes brachot before and after eating in order to elevate the spark of G-dliness that is in the food. This can only be done when the food is kosher, which means that it is potentially connected to holiness. However, when the food is assur (prohibited) = “bound up to impurity and unholiness,” a blessing will not elevate the spark in it; on the contrary...

The only thing you can do then is... eat kosher at all times. :)

Footnotes

  • 1. Sanhedrin 6b.
  • 2. Psalms 10:3.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Kosher » Miscellaneous

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Grace After Meals
Biblically mandated prayer, consisting of four blessings, recited after eating more than an ounce of bread.
Brachot
(Plural form of "bracha.") Blessings. A Jew is required to recite a bracha before gaining any sort of benefit or pleasure such as eating or drinking (and usually afterwards as well); or before fulfilling a Mitzvah (commandment).
Challah
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.