Question: Do I need to avoid eating Kingsmill Bread and Ryvita® crackers during the aseres yemei teshuva?
Answer: The Gemara (Avoda Zara 35b) writes that in order to protect the Jewish community and prevent assimilation with non-Jews, chazal instituted that we mustn’t eat certain foods prepared by non-Jews. One of these was pas akum, bread baked by a non-Jew. Tosafos (ibid) writes that according to the Talmud Yerushalmi, the ban on bread was lifted, as it was too restrictive to limit such a staple food.
The Shulchan Aruch (YD 112:2) writes that while one may never buy bread from a non-Jewish ‘home baker’, one may buy from a commercial baker (pas palter) when there is no local Jewish baker. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 112:17) writes that when the local Jewish baker’s bread is as good, one should only buy that.
The Rema (ibid; Toras Chatas 75:1) writes that one may buy pas palter even when there is a local Jewish baker (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 38:1).
R’ Moshe Feinstein (YD 2:33) writes that if one likes the taste of factory bagels better than the local bakery, one may eat it. He warns, however, that factory bread may contain non-kosher ingredients and it isn’t enough just to ask them what it contains.
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:596) writes that R’ Moshe Feinstein held that bread baked in modern factories can be eaten, and wouldn’t even be considered pas palter (See Igros Moshe YD 4:48:5). R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 6:108:6) writes that preferably one should buy from one’s local Jewish baker.
The poskim write that one should be meticulous in their observance during the aseres yemei teshuva (See Baer Heitev 603:1).
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 603:1) writes that one who eats pas palter during the year, should refrain from eating it during the aseres yemei teshuva.
The Levush (OC 603) explains that this should remind us of the holiness of these days. The Chayei Adam (143:1) writes that just we have gone above and beyond in halacha, so we ask Hashem to go above and beyond in judging us favourably.
Based on the above, R’ Moshe Feinstein seemingly would allow one to eat Kingsmill Bread and Ryvita® crackers during the aseres yemei teshuva, though others, including R’ Shmuel Wosner wouldn’t.
Certainly, though, where one has an equal choice, one should, as the Aruch Hashulchan writes, opt for the bread baked by one’s local Jewish baker.
Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4) writes that during the aseres yemei teshuva, one should give extra tzedaka, do extra good deeds and mitzvos. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 603:2) warns against taking on certain chumros during this time, as doing so may necessitate that they continue observing it. Instead, he urges that one examine their actions and do teshuva.