סִימָן סד – שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲשׂוֹת סְחוֹרָה בְּדָבָר הָאָסוּר
Chapter 64: Not to Conduct Business in Prohibited Items
Anything which is Torahitically prohibited for eating, even if it it permitted for [general] benefit, if it is specifically for food, one may not do business in it or take a loan upon it [i.e. with this prohibited food as the collateral]. Even if he bought it to feed his non-Jewish worker, it is prohibited. But something which isn’t generally for eating, like horses or donkeys, one may do business with it. Prohibited fats [sheets of fat from around the kidneys, the pelvic side of the abdominal cavity and some of the fats on digestive organs from cattle, goats or sheep] are also permitted for business, because it says about it “[the fat of a dead or improperly slaughtered animal] any work may be done with it.” (Vayiqra 7:24)
If someone happened upon by chance some prohibited item, for example he was fishing and a non-kosher fish was taken up in his net, or similarly someone who happened upon a naturally dead or improperly slaughtered animal in his home, he is allowed to sell them, because he didn’t intend it. And he must sell them immediately, and not wait until [a living fish or animal] was fattened up by him. He can also sell them via a messenger, even if the messenger will profit on it. However, the proxy may not buy it for [his own] re-sale, because then the messenger is conducting business in it.
Similarly, he is permitted to collect a debt with non-kosher items and sell them immediately. For it is prohibited to wait with them until he makes a profit on them, but it is permitted to wait with them so that he does not lose on the initial capital.
Something that is only prohibited rabbinically, such as the cheeses of a non-Jew [even real non-chalav yisrael, beyond products regulated by the FDA or similar government agencies] one may conduct business with them.
I am rushing through this chapted because it’s not really on-topic for our purposes. The idea of this series is to bolster an awareness of the Torah’s business ethical demands. Not so much the laws themselves (for which which one should consult a rabbi when questions arise), but keeping the basic notion in mind and as part of our culture that these prohbitions are no less real than those of kashrus or Shabbos. However, it didn’t seem to make sense to skip one short se’if in a string of consecutive se’ifim.
This chapter addresses the prohibition of making one’s living dealing in non-kosher food. It’s only permitted as an adjunct to trying to do legitimate business, or with respect to chelev, the particular fats of kosher domesticated mammals that are prohbited, where the verse explicitly says one may use them in other ways — so the rabbis didn’t ban business in them.
Interestingly, this prohibition is only with respect to Torahitically prohibited foods; rabbinically non-kosher food may be bought and sold. I can think of two ways of viewing that:
1- There is a general rule that the rabbis do not enact a gezeirah, a fence to protect someone from accidental violation through accident or habit, whose purpose is to protect an already existing gezeirah. This would rule out a prohibition against selling food that the rabbis declared unkosher as part of a gezeirah, such as our case of chicken parmgan.
The only problem with this second approach is that I do not know if every rabbinic kashrus law is a gezeirah. There is another class of rabbinic legislation, one that implements the lessons gleaned from the Torah law. Gezeiros may be made to protect someone from violating one of those laws. This is discussed at more length in my post on types of halachic rulings. One would need to categorize every rabbinic law related to food to see if this simpler answer is sufficient.
2- If the previous answer doesn’t work, here’s another possibility: As per an earlier blog entry, there is a dispute as to how to view rabbinic prohibitions. Do they actually have metaphysical impact, such that eating chicken parmigan causes negative impact to the soul? Or are they pragmatic advice, tools to help avoid the metaphysical damages of Torah law, or to maximize the advantages of the Torah’s obligations?