Previously we have learned about the leniency of pas palter (bread sold commercially by a non-Jew). The basic halacha is that when buying bread in a store, Ashkenazim have the option of buying the pas palter, even if there is pas yisroel available. This follows the ruling of the Rema. Sephardim, who follow the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch, need to first verify that there is no pas yisroel available before buying pas palter, unless the pas yisroel is prohibitively expensive, or if the pas palter is better quality.
This week we'll look at special circumstances where it is good for even an ordinary person to be machmir (strict) and only eat pas yisroel.
In Orach Chaim Siman 603 the Shulchan Aruch says: "Even though one eats pas akum during the rest of the year, during the 10 days of teshuvah one must be careful [to only eat pas yisroel]"
What does the Shulchan Aruch mean when he says "Even though one eats pas akum during the rest of the year..."? Pas akum is always forbidden!? The Mishnah Berurah there says that the Shulchan Aruch means pas palter. The problem is that the Shulchan Aruch only allowed pas palter when pas yisroel wasn't available!? So it seems that he is saying that one should be machmir during the 10 days of teshuvah and avoid pas palter, even if pas yisroel isn't available. So what is one supposed to eat during these 10 days? The Mishnah Berurah says that if there is no pas yisroel and no Jewish oven, one should go to the local non-Jewish baker's oven, throw in a twig to kasher it (this is a special leniency with pas akum) and make pas yisroel there. Nowadays we are blessed that in most Jewish communities there is easy access to pas yisroel products during the 10 days of teshuvah.
Another stringency on pas palter can be found in Orach Chaim Siman 242. The Rema there says that there is a minhag (custom) to bake challah on Erev Shabbos for kavod Shabbos (the honor of Shabbos). The Mishnah Berurah adds that one who eats pas palter during the week, should eat pas yisroel for kavod Shabbos and Yom Tov. This applies not only to Sephardim, but even to Ashkenazim.
Question: Does the Mishnah Berurah mean only the bread that one has during the meal, or does he mean all things eaten during the entire Shabbos i.e. including cake, cookies etc? This is a dispute between the Magen Avraham and the Elya Rabba. The Elya Rabba says that the stringency to eat pas yisroel on Shabbos is a din (law) specific to the challos and therefore only applies to the seudos (meals) and not to food outside the main meal. The Magen Avraham and other Acharonim disagree and say that it is a din in Shabbos, and therefore applies to all baked goods.
We live in a world where virtually all cookies have an equivalent version in pas yisroel. There are of course, some exceptions that only have pas palter versions. So what does someone do when he wants to have certain types of cookies on Shabbos that are only pas palter and there is no pas yisroel equivalent? Can one have them, in light of what the Mishnah Berurah is saying above?
There are two reasons to be meikel (lenient): Firstly, the Mishnah Berurah says that it is "correct" to have pas yisroel on Shabbos. During the 10 days of teshuvah the Shulchan Aruch says that one "needs" to have pas yisroel. This makes it sound like Shabbos is more meikel than the 10 days of teshuvah. Second of all, we have the Elya Rabba, who says that the need to be machmir on Shabbos is only with reference to the challos and not anything else.
Putting these two approaches together gives one a strong argument to be lenient and to enjoy Shabbos with his favorite cookies!