Tag: Ben Pekuah
Where is Beis HaTalmud (Lakewood Kollel in Melbourne) on RMG Rabi issues?
I don’t frequent this Kollel, so there may have been a learned treatise published from its Rabbis which address RMG Rabi’s broad-shouldered pronouncements on grave Kashrus issues. I do know that the Rosh Kollel there takes his Halachic advice from Rabbi Heinemann.
I’d like to think that an institution that pays its members to sit and learns all day and is supported by various, actually has an opinion and is ready to publish this somewhere; all other groups have disavowed themselves of RMG Rabi’s Kashrus Business, including the Haredi Adass through Rav A.Z. Beck, Rav Schachter from the OU, Chabad, and leading Haredi Poskim in Israel. There can be no doubt that some of the few who do eat based on Rabi’s supervision attend a Shiur at Beis HaTalmud.
If a place of learning is silent and doesn’t publish halacha, then one has to wonder what the value of pilpul that never ends with a definitive full stop is worth? Many Gedolim, such as R’ Chaim Brisker thought that pilpul was a waste of time, as is well-known.
I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume this isn’t some mysterious case of misplaced diplomacy gone wrong. שתיקה כהודאה?
If anyone has an analysis coming out of that Kollel, I’d be pleased to read it.
The time has come: I do not recommend anyone rely on R’ Gershon Meir Rabi for kashrus
Ben Pekuah is now done and dusted. RMG Rabi, has once more shown his עקשנות but more to the point, his lack of consideration for the advice given by the גדולי הוראה in the world. It’s just a shame that the dismemberment of RMG Rabi’s business has to come from outsiders. In this case, it is Rabbi Yair Hoffman of the five towns. I will reproduce yet another interchange between RMG Rabi and Rabbi Yair. It concludes with a video (we have to resort to videos so that words aren’t twisted and tortuously reinterpreted where R’ Chaim Kanievsky, who whilst not my Posek, is from the Gedolay Horoah, say the words בהחלט … absolutely (not) … in his assessment of RMG Rabi’s investment project and supervision venture with Stephen Bloch and others (who I thought should have realised that they were not backing a winner). The money invested would better have been spent on Charity.
The following video of Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter (who does not support RMG Rabi and directly interchanged with him on a person to person basis). It is important to internalise what Rav Schachter says. It makes it very clear about the types of Musmachim and Gedolay Horoah one should seek on grave questions. Listen very carefully.
The latest interchange from five towns follows. I would urge those with true יראת שמים to distance themselves from each and every one of RMG Rabi’s business forays into Kashrus. There is nothing altruistic in what I interpret. It is opportunism of an unacceptable variety, ועתיד ליתן דין וחשבון, on his activities which hurt the community and those struggling to keep Kosher Businesses acceptable to all, בלי פקפוק from keeping their noses above water.
I’d suggest that RMG Rabi perhaps take a degree in the Law. He will likely meet realities despite his tortured logic that rejects his arguments and dismisses them summarily.
Ben P’Kuah – The Battle Rages On
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
The following represents a letter that the consulting Rabbi of the Ben Pekuah Meat concern in Australia, Rabbi Meir Rabi, wrote in response to the Five Towns Jewish Times article last week on the topic of Ben Pekuah. Rabbi Yair Hoffman has written a point by point response. In addition, a letter was written by Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita, agreeing with Rabbi Hoffman’s point. Below is Rabbi Rabi’s letter.
We appreciate the opportunity to add some information to clarify last week’s article about BP.
A] Our primary objective is to welcome those who are sympathetic but not currently committed to eating kosher meat, either because of its cost, or because the choicer cuts aren’t available.
RYH Response: While that may be what you say, the fact that the promotional material includes letters and photos with Chareidi Rabbis, many of which were done without their permission, is indicative of a campaign to also get the Chareidi target market.
B] All our BP are derived from those that originated as non-fully-gestated babies.
RYH Response: The distinction between fully gestated and the 8 month calf which forms the underpinnings of this entire venture is a debate in the Poskim, with many Poskim holding it is prohibited. The Rambam holds that there is no such distinction and so do the Baalei HaTosfos in tractate Shabbos 135a (“Ben”). The uestion is whether it is fair to market such a product even to Jews who are less observant. Furthermore, the Ramah writes elsewhere that we do not distinguish between ben ches and ben tes anymore.
I believe that you making a halachic error in thinking that the offspring of a ben ches BP is treated like a BP ben ches and not a ben tes once it has walked on the ground. This, it seems, is what you are basing your entire edifice upon.
Lastly, the very thought of specifically harvesting a fetus prematurely in order to raise and breed its offspring is halachically untenable as well as perhaps morally questionable..
C] BP is markedly less expensive than and superior to ordinary kosher because
• every ounce of meat of every animal that is Shechted is Glatt Kosher LeMehadrin
RYH Response: The term Glatt when used colloquially means a higher quality of kashrus and does not exclusively refer to the smoothness of lungs anymore. The fact that this meat is only kosher according to a combination of a minority opinion combined with two obscure readings of texts makes this statement somewhat misleading.
In addition, as mentioned in our first article, the London Beis Din has requested that Rabbi Rabi take down the letter from the London Beis Din on his website that gives the impression of support. They claim that the letter was only meant to help you get a job in hashgacha and you had used this letter to support his own hechsher and to have it reflect on Ben Pekuah. They have said its use is dishonest.
When I brought up the issue in conversation with Mr. Bloch he said that this has nothing to do with the company as they are not displaying the London Beis Din letter of approbation. In fact, the company brochure, which the 5TJT has now gotten hold of displays the London Beis Din letter prominently. This is a questionable practice.
• checking the lungs for ritual blemishes is not required – a great time, money and personnel saving
RYH Response: Most smaller shechitas have only one processing line with one experienced bodek. This is probably the case in the abattoirs used in your area as well. Thus, the line would not be slowed at all and the personnel savings would be of one employee.
• in ordinary Kosher such blemishes regularly disqualify up to 66%
RYH Response: Actually, my research is that it is more like 25 to 35 percent. This is especially true in Australia where the cows are much healthier than elsewhere.
• no need to remove Cheilev and Gid [the forbidden fats and sciatic nerve] – a tremendous saving
RYH Response: The issue of Chailev is also not so clear cut. All seem to hold that the chailev must be removed, rather there is a debate as to whether this obligation is biblical or on account of maris ayin.
The reason why you may have thought that there is no need to remove the chailev is that in SA 64:2 it appears to only mention hifris al gabei karka, walking on ground, in relation to Ben tes. You assume that it doesn’t apply to children of a Ben ches or your Ben ches that gets saved. But perhaps the real reason that it only mentions it in relation to Ben tes is because that is the only one that survives.
A Ben ches that is removed and survives can very well be considered a Ben tes! Furthermore, once a cow is walking around, whycan;t we assume the maris ayin would be there regardless of the origin of the cow. And how can you categorically state that the opinion that holds Ben tes Chailev is Doriso will not hold the same for progeny of a Ben ches or the Ben ches itself that somehow was saved and grew to birth age? The issue is about possibly feeding chailev to others.
• there is no risk these painstaking tasks are performed hurriedly and incompletely
RYH Response: According to the simple readings it would be uite risky.
• BP animals are processed as efficiently as non-Kosher animals
• BP requires far fewer Kosher staff
• ordinary Kosher production runs slower, is less efficient, and requires more staff
• tereifos from ordinary Kosher sold to the non-Kosher market only fetch non-Kosher prices. Their extra production costs cannot be recovered.
RYH Response: In this list you list 9 reasons why your meat is substantially cheaper than the standard kosher meat. But most Kosher shechita is done at the gentile slaughter facility and a kosher production team is brought in. The team will number between 3 and 5 people. The cost per day of this team is about $2200 per day. But if this number is spread out over the total edible poundage of the slaughter that day (say the product of 100 cows at 850 pounds divided by 2 for bone and fat loss and halved again), the additional cost is less than ten cents more– yes, less than 10 cents more on the wholesale level. So what then is the extra cost in kosher production? It is the distribution system, the markups of all the middle people and the standard aspects of economics that would apply to all businesses. The nine points that are made here are a drop in the bucket and perhaps are not the real reason that kosher meat is higher.
D] In previous generations kashering and removing prohibited cheilev fats and gid was performed at home so BP offered no real benefit whereas modern meat processing presents tremendous challenges and costs to Kosher. Today BP offers tremendous benefits.
RYH Response: An honest system of reliably tracking and reliably keeping tabs on BP herds would also involve expenses. Outsourcing this system to a gentile firm and outsourcing crucial aspects of overseeing the kashrus involved to a gentile firm is fraught with missteps. Assurances of reliability here notwithstanding, the fact is that we were not yet able to obtain assurances of your organization’s kashrus integrity from any of the three major kashrus organizations in Australia nor from the London Beis Din despite their letter being on your own website. Indeed, on the contrary, we have received and viewed letters demanding that you take down these letters from your website and you have not complied with them.
E] Chazal did not ban or even discourage cultivating herds of BP notwithstanding the potential problem that animals with partial BP Yichus cannot be Shechted.
The Gaonim Rav Sherira and Rav Hai certainly took precautions to prevent such risks when they cultivated their BP herds for feeding the community [R Chaim Kanievsky explained they did this simply to promote awareness of BP] but clearly these were unremarkable since no mention or fuss is made about them.
RYH Response: With due respect, no mention is made anywhere of herds that Rav Shrirah Gaon and Rav Hai Gaon cultivated. They had a few Ben Pakuahs. There is no evidence that they cultivated herds of Ben Pakuahs.
We have very strict safety and security systems, including DNA to verify and guarantee the purity of all our BP which is documented and confirmed by an independent auditor as are all our protocols.
RYH Response: There are two issues here. Firstly, when dealing with DNA there needs to be a trust of the person in charge. Thus far, we have been unable to find Rabbis in your community that stand behind your supervision – even on ice cream – and certainly for meat. The second issue deals with the DNA parameters. Rabbi Yaakov Roza is one of the top experts in the field of DNA testing and halacha. He states that the halachic criterion is to match 200 of the 500 DNA parameters in order to create a DNA umdana. Your process matches 12 of 25 DNA parameters.
F] Halacha accepts the legitimacy of non-Jewish experts due to their need to maintain their integrity and reputation.
RYH Response: This is not true on issues of meat. A kfailah has ne’emanus on taste, but not for matters having to do with supervising meat.
The material collected from the Shechted animals for DNA analysis is overseen by Rabbi Rabi.
G] DNA is vastly superior to double seals required for meat which is in the control of a Goy [ShA-YD-118] Furthermore, considering Rabbi Hoffman’s confirmation that authentic Kosher seals are fairly readily available, one must seriously question their reliability [the OK reports; “Our Mashgiach sent the meat back and was shocked to observe the (non-Jewish) driver applying other Kosher seals he had on the truck to those same boxes of meat”]
DNA provides the most powerful tool on earth to prevent substitutions and guarantee the integrity of Kosher meat. The Israeli media reports “Only 15,600 tons of 35,000 tons of non-Kosher meat imported during 2007 to 2009 for the Palestinian Authority, reached its stated destinations. 56% just “disappeared.” State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote, “There is a concern that it was smuggled into Israel and lucratively sold as Kosher meat”
H] The Pesukim in the Torah, and the argument Ubbar Yerech Imo – a foetus is deemed to be akin to a limb of the mother, fail to explain or provide foundation for the ruling that all future generations of purebred BP are also BP. The Gemara and Rishonim see no need to explain it, as though it is self-evident.
Indeed, R Chaim Kanievsky explained – obviously species replicate themselves and since BP is a species unto itself it requires no Passuk or Derasha to know that it replicates itself.
RYH Response: You are quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky, but he and Rav Shteinman and Rav Karelitz and two other gedolim signed a letter saying that commercial BP production is forbidden. The Five Towns Jewish Times published this letter last week. Why is this being ignored?
Furthermore, we now have a video of Rav Chaim wondering what happened to you [in other words, that you have gone completely off the deep end]. His grandson then asked the question, “Is what he is doing wrong?” Rav Chaim responds, “Certainly!”
We also have a letter here from Rav Hershel Schachter of the OU saying that the approach of the requirement of shechita being not a full fledged requirement is incorrect, and thus any allowing of stunning before the shechita would make the meat treif.
I] Just as deer meat may be cooked with dairy since Basar-BeChalav is restricted to the species of BeHeimah which excludes Chayos, like deer, so too BP is not a BeHeimah and may be cooked with dairy.
RYH Response: In order to respond to this, we must take off the kid gloves. Not one Rishon or acharon mentions that BP meat is pareve in 1600 years. You have an inference that you make in one sefer (which you admit has alternative readings) that you have extrapolated to say this very explosive idea. In addition, there is not a posek in America, Australia, or Eretz Yisroel that has ruled in this manner – it is simply untenable.
R Moshe Sternbuch, quoting the Meshech-Chochmah, unequivocally declares that BP meat may be cooked with dairy – השחיטה מתיר בבן פקועה ושרי בחלב – the Shechitah [of the mother] permits the BP and it may be cooked with milk. [MoAdimUzManim Vol-4 Chapter-319]
RYH Response: No, these sources are referring to the milk because it is considered chalav shechuta milk of a slaughtered animal.
J] Rabbi Hoffman had access to all R Chaim’s correspondence prior to publication of his article as well as the details of a renowned Posek who endorses and has eaten our BP meat.
RYH Response: Following the principles of due diligence, each item and name that you have presented must be confirmed. Thus far, I have been unable to confirm one citation or quote. Those that have responded to my inquiries have had slightly different stories than that which was presented. The renowned posek you cite also must have instructed you to remove his name from your website, which you did take down but a few days ago.
The Rav Chaim correspondences, are working with a different reading than yours as can be seen from the letter that he signed along with the other four Gedolim, and from the video that we have. YH
Rabbi Meir G Rabi, Consulting Rabbi, AK Ben Pekuah Pty Ltd
The author of the responses can be reached at email@example.com
Watch the video below:
Ben Pekuah again–Sigh
This latest post, which can be seen here, is verbatim.
The New Commercially-Produced Ben P’kuah Meat
(Thursday, January 7th, 2016 10:52 AM)
rav chaim kanievsky[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times]
There is a new type of meat, called Ben Pekuah Meat, that is about to enter the kosher consumer market, and it is stirring up some serious controversy, particularly in Boro Park. It seems that the Hebrew language Mishpacha had recently run an article on Ben P’kuah meat and has also published an alleged ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita. The Hebrew Yated had also run a piece on it. Two Rabbonim in Brooklyn have brought up the issue to this author, and have asked that the matter be investigated.
The meat is coming out of a company in Australia. But questions abound, both on the nature of Ben P’kuah and on the specific company producing it. What is this meat? Who are the people that are behind this initiative? What are the underlying issues?
BEN P’KUAH MEAT
A Ben P’Kuah or BP is an unborn calf that is found in the womb of its mother that was just slaughtered. The Gemorah in Chullin 69a states that such a foetus does not require its own slaughter. The Mishna in Chulin 74a records a debate between Rabbi Meir and the sages regarding a fully matured calf. Rabbi Meir holds that it does require its own slaughter, while the sages hold that it does not – on a biblical level. There are two types of BP – the first is that of a foetus that was not fully formed – to which even Rabbi Meir agrees that Shechita is not required. The second type is when it reached maturity. There, Rav Meir holds that Shechita is required – biblically. The sages disagree.
There seems to be three sources as to why the BP is exempt from Shechita. The Gemorah (69a) states that the verse “vekhol b’heimah” is the source. It is understood to mean that the entire animal can be eaten – even the foetus found inside. Later on (69b) the Gemorah returns to an original source called, “Behaima BaBehaima” that any animal within another animal is included in the original shechita. Finally, the Baal haMaor 70b understands it as falling under the rublic of “uber yerech imo – the foetus is considered a limb of its mother.”
THE CHAILEV AND VEINS
The Chailev and veins of a BP cow that is still in the cow are actually permitted (AH 13:2). The blood, however, still retains the prohibition of Dam Aivarim – blood absorbed into the limbs. There are essentially two reasons for the exclusion of the blood from the verse of “the entire animal” permitting it. 1] It is no different than any other organ of the slaughtered cow and 2] the verse only permits food that is generally eaten – blood is a liquid and is not in that category. There is a substantive difference between these two reasons. According to the first reason, ingesting the blood is a violation of a lav; according to the second reason, the ingestion of blood would involve the more stringent violation of Karais. After the calf’s legs hit the ground, the other items are forbidden on account of Maris ayin.
The repercussions of being a BP cow is that there is no concept of treifus. The animal does not need to undergo the rigorous inspection of lungs that regular cows have to go through.
DESCENDANTS OF BP COWS
One of the most fascinating and pertinent areas of the laws of Ben P’kuah cows is the fact that if a cow descends from two parents who are BP cows, the descendant cow also only requires Shechita miderabanan. If, however, a regular cow fathers a calf from a BP cow, the calf will remain non-kosher forever. In the Gemorah’s language, “ain lo takana l’olam.” The explanation is that it is considered to have a delay in the shechita process called “Shehiya.” How so? The cow is considered to be half-shechted and half regular. There is no greater delay in the shechita process than this and it is thus considered “shehiya.”
OTHER ASPECTS OF BEN P’KUAH
Many students of Chumash will recall the debate explained by many commentators between Yoseph and his brothers as to whether there is a prohibition of aiver min hachai regarding a Ben P’kuah. Yoseph held that before matan Torah, they are considered as bnei noach, and thus the original shechita of the ben p’kuah’s mother does not stop the biblical prohibition of aiver min hachai, eating the limb from a live animal. The brothers held that they were full-fledged Jews in this regard and that the mother’s shechita does remove the prohibition of aiver min hachai.
The Gemorah in Bava Kamma 106b discusses whether there is an obligation for a theif who steals a Ben Pkuah cow to repay 4 or 5 times the value of the cow, just like there would be an obligation if he had stolen a regular cow. There are also questions as to whether there is a prohibition of shechting a Ben Pkuah and its offspring on the same day. Another question is whether the Ben Pakuaj may be shechted on Shabbos or not.
WHO THEY ARE
This author has been in communication with the general manager of the company as well as the supervising Rabbi through email and telephone conversation. The company is based in Melbourne, Australia, and it has been, they claim, a project ten years in the making. The Rabbi associated with the company is Rabbi Meir Rabi, who has authored an article on the topic in the 35th volume of Techumim.
In this author’s opinion, the supervising Rabbi, Rabbi Meir Rabi, who authored the article in Tchumim, has made a serious error in his understanding of the nature of BP meat.
Rabbi Rabi seems to understand the BP animal as a new, different type of creature. He cites (in footnote 6 to his Tchumim article) the Meshech Chochma in Bereishis 18:8 as being of the opinion that BP meat is not fleishig. Rabbi Rabi then claims that Rav Moshe Shternbuch writes the same thing in his response Vol. IV #319. He further writes that he was told by Rav Shternbuch that according to all opinions the meat is pareve and that he was also told this by Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita.
However, it seems to this author that the Meshech Chochma is only saying that milk from a BP cow is not considered dairy, because it has the halachic status of a pre-shechted cow.
Milk from a shechted cow is only forbidden by Rabbinic decree, on account of maris ayin, but is biblically permitted. The Meshech Chochmah makes no mention of any possibility of the meat being considered pareve. Nor is there any such indication in Rav Shternbuch’s writings.
As far as the next two citations that Rav Shternbuch said that it is considered pareve as did Rav Chaim Kanievsky, there is no such indication in the rishonim or acharonim on the relevant Gemorahs, nor in the response, nor in the Poskim. It is difficult to conceive that such a view would have escaped mention in the nearly 1600 years since the Gemorah was written.
It is especially difficult to accept that Rabbi Shternbuch would say that all would agree that this is the case. I am conjecturing that Rabbi Rabi incorrectly understood both of these Gedolim.
This matter is so obvious that there is almost no need to show it, but Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his glosses to the Shulchan Aruch (YD 87:6) clearly shows that the only issue is the milk – not the meat. Rav Elyashiv zt”l in Kovetz Haaros al HaTorah (page 308) clearly indicates this too.
Although this is a substantive error, it would not, however, forbid Ben P’kuah meat. Why then bring it up? The reason is that a BP meat operation must ensure that no non-BP cow can mate with the BP cows. True, DNA testing is in the process, but a claim of DNA proven is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Someone else assuring me that DNA testing was done – is not necessarily foolproof and only boils down to one person’s assertions. Let us also realize that a BP cow can also ruin the cows in a regular herd from being kosher in the future. This is a grave responsibility when commercially producing so many BP cows.
This is not to say that theoretically DNA may not be used Halachically to ascertain crucial information. Indeed, a shiur delivered by Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst from Chicago carefully delineates the parameters of when DNA can and cannot be used.
How does the Australian religious community view Rabbi Rabi? A website called J-Wire reports as follows: “Rabbi Meir Rabi took over the reins of authorising foodstuffs from Rabbi Shlomo Rudszki, a former chief minister at Melbourne’s South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation. However, many members of the community do not recognise his Kosher VeYosher certifications and the dominant Kosher Authority has told J-Wire that whilst they are still checking Nestles and Peters ice cream products, there has been no decision made and they state that the products classified as Kosher by Rabbi Rabi are yet to pass their tests.”
However, inquiries have not found anyone that is aware of this claim, including Rabbi Rudski’s own children.
There is an organization called “Kosher Australia” belonging to the wider Orthodox community. They do not recognize or accept Rabbi M. Rabi. Their official position is that Nestle’s and Peters are not under an accepted hashgacha.
His website, kosherveyosher.com, lists an approbation from the London Beis Din. However when the London Beis Din was contacted for verification, the following reply was received.
“Dayan Abraham has asked me to send you a copy of a letter which he sent to Rabbi Rabi, over a year ago. In the light of this letter, he regards Rabbi Rabi’s continued use of his letter of recommendation to be dishonest. Regards, David Frei, Registrar, London Beth Din”
When speaking to the London Beis Din representative this author was told that the Dayan of the London Beis Din felt that Rabbi Rabi was undermining kashrus in Australia by his private hechsher and had requested, actually demanded, that he remove the letter back in 2007, 2010 and also in November, 2014. Rabbi Rabi completely ignored it.
Another fundamental question deals with how the entire operation of a Ben P’kuah shechita would be any cheaper. The animals must land on the ground in order to eventually sire progeny. Thus they are subject to a very rigorous deveining process. After consulting with industry experts, it seems that the differences in processing would not amount to a significant savings. Why then is the company embarking upon the entire idea. One industry expert suggested that perhaps it is a marketing idea designed to get buyers.
The author contacted the managing director of the company, Stephen Bloch, as well as the Rabbi, Rabbi Meir Rabi, and the following exchange of conversation took place:
Q: Where is this BP operation happening?
A: In Australia. Original shechita is performed in a private location. They have opted to set up a private location where all the equipment is required, built according to Dr. Temple Grandin.
Q: Has she been at the site?
A: No she has not been. We have an independent auditor that monitors the process.
Q: Are the owners, or the majority shareholders, religious Jews?
A: Some are. Some are not. But why should that make a difference?
Q: Because some people, particularly in New York, only purchase meat items from Sabbath observing Jews. They would not eat from a hechsher of which the owner of the establishment might be in a position to have any position of possible control over things.
A: We understand and appreciate that. And there have been numerous problems in kashrus even with such a system with shomer Shabbos owners. We, however, have a system in place that ensures the absolute integrity of the meat. On our website, we have the auditor’s report and a foolproof system in place. The auditor monitors everything and we even use DNA tracking to ensure that it is only this meat that is being used.
Is the auditor is an observant Jew?
No. He is not. But it is a guaranteed system. And creates a mirsas.
Q: Mirsas is a halachic tool that works regarding other foods, but it is not an effective halachic tool in regard to meat. Is there a Posaik that has signed off on this idea that a gentile auditor is equivalent to a mashgiach?
A: We do not use it as a mashgiach. It is no different than the simanim that all hashgachos use. I have in my possession the identifying material, plumbas stickers of hechsherim, of numerous hasgachos that were just left at the place and they never bothered to pick them up. Our integrity, our system, will inspire much more confidence.
Q: I too, have such a collection – from the top hechsherim as well. But let’s get back to this concept. Let’s assume even, for the sake of argument, that your system is one hundred times better than a regular hechsher. But do you have a posaik, other than yourself, that has signed off on this idea that a goyish auditing firm can be acting in the role as mashgiach in your foolproof system? Do you have a gadol or posaik that has seen this system and has approved of this system where the hashgacha is overseen by a gentile auditor?
A: We do. I have to speak to him whether I can use his name.
Q: Okay. I have two more topics to bring up.
[The next phase of the conversation was a debate as to the reading of the Meshech Chochma. Rabbi Rabi claimed that the Meshech Chochma must hold that it is pareve because otherwise the rabbinic prohibition of using Ben Pekuah milk would have kicked in. The author responded that if he held that it was pareve he would have said that and one cannot build an entire edifice based upon a question, and that there are numerous answers to that question. Perhaps there was no prohibition of maris ayin in the time of Avrohom Avinu because there were no other Jews, and this is just one possible answer.]
Q: I had contacted the London Beis Din and they said that they have repeatedly asked you to take down their letter on your hechsher’s website, and yet you refuse to do that. Don’t you feel that you are morally obligated to comply with their request?
A: Rabbi Rabi- Well, it depends on why they are requesting that they take it down.
Q: Let’s assume the worst possible reason for the sake of argument. Let’s assume that your competitors in the field of kashrus had actually gone as far as bribing the London Beis Din to get them to ask you to take it down. Don’t you feel a moral obligation to take down the letter?
A: No, I do not.
Q: I think that this is a serious error on your part – in terms of public relations.
A: Stephen Bloch- This actually has nothing to do with us, it is not on the Ben Pekuah site – it is on the Rabbi’s own website.
Q: Still, it does reflect on your company as well as long as he is your endorsing Rabbi.
A: Rabbi Rabi: I responded to the Dayan of the London Beis Din and said that I would be willing to take down the letter if he would provide the same letter to me on his own letterhead rather than that of the London Beis Din.
Q: Still, if I were you, I would comply as soon as possible with the request of the London Beis Din and not use a letter that they do not wish you to use.
Subsequent to this conversation, Rabbi Meir Rabi sent some written communications allegedly from Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita that purport to show that Rav Chaim Shlita holds that BP meat is, in fact, pareve.
This author has sent inquiries to Rav Chaim to verify the accuracy of this, as well as to Rav Shternbuch. We will print it in the future as soon as we hear the information.
There is also a letter that was signed by numerous Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel against the commercial production of Ben P’kuah meat because of numerous problems associated with it. The problems are that milk from a Ben Pkuah cow is forbidden midrebanan, it will lead to leniencies in other shechitas, and it is virtually impossible to have adequate supervision. The letter is signed by Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, Rav Nissim Karelitz and others as well. The letter signed by the Gedolim comes out against any commercial production of Ben Pekuah meat.
There has never been a commercial production of Ben Pekuah meat in recorded history since the time of the Gemorah. There are numerous reasons for this.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does a pure Tzadik like Rav Kanievsky need this?
My intention is not to give free airtime to business person and rabbinic authority R’ M.G. Rabi (RMG) of Australia and his newest venture (Ben Pekuah farming) although that is inevitable. Those who follow RMG as their Rabbi did so with his many controversial views and will continue to do so. Good luck to them. It is their right and their choice. In my estimation the majority of Torah Observant Jews will not ever rely on RMG’s decisions especially now for reasons that have been documented in many arenas.
On a recent overseas trip to seek agreement from authorities, RMG had many believe that he found approbation from the venerable 87-year-old sage Rav Kanievsky, son of the Steipler Gaon, and universally recognised as a pure Tzadik who sits and learns like no one else. Having heard this, including having personal direct knowledge of RMG’s words with acclaimed Halachists who refused his requests for support, I suspected, that Rav Kanievsky featured on RMG’s marketing and communication campaign. RMG has a habit of having his picture taken with a recognised Halachist.
Someone who has seen RMG’s media and communications arm still promoting Rav Kanievsky as a supporter, please let me know, especially if Rav Kanievsky’s name and face are still displayed and I will make sure that Rav Kanievsky is informed dispassionately via a third-party about the context of the use of his name and picture. Rav Kanievsky has a right to know.
Why do I say this? Because, like Rabbi Abraham from London and others who have found themselves superglued to RMG’s marketing, my view is that the number of respected Halachists who refuse to meet with him in the future will increase. This will not strengthen his position.
RMG will counter with “This is not the way of Halacha”. I do not know who gave RMG license to pasken (Smicha) so we cannot ask that Rabbi directly if this is his way as well and that he approves of the path RMG has chosen to take. It could be asked if that Rabbi is identified and still alive.Does anyone know who it was? If they are alive do they feature on RMG’s websites?
That being said RMG doesn’t have to follow his own Rabbi’s path as long as he is sure he is acting according to Shulchan Aruch. There have always been sole opinions in Judaism. Some opinions remain a Daas Yachid, when it is a respected Posek, others just disappear into the ether.
It is well-known now that Rabbi Kanievsky has explicitly not agreed to RMG and the venture. If RMG wants to argue that Rav Kanievsky was “manipulated” then I suggest RMG should never have gone to see him in the first place for approbation! There are many Halachists of note who are not elderly, well aware of the issues and capable of agreeing or disagreeing with him.
Those who followed him will follow him and likely have the attitude that
I can eat it, it’s on that Rabbi’s head not on mine if it turns out to be not permitted
If it is now in the public domain that Rav Kanievsky has explicitly signed against RMG Ben Pekua farms, will RMG remove Rav Kanievsky’s name and face from his marketing and communications?
If RMG does not, then I ask RMG is that “the way of Halacha” as RMG often writes and says. Categorically, and here there isn’t any question in my opinion, one must take down Rav Kanievsky from all marketing and communications campaigns in respect of RMG and his business investors foetus farms. One doesn’t even need to ask. Yiras Shomayim dictates it as does common decency.
I will mention a recorded and written event from a Rav who has influenced my life, the Grid, Harav Yosef Dov Halevi Soltoveitchik זצ’’ל (the Rav)
One of the Rav’s students, to whom he had given permission to make halachic judgements (that is, was already a Rabbi) came to see the Rav to ask a question about male and female equality in an aspect of one part of Torah/Rabbinic obligations and practices. The Rav listened to his question and (the best way I can describe it) heard it but did not listen. The questioner, presented a range of halachic reasons and presented his conclusion and sought the Rav’s agreement. Upon leaving the Rav’s house, one of those present asked the Rav “why didn’t you explicitly tell him that you disagree with his approach and conclusions”. The Rav answered in his sage and distinguished way words to the effect
“When he entered and began speaking, I realised that he hasn’t come to ASK me for my Halachic view on the matter. He had already made up his mind before he entered my house. When someone genuinely comes to ask my opinion, I will give it, but if someone comes to prove their Halachic opinion in my presence and I detect that they are not really interested in what I have to say on the matter: I could see that in this Rabbi.”
In response, the person said that “but your silence could be interpreted as agreement” (and this is a Talmudic dictum). The Rav responded that this might apply in a case where his lack of silence was actually listened to. However, this person was never going to listen to me or my opinion and was only interested to use my name as agreeing with him. That sort of person is entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t need mine, and I have nothing to say to him as a result.
Others may disagree and say the Rav should have acted like the common practice of Haredim and put out an open letter/poster disagreeing (the Rav did on choice public matters especially via the RCA and official positions) even against the opinion of his ex-students, who were now Rabbis of note. I’m guessing that the Rav didn’t feel this was to be used except for well-known broad policy issues because he did not feel he would be listened to based on letters or posters and the Torah would not be honoured in any way.
I think the Rav was arguably right. A day doesn’t go by without some ban or disagreement signed by Gedolim X, Y and Z plastered in the streets of religious cloisters within Israel and the diaspora. These are ignored by those who ignore such things, and listened to depending on the range of those who signed and the issue at hand and the reader.
That being said, if someone came to the Rav and simply asked a plain question he answered it. For example, some bugged the Rav about the Halacha of women’s head covering (the Rav’s wife didn’t wear one). The Rav, repeated and continued to repeat, “it is absolutely forbidden for a woman to go without a head covering”. The Rav was way too smart to be goaded. Another asked about dubious ways to repeal a marriage. The Rav came out strongly, and condemned the view as he saw it as dangerous. When someone came and said he was a Cohen and was in love with someone forbidden to the Cohen, the Rav said “you are forced to accept that it is forbidden, this is the Halacha”. There are many examples. He wasn’t a shrinking violet.
In conclusion, I think it is incorrect to place an alleged opinion of Rav Kanievsky, together with his picture for one’s business/supervisor/kashrus activities after Rav Kanievsky has explicitly signed onto a letter with other Poskim who disassociate themselves and are firmly in opposition to RMG’s Ben Pekuah farms.
For the sake of Kavod HaTorah, he should take anything using Rav Kanievsky down from his web site. It cannot be the halachic way to use what is in black and white, even if RMG claims he has something else in black and white from before. The Halacha is that the upper level is stronger תתאה גבר and the lower level the תחתון is inferior. This situation isn’t the case of בשר בחלב that I quoted, but it has all the hallmarks of at best a misunderstanding of Rav Kanievsky by RMG or RMG might wish to argue that Rav Kanievsky changed his views. Whatever the case, his view is explicit in the widely circulated letter. Those Poskim are firmly of the view that RMG should cease and desist from his venture.
Rav Kanievsky should however not feature any longer as someone supporting RMG. By all means let him find a bevy of respected Poskim who agree with him and explicitly write that they also approve of the Kashrus of that meat.
R’ Meir Rabi, Ben Pekuah Commercial Kashrus Venture and Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter
I am not here to discuss the laws of a Ben Pekuah. Look in Shulchan Aruch. Those who do not know about it (I’ve found it rather gross personally), let alone a commercialised farm of these, should discuss a commercialisation venture directly with their Rav who I expect will likely speak to a world-renowned kashrus expert.
I have mentioned R’ Rabi’s trips to various Rabbonim around the world, where he seeks their agreement to commercial projects he and his investors are involved in.
I have mentioned that the renowned world posek Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter, Chief Posek of the OU (with Rav Belsky) was displeased when I showed him a picture of himself and R’ Rabi from the day before, disbursed via the internet, as he had asked this not to be distributed via the net.
There is a danger that people would conclude that Rav Schachter was endorsing in any way R’ Rabi’s commercial kashrus projects or his stature. Rav Schachter is too nice a man to refuse a picture.
In that vein, I issue the following.
I have been in direct contact with Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter Shlita today, and he indicated that R’ Rabi had approached him about R’ Rabi’s plans for a commercial Ben Pekuah farm. Rav Schachter advised R’ Rabi clearly that in no way can Rav Schachter be involved or seen to be involved in such a venture, nor should anyone conclude such involvement by virtue of Rav Schachter’s picture appearing on web pages (without permission) or otherwise. The same applies to future communication that may be published by R’ Rabi with any pointer implied or otherwise regarding Rav Schachter.
Mori V’Rabbi advised R’ Rabi that he was in no way giving a Hechsher or even implied Haskomo to the concept. Nobody should conclude, therefore, that Mori V’Rabbi R’ Schachter is in anyway involved or has given approval to R’ Rabi’s commercial Ben Pekuah venture. There are many intricate and complex concerns about such a commercial project and these need very close and careful hands-on supervision by a knowledgeable expert, world-renowned Rav, who agrees specifically with each and all the details of R’ Rabi’s methodologies and particular supervision regime.
Rav Schachter does not endorse in any way, Rabbi Rabi’s commercial Ben Pekuah farm, and encourages those who do wish to avail themselves of produce from such a farm, to discuss that issue directly with a world-renowned expert Posek who is fully across all the details of the commercial farm.
The exact above words were read to Rav Schachter and he thanked me for ensuring that people would not be misled in any way.
The “solution” to the Bris conundrum
The Torah can be pesky can’t it? It makes us give a Bris to a male kid who is eight days old, without asking the kid, and then you have the arguments between Chassidim and Hungarians against the rest about Metzitza B’Peh. There have been tragic rare cases of kids dying from this and חמירא סכנתא מאיסורא
Now we have the western world attacking us that it’s also barbaric.
Ah, but the Torah has all the answers in it. We just have to be big halachic “authorities” with broad shoulders and use our brilliant minds and we’ve got the solution.
We know that the Halacha also states that someone who is born circumcised, doesn’t need to have a Bris. This is an unusual situation if you follow a normal world, with normal outcomes and have a normal mind. But we are modern now, we can do many things.
We have now isolated the gene that can cause a child to always be born in a way that they don’t need a bris. We can genetically perform a simple procedure even before marriage and dispense with the Bris Mila! All male kids will be born without the need for a Bris. Wow. How innovative. It’s sort of like dispensing with Shechita by making sure you create factories of Bnei Pekuah. Genius level.
Let’s find some entrepreneurial rabbis (to charge for overseeing the process and ensuring that we) eradicate the need for the concept of Bris Mila from our community over time so that every male child doesn’t need to have to have a Bris. Problem solved. Left wingers would love it. How brilliant, and you can make money from this by investing in the technology and then charging. Even Hatofas dam bris doesn’t cost much and nobody would worry about that small fee.
Imagine how popular you’d be with the left. You would not need to wait 8 days. The child wouldn’t cry. Mummy wouldn’t cry. Daddy wouldn’t squirm. Which genius rabbi will be behind this new technology? Did I hear you say that you can be נבל ברשות התורה. Well you can, but you are then described as a נבל.
Ah, big deal. As long as you can make a buck and pervert עולם כמנהגו נוהג. It’s rather easy to come up with nonsense. It’s harder to deal with the bearded ones who peddle it.
Don’t give them oxygen.
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