It's the end of the calendar year and your non-Jewish co-worker gives you a lavish food basket, but unfortunately, none of it is kosher. Can you sell it or use it to cultivate a good relationship with another non-Jewish associate of yours? Isn't this doing business with non-kosher food?
We've seen in a previous issue that there are four main leniencies that allow one to sell non-kosher food. One of these leniencies was "nizdamnu lo" ("it happened upon him").
The example brought in the Shulchan Aruch is that of a fisherman who, upon returning to land, finds that among the kosher fish he caught in his net, there are also non-kosher fish. Since these just happened upon him, without any specific intent on his part, he is allowed to sell them as well.
In the case above with the co-worker, the food came to you without your intent. Rabbi Akiva Eiger maintains that this falls into the category of nizdamnu lo and therefore you would be allowed to sell it. Tosfos in Pesachim rule the same would apply if you received something non-kosher through an inheritance.
But what if an amazing opportunity comes your way, such as a once-off sale on something non-kosher for an extremely low price, where you could make a massive profit. Would this be regarded as nizdamnu lo? The Shach says that nizdamnu lo only applies when you came upon it. However, if it came upon you through a business opportunity, this would not be allowed. Chancing upon an opportunity to buy/sell does not fall under the leniency.
Even though the leniency of nizdamnu lo makes things easier for us in all the cases, the Rema says that one needs to sell the food item immediately, so that he won't come to eat it.
There is an interesting shaila from time of the Bach. There were Jews who would buy or rent whole sections of forests from the regional noble. Now, it was inevitable that in the forests there would be non-kosher animals such as wild boars. The buyers were also aware of this. In the Bach's particular case, the person in question was using these boars to feed his workers. The Bach felt that this was a big problem. The Taz, his son-in-law, agreed that it was wrong for the person to be feeding the boars to his workers. However, the Taz wants to give the person the benefit of the doubt by arguing that the presence of the non-kosher animals falls into the category of nizdamnu lo.
The Taz marshals the Tur, who, when discussing nizdamnu lo, uses the expression "oi sh'tzad t'mei'im im t'horim" (he catches non-kosher animals with kosher animals) which implies that he knows he will catch them both. Even though it is impossible not to catch the non-kosher animals together with the kosher animals, since his main intent is on the kosher animals, it is permitted.
The Taz thus says that you go after the person's intent, and since the Jew's main intention was to buy the forest, the non-kosher animals are secondary and fall into nizdamnu lo.
R' Moshe Feinstein, zt"l interprets the Taz's words differently. He understands that what the Taz means is that the person buying the forest did not have in mind to buy the non-kosher animals from the noble. Rather, the buyer is simply taking care of the animals for him. The noble gives the Jew permission to sell and make a profit from the animals, but the Jew never actually acquires them and thus avoids the problem.
That concludes our study of s'chorah b'devarim assurim. Next week we will begin covering the topic of chosamos i.e. placing seals on kosher food for secure transportation.