Meir Gershon Rabi’s latest venture: From Flesh to Milk

I heard about this probably a year ago or longer. The concept is far from new and has appeared in many halachic issues. For example: Dinei Yichud (being alone with someone of the opposite gender (or indeed same gender for someone who is Gay!).

First, an admission. In our family, we only drink mashgiach supervised Chalav Yisrael. Ditto for milk products, with the exception of a chocolate bar that is known to be from Milk powder (see Rav Frank in Har Tzvi, which is also accepted as normative in Israel by the Rabbinate).

The reason my family does this now is because I did it for about 7 years before I got married. Why did it I do it then? It wasn’t because I was a frumak who had returned from learning overseas and overturned his parent’s house and insisted on them making a range of changes because things weren’t “up to scratch”.

Absolutely not. I had and have no doubt so ever about any aspect of Kashrus in my parents’ home, where standard Australian Milk is and was used. Rather, in those days, in the early eighties, there were a group of people who did not accept the permission of the famed Chazon Ish*, R’ Moshe Feinstein, and others, that Milk in the US, and countries like Australia can be assumed as “supervised” as a聽non-Jew would be loath to breach Government regulations and introduce non cow’s milk. In Australia, they are particularly strict, as any visitor to this country trying to bring in an apple will know. Accordingly, I approached my mother, and asked permission聽if she minded that we have one bottle of milk that is humanly supervised by an assumed reputable Mashgiach in the house. I told her that my motive was to be another person who bought such products, so that the nascent business which was trying to produce traditional Chalav Yisrael would survive. I was somewhat altruistic, and even agreed聽to support Hungarians 馃檪 so that an alternative view could also exist from a business perspective by my small gesture. My mother accepted, and would make things Chalav Yisrael as she wanted me to be able to eat them, after I mentioned this.

What started as an altruistic notion, was also expressed explicitly at the time, and even now, in terms of the fact that聽I do not consider, based on reliable world-renowned Poskim, the Government milk (Chalav HaCompanies) as any less Kosher. I did not take a blanket Neder (vow). As such, I never had or have a question of Keilim (vessels). I simply do not consider such vessels聽Treyf in any way or form.

Unfortunately, come companies, such as Cadbury’s do use real milk, so the milk powder view mentioned above loses much value! In Israel the Rabbinate notes when overseas chocolates are made with Milk Powder.

Enter Meir Gershon Rabi (MGR). He wants to produce Chalav that is supervised, using a web cam style supervision. The supposition is that in addition to Government regulation, one could “see” (although technically that can be faked easily enough) that its real milk from a Cow. Now, of course, as is well-known, MGR, runs a private BUSINESS聽 from his Kashrus together with other investors. I would call them business entrepreneurs who use kashrut as their commodity. I have no doubt that MGR聽and his family did not聽rely on the Chazon Ish or R’ Moshe Feinstein, and instead bought the fresh Chalav Yisrael from Adass or the long life version.

So, MGR聽announces that he has put into place a series of cameras for surveillance of a farm or two so that “more” confidence in the source of the milk can be ascertained. I assume he either considers this as more Mirtas or real Hashgocho. Whatever.

I don’t understand the business model. People who are quite comfortable with the Chazon Ish and R’ Moshe Feinstein can buy any milk on the Kosher Australia app or web sites or publications. These are Kosher. They are not mehadrin according to those who don’t follow the Chazon Ish or R’ Moshe. Those who know, make their mind up.

Presumably, MGR聽wants to increase the “confidence” in the mehadrin status of the milk through cameras. My prediction is that those who need a physical set of eyes via a Yotzeh V’Nichnas (surprise occasional visit from Mashgichim) or a full-time Mashgiach (who also examined the cans before milking—ask whether聽MGR’s web cams do that). Those people, and there are many, will not engage in聽MGR’s supervision of anything. They don’t eat from his Hashgacha anyway, and I’d love to know if MGR聽will now bring this new milk (which is used in this way in Israel but not accepted as mehadrin by the OU and others) into his own house for his own wife and children and grandchildren.

The others who are happy with milk as listed in Kosher Australia don’t need to be bothered with his innovation. The milk in the Kosher Australia list is already deemed Kosher Milk. Why聽do they need MGR’s聽Camera Milk suddenly? Did he tell them they needed traditional Chalav Yisroel聽before his got his surveillance by video working?

At the end of the day I am puzzled by this from a business perspective (although there is an initial outlay). Who are the potential buyers of such milk? MGR聽and his business partners must feel there is a new market? 聽At the end of the day MGR’s business is聽a private company, and they will not allow the community to see their books or the money made from his聽Kashrus “innovations”.

I just don’t get it. There seems to be no money in it!

A much more pressing issue is聽the Kashrus of cows in general! One must ascertain that they haven’t had their lungs聽punctured because of stomach problems, by veterinarians, because their Milk would be Treyf even with human eyes. Perhaps MGR聽also uses web cams to scrutinise聽the veterinary procedures聽and records. [I’m told that in Australia these procedures are less likely than in the USA due to the quality and type of feed]

What have I missed?

* There have been revisionists who claim the Chazon Ish wasn’t serious about his view. He most definitely was. The rest is the type of revisionism beautifully described by Marc Shapiro in his “Changing the Immutable” and documented with great precision by HaGaon R’ Dovid Segal.

From Greenberg Art

 

This advice is shocking!

I cannot believe that female surgeons are giving other female internees this advice.聽Are males聽(still) that bad with sexism? I must be living in a fool’s paradise. The following is from the Age newspaper in Australia. Probably her intention was to shock everyone into realising this problem has not disappeared and something radical had to change, but I don’t think her advice is acceptable, either.

A senior surgeon has fired back at criticism that she’s offering “appalling” advice to young surgical trainees by suggesting they’re better off staying silent if they’re sexually assaulted by a colleague.

Dr Gabrielle McMullin, a Sydney vascular surgeon, said sexism is so rife among surgeons in Australia that young women in the field should probably just accept unwanted sexual advances because coming forward could ruin their careers.

The comments, made in an ABC radio interview after she helped launch a book about gender equality at Parliament House in Sydney on Friday night, triggered angry reactions from sex abuse and domestic violence campaigners.

“It’s a sad indictment on us and the community when this is what women are being advised to do to benefit their career,” said Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack.

Centre Against Sexual Assault Victorian spokeswoman Carolyn Worth called the advice “appalling” and “irresponsible” because perpetrators thrive on not being challenged about their behaviour.

“I would have thought highly trained professionals would be able to operate a better system than that,” she said. “I actually don’t think that’s acceptable advice in this day and age.”

But Dr McMullin stood by her comments on Saturday, saying it was pragmatic advice which exposed the ugly reality of rampant sexism in male-dominated profession.

“I am so frustrated with what is going on that I really didn’t care, didn’t think what the reaction would be,” she said.

“All the phone calls that I have received since are from women saying, ‘Yes, thank you’. It’s been hidden and suppressed for so long and it’s only when it comes out in the open that you can do something about it. So, I guess this is my attempt to air it.”

Dr McMullin referred to the case of Dr Caroline Tan, who won a 2008 sexual harassment case against a surgeon while she was completing surgical training at a Melbourne hospital. Dr Tan was vilified and has been unable to find work at any public hospital in Australasia despite the legal victory, she said.

“Her career was ruined by this one guy asking for sex on this night. And, realistically, she would have been much better to have …聽,” Dr McMullin said in the criticised ABC interview.

“What I tell my trainees is that, if you are approached for sex, probably the safest thing to do in terms of your career is to comply with the request; the worst thing you can possibly do is to complain to the supervising body because then, as in Caroline’s position, you can be sure that you will never be appointed to a major public hospital.”

When asked about those comments, Dr McMullin said: “Unfortunately, that’s true.”

She said new laws were needed to reward women for reporting sexual harassment rather than the current system of cash payouts and moral victories.

“My main advice would be do not put yourself in that situation, treat everybody as a potential attacker, and that’s a terrible thing to have to do,” she said.

Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone said he strongly disagreed with Dr McMullin’s advice to young women.

“This old view of acceptance needs to be eradicated,” he said.

“Sexual assault is a crime and will not be tolerated by our society. The medical profession is not exempt from this maxim.”

He said all public hospitals had procedures in place to allow employees to safely report everything from bullying to sexual assault. “There should not be negative consequences for reporting.”

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons released a brief statement saying there were strict measures in place to deal with harassment and abuse of any kind.

“The College actively encourages Trainees and Fellows to come forward in confidence with any such allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated,” a spokesman said.

Dr Tan did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Someone got angry with products that have a Halal symbol

I was sent this for comment (I’ve deleted most of the bits which aren’t relevant and may be legally problematic)

A Halal certification stamp?!?! Seriously???… 聽It’s bad enough that sometimes I am eating an Australian owned product and I see the Halal symbol, and believe me I try very hard to avoid this ….

….

Most people would be concerned about the price of Kosher and Chalav Yisrael goods. Those for whom it is an issue (the price differential), with respect to the latter they may choose to rely on the Chazon Ish, R’ Moshe Feinstein, and the Pri Chadash and more to drink today’s Chalav Stam in a civilised country. An answer to prices is often competition.

On the issue of Halal, I have to say it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’d like to think that if it increases sales in any way, then this will be reflected in a reduction in price for those who cannot rely (for whatever reason) on those who think there is nothing wrong with Chalav Stam in Australia and elsewhere. They certainly have who to rely on. Those with a Kabbalistic bent have other considerations.

Jewish Spite filled Anti Semites

[Hat tip SH]

The Heimlich family is an honourable family in Adass Yisrael, full of Talmidei Chachomim, born and bred in the Charedi (hungarian) community in Melbourne, Australia. One of the sons, is a renowned Posek to whom most Adass folk turn to for their Sheylos today. He sits in the Gerrer Shitibel daily and learns, and is a fine man.

One brother Nachum is a Rosh Kollel in Satmar. You can hear his vituperative and spite filled anti zionist/jewish speech on youtube, where he tells the non Jews that we don’t need a country, we don’t need an army etc and publicly criticises Israel. To Nachum I say, come back to Australia. Your place isn’t in Israel. Why torture yourself by staying there.

Pull out, I say. Get your kinsman out of Israel. Cross the border into Ramallah. Go live there in peace and harmony. Get the heck out of Israel. It’s really Avi Avos HaTumah for you and means nothing to you. Get lost!

Shame on you Rabbi Nochum Tzvi Heimlich on the youtube (listen at about 10:42) The Australian accent is unmistakeable. What a Chillul Hashem. Remove your sackcloth, and come wear Australian sheepskin.

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 11.23.41 pm

I call on his brother in Melbourne to condemn his statements. I doubt it will happen any more than the clandestine visits of Rabbi Beck to his infamous extremist brother.

We in Melbourne are fools for supporting and allowing these extremist elements to take our money through their various businesses. Next time you deal with one, ask him whether he supports Satmar and Toldos Aron or similar. This is a Shandeh.

I call on Adass to distance itself explicitly in the press from these extremists and condemn them and their sentiments.

Improving the management of Kashrus in Melbourne

The Mizrachi Organisation is to be congratulated and commended for the incredible amount of time and money that they have put into Kashrus in Australia. Starting from 诪讜专讬 讜专讘讬, 聽 Rav Abaranok 讝’诇 the move over time to align standards with the world respected and renowned OU is something we should all celebrate and not criticise. Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, and his team, of late, together with the lay committee are responsible for the thick booklet we now have.

It is true that life would be a lot easier if all Australian products had a Universal Symbol for Kashrus, and if the Sydney Kashrus Authority also adopted the OU standards across the board. My feeling is, and I haven’t discussed this with Rabbi Moshe Gutnick and could be completely wrong, that Sydney tend to adopt the standards of the London Beth Din. These are legitimate, of course, but, to me, the OU is the best hechsher in the world. To appreciate the quality of OU, one only needs to listen to the OU Kashrus Q and A videos from both Poskim, Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Yisroel Belsky and listen to the array of shiurim from the Kashrus experts across a wide array of issues.

I have spoken to both Poskim in the past, and I am in awe of their 讬讚讬注转 讛转讜专讛 (knowledge of Torah). In the case of Rav Schachter (only because I have had a little more interaction and listen to his shiurim regularly) his 讙讚诇讜转 in 诪讚讜转 讟讜讘讜转 (moral fibre) is also inspiring. Rav Schachter is eminently approachable. It is one of my disappointments that nobody sponsors a Kollel Week of nightly Shiurim in Melbourne with someone like a Rav Schachter. Chabad, understandably invite their own, and I don’t even know if Beis HaTalmud does these sorts of things much since Rabbi Nojowitz departed and the new regime took over. Any 聽讙讘讬专讬诐 聽(financially comfortable people) out there want to sponsor something like this? Melbourne would be bedazzled by the Halachic clarity that Rav Schachter transmits. He isn’t the only one, of course. I’d be equally happy to hear Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg or Rav Usher Weiss. The latter travels to South Africa and the States quite often for lectures. I have also spoken with Rav Usher Weiss, and he too is an 注谞讬讜 (humble) and a 讙讚讜诇 讘转讜专讛 (great knowledge of Torah) who is most unassuming. I’d say he is less likely though to stand out on some issues, even though his analysis often makes you think he thinks something is indeed 诪讜转专 (permitted) when he finally paskens it’s 讗住讜专 (forbidden). 聽Rav Schachter, however, seems to have a more Brisker approach to Psak and concludes according to his understanding: 聽for example, he 聽has said that showering on Yom Tov is permitted (albeit not using very hot water), something I have personally felt was 诪讜转专 for over 30 years, but I am digressing (as usual).

A personal testimony.

I was a fill in representative for Elwood Shule many moons ago at the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria. The topic of the then Mizrachi Kashrus arose. Indeed, it was brought to the table by Mizrachi. There was also a prior proposal around the same time, I believe it may have even been authored by (now) Adjunct Professor Harry Reicher, then of Melbourne, where the lay body was to take over the financial and administrative oversight of 聽kashrus, beis din and involve all groups (even Adass). Without going into the details of the plan, I clearly recall the Mizrachi delegate, Mr John Kraus, speak to details depicting the financial loss incurred by the Mizrachi Organisation in continuing to run Kashrus. He was very keen for the COSV to take over. The COSV debated the issue, did its sums, and came back with a positive response. I remember feeling that this was going to be a momentous outcome for the community. Why, indeed, should Mizrachi have to bear the burden? Inexplicably, just as the “deal was to be done”, Mr Kraus returned to the COSV and suddenly and surprisingly announced that Mizrachi had withdrawn the offer and would continue to oversee the operation. I am not privy to Mizrachi’s thinking at that point.

I don’t see Adass as a practical partner in any future Kashrus organisation or Beth Din or anything of that sort. They are separatist, and have a right to stay that way. They don’t change. They are effectively a hamlet and organisation to themselves. Each to their own.

All non Adass shules, including Shteiblach and the like, should join the COSV and pay dues. There is an important role for a COSV and it’s not satisfactory that some congregations contribute, while others do not.

My brother-in-law, Romy Leibler, did a great job reforming the lay (financial) arm of the Beth Din together with Meir Shlomo Kluwgant. I think it’s way past the time for the COSV to do the same through quiet diplomacy with Mizrachi. Melbourne will grow when this happens. In my opinion, such a move is more important than dealing with alternative, and so deemed “enlightened” kashrus supervision that we have seen sprouting lately and which is diverting us from the main game of communal accountability and reform.

What say you?

PS. Some of you may know that there is an esteemed Kashrus Organisation called the cRc聽(Chicago Rabbinic Council), which is headed by the respected Av Beis Din of the Beth Din of America, 聽Rav Gedalya Dov Schwartz. They were in the press recently with their analysis of the Kashrus of Starbucks. On Pesach, you may have notice another organisation, who name themselves CRC聽(Central Rabbinic Congress聽which I think is more than cheeky), who approve various products, including the “Glicks” line of products from overseas. CRC is not cRc. CRC is affiliated with Satmar and the Eida Charedis. They feature, infamously, on this page聽under Jews against Zionism. Pick your products in my view. If I have a choice, I will always use OU and avoid the anti zionist Eida Charedis and their ilk.