Question: In recent years, a well-known rabbi has publicized that it is forbidden to eat chick peas roasted by a non-Jew as this is included in the prohibition to consume food cooked by a non-Jew. Is this indeed the correct Halacha?
Answer: In previous Halachot we have explained that our Sages have prohibited eating food cooked by a non-Jew. We have likewise written that if the dish is a very simple one such that it is unworthy of being served on a king’s table, this food is not included in this prohibition.
Regarding chick peas, it seems that since they are fit to be served on a king’s table, they should be included in the prohibition of food cooked by a non-Jew and it should be forbidden to consume them if they were roasted by a non-Jew.
The Opinion of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef
Nevertheless, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 113 and in his Kesef Mishneh, Chapter 17 of Hilchot Ma’achalot Assurot, Halacha 17) writes that according to the Rambam, the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew does not apply to roasted chick peas, for this is considered such a simple food that one would not invite a guest over to one’s home only to eat chick peas. (The basis for this enactment was because our Sages were concerned that a non-Jew would invite a Jew over to eat and this would cause them to mingle, as we have explained.)
The Opinion of the Ari z”l
On the other hand, Rabbeinu Ha’Ari z”l, whose rulings are followed by all of the great Mekubalim, writes that one may not eat chick peas roasted by a non-Jew, for they are ultimately fit to be served on a king’s table.
The Disagreement Among the Poskim Regarding Whether or Not We Rule in Accordance With the Ari z”l
This leads us into a great disagreement among the Poskim. Do we say that when the Ari z”l rules on a given matter are we bound by his ruling or do we say that when Maran disagrees with the Ari z”l we follow the ruling of Maran and not that of the Ari?
Regarding our scenario, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Halichot Olam Volume 7, page 102) that even according to the opinions that we must rule in accordance with the Ari’s rulings even when it contradicts other Poskim, this only applies to matters which the Ari ruled based on his knowledge of the hidden Torah, in which he was more fluent than others. However, regarding matters which unrelated to the hidden Torah and the Ari ruled a certain way based of his great wisdom of the revealed Torah, the opinion of the Ari z”l certainly has no precedence over the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch.
Therefore, regarding our case where the Ari’s ruling is not based on his knowledge of Kabbalah, rather, he ruled this way because this is what the Halacha seemed to have been to him, we certainly need not forsake the opinion of the Rambam and Maran in favor of the Ari’s ruling. Thus, halachically speaking, the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew does not apply to chick peas roasted by a non-Jew.
This is certainly true based on our tradition in Halacha that we do not forsake the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch even when the saintly Ari z”l disagrees with him; we must therefore rule that roasted legumes, such as chick peas, are not included in this prohibition.
Summary: The prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew does not apply to roasted chick peas. They may therefore be eaten when there is no other Kashrut concern surrounding them. The same applies to any other kind of roasted legumes, such as fava beans and the like. Nevertheless, cooked legumes are included in the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew. However, regarding chick peas and other beans cooked by a non-Jew which are canned and meant for commercial sale, there is room for leniency and they are permitted to be eaten (see Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 10, Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 8).