Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coffee on the Road

Daf HaKashrus is a monthly publication of the OU (old archives are here: link). I have the Daf HaShanah #17, the collected issues of Daf HaKashrus from Sep '08 through Aug '09. Pages 21-23 have an article by R. Eli Gersten about drinking coffee on the road. There is little question regarding the kashrus of the plain coffee but there are other issues of buying coffee at a non-kosher rest stop, such as maris ayin -- giving the appearance of eating non-kosher.

R. Gersten writes (p. 23):

Rabbi [Hershel] Schachter said that there is no issue of maris ayin for one to purchase coffee at a McDonalds or similar rest stop. Rav Belsky agreed that this was permitted, but indicated that in such a case one should not sit down at the restaurant tables, which would give the appearance that one was intending to eat a meal, but rather should sit at one of the public rest stop seats. As we mentioned earlier, Rav Schachter recommended waiting to drink the coffee until one returned to their car.

Rav Belsky and Rav Schachter paskened that it is permissible to purchase coffee at a rest stop of convenience store. Rav Schachter added that even if one ordinarily would be machmir about these issues, they should not do so if they feel they are getting tired. Driving when tired, in violation of ve-nishmartem me'od le-nafshoseikhem is much worse than drinking a cup of coffee which is mutar al pi din.

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