How many mashgichim?

I run a popular band. [ Yes, we still play and are recognised by those with discerning taste. End plug. ]

As part of my decades of experience at Simchas I’ve seen the sublime to the ridiculous. I will leave my stories either untold or for a book I may write one day. One thing though concerns me now, as it has for many years. For some reason, irrespective of whether it is Kosher Australia or whether it is the Adass, Rabonim seem non reactive.

Some venues are incredibly complicated and the ability for an error to sneak in is amplified. Some venues are simpler but the sheer number of people who are at a Simcha means that the operation in the kitchen and out of the kitchen is a major logistic undertaking. Others have both concerns.

In my uneducated view there should be a ratio of mashgichim which is correlated with both the number of guests, the type of kitchen, and even the complexity of given menus, and the method of preparation.

I know many mashgichim are considered ‘good’ because they also help out in the kitchen. I’d suggest their job though is to have eyes in the back of their heads and not be involved in the manual operations of the preparation and to be actively vigilant.

I would ask the two agencies to consider a standard ratio system in the least. Perhaps 75 people equals one Mashgiach and increase these according the number of guests and perhaps some of the more complex kitchens, especially at hotels where 3 functions may be held simultaneously. I’ve witnessed nightmarish scenarios.

I’ve incredulously watched one Mashgiach oversee a complex venue with 600 guests in a very complex set up.

Whilst waiter numbers are increased, a sole Mashgiach has to see everything. Frankly I don’t know how it can be done, and I’ve seen many ways where things could go awry without anyone noticing.

I’ve also been to many kiddushim where there isn’t a Mashgiach to be seen? Why not? It’s Shabbos and more. Simply depositing boxes of taped food packages means that the moment those tapes are removed and the prep setting takes place, any meat, for example, may become forbidden!

At one Shule, the so called Yotze VeNichnas, the person who arrives unannounced a number of times, is also the Gabbay of the Shule. This is a nonsense and I don’t understand how it is permitted.

I’ve also been to Charedi functions where there is no Mashgiach to be found. This has improved but needs to be treated more uniformly and seriously.

I’ve seen a Mashgiach crack eggs for hours (technically uneccesary in my non Rabbinic opinion) and spend the rest of the night worryingly about his own meals. In one case I saw a Mashgiach dancing! I kid you not. This was not one of respected Hashgochos so you can breathe easier. 

I’ve had to call the Mashgiach to properly set up the Kashrus of band meals. The best place to place a band is inside the hall in a dead spot. If I wasn’t frum and it was just another band, almost anything goes when the band is remote in some hole in the bowels of a hall.

Whilst the investigation of products has improved significantly I feel  Hashocho at venues needs improvement and more care.

Ironically, I’ve seen some of the ‘less frum’ caterers do things exactly by the book as opposed to those who are fully shomer Torah and Mitzvos.

As a related aside, it is ironic that drink bars sometimes have signs saying they are not covered by the hashgocho. It’s a cute disclaimer but I don’t see how such a practice can work with

לפני עיוור לא תיתן מכשול

and less discerning guests. They also have a נפש אלוקית … Not just when they pay.

It rests most uneasily with me. I have my theories as to why, but if I state them I will be accused of Charedi bashing.

Chalav Yisrael by Video Surveillance

Contrary to what many may have assumed, this issue, and allied issues of non direct eye-ball supervision, have pervaded in various guises in Halacha.

Some examples include:

  1. Testimony of the appearance of the new moon through a reflection (Rosh Hashono 24a. the Rambam 2:5 Kiddush Hachodesh and Acharonim)
  2. Sound waves for promulgation of Brachos or Megila reading (Igros Moshe (vol 2 and 4, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Minchas Shlomo 1:9), Minchas Elozor and more.
  3. Amen to a Brocho (Rav Kook in Orach Mishpot 48)
  4. Gett via webcam (Beis Yitzchok Even HoEzer 2:13)
  5. Photographs and Aguna (Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Ein Yitzchok Even Hoezer Vol 1:31)
  6. “Digital witnesses” for Kiddushin (See Ketzos (241:1)
  7. Webcam based Chalitza to release a lady from marrying the brother of a dead husband (Shevus Ya’akov (Breish, 126)
  8. Brachos over Royalty via a TV (Chida 22 regarding through a glass view)
  9. Protection against Yichud

Consider though why one would do this in the context of Chalav Yisrael. Let’s assume, which it is according to some authorities (cf Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 107), a valid substitute for a human being watching the milking. Even Reb Moshe who is one of the two prime permissive positive rulings in respect of Milk from Companies, explicitly says that a Baal Nefesh, (someone who is extra punctilious) should be Machmir.

In Melbourne at least, and I assume throughout the world, it is mainly Chassidim who are careful and do consider themselves as Baalei Nefesh  not relying on the permissive rulings of the Chazon Ish and Reb Moshe Feinstein regarding government supervised milk. Those people, will follow their Poskim. Their poskim have shown in allied issues that they are often not prepared to rely on video surveillance as a halachic mechanism. Note: just as there is Chemical Halacha, Kashrus Chemistry, Shabbos Chemistry, there are also Kashrus stringencies. These are adopted by communal organisations so that there is a unified acceptable standard. On several occasions Rav Schachter of the OU disagreed with Rav Belsky ז’ל of the OU on matters of Psak, however, when it came to Paskening for the OU, something which a mega-community could rely on, they adopted the less inventive stance. This is sensible unless one wishes to branch off. Branching off may mean less supported Kashrus ends up not being accepted and then it creates situations where people are forced not to eat at houses where the non standard form of supervision or maverick schemes are adopted. A pirud, a limitation of joining one’s friends at the table ensues. This only benefits those non standardised more maverick supervisory bodies, many of which are also run as personal financial fiefdoms.

The only application I can think of is export. But those Hashgachos don’t export. Note, for example, if you go to Costco, you will find the plain Lay’s chips with an OU, but the barbecue do not have an OU. Instead the triangle K is the Hashgocho (this is also true of other products with Triangle K; be careful) . In general, the frum world does not trust the standards of the triangle K (and we don’t bring it in the house). It has a place. Where there is a need to find leniency so that people have access to food! This is similar to the law of Pas Palter, if you will.

Let us not forget that Chassidim ascribe a supernatural concern with ingestion of questionable milk and will be unlikely to consider compromise. The others simply rely on the Chazon Ish or Reb Moshe anyway!

I remain baffled by the motives behind the venture, its clientele, and the motive of those who seek such innovations when the prospective clientele are already the Baal Nefesh and won’t accept the Psak. Is this just grandstanding?

Peeled Eggs, Onion or Garlic overnight: Part 2

I had written a blog post on this in 2011. You can see it here.

Recently, the OU in their emails sent the following:

May I dice onions and place them in sealed packaging to avoid the sakana (danger) of eating peeled onions that were left overnight?
(A subscriber’s question)

The Gemara (Nida 17a) writes that there is a sakana to eat peeled onions that were left overnight, even if they were placed in sealed packaging. The only exception that the Gemara mentions is if part of the roots or the peel is left on the onion. Tosfos (Shabbos 141a s.v. Hani) writes that the sakana applies to diced onions as well. However, if there are other ingredients mixed in to the onions, Rishonim already discuss that one can be lenient. Igros Moshe (Y.D. III: 20) writes that industrial produced products are not subject to this sakana. So one may purchase frozen packages of diced onions.

as well, the OU wrote:

Q. Does the halacha of not eating onions which were peeled and left overnight apply to the following: red onions, white onions, scallions, shallots and leeks? (A subscriber’s question)
A. Rav Belsky, zt”l said the halacha applies to both red and white onions and shallots, but not to leeks and scallions.

I sent my article to the OU for their feedback. It was sent onto the Safra D’Dayna Rabbi Eli Gersten, who responded that:

You are correct that the topic of ru’ach ra’ah is certainly unclear.

I don’t have an explanation as to why earlier poskim (Shulchan Aruch, Maharshal, Rema…) where seemingly unconcerned about this type of ruach ra’ah and yet later generations again began to be choshesh.

Rabbi Yosef Grossman of the OU offered to send me an article from the Daf Hakashrus of 2005 on the topic, which I copy below. I am chuffed that my thoughts were somewhat aligned with Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter שליט׳א (though I didn’t know of him in 2005).



More on Badatz

I received this from MD. This would imply that they may be machmir on some ingredients especially if they are a fundamental (דבר המעמיד without other מעמידים of היתר). I don’t know. I do know for sure that they play games with prices and they do dictate ingredients and that in the case I know it was simply the amount of water in juice!

t is not about dilution, it is about nutrition values.
Channel 2 of the Israel TV did some comparisons.
In ELITE’s bubble chocolate, the ordinary Hechsher had fewer calories, more protein and fewer carbohydrates than the Badatz one.
The ready-made ordinary kashrus Pizza has less calories, protein, sodium and carbohydrates than the Badatz one.
Osem produces Chicken Soup powder. The production under the ordinary Hechsher has no Monosodium Gluconate and natural ingredients (חומרים טבעיים) only, as against the one produced under the Badatz has MS and does not contain any natural ingredients.
The same was found in milk products.
Here are just a few answers of the manufacturers:
תגובת זוגלובק: “במקרה של הפיצה ההבדלים נובעים מדרישות ההשגחה של סוגי הכשרויות השונים, דבר המשליך על הערכים התזונתיים של המוצר הסופי”.
תגובת אסם: “[…] באבקת מרק העוף בלבד לא ניתן היה לפתח מוצר מרכיבים טבעיים בלבד בכשרות בד”צ ולכן המוצר בכשרות רגילה”.
תגובת תנובה: “הפער בין הרכיבים במוצר יופלה לבן טבעי נובע משימוש ברכיבים המאושרים על ידי בד”צ ולכן המחיר גם זול יותר”.
And one mother thought that the only difference was Cholov Yisroel. Now she is aware that her child is getting a product with a lesser nutrition value.

As we can see, it is not the manufacturers that change the ingredients; it is the Hasgacha of Badatz. There is no Hechsher Badatz, as they have no authority to issue Hechsherim. The manufacturers are supplying to their customers the improved KOSHER nutrition products – מי שלא רוצה שיאכל קש.

Aspects of the Badatz Hechsher

Don’t water down your milk and juices and other important ingredients just to make a buck

On Israel TV, investigative reporters clearly revealed yesterday that levels of ingredients were reduced (not abolished) when they were produced for Badatz and other “Heymishe Hashgachos”. The nutritional value, especially for children was compromised. It is of absolutely no business for a Kashrus agency (in this case also Belz) to dictate changes in amounts of ingredients unless it is a matter of bitul, which can’t be done by Jews anyway.

The producer creates a product. It is either Kosher according to the published standards or it is not. I am aware for a several years of this practice occurring and it is nothing short of a Chillul Hashem, which has zero to do with Kashrus.

I trust the OU over them any day.


Rabbis with integrity. That ought to be a pleonasm, but sadly as we know, it is not

[Hat tip BA]

Of course in Melbourne, we have solved this problem with Super Rabbis, able to clear halachic practice with a single huff and puff. We need more Rabbi Aryeh Sterns around the world.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rabbi Shlomo Amar has recently refused to implement a proposal designed to reduce corruption in the arena of kashrut supervision in the capital, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Severe questions have been raised about the integrity and reliability of the kashrut supervision provided by the Jerusalem rabbinate in recent months, with concerns that some kashrut supervisors do not properly execute their supervisory duties.

One problem in particular is a phenomenon in which supervisors are awarded supervision over more restaurants and food businesses than they can physically supervise in one day.

Kashrut supervisors get paid either directly by the businesses they supervise, or in some instances by a manpower organization that provides the supervisors to the different businesses.

The more establishments a supervisor is responsible for, the more money he is able to make.

However, regulations of the Ministry of Religious Services stipulate that a supervisor spend at least one hour, and many cases two or three hours, in each restaurant, supermarket, catering company or other food business they supervise, per day.

According to sources within the Jerusalem rabbinate, there are several supervisors within the Jerusalem religious council’s kashrut department who are registered to supervise more than 10 businesses each.

It appears unlikely that a supervisor could maintain this workload and at the same time comply with the stipulations of the Religious Services Ministry for a supervisor to be present for at least one hour in every supervised establishment.

Allegations of possible corruption in the Jerusalem Religious Council were reported to the police earlier this year.

During a hearing of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee on July 29, Supt.

Isaac Simon of the Jerusalem fraud squad said that an examination was being made of the requirement to hold an investigation.

In recent months severe deficiencies have been found by staff in the office of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Stern, including supervisors who did not turn up to the establishments under their supervision and serious kashrut issues at some restaurants and businesses with kashrut certificates from the Jerusalem rabbinate.

In one of the restaurants, a well known cafe in central Jerusalem, it was discovered that the designated supervisor visited the site approximately once a week. The establishment in question requires three hours of supervision a day.

At the cafe, Stern’s staff discovered that the flour used for baking bread and other products was not generally sifted and that there were insects present in the flour, which would be a clear violation of kashrut laws.

In order to try and tackle these issues, Stern recently proposed that, as is common practice in many other major cities, the names of each supervisor should be printed on the kashrut certificate that is displayed in restaurants and businesses in Jerusalem with kashrut supervision.

This would help prevent abuses, since if a supervisor would have more businesses to supervise than is feasible in one day such a situation would be readily apparent.

Amar, however, refused to implement such a system. Although local religious councils have administrative authority over such policies, municipal chief rabbis sign kashrut certificates and could theoretically refuse to sign if certain policies are not implemented.

The secretary of the Kashrut Department of the Jerusalem Religious Council, David Malka, said in response: “The Kashrut Department and the Office of the Chief Rabbi do not conduct Jerusalem’s kashrut policy through the press or media. This is how we have acted for years and how we will continue to act.

“Despite the fact that in the current quarter the names of supervisors do not appear on kashrut certificates, the kashrut certificates are signed by both municipal chief rabbis.”

Kashrut certificates are issued four times a year, but Stern has refused to sign more than 100 certificates, out of the approximately 1,500 certificates issued to kosher establishments in Jerusalem, for the latest quarter. Some of these certificates are currently on display with only Amar’s signature.

Stern is insisting on interviewing the supervisors of the establishments in question, primarily supermarkets, before appending his signature to their certificates.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rav Aryeh Stern (pic from JPOST)

Meir Gershon Rabi is involved once more in controversy

They say that all publicity is good publicity. I’m sure Meir Gershon Rabi and Kalman Gradman’s business benefit from each bit of publicity negative or positive. His clientele are set in their ways and largely are happy to leave the onus on Meir Gershon. This article and and happenings won’t bother those few.

I understand there is a fracas brewing between the Australian Jewish News and Meir Gershon over an apparent refusal to remove a Dayan in London’s letter of approbation ostensibly originally designed to ensure Meir Gershon is accepted for a job as a Mashgiach.

Where the truth lies I do not know. I am not a prophet.

However, note that there is a concept called Asmachta. Without using it formally, it can be thought of as an adjacency relationship.

This much I know for a fact. Meir Gershon has/used to have/ a gravatar which included Rav Belski from the OU. There can be many theories why someone would choose to do that. If I have a gravatar with a grandchild, then one assumes that I’m kvelling/happy to appear together with them. If a Chosid has a gravatar with his Rebbe, then we understand that entering that Chosid’s house one will find pictures of that Rebbe, and that Rebbe will be his guiding light in matters of life.

It is peculiar though for someone to have a gravatar with Rav Belsky, unless Rav Belski is Meir Gershon’s mentor, or Rav HaMuvhak, or was the one that gave him Smicha or perhaps Meir Gershon did shimush (rabbinical apprenticeship) with Rabbi Belski. I don’t expect Meir Gershon will ever tell us why he did so, but there will be various theories as to such.

For my part, I didn’t allow that gravatar on my blog. I asked him to have a picture only of himself. At the end of the day, nobody who eats using his imprimatur is eating from any other authority except Meir Gershon. Each to their own. His curious need to rub shoulders with Rabbis and then publish pictures may be a marketing ploy. I don’t know or understand why this should be done.

What I can advise, and have advised, is that Meir Gershon visits many Rabbonim around the word where he discusses various aspects of his ideas, hetterim, and future projects.

I was talking to Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter, Posek of the OU, who advised that he had received some written material from Meir Gershon. Readers may remember that Rav Schachter said he could not see a problem with Kosher thick style Matzos made K’Das V’Kdin, although he had absolutely zero to do with Meir Gershon’s own production and in no way gave it his own imprimatur.

Meir Gershon has had an idea for some some seven years regarding cattle, and has been researching it assiduously, asking questions on the internet and to Rabbonim.

I attended Yeshiva University’s Yarchei Kallah in December. Speaking to Rav Schachter, I showed him a selfie of Rav Schachter and Meir Gershon. Rav Schachter was shocked and asked ‘how did you get that. I met with him only yesterday’. I responded that it apparently was on the internet. Rav Schachter shrugged his shoulders and said that he had advised Meir Gershon not to put the picture on websites. It seems Meir Gershon is selective in his hearing.

For what it’s worth, I also have pictures of myself with Rav Schachter, but they are in the vein of

והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך

I don’t run a kosher business and mentioned to Rav Schachter that my pictures would not appear on the internet (certainly not without his permission)!

I have a problem with Kashrus Businesses.

If the melbourne community had more communal sense, it would come to a scheme of arrangement whereby Mizrachi was paid for their investment in Kashrus. The Kashrus should be handed over to the Melbourne Beth Din, with current staff intact. Any experts from Adass should be invited to join as well as Yeshivah. The Rav Hamachshir should remain Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick. He is a true expert in the area, and he should have someone in training for the future. The standard used needs to be OU standard, and frankly, I wouldn’t be upset if Kosher Australia became an arm of the OU in Australia. All States would set up a similar operation. There would be one hechsher. One could confidently buy from any butcher shop. Independent audits could be inaugurated. A lay body would oversee finances and eventually profits would be poured back into a reformed COSV (which I perceive as tired and haggard) and which sought to help Orthodox Shules become more attractive without becoming Conservadox, as well as the sponsoring of programs for the disabled and challenged amongst us.

There would be no place or space for more than one authority. This is what I saw in Johannesburg, and recently in Miami. What a pleasure it was.

To put it bluntly, Kashrus Supervision should not be a business. Proper respectable wages should be given, and contracts and KPI’s implemented but the notion of making a business out of hechsherim is anathema to me.

Yes, it is true, there will be some contentious matters, and sometimes we will need to compromise so that world’s best standards are adhered to. This will benefit the Australian export market. And yes, those who want to have whisky from wine casks, can do so in their own homes. Personally, my own view is that this whisky is okay, but I don’t have a problem with an authority adopting accepted world standards. That being said, the wording that has been used needs to be vetted more carefully, and I understand that this will be the case in the future. As much as I like a good scotch, it’s not the be all and end all.


[Hat tip BA]

November 24, 2014

Rabbi Hershel Schachter once told me that if there’s a disagreement in matters of halachah at the OU between him and Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, you are the deciding vote.

The halachic decisors at the OU are the three of us. So if there’s a dispute the majority rules.

You’re also involved in running the office?

Yes. That is part of my responsibilities.

Have standards been lowered over the years to expand and broaden the kosher market?

I think that generally during my 35-year tenure as the CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division the standards have actually been enhanced. There’s a good side to the kosher market’s expansion, and a less good side. Rabbi Berel Wein would often bemoan the fact that we’re seeing a lot more “glatt” kosher and a lot less “standard” kosher, a lot more “shmurah” matzah and less “regular” matzah. My own experience growing up in America was that even the Conservative Jews had two sets of dishes. While they weren’t necessarily careful about kashrus outside the home, they were nonetheless careful inside the home. Unfortunately, because of the erosion of the Jewish people to assimilation, that broader commitment has weakened dramatically.
Coextensive with that, we’ve seen the growth of the Orthodox community, especially the chasidic and yeshivish com-munity, which is much more careful and demanding about kashrus. This is expressed most dramatically by the fact that in the 1940s there was no such thing as glatt kosher in America. Glatt kosher began to emerge primarily when Satmar came to America after the war. Before that it didn’t exist. Rav Moshe Feinstein never ate glatt kosher because according to the Rema one doesn’t have to. Today in the OU market everything is glatt. The driving force is the consumer market, which today is much more stringent in this matter.
We’ve actually seen conflicting attitudes. On the one hand, the frum community became much more demanding in terms of kashrus, but we’ve also seen the degrading of kashrus by the general population, which is very unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because we want them to be careful regarding kashrus, and also because kashrus is something that binds them together as Jewish and is a bulwark against assimilation.

When I studied in Lakewood, I remember the yeshivah used food products that I don’t think they would use today.
I have the same recollection. I remember when I was in Lakewood in the ’60s they used regular Rice Krispies, and so on. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. When Rav Aharon Kotler started Lakewood, he wasn’t makpid on chalav Yisrael. The famous story that’s told is that when he was finally convinced to switch to chalav Yisrael it came in a big canister, which overturned, and he was very upset about the entire switch.

The OU still certifies kosher chalav akum.

We’re sensitive to those who are diligent about chalav Yisrael. If something is used with what Rav Moshe called “chalav hacompanies,” we list it as OU-D on the ingredients. And when we certify products that are chalav Yisrael we indicate that.
The Chazon Ish has a discussion about chalav Yisrael and he quotes the Pri Chadash, that when there’s pikuach hamemshalah [government supervision] it’s muttar. It’s interesting to cite what Rav Wosner writes in Shevet Halevi that when the Chazon Ish wrote this, Rav Wosner recommended he not print it, since the Chasam Sofer does not permit it. However the Chazon Ish didn’t agree with him. Rav Moshe in his teshuvah claims that government supervision is good even according to the stringent position of the Chasam Sofer. So that’s the OU’s position in terms of dairy products. We have many products we give supervision to that are chalav Yisrael.

The consumer should know what the differences are between local chasidishe hashgachos and the major hashgachos. Would you agree with that?


Do you find those hashgachos to have more chumros?

I think the OU generally has more chumros. All the hashgachos we give we believe are l’chatchilah. We’re dan on everything. We record everything in terms of the halachos, the psakim. We have a secretary, a safra d’dayna, Rabbi Eli Gersten, who’s a very big talmid chacham. We don’t do things on a b’dieved level in shechitah or any production we certify. I think people have come to recognize that. One of the reasons is the level of the rabbanim we employ. There are over 50 rabbanim working in my office, not to mention the people in the field. These are musmachim of our finest yeshivos. They’ve come to recognize that the OU is a purely communal, non-profit organization. Beyond our salaries, we’re not the beneficiaries of even a penny that the OU earns. It goes right back into the Jewish community in terms of kiruv and to the Yachad Program, for children with disabilities. I think that makes the OU unique.

While there are three fine rabbanim in charge of the OU, we also have to rely on the individual mashgichim and on the credibility of the owners of companies. So while we may be able to rely on the OU, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is kosher.
Every hashgachah is based ultimately on the credibility of the entrepreneur who’s running it. If we find someone who’s dishonest, it doesn’t matter if he’s a Jew or a non-Jew; we remove our certification.

Rabbi Schachter told me that China is very problematic, since Chinese entrepreneurs have been caught cheating many times. With that in mind, how comfortable can we feel that we’ll actually be eating kosher at the end of the day?

In terms of China, as the global economy expanded, American companies started sourcing ingredients from every corner of the world. That requires us to go to China and other far-flung places. We inspect all these plants. We have people in China. And, generally speaking, the ingredients we use coming from China are in most cases ingredients that are relatively innocuous. We look at the kashrus sensitivity of the product. We inspect all the plants. The need is there because of globalization.

You have competition and I’m sure the OU is competitive to get as many companies certified by the OU as possible. How do we know you won’t compromise to get a customer?

Obviously it’s an issue and we confront it all the time. But in terms of the OU, that’s one of the things that’s a major underpinning behind our founding. The advantage of the OU as an organization is that there’s an infrastructure and any monetary temptation is mitigated because it’s a communal organization. Our people won’t be rewarded financially; their parnasah doesn’t depend on this or that company. That’s the advantage of communal kashrus.

There’s a conception that kosher food is more healthful and cleaner. Is this only among non-Jews, or also among those Conservative and Reform Jews who, you said before, stopped eating kosher?

You’re right. Companies who look for kosher supervision are not only looking to sell to Orthodox Jews who keep kosher. The kosher market is much larger than that. It includes people who for their own religious requirements look for kosher, such as Seventh-day Adventists or Muslims or people who have lactose intolerance and want to see if it’s pareve, or gluten intolerance and want to see if it’s kosher for Pesach. But a big part of the market includes those who have a perception that if it’s kosher, either quality- or health-wise it’s a better product. Part of that, candidly, is not always the case. For example, a kosher salami sandwich has just as much cholesterol as a non-kosher one. But other times it’s accurate: For example, when there was the problem with mad cow disease; because kosher slaughter eliminates a lot of the blood through salting, it seems it was less susceptible to mad cow. I think another thing is that we provide another set of eyes watching the plant. The USDA or FDA sees a plant maybe once a year. So the kosher designation gives consumers some comfort that there’s an extra set of eyes in the plant.

Does that hold true for non-Orthodox Jews?

I assume it’s universal. Also, in terms of the general Jewish population, we see that around Pesach time American Jews come home to roost and for the Seder and Pesach they’re more likely to buy kosher products.

How closely do you work with other kosher agencies?

The OU’s position is we will use other ingredients from other agencies that we feel meet a certain standard. So there is a certain amount of communication.
The OU is much larger than all the other agencies combined. We could’ve used our leverage to say that if you want to be an OU company you can only use OU products. But we didn’t. When I came to the OU 35 years ago, one of the people who told me to maintain that was Rav Soloveitchik. There was a company that applied to the OU that was under another certification. That certifier complained that we took the company away. I said, “We didn’t take them; they applied on their own.” He said,”Let’s ask Rav Soloveitchik.” Rav Soloveitchik told us, “It’s a free country, and they’re doing this for marketing reasons; they can choose whom they want to use for kashrus.” Then the Rav said to me: “I wouldn’t want to see everything come under the OU, because I don’t think that’s healthy for the American Jewish community that this should be a monopoly.” And I was always guided by that direction from the Rav.

It’s impossible today for any hashgachah not to rely on the OU, since no small kashrus supervision organization can possibly certify all the ingredients that are used in most products.

True. It’s impossible. Every supervision is relying for the basic ingredients on the OU. That doesn’t mean to say that some of them will not check with us as they may want to go see the plants on their own. But ultimately, basic ingredients, for example oils, are under the OU. I remember when I was growing up it was very difficult to get kosher oils. Then Crisco Oil came under the OU. What people take for granted now was very much not the case then. Trying to convince companies to make basic ingredients kosher was heroic work in the 1950s.

Kosher food is often expensive. Maybe we should educate people that in some things the extra hechsher is just a waste of money.

We try to do that in our Pesach directory. We have a special box where we list things we think are innocuous that are kosher all year. We know that to be an Orthodox Jew is a very expensive endeavor. With so many products under different national supervisions it’s possible not only to have kosher food available throughout the US, and if you’re buying a national product that has an OU, it’s the same cost as similar unsupervised items. That’s a tremendous savings. It makes it possible for people to keep kosher at no additional cost.

Any plans for future improvements?

There’s always room for improvement. A lot of it just has to do with a sense of seriousness and purpose. I’m proud of the people who work at the OU. They’re all talmidei chachamim and are endowed with that sense. So they’re the ones who inspire me.

The people in your office are really from diverse yeshivah backgrounds. I’ve been there more than once. You have Modern Orthodox rabbis and chasidim.

That was by design. When I first came to the OU, I thought the OU was a communal organization and should represent all different communities and yeshivos, and we tried to build it on that basis. On a related issue, another thing the OU does is we go to all yeshivos and we make presentations explaining what’s involved in kosher supervision. And also, every other year we do a program for three weeks to teach kashrus to yeshivah guys.

by Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter

Reprinted with permission from Ami Magazine

Come clean on meat kashrus, melbourne

Last night, I enjoyed a Simcha. It’s common for me to attend a Simcha, except that I usually eat with my band, and prefer to for professional and menchlich reasons, even when I am often also a guest. Last night, though, I was a regular guest sans any musical involvement. I was just a Moshe Kapoyer.

As we sat down to the main course, I noticed two fine members of Adass who appeared to be vegetarians. The catererer was a fine Adass caterer, however, there was a sign advising that the meat was from (Chabad supervised) Solomon’s Butchers. Clearly Chabad prefer their meat at their functions. Some Chabadniks will eat Adass meat, others will not.

There is nothing new about the fact that there are different approaches to Shechita. There is Beis Yosef, Chassidish, Litvish, and variations. These can vary because of whether there is freezing of the meat with the blood intact before latter processing, the expectation of the morality of the Shochetim (do they have an iPhone for example) and their supervisors, the Bodkim, and more.

Now, everyone is free to have a preference for their own home. You can have two people who are Mehader in meat preparation, and one prefers shop A, and the other shop B. In my mother and father’s house, meat always came from Chedva Butchers, and later from the (Tzaddik) Yankel Unfanger’s Melbourne Kosher Butchers. That was their preference. Later, they included Solomon’s as well.

But, and this is a big but, there is a far cry between choosing what you use in your own home and what you may find yourself presented with at a Simcha. I can relate many stories involving Rabonim bigger than anything we have in Melbourne, including R’ Moshe and R’ Shlomo Zalman, who wouldn’t dream of not participating in a Simcha if there was a reliable hechsher, even though their wives might buy meat or other produce elsewhere in their own homes.

[There is a famous case of a line of Rabonim sitting together all deciding to eat Fish instead of meat. Rav Moshe Tendler was in that line of seats, and went up to each Rav, and asked them how many potential Issurei D’Orayso were involved with Fish versus Meat. There are more with fish!, so he suggested they were actually being Meikel with their Fish and should have chosen the meat. There is no accounting for truth, of course though in our Olam HaSheker].

Returning to our story, I simply didn’t get it. Was a Chabad Shechted Chicken not Kosher enough to the extent that the fine men from Adass became instant vegetarians? Is it correct to implicitly cast aspersions on the Kashrus of others at the same table from an empirical level? What of the B’alei Simcha? Maybe they should have purchased latkes at a take away for them instead?

Now, it works both ways. We never bought from Continental Butchers. I understand it has come a long way in leaps and bounds from the days of yore, and is probably more closely supervised than the disgrace in Monsey (below) where people were eating Mamash Treyf as supplied by “Heilige Butchers” who learned Daf HaYomi each day.

What do I do, though, if I am invited out, and I notice, for example, I am served Wurst from Continental, or something similar? Can I honestly conclude that it is mamash Assur with Timtum Halev and all the shvartze klollos that go with it, or do I conclude, that it’s not my first choice at home, but I’d never embarrass a baaleh booste et al by even remotely making them think that their home was “not kosher enough”.

I was advised that Rabbi Beck had issued instructions that Chabad Meat was never to be eaten. Why? Is it Meshichism? Was he worried that Meshichisten=elohisten? Frozen? Split Chicken? What are the reason(s)? Can Rabbi Beck discuss any issues he or his son-in-law may have with Rabbi’s Telsner and Groner? Is it impossible to fix anything that may appear “wrong”. In the beginning, Misnagdim wouldn’t touch a Chassidic Chalaf Knife. Now, they are all happy with them because they are better. What changed?

While we are at it, Melbourne Kosher describes mehadrin and non mehadrin products. What is the status of Continental? Are they mehadrin? Are the fertile rumours circulating that things aren’t quite as strict as they might be under Melbourne Kosher’s control as far as Meat production is concerned true or scuttlebutt? If so, what are these issues. Can they be fixed? Why the silence.

[Let me state: I am not interested in the slightest in the maverick views of those like Meir Rabi and his ilk].

I’m writing about the respected big three butcher shops. What’s the story? Can we either spill the beans or fix up operations?

PS. I have seen enough in 30 years as far as Kashrus is concerned; I’d not want to write it down though. Ironically, some of the best practices are from Yidden who aren’t the biggest Frumaks, but I trust them any day of the week, at any time, based on what I see.

PPS. Please Adassniks who want to respond, stop the silly games where you continue to fake your identity and expect me to post your comments. Be man enough to put your name to your opinion. Rabbi’s Gutnick, Sprung et al, can you tell us if you LECHATCHILA buy from Contintental in your own homes and if not why not. What is all the scuttle butt about certain chumros and practices. Are they untrue. Is it Mehadrin? If they are untrue put out a bulletin and knock it on the head!

Gelatine? I’m hardly surprised

The issue of gelatine and the view of R’ Chaim Ozer is  well-known and as old as the hills. Sure, the Oilom Goilom think that someone has suddenly leaped to R’ Chaim Ozer’s defence and set him back up on the pedestal of decisor for all. Well, R’ Chaim Ozer was and remains so! On the issue of Gelatine from Cows (not Pigs) however R’ Chaim Ozer’s Psak was not accepted.

So what next? You can expect Meir Rabi to scour every nash in order to ascertain that they definitely don’t use pig gelatine and then make a splash that the delicacy is now suddenly kosher after all.

Well, the facts are that all major world-respected Kashrus authorities didn’t and don’t accept R’ Chaim Ozer’s Psak. Those of you who want to follow Meir Rabi and his company (they curiously claim a”community service”, heck, it’s a private profit making business making money out of declaring things kosher) go right ahead.

For the rest of us, I suggest you read Rabbi Eli Gersten, here.

What? Palestinian Coke isn’t acceptable?

See the article below from Yediot.

Surely, but surely, there is a wonderfully opportunistic business opportunity for a Rabbi to do a quick fly over and declare that it’s kosher, importing and then selling to those who want to save money and “need” that stamp of approval?

Just think, they could then serve it at Limud Oz as a sign of solidarity with the downtrodden and give it out for free when that imported BDS lecturer vituperates.

Tikun Olam at its best.

Rabbinate: Palestinian Coke not kosher

The Chief Rabbinate released an urgent statement this week, warning the Israeli public against Coca-Cola manufactured in the West Bank town of Beitunia, near Ramallah, which is marketed alongside the strictly kosher beverage that has been manufactured in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak for the past decades.

According to the statement, written by Rabbi Yaakov Sabag, director of the Chief Rabbinates Kashrut Department, and Rabbi Rafi Yochai, head of the Kashrut Fraud Division, “We have recently discovered the marketing of a four-pack Coca-Cola, in which each bottle carries a caption in Arabic with no kashrut mark.


“This product is being sold for a reduced price and has created confusion among the population, as the brand is known to be kosher in Israel. An inquiry has revealed that the product is manufactured in the village of Beitunia, near Jerusalem, without any kosher supervision.”

Businesses supervised by the Rabbinate were asked in the letter to avoid selling the Coke bottles from Beitunia, even if there is allegedly no fear that the beverage is not kosher. Moreover, many kashrut observers around the world buy the brand in local stores even without a kosher mark, and it is perceived as kosher.

Nonetheless, the Rabbinate wrote in its warning, businesses must avoid selling the Palestinian drink “due to the educational aspect, so as not to get the public used to purchasing products without a kosher mark.”
Rabbinate’s statement on Palestinian Coke

Chief Rabbinate Spokesman Ziv Maor says that Coca-Cola is made in Israel and abroad according to the company’s secret and accurate formula, yet there is no way of knowing whether a factory which is not supervised by the Rabbinate uses the machine that produces the Coke to pack other drinks which are not kosher, such as camel milk.

The warning, he adds, is aimed at making it clear to be public that it must only consume beverages manufactured in a factory supervised by the Rabbinate.

Is Milk Kosher in Melbourne?

A number of years ago, while listening to one of R’ Schachter’s Shiurim, I came away with the distinct impression that he had a serious issue in regards the Kashrus of any Milk in the USA because of the prevalence of Halachically damaged milk cows aka Treyf cows.

I discussed the issue with Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick of Kosher Australia and he advised me that the veterinary procedures extant in the USA were not germane here in the same way on account of the different feeding practices which obviated the potentially Treyf inducing condition common in the USA.

I also asked Rabbi Tzvi Telsner Dayan of of the Chabad Yeshivah Shule in Melbourne whether in light of Rav Schachter’s views, there was a problem with Chalav Yisrael in the USA. Rabbi Telsner claimed that the conditions in Chalav Yisrael production in the USA were much better than the general USA dairy industry and did not have this problem.

To understand this issue, please see the following article
[hat tip Moshe]

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 מורי ורבי,   Rav Abaranok ז’ל 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 ידיעת התורה (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 גדלות in מדות טובות (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  גבירים  (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 עניו (humble) and a גדול בתורה (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 מותר (permitted) when he finally paskens it’s אסור (forbidden).  Rav Schachter, however, seems to have a more Brisker approach to Psak and concludes according to his understanding:  for example, he  has said that showering on Yom Tov is permitted (albeit not using very hot water), something I have personally felt was מותר 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  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 (Chicago Rabbinic Council), which is headed by the respected Av Beis Din of the Beth Din of America,  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 (Central Rabbinic Congress 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 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.

Are we being misled by Kashrus Authorities-Quinoa revisited

Quinoa (pronounced Kin-wa). It’s not a grain; it is related to spinach. Its ברכה is האדמה. Its seeds may or may not be ground in the same way as Potatoes maybe ground and everyone eats potatoes (despite the חיי אדם trying to make them אסור on פסח because of Kitniyos). There are, of course, others, who assert that the גזרה of Kitniyos on Pesach doesn’t apply in Israel, but we won’t go there in this article. Let’s just look at Kosher Australia.


Recently, a letter was circulated by Kosher Australia, explaining the reasons for food items becoming non kosher “suddenly” together with an explanation denying a sudden lurch to “the right.” It was a well written letter and I am a supporter of Kosher Australia aligning their standards with the OU. The OU, in my opinion, is the premier and most trusted Kashrus Authority in the world. Okay, I’m  biased because I ask (major) questions to Rav Schachter, who happens to be one of the two Poskim for the OU.

On the matter of Quinoa on Pesach, Kosher Australia advised us that it was following the practice of the OU and that as a result Kitniyos were not to be used. Coincidentally, I had printed out the 2011 OU Pesach Guide and was reading it. I found that the assertion by Kosher Australia vis a vis Quinoa and Kitniyos was false! In earlier years, the OU had been negative, but this year they decided (quite correctly in my opinion) that the issue of whether to use Quinoa was a matter for individual kehilos.

Let’s face some facts. Determining whether something is or isn’t Kitniyos is not the same as telling us whether treyf is used as an ingredient in foodstuff. Kitniyos is in many ways a more complex question and one that requires a Psak from one’s own Rabbi who I believe will consult with his own Posek Muvhak given the nature of the question. I think the OU got it right. If you want to use Quinoa you should ask your Rav unless you happen to also have a family Minhag of חדש אסור מן התורה. This was also the basis for Rav Moshe’s permissive ruling on peanuts, but of course it didn’t matter if it was Rav Moshe, the Machmirim on the right eventually squeezed out a universal issur on peanuts (and peanut oil). I can remember in the old days we had oils that eventually “became” kitniyos. And no, we never had those nuts in Poland!

Kosher Australia has no business determining what is and what is not Kitniyos.

In fact, they have done a good thing by listing a table of items which some consider Kitniyos. This is the way it should be with Quinoa as well. This episode is a very subtle way that Rabonim are attempting to create a Minhag in Australia by default, by “trying to be all things to all people”. Yes, we are Machmir on Pesach. But even Rabonim said not to be Machmir on Potatoes. I know, Potatoes are a European staple and this avant-garde  Quinoa stuff is something Charedim can’t spell or say, let alone know how to integrate into an oily cholent.

Yes, it is true that the London Beth Din don’t allow Quinoa, equally, the  Star K and Chicago cRc do allow it. Kosher Australia should have adopted the stance of the OU and kept out of this. Rabbi Sprung in Melbourne paskened for Mizrachi that it was fine as long as it was supervised.

By the way, the list of “maybe Kitniyos” listed in Kosher Australia’s booklet is also wrong. It claims that carrots are not Kitniyos according to all. That’s not true. I understand that Belzer don’t eat carrots.

PS. My wife over-ruled me and she won’t let me use Quinoa unless it has a hechsher. I tried to tell her that Eden were certified as one of the brands that had no grain whatsoever in the fields or processing plants and, therefore, it was okay. She wouldn’t hear of it. “Where is the Kosher stamp?”.

Ah, for Shalom Bayis ….

We are what we eat?

There are clear effects on a Jewish soul. The effects, both positive and negative, stem from actions and environment. We normally understand actions as constituting the performance of Mitzvos and good deeds (מעשים טובים). Mitzvos include the principal Mitzvah of Talmud Torah that underpins all Mitzvos and leads one to action (ideally).

Kabbalistically inclined Jews amplify claims that there are effects on the spiritual Neshama (טמטום הלב) stemming from the physical food we put into our mouths.  Jews who are inclined towards rational interpretations of Judaism, are less likely to be concerned about meta side-effects to a soul from a physical item. Let’s take a concrete example. These days we mostly eat Glatt meat. Glatt means that the internal membranes of the animal are “cleaner” and, therefore, don’t attract attendant questions about whether a particular type of faulty membrane renders the animal Treyf. So called pious Jews prefer not to confront the question in the first place. If the animal is Glatt, then it is squeaky clean,  there is no question about its kashrus, and one can be 100% sure that it’s Kosher לכל הדעות. Continuing this theme,  the pious Jew may also contend that even if there is a questionable membrane that is considered kosher by 99% of Poskim, since 1% of Poskim consider the animal Treyf, then there is a 1% likelihood that it’s not kosher and one ought not take the 1% risk of damaging one’s soul by ingesting Treyf.

Rationalists or Halachic purists will dismiss such pious concerns. They may argue that the Torah presented a divine mandate for a Posek to decide Halacha. If a Posek then determines that the animal is kosher, then it is 100% kosher. This is a binary system; it’s either kosher or it’s not. There is no statistical likelihood of a soul being damaged by opinions which the Posek has determined do not influence his Halachic decision.

To put it a different way: the more kabbalistically inclined Jew considers that there is an empirical truth about the kashrus of each item we put in our mouths. Rabbis determining Halacha are mortal and do their best to decide whether that food item is kosher or otherwise. They “get it right” some times and they may “get it wrong” other times perhaps because they dismissed a minority opinion which may well represent the empirical kashrus status of the item. The more rationally inclined Jew will contend that this line of reasoning is baloney (sic). Food with a questionable status isn’t empirically kosher or otherwise. It is rendered Kosher by the decision of the Posek. The Halacha is famously not in  heaven: לא בשמים היא and once food has the halachic kashrus imprimatur of a Posek, eat it gezindt aheit.

Machmirim milk products (yes, it's real) with 4 Hechsherim.

In keeping with Brisker Lomdus, there is another way to view this conundrum. The kabbalistically inclined may consider that Kosher is only ever about the food item itself (the חפצא). Even if a Posek (a גברא) declares that the food is Kosher, as long as  a solitary opinion of note contends it is not Kosher, the חפצא cannot be transformed into Kosher by the Halachic determination of a גברא, and remains on the outer. On the other hand, those who adopt a solely rational approach to Halacha may argue that the חפצא has no independent status. The גברא imparts a status to the חפצא through determining Halacha according to the tradition, learning and shimush (apprenticeship) of the Posek. Once the גברא decides, the חפצא takes on an identity. It cannot have a dual identity vis-a-vis the single Posek.

The Ramo writes in יו”ד סי` פ”א ס”ז that when a baby ingests unquestionably non-kosher food, the food has a negative effect on the spiritual development and character traits of the child (See the Shach ס”ק כו). This is also mentioned in Shulchan Aruch but only in the context of a baby drinking milk of a nursing woman who has consumed non-kosher food. The Vilna Gaon (ibid) teaches that we learn this from baby Moshe who refused to nurse from a non-Jewish source (שמות רבה א, כה). The Yerushalmi at the beginning of the second perek of  חגיגה relates that Elisha ben Abuye (Acher) went off the derech because Elisha’s mother had once succumbed to a sweet smell from Avoda Zara and this had permeated Elisha’s body and tainted his character traits. I just found a nice summary of  the issue of the after effects from eating Treyf, on page 3 and onwards here.

A question arises on the Pasuk in Parshas Ekev, “על כל מוצא פי ה’ יחיה האדם” where the implication is that through the spiritual emission of Hashem, man lives. How does man live from spirit? Man lives from food. The Ari ז’ל explains that all things physical also have a spiritual component. Therefore, when a human ingests Treyf, the spiritual aspect of that food is also ingested by the Neshama of the person. As the Pasuk in Parshas Ekev goes on to say “כי לא על הלחם לבדו יחיה האדם” Man does not live just from bread alone. That is, man is not only sustained by the physical aspect of bread. After ingestion, Treyf will also nurture the soul.

What motivated me to blog on this topic, was a story I read last night about R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל (as an aside the disgraceful revisionist artscrollesque wikipedia article about R’ Shlomo Zalman carefully avoids mentioning Rav Kook even though R’ Shlomo Zalman said, “When I say Maran or Der Rav, you should know that I only use this term to describe R’ Kook”. It is useful to compare the Hebrew wikipedia article which prominently mentions R’ Kook!)

Someone approached R’ Shlomo Zalman with a question on behalf of Seminary girls who are commonly invited to various houses for meals, especially over Shabbos and Yom Tov. Should the girls seek out houses which they know only rely on chosen Hechsherim? It is known that some houses will use Hechsherim which some will not touch with a barge pole.  R’ Shlomo Zalman replied that God forbid we should suspect that Yidden are eating Treyf. As long as these are Frum people who use a Hechsher from a Rav who is a Yirei Shomayim, the girls should eat there. The questioner went on to ask, “but some people will not eat from some of the out-of-town Rabanut Hechsherim”?. R’ Shlomo Zalman replied in the same way: as long as the Rav Hamachshir is a Yirei Shomayim, the girls should eat from such Hechsherim. The questioner persisted and with more than a touch of Chutzpah asked, would you eat from such Hechsherim? At this point, R’ Shlomo Zalman became agitated and said

“definitely yes. If I go to a Bris or other Simcha and there is a Rav Hamachshir who is a Yorei Shomayim, even though I don’t personally use that Hechsher in my own home, I will even eat chicken from this Rav Hamachshir at the Simcha. חס ושלום to publicly cast aspersions on the kashrus of food being eaten at a Simcha let alone insult the בעלי שמחה. I know that even R’ Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld  ז’ל ate meat from Sefardim at a Bris even though this was not his Ashkenazic tradition.”

This was R’ Shlomo Zalman. This was why he was one of few universally acclaimed personalities of the previous generation, despite the fact that he issued some controversial and innovative Piskei Din.

I asked myself after reading the story, wasn’t R’ Shlomo Zalman worried about the effect on his Neshama (טמטום הלב) after eating under the authority of a Hechsher that he didn’t normally use? The Kabbalistically inclined would perhaps have to agree with the more rationally inclined and answer that the food was Kosher מעיקר הדין so there could not be any damage to the Neshomo?

Perhaps the only danger would be to human beings who might be hurt by the implication that they were damaging their Neshomos after they see a Rav refusing to eat at their Simcha?