(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)
1. The Gemara (Pesachim 112a) states that one should not place food or drink under one’s bed. This clearly indicates that all foods are susceptible to the evil spirit. However, the Yerushalmi (Terumos 8:3) warns against “placing a cooked food dish under the bed.” According to the Yerushalmi if the food is raw and inedible (see Imrei Shmuel on Maaseh Rav 95) one may place it under the bed.
2. The Shulchan Aruch writes that one may not place “cooked food or drink” under the bed. It seems that even the Shulchan Aruch agrees that one may place raw food under one’s bed. [This is very relevant for people who are low on storage and keep food under their bed.] However, Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20) wonders why the Shulchan Aruch would rule like the Yerushalmi and disregard the ruling of the Gemara in Pesachim. He therefore explains that it makes more sense to say that the Shulchan Aruch does rule in accordance of the Gemara in Pesachim and that he agrees that one may not store raw food under one’s bed.
3. Indeed, the Chochmas Adam writes that he heard that the Vilna Gaon zt”l ruled that one may not eat raw food that was stored under one’s bed. The Pischei Teshuva writes that this is supported by the Gemara in Bava Basra (58a), which states that a Torah scholar should keep only his shoes under the bed, Rashi explaining that this is because of the ruach ra’ah which dwells on food. This Gemara implies that only shoes should be placed under the bed and not any form of food, even if the food is raw.
4. However, other authorities maintain that the evil spirit does not rest on inedible raw food. The Gaon of Butchetch zt”l, in his Sefer Mili D’Chasidusa (548) writes that “there is more room to be lenient regarding raw food that still needs to be cooked.” Similarly, the pirush Imrei Shmuel writes that only cooked food or edible raw foods are vulnerable to the evil spirit. However, raw foods (that are currently inedible) may be placed under one’s bed. The Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 116:11) cites both views and he writes that “the common custom is to rule leniently regarding raw food and ‘shomer pesaim Hashem.’”
5. The Beis Yosef and Shach rule that the evil spirit rests on food under the bed even if the food is covered. As the Gemara states, “the evil spirit rests on these foods even if they are enclosed in a vessel of iron.” It would seem that the same law would apply if the food is sealed. Indeed this is the view of the Ben Ish Chai, Pri Hasadeh and Sdei Chemed. However, the Misgeres Zahav writes that if the food is sealed it is permissible. The Gemara was referring to food merely covered with a metal vessel, if the food was sealed it is permissible. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue and rules that initially one should rule in accordance with the strict view of the Ben Ish Chai and not place sealed food under the bed. However, b’dieved, if the food was placed under the bed and there will be even a limited financial loss (hefsed muat) by discarding the food, one may partake of the food. (see Yabia Omer 4 O.C. 5:6)
6. Harav Binyamin Zilber zt”l that one should not place food under a sofa if one occasionally sleeps on the sofa (Az Nidberu 7:73). According to Harav Zilber zt”l the prohibition applies to any food stored under an area that someone slept on even though it is not specifically designated for sleep. The Sefer Binyan Olam cites a similar ruling from the Vilna Gaon. He writes that the Vilna Gaon forbade eating sugar that was stored in a box that someone slept on. However, the Sefer Shaarei Rachamim (156) cites the ruling of the Binyan Olam and comments that “this is not in line with those who maintain that the evil spirit only rests under a bed that is designated for sleep.”
7. The Gaon of Butchetch zt”l writes that perhaps the whole problem only applies to beds on which a married couple has relations. Food stored under the bed of a single person would be permitted. It seems that the Vilna Gaon and Harav Zilber (cited in the previous halacha) do not agree with this view as they prohibit food under a sofa or a box that one slept on even though those are not surfaces that are designated for marital relations.
8. As cited above (Previous Post) the Toras Chaim explains that the evil spirit that rests under the bed is akin to corpse contamination and stems from the sleep of the person, which is a sixtieth of death. Therefore, argues Harav Chaim Palag’i (Lev Chaim 66) and the Sefer Nahar Mitzraim (page 81b), the evil spirit only exists if the food was under the bed while someone slept on the bed. If however someone stored food under the bed during the day (while no one slept there) there is no concern.
9. However, the Ohr Yitzchak (14) and Pri Hasadeh (1:4) write that initially one should not place food under a bed at any time even if one is not sleeping on the bed. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (1 Y.D. 9) writes that initially one should rule stringently and not place food under a bed at any time. If however, the food was placed under the bed while no one was sleeping on it the food is permissible. He then adds that this is in disagreement with the sefer Ein Habdoilach who writes that if food was placed under a bed at any time the food must be thrown away.
10. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l cites the Yafeh Lalev, Mizmor L’David and Harav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l who maintain that the evil spirit rests on the ground under the bed. Therefore, one may place food between the pillow and the mattress. Harav Zonenfeld zt”l also rules that if one slept with food in his pockets the food is permissible. However, it seems that Harav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector zt”l (Ein Yitzchak 24) disagrees since he writes that the evil spirit rests on foods that are placed under the head of the person who is sleeping.
11. The poskim debate whether the evil spirit rests upon food that is placed under the bed of a non-Jew. According to the Teshuros Shai, Pri Hasadeh and Shulchan Chai rule that the food is permissible. However, the sefer Degel Efraim (cited by the Sefer Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 61) writes that the bed of a non-Jew is the same as the bed of a Jew for this halachic discussion.
12. Many authorities maintain that one may place food under a crib or child’s bed. (Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh page 62)
13. The Tzitz Eliezer (10:35) discusses whether one may place food under a bed on a boat. He writes that there may be room to be lenient. He cites the Yafeh Lelev who explains that the evil spirit rests on the ground under the bed. And that if the ground is covered with beams and stones one may be lenient since those materials separate between the food and the ruach ra’ah. Therefore, argues the Tzitz Eliezer, on a boat there is no real “ground” and the evil spirit may not apply. He adds that although the common custom is not to follow the view of the Yafeh Lelev and we assume that the evil spirit applies even if the ground is paved. That is only because the pavement is considered part of the ground and does not separate the food from the “ground.” However, in a boat where there is no connection between the inside of the boat and the surface of the ocean floor one may rule leniently according to all materials.
If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@.
Rabbi Zakutinsky recently published a halacha sefer in English (with helpful Hebrew footnotes) addressing the laws and customs of the Jewish wedding, from the engagement period through shana rishona. Written for laymen and rabbis alike, The Gates of Joy elucidates and explains the halachos and customs of Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Chassidim, including Chabad Chassidim. See a sample of The Gates of Joy here and email firstname.lastname@example.org to order. Say you saw it on OU Torah for a 25% discount!