I’m closing the Kosher V’Yosher vs other Rabonim comment stream

I posted an article about Diet drinks on Pesach. The comments section was respectfully filled with important information from Rav Moshe Gutnick of NSW and others. I found myself eventually having to tone down some of the comments of interlocutors through editing. Rabbi Rabi of Kosher V’Yosher sent me a comment last night and it is not one that I can edit in the way that I wanted to. I would have removed the misleading Gravatar. Seemingly unable to find a picture of himself alone, Rabbi Rabi continues to use conjunctions of his image with a famous Posek (in this case Rav Belsky, may he have a Refuah Shelemah). In my opinion, this is G’neyvas D’aas as it may well constitute a transparent attempt to ascribe importance and respectability to his business and hechsher. It’s most unbecoming. I’m not going to be a mouthpiece for marketing of business/hechsherim. So, I’ll reproduce his comment below (lightly edited) without his gravatar and that’s the end of this issue for me unless I see written information either to his business/hechsher from Rabonim which contradicts the information that is issued by the Rabbinic Council of Victoria/NSW or if Rabbis from Victoria or NSW produce written information to them which contradict’s Rabi’s information.

In our first year we did not have flour that was Shemurah from Ketzira, harvest, but only Shemurah from milling. An alert was placed upon the Matza packets of that year – suggesting that people use Matza that is Shemurah from Ketzirah for their Mitzva of Motzi Matza. There was no ambiguity that would lead any reasonable person to think that regular flour was used. If there is anyone who has a record indicating otherwise, I urge them to bring this immediately to my attention. Failing that, all remarks and those on this site saying/suggesting otherwise ought to be removed.In the same vein, quite a few postings here have been edited, the same courtesy and moral fibre dictates that all unsubstantiated remarks that reflect negatively upon my work and reputation should also be removed.A remarkable claim has been made, that HaRav Schachter rules that soft Matza may only be made by those with a Mesora; however, Rabbi Lebowitz has written that “I spoke to Rav Schachter about this several times. He holds it is completely permissible and has nothing to do with mesorah.” SEE full email http://www.realmatza.com/r-a-lebowitz-email.html Rabbi Moshe Gutnick emailed me that HaRav Schachter’s ruling can be found on the web. Can anyone assist me to locate this? We have not been able to locate it.

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.

Kashrus Agendas

One of my earlier posts was mentioned in my old classmate’s now ubiquitous posts on kashrus. There is a constant refrain to these posts and unless I am not accurately reading between the lines, the theme is:

  • the Rabbis in Melbourne make oodles of money from Kashrus
  • the organisations in Melbourne make oodles of money from Kashrus
  • the standards of Kashrus in Melbourne are too extreme and designed to support a monopoly and those standards cost us money and are unnecessary anyway
  • some kosher good suppliers are making a fortune from profiteering on kashrus.

Enter the proverbial iconoclast, clad in fire-proof armour:

  • I will assume standards of kashrus which are different
  • I will market my standards incessantly across the internet and elsewhere
  • My motive is to bring the price of Kosher food down because I believe (anecdotally) that there are people who eat Treyf because they can’t afford the price of Kosher goods (meat?) that have assumed an OU-like standard
  • My finances and business dealings with partners on these matters are none of anyone’s business
  • My financial books are closed
  • I am answerable to nobody but Hashem
  • London bridge is falling down.

Assuming the motives are earnest and with honourable intent, the line of argument used is rather straw man like. Yes, we would like to see all Kashrus under a central body. Yes, we like to see a collegiate Rabbinate and not isolated breakaways running their own kashrus supervisions/business. Yes, we would like to see the financial aspects of Kashrus provision (where relevant) under the financial supervision of a communal lay body. Yes, we would like to see Rabbis and Chemists and Mashgichim paid properly for their professional hard work. Yes, we would like to see shysters purporting to offer a kashrus service outed.

I assume my erstwhile colleague is serious about his concerns about the price of chickens and more, so I suggest that he invite Rabbis and owners to an independent Dayan. I’d recommend R’ Hershel Schachter.

Vacillating on the internet is okay for musicians like me, but I’d suggest it isn’t a productive path for a Rabbi attempting to convince his colleagues through earnest debate. Some would say it’s a populist agenda like the socialists who put up “Viva La Revolution posters” near my office and all around RMIT. I don’t think they achieve much thereby.