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Are There Limitations on Which Gifts are Allowed?

Rabbi Yosef Kushner

When it comes to non-Jewish acquaintances, (where there exists an expectation of reciprocation or maintaining the relationship) it isn’t a problem of lo sichanem;  and you can buy them a gift. Are there any limitations as to the type of gift you can give?

Religious artifacts are not part of this discussion, as people generally will not buy religious artifacts for an Akum. It is more common to buy non-kosher wine, or even actual non-kosher food (for a corporate party or something to that effect). When we say non-kosher, we are talking about something that is assur min hatorah to eat, such as neveilus/treifos and the like.There is an issur d’oraysah for a Jew to do business with non-kosher food (issur sechora). 

What about giving a gift? This is very interesting because of what we discussed in previous shiurim. We said that one is not allowed to give a gift to an Akum unless there is an expectation of reciprocation involved. The reason for this is that Chazal looked at that as more of a mecher (transaction). This same concept of a gift being considered a mecher is what actually makes gifting non-kosher food assur, as one is not allowed to deal with transactions involving non-kosher food. However, regarding issurei achila, even though one can’t purchase it to give as a gift, one can re-gift it if he received it as a present from an Akum.  

Giving stam yeinum (any non-kosher wine) as a gift is also assur. Wine is different than non-kosher food because there may also be an issur to have hana’ah (benefit) from it. Therefore if one received a wine bottle as a gift, one is not permitted to give it back or pass it on as a gift to someone else.

This is referring to interpersonal gifts. We will discuss in the next segment the potential issues in ordering non-kosher food for a corporate party.

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