The ‘phenomenon’ never sleeps

Fresh from his many years of strangulating a letter from Dayan Abraham for his benefit and refusing to take it down ….

Over here in the USA I met Mori VRabbi Rav Schachter. I showed him a picture of the Machshir and business partner of ‘it’s not treyf’ a day after said Person had been to see him and asked permission to take the picture. Rav Schachter agreed provided it wouldn’t be used on his websites. So, what did he do? He went against Rav Schachter and did post the picture on his Facebook page. Splitting hooves again? How much chutzpah can one have?

I was at a day long Yarchei Kalla at YU which was fantastic.

The machshir is going around getting support for his Bnei Pekuah farm.

Don’t be fooled. it’s all under his hashgocho only and not the Rabonim who he seeks to Hob nob with, and then publish his face with theirs together with their views on the theory (which is old and which he has been discussing on the net about for about 6 years)

I had to stop him using his picture as a Gravatar with Rav Belsky because It’s Gneivas Daas on my own blog. Why isn’t he in a picture with his mum and dad?

Anyway, the frum oilom don’t use his hechsher and many who do are those who …..

Git Voch from Crown Heights

Guest post on the propriety or otherwise of R’ Meir Rabi’s business practices

[The post is from EK, I have asked Meir and his business partner Kalman if they have any objections= to me posting this, and the answer from Meir was no.]

Several months ago, I brought to the attention of readers of “Galus Australis” that Rabbi Meir Rabi is responsible for the appropriation of the artwork of a famous Hungarian / Israeli / Australian graphic artist: Georg Hamori. Rabbi Rabi has not responded to the specific allegations. Unfortunately, Galus Australis is in the habit of removing all comments from articles that are inconvenient to its contributors. I have included some new comments together with an updated version that incorporates updates I made before Galus Australis obliterated them.

I regard all Australian “Kosher Authorities” as being equally interested in empire building and / or financial gain. Indistinguishable and multilateral examples of this include: “Laffa Matzo” brouhaha; non-direct and non-continuous supervision of “Kosher” eateries; bogus shechita by not observing Kohanic gifts. Even so, I like Rabbi Rabi and some of his positions on Kashrut.

To put my position in perspective for the readers, as far as we know, my family originally lived in Ottoman Palestine and Egypt, India and China. Rabbi Rabi is on the right track about soft matzos. The problem is that the wheat or barley should have been observed from harvest to grinding into flour. Then the dough must be rapidly prepared to prevent fermentation and immediately baked. Worldwide, there are many soft and hard flat types of bread that contain no leaven or aerating compounds and are thoroughly baked before fermentation occurs. I agree with Isaac Balbin that there should only be one Australian Hechsher. The board that operates the hechsher must be representative of all degrees of observance and must be transparent in all its operations.

I’m keenly interested in stamp collecting. Why is this relevant? The other week I was perusing Rabbi Rabi’s It’s Kosher website and found an image of the certificate he uses for providing to manufacturers and retailers. I am reliably informed the certificate is displayed at “It’s Kosher” retailers.

The core image of the certificate is the APPROPRIATED design of the Israeli 150 Pruta stamp commemorating the “Memorial Day for the Fighters for Independence” and “The Seventh Independence Day” by the late; world famous, graphic artist George Hamori. He designed a vast number of stamps, many of which were issued by Australia and Israel. He was born in Hungary, survived the holocaust, immigrated to Israel and later moved to Australia. The Hamori family continue to live in Australia.

The Israel Post Office released this stamp on the 26 April 1955.

Records show that Israel Post had a license to produce a stamp design almost identical to the Israel State Emblem. Looking at the stamp gutter is more information. For comparison, an exact image of the Israel State Emblem is depicted. The stamp design differs to the Israel State Emblem in that the lighting angle is the opposite, the rounded base and stem of the menorah truly depicts the menorah on the Arch of Titus (not stylized as on the Emblem), the font for “Israel” is different and of course there is the addition of flames.

Fact: you or some one working for you must have acquired the image of the stamp and then used software to remove “Israel” in English and Arabic along with the denomination “150″. You should know that the Israel FLAG AND EMBLEM LAW 1949 (5709) ss(3) & (8) and possibly s5 would apply to you and what you have done. There are penalties specified by the Act.

I found this on the Kosher Ve Yosher website of Rabbi Rabi in the legal section:

“COPYRIGHT … We therefore grant permission to publish and disseminate any texts (NOT IMAGES) found in this website …without the prior written consent of Rabbi Meir Rabi.

Publishing information from this site requires:
• that it be used and presented such that it clearly pursues the same objectives as are presented on this website.
• that full credit be attributed to Kosher VeYosher or its Kosher! together with and on the same page as, the relevant texts.
• that the full internet address of the this website and the name of Rabbi Meir Gershon Rabi appear on the same page as the relevant texts. That these attributions be clearly observable on the relevant page.”

Your self-admission that you thought the copyright had expired is telling. This article provides a scholarly discussion of the Halacha in relation to appropriation.

Click to access NetanelNimme.pdf

Rabbi Rabi, I feel you are a hypocrite and have demonstrated zero respect for Mr Hamori. Using the State of Israel Emblem for the gain of your Hechsher is reprehensible. Why instead didn’t you create your own original artwork with a menorah? I feel very strongly that you need to discontinue the appropriation of Hamori’s design for the following reasons:

[1] The stamp was designed to commemorate the sacrifice of the Fighters for Independence, to establish a homeland and state for Jews and protect them in the shadow of the holocaust and earlier pogroms. It is entirely wrong that this ideal is vandalised for commercial or personal gain.

[2] Misappropriation of intellectual property: either belonging to the Hamori family or the Israel Post Office.

[3] No attribution was provided to George Hamori on the certificate.

[4] Shock to the Hamori family who might see the certificate image at an It’s Kosher certified retailer.

The Hamori family deserve an explanation and apology

How much more of this “it’s not treyf, fress” do we need to endure?

Someone  emailed me a posting from Meir G. Rabi, this time on Golus Australis (Hi Alex and Yaron, hope the bubba is well.).

Here we have the self-proclaimed Rabbi of a private profit-making business, mitzvah doing business that seeks to (surely) try and make/proclaim as many things as possible Kosher (within a solitary perception of halachic understanding) this time drawing Gzeiro Shavos from the London Beth Din web site and pasta production guidelines.

It’s a new Talmud? maybe it’s Tosefta D’R’Meir Gershon.

Meir still basks in the mystery of not telling anyone from where he got Smicha and where he did Shimush in Kashrus. Any other Rov I’ve asked, tells me immediately. Meir isn’t any other type of Rabbi. Maybe he’s more comfortable telling us about the unverifiable stories regarding Rabbi Rudzki’s pleas for him to to take over. I’m sure he won’t tell you about how the Abaranok family wanted every single mention of Rav Abaranok זצ’’ל and היס picture completely removed from that web site. Anyway, even if what Rabbi Ruszki said these things: (a) they are no longer relevant, and (b) they aren’t necessary to start your own business venture with a partner, in kashrus.

So, I am just ranting? Nope.

They quote the London Beth Din. Well they do have Slurpees there, except (typical Poms) they call them “slush puppies”.

Some tidbits:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 2.32.13 pm

Alex and Yaron, and others, get off the bandwagon, and try and follow Emes

PS. Anyone who thinks the aim of the respected Kosher Australia is to make as much Kosher food acceptable, is quite correct. I had my own interaction with Schweppes, who used the law to tell me that they were not obliged to advise on what goes into their drinks. I missed their Diet Tonic Water. There is no Diet Tonic Water. Schweppes didn’t care about the Kosher market, even if it was kept confidential. Cocal Cola we can know, but the Heiliger Schweppes, won’t tell us anything.

Slurpees and the intrepid one man hashgacha

[Hat tip BA]

A reader formally asked 7/11 in Melbourne about their slurpees. In Melbourne we have a reliable and respected kashrut authority where the finances are overseen by a lay body and a team of supervising Rabbis and applied chemists have no involvement or inducement via financial gain in regards what they approve or otherwise.

This was not the case in the days of yore when various communal Rabonim provided their own hechsher and benefitted financially from the activities. I remember, for example, that strictly kosher people did not eat from the then Melbourne Beth Din or Rabbis Rudzki or Lubofsky et al. Many times I would buy a shawarma before a gig because I did not have confidence in the hashgacha. Nowadays, it’s almost never the case.

Things have improved greatly. Kosher Australia is trusted locally and internationally. It is not a one Rabbi entrepreneurial organisation but has a board and includes a cross section of the community. Finances are audited etc

Here is the readers response from the 7/11 people. I will leave my readers to draw their own conclusions.

Unfortunately not all of the Slurpee flavours that we have are certified as Kosher, however we did receive an unprompted email out of the blue last week notifying us that kosher certification was awarded by “It’s kosher authority” for the following flavours this December.

1. Lemon Lime Bitters
2. Classic Lime
3. Zilched Fruit Salad

Why the sudden fuss about “it’s kosher”?

I noticed the following issued by the Rabbinic Council of Victoria

It has recently been brought to the attention of The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) that claims made by the local business ‘It’s Kosher’ on its website that its hechsher is endorsed by the Chief Rabbanut of Israel are both false and misleading.

The Rabbanut has clarified that no such endorsement has been issued, and while it did approve one specific product some four years ago, this does not constitute an endorsement of the “It’s Kosher” hechsher.

The Rabbanut further clarified that it has a policy not to approve any products under the supervision of this Hechsher.

“Leaving aside the concerns expressed to the RCV relating to the Halachic standards adopted by the said business,” RCV President Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said, “this misleading statement about the Israeli Rabbanut is deeply concerning to the RCV. If it is the case that the false statement was made to mislead and deceive the public by claiming that its Hechsher is supported by the Israeli Rabbinate, this would call into question the integrity of those running the ‘It’s Kosher’ business”.

Anyone who visits the “it’s kosher” website knows that it is chock full of controversial attempts to convince the public into respecting the rulings of its halachic authority. We are told that this authority was “compelled” to undertake his work by Rabbi Rudzki ז’ל for the benefit of us all.

Perhaps we can hear a little but about the separation? of finances and kashrus in his organisation. Does the supervising Rabbi/authority receive a wage which varies with the number of hechsherim/products for which he gives the nod? Where are the books? Are they open for all to see? Is there a lay board with no financial interest? Who are the financial beneficiaries of this business? Did R’ Rudzki also run his own supervision business this way?

This gives new meaning to the term השגחה פרטית.

There is more to be said about this business. Did its halachic authority seek (unwittingly?) to give a financial boost to Jews who have a half treyf shop which is also open on shabbos when simple yashrus would have dictated that this is a basic unfair advantage over Jews who try to provide a similar product which is kosher and only kosher and is not profiting from Trayf on Shabbos. Is this the meaning of “Yosher”?

Remember, the website for that authority claims in the FAQ that there are no Divine Laws, only Divine Principles.

PS. There is no halachic difference that I can understand between writing God, Gd and G-d. I am not sure why people persist on doing that (eg on their kashrus business website)? Enlighten me.

When is not approved not kosher?

The word kosher, alone, doesn’t mean too much. It needs to be qualified. It is not an absolute unless each and every authority agrees. That is rare. Even with something as mundane as water, we know that because of micro-organisms (copepods) in various countries, some authorities recommend filtration. If your Posek recommends that you filter, then it may also be that your Rabbi considers unfiltered water not kosher. On the other hand, your Posek may consider it Kosher B’Shaas HaDchak or B’Dieved. It depends on the issue at hand and its halachic severity in the eyes of your Posek.

There are a myriad of so-called Kosher Certifications. Does that make them all Kosher? That’s a loaded question; it’s in the eyes of the particular consumer and their Posek. For one Posek a particular certification is not recommended, and how you translate not recommended in general, may mean it’s simply not Kosher any time under any circumstance. Triangle K and Rav Abadi’s Kashrus rulings are but one example of certification that is not relied upon by other agencies and communities. It is relied upon by others. They aren’t on the Kosher Australia list, and are not on many lists around the world. If your Posek says that you may not rely on it, then for you, it is not Kosher. It is not fit. Kosher means fit for halachic consumption; your halachic consumption. If you rely on an agency, such as Kosher Australia, then it’s the same deal. If they do not recommend it, it is not fit for your kosher consumption. However, saying that someone else whose Posek or Kashrus Agency does allow, Triangle K for example, is eating non kosher, is none of your business.

If I don’t use the Melbourne Eruv because my Posek advises me not to, I am not going to say that Jews who do rely on it, based on their Posek or Agency, are carrying on Shabbos!

In context then, there was a harmless post on the Kosher Australia Facebook page where a subscriber to Kosher Australia, who follows Kosher Australia asked on the Kosher Australia Facebook page whether the “It’s Kosher” supervision is Kosher. In context, that clearly is asking whether food under the auspices of “It’s Kosher” is permitted to be eaten. The answer is of course No! The reason, as provided by Yankel Wajsbort of Kosher Australia is that it is not recommended. There are no surprises here, and I was flabbergasted to learn that one of those heavily associated with “It’s Kosher” took great umbrage at the question. It is perfectly valid to ask if something is Kosher to a Kosher Agency. That’s how questions are asked. Nobody asked “if I am served something from “It’s Kosher” at someone’s house, am I permitted to eat it, or should I find a reason to make a quick exit. That’s a different question. Kosher is Lechatchila; in the first instance. In the first instance, if you are served, for example, Soft Matza from “It’s Kosher” can you eat it according to Kosher Australia. The answer is no. The folks from “It’s Kosher” are a bit too sensitive from what I can detect. You can’t stymie valid questions and answers and most importantly, attempting to stymie such discussion is definitely not going to ingratiate “It’s Kosher” in the eyes of the Kosher consumer.

“It’s Kosher” and its network of consumers ought just follow their Rabbi (Meir Rabi), and leave others to follow Kosher Australia and/or their own Posek. Threats are silly in the context.

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