Degrees of Non-Kosher: General - Philosophy of Mitzvot Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Degrees of Non-Kosher

Are there degrees of non-kosher food? Meaning, if I'm going to cook a vegi omelet in a non-kosher pan (let's say that was previously used for pork), does it make no difference if I just go ahead and cook a Western omlette – i.e. using actual ham?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Yes, it makes a big difference! The general rule is to always try to maximize your mitzvahs and reduce your transgressions.

There is a wonderful story which illustrates this concept. The great rabbi the Chafetz Chaim was faced with a question from young Jewish men who had been drafted into the Russian army during the early 20th century. They asked: "If we are on the battlefront, and they serve us pork, what should we do?"

The Chafetz Chaim replied: "If there is no other food available, then you may eat the pork, because preservation of life overrides the kosher prohibitions."

"But," the Chafetz Chaim continued, "when you eat the pork, you may not lick the bones." In other words, if you're going to transgress, minimize it.

As for your specific case, the pork which is real non-kosher food is actually worse than using the pan which has the taste of non-kosher food absorbed into it.

But here’s a solution: just buy yourself a new frying pan!

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