A reader passed on the following information:
Finally all the images on the It’s Kosher Facebook page are frozen
Among some of the more allegedly dishonest messages were:
- A series of logos some belonging to the American Conservative Movement, some just a Kosher symbol belonging to nobody in particular and even a logo from Masterchef including, “these are all Jewish, these are all Kosher.”
- Another image had marketing for Limors Restaurant on Kooyong Road with a large photo of the establishment and even a menu! The story about Limors is this non Kosher restaurant that was allegedly serving pure treyf 7 days a week was advertising at one stage (about 2 years ago) that 6 days a week their breakfast was “Kosher under the supervision of Meir Gershon Rabi”. RMG Rabi hosted a sheva brochos for his own daughter, catered by Limors.
- We are aware of many people who were allegedly confused and ate in this restaurant, meals that were cooked with 100% non Kosher meat believing that this restaurant was fully under RMG Rabi.
- As most of the religious public do not accept RMG Rabi and do not eat a milchig “kosher” breakfast in a non Kosher restaurant serving 7 days a week, the arrangement between Rabi and the owner from Limors was allegedly suspended and according to Limor there was allegedly no Kosher food available for well over 12 months.
- In typical style “it’s Kosher”, in the marketing on its Facebook page, Limors was still there until 5 days ago! This is even though it was bought to RMG Rabi’s attention.
- Other images were RMG Rabi’s selfies of himself with staff of establishments he went to visit, and were removed. Some have complained that images were not even in accordance with Tzniyus standards.
- On the webpage of Kosher Veyosher/Its Kosher there are a number of pages of self promotion of RMG Rabi. These have now been passworded and are no longer accessible to the public.
- A reason that RMG Rabi’s promotions have suddenly been passworded as well as all images on his Facebook page, is likely due to a legal letter received by RMG Rabi warning him to immediately remove all pictures, comments, logos and names of their organisation and Rabbi as they are falsely being used by RMG Rabi to promote his business with Kalman Gradman.
- Dayan Abraham from the London Beth Din and many others face the same dilemma
The following story appeared in multiple news outlets. Reform and Conservative will see it as a “victory”. I see it as stupidity if they do:
It’s a secular civil matter involving money of the state. As such, Xian, Hindu, and Arabs would also be able to apply to use such Mikvaos for ritual cleansing if they applied and were Israeli Citizens. Melanie Landau might delight in this “equality”, but the difference is that Open, Conservative and Reform versions are simply closer religions to Judaism. That’s all. Their converts are not accepted as traditional Jews any more than RMG Rabi’s are.
The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that people undergoing a non-Orthodox Jewish conversation are entitled to immerse themselves in a public ritual bath as part of the ceremony, striking down a lower court’s decision to the contrary.
The justices accepted an appeal by the Masorti Movement and the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel against a ruling which banned non-Orthodox converts from using state-funded mikvehs.
The Supreme Court’s decision was hailed as a victory for non-Orthodox streams and a blow to the Chief Rabbinate. Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called it “outrageous.”
The court made clear that while it ruled on a specific case against the religious authorities in Beersheba, where the case was first discussed, its ruling applies throughout Israel.
The appellants argued that immersing in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion ought to be considered a “religious service” and as such should be provided by local religious authorities by law, with no distinction between conversion or other ritual needs. The appellants added that the attempt to distinguish between people using the mikveh when converting in the state’s official program and those converting via an alternative stream constituted illegal discrimination.
They contended that in so doing, the religious authorities in Beersheba also discriminated in granting services, products, and entry to public facilities.
Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who ruled in the case along with Salim Joubran and Chief Justice Miriam Naor, wrote in the decision, according to Haaretz: “Once it established public mikvehs and put them at the service of the public – including for the process of conversion – the state cannot but be evenhanded in allowing their use.”
“The State of Israel is free to supervise the use of its mikvehs, so long as it does so in an egalitarian manner,” he added. “The state’s choice not to supervise immersion done as part of private conversion programs does not justify the prevention of such immersion.”
Chief Rabbi Yosef said the court’s “miserable decision to allow reform Jews and Conservatives to immerse in mikveh baths intended to serve the entire public is outrageous. Reform Jews are making use of halacha for their needs when it is convenient and are undermining the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. The court cannot on the one hand satisfy a small minority, and on the other gravely harm thousands of Jews interested in Jewish life according to halacha and in keeping the true Jewish identity of the state.”
Representatives of the non-Orthodox movements commended the court’s decision.
Director of the Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said that the ruling “echoes from Jerusalem to the edge of the land, and will resonate across the wide Jewish world,” calling it “a clear decision that Conservative and Reform Jews are not stepchildren in the State of Israel.”
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of Reform Jews in the country, said the verdict “is another significant step on the road to full recognition of Reform and Conservative Judaism in Israel.” He promised: “We will continue the effort to complete this journey in the coming years.”
I received this by email, however, I have known about it for some time, having heard it from Dayonim in Melbourne and Sydney. In fact, the story gets worse than what is related here. I will leave it to other investigative types to find out what happened after this episode. Again, it confirms my (non Rabbinic) view that absolutely nobody should rely on RMG Rabi’s pseudo-halachic determinations and cosmic inventions. I’ve edited the quote below lightly and added a source.
[Hat tip BA]
Some years ago a young non-Jewish girl by the name of ### approached
the Melbourne Beth Din to convert to Judaism. She was told the standard procedure
and was given a list of teachers who were approved by the Melbourne Beth Din.
Shortly quite a number of concerns starting coming to the attention of the Beth Din.
These issues we are aware of, have had them confirmed, but do not feel we should make
them public. Five prominent senior Rabbanim from the Melbourne Rabbinate were
consulted and the unanimous decision was not to go ahead with her Geirus.
Numerous Rabbonim were allegedly hassled and pestered over a lengthy period, but the
Rabbonim would not budge and would not convert her as per Halachic advice from overseas experts.
Ms ### then moved to Sydney where she applied to the Sydney Beth Din to convert
to Judaism. After more than a year of her arguing, pressuring, threatening the Sydney
Beth Din and other prominent Rabbonim, she was told that she would not be converted
by the Sydney Beth Din either.
Ms ### was engaged to an American Israeli named ###. This ### was told in
Israel by a “do gooder” that the only person who could help to convert ### is a Rabbi called Meir Rabi.
### was told that Rabi has a history of allegedly antagonising the local Rabbonim and is described as a
rebel who will probably help especially if the other Rabbis say not to. ### also threatened
many Sydney Rabbonim.
Within a couple of weeks of Meir Rabi meeting ### the conversion was, predictably, carried out.
Meir Rabi manufactured a letterhead printed pretending to be an official beth din, calling himself
Harav HaGaon Meir Rabi, Rosh Beth Din. The other two “Dayonim” of the Beth Din
were his business partner Kalman Gradman (who was bestowed the title Rabbi), and a third
gentleman by the name of Yitzchak Micha’el. Both of these gentlemen, Gradman and
Micha’el, may not halachically be part of a Beth Din for conversion. Kalman Gradman
whose past conviction arguably disqualifies him from being part of a conversion Beis Din. Yitzchak
Micha’el is himself a convert which disqualifies him from converting others (see Bet Din Shel Yerushalayim (in Dinei Mamonot Ubirurei Yuchsin 7:416) where it is invalid even B’Dieved, after the fact).
Meir Rabi knew that no Mikveh would allow him to come with his two business associates to convert
the woman, so the 3 of them took ### to the Brighton City Baths to use as a mikvah,
where she performed a dunking and they “baptised” her.
48 hours later in a hush-hush ceremony the couple were married.
Suffice it to say, no Rabbinic authorities accept Rabi’s conversion.
Are מומר לתיאבון types (hungry people) going to hang their coats on his hook and trust? Surely by now your eyes are wide open. Isn’t it time that the established and accepted and respected Kashrut authority in Melbourne was respected?
PS. I note that a famous Arab West Bank Techina factory had its kashrus certification revoked by the Israeli Rabbanut, because of the dangers of Mashgichim coming unannounced to check on operations, and the Arab owner’s argument that they had comprehensive video cameras installed within the factory was rejected!
The Rabbis are damned if they protest and damned if they don’t. Meir will provide that infamous counterfeit smile and consider this free advertising. Those Jews however who consider themselves genuinely Yirei Shomayim (and not the type who say “a pox on Rabi if he is wrong, I’m just following him”) will take heed. Unfortunately, The Lakewood Beis HaTalmud couldn’t bring themselves to sign. I am sure Rabbi Nojowitz would have signed. Those of you who learn there should ask the current Rosh Kollel why he is missing in action. I’d be fascinated to hear any contorted reasoning for this.
Firstly, here is a letter from מורי ורבי הרב הרשל שכטר, Posek for the OU and Rosh Kollel at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan.
A rough translation follows: My parts are in square brackets]
4 Shevat 5776 (January 14, 2016)
In respect of a ben pakuah [a calf that is born alive after its mother has already been slaughtered] (which has been “born” [prematurely] at eight months, before it has completed its normal formation, [ from its slaughtered mother ] one may eat its gid hanasheh (Sciatic nerve) and cheilev (forbidden fats) (YD 64:2) [ which are normally forbidden] and [since it is 8 months old] it is not reasonable for this premature calf to put its feet on the earth [as it it is a mature calf] because it is a “nefel”. If they took this calf and put it into an incubator [to allow it to mature] until it became fully fledged healthy, as if it was born as a nine month old calf, [on this matter] the Chazon Ish’s view is that halachically the calf is considered fully formed and its gid hanashe and cheilev are forbidden. [the prohibitions of gid hanasheh and cheilev only apply when the ben pakua preforms the halachic act of ‘hifris al gabei karaka’ (lit. places its hoof on the ground)]. It is not possible for a premature calf to execute this halachic action.
It is. therefore, impossible to raise premature bnei pakua for slaughter as the only way to do so is by placing them in an incubator until they become viable. As previously stated this would cause them to have the status of full-termbnei pakuos whose gid hanasheh and cheilev would be forbidden Biblically or Rabbinically as soon as they are ‘hifris algabei karka’.
There is also a picture that someone sent me of RMG Rabi (who looks to be in a long Rabbinic coat, unless I’m mistaken) sitting with (the Belzer) Rabbi Pinchas Padwa. The picture conjures an endorsement of RMG Rabi’s venture with Kalman Gradman, Stephen Bloch and perhaps others. Rabbi Padwa sent the following letter to Rav Beck of Adass.
My translation follows. My emendations and additions are in square brackets [ ]
To the honoured famous Torah scholar and Gaon and Tzadik Rabbi A Z Beck shlita, the Head of the Beth Din [ of Adass] in Melbourne, Australia.
After [genuine and serious] genuflection, I am writing to clarify my opinion on this matter [of commercial production of Beni Pekuah meat]. Although I wrote a response to Rav [Ze’ev] Vitman [formerly the Chairman of the Shemittah Committee of the Chief Rabbinate] [it must be understood that] the letter was solely for academic purposes [as opposed to a letter with a definitive Psak Din Lehalocho U’Lemaaseh] and was [motivated in order] to clarify Torah concepts, which is my normal practice [with such letters].
I did not enter the fray of deciding on commercial Ben Pekuah from a practical halachic conclusion, especially as this is a type of matter which will bring a stumbling block and a breach and separation from the walls of our religion, Chas V’Shalom, and will serve to undermine the Torah which is under the bastion of Kashrus and Kashrus for which the Rav [Beck] gives his all to sustain.
God forbid, that someone should do anything large or small which will breach the fences of the world and weaken the standing of Rabbinic Gaonim, who stand on guard [to protect Torah and Kashrus].
I join [Rav Beck] and the great Rabbis of the Holy Land, the princes of Torah, that one should not grow commercial B’nei Pekuah [farms] as such a venture will result in a Churban [devastation of Kashrus].
I bless the honored Torah scholar that he should merit to stand strong against any breach in the wall of our sacred religion against any breach in our religion, for many more good years]
Rabbi Pinchas Leibish Padwa
It would seem, but who can know that Rabbi Padwa was called to task for giving the appearance that he was a supporter of RMG Rabi vis-a-vis his letter to Rav Vitman. He then clarified his view. RMG Rabi claims an anonymous Rabbi has eaten his meat. One wonders if that was Rabbi Padwa or Rabbi Vitman. Someone should ask them.
Now, the interested reader might wish to consider that the wonderful Kosher Australia organisation has even bigger issues they face. RMG Rabi attends the Shabbos early minyan at Mizrachi, however, he is not given any Aliya due to what some consider his subversive actions. In particular, there have been letters allegedly from his pen to gentile manufacturers stating that Kosher Australia is not reliable. This is something that simply cannot be tolerated, from a maverick or anyone else. It is for these reasons that I have posted the above. RMG Rabi and his business partners really should find a different honest income and stop attempting to disrupt the hard work of many years, by a myriad of volunteers.
The Mashgiach of the DNA can be heard here
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:
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
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.
Someone sent me a link about web surveillance of milk. On that link is a picture of Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter, Posek of the OU.
Rav Schachter told me personally after meeting Meir Gershon the day before that he told Meir Gershon explicitly NOT to put his picture on Meir Gershon’s websites or the internet. I also have pictures with Rav Schachter. I just follow his instructions.
Meir Gershon refuses to remove the pictures. Shades of the Dayan Abraham fiasco? The difference is that Rav Schachter is too big and respected to take any action against halachic ants, by comparison.
What a disgrace and d’var sheker.
I heard about this probably a year ago or longer. The concept is far from new and has appeared in many halachic issues. For example: Dinei Yichud (being alone with someone of the opposite gender (or indeed same gender for someone who is Gay!).
First, an admission. In our family, we only drink mashgiach supervised Chalav Yisrael. Ditto for milk products, with the exception of a chocolate bar that is known to be from Milk powder (see Rav Frank in Har Tzvi, which is also accepted as normative in Israel by the Rabbinate).
The reason my family does this now is because I did it for about 7 years before I got married. Why did it I do it then? It wasn’t because I was a frumak who had returned from learning overseas and overturned his parent’s house and insisted on them making a range of changes because things weren’t “up to scratch”.
Absolutely not. I had and have no doubt so ever about any aspect of Kashrus in my parents’ home, where standard Australian Milk is and was used. Rather, in those days, in the early eighties, there were a group of people who did not accept the permission of the famed Chazon Ish*, R’ Moshe Feinstein, and others, that Milk in the US, and countries like Australia can be assumed as “supervised” as a non-Jew would be loath to breach Government regulations and introduce non cow’s milk. In Australia, they are particularly strict, as any visitor to this country trying to bring in an apple will know. Accordingly, I approached my mother, and asked permission if she minded that we have one bottle of milk that is humanly supervised by an assumed reputable Mashgiach in the house. I told her that my motive was to be another person who bought such products, so that the nascent business which was trying to produce traditional Chalav Yisrael would survive. I was somewhat altruistic, and even agreed to support Hungarians 🙂 so that an alternative view could also exist from a business perspective by my small gesture. My mother accepted, and would make things Chalav Yisrael as she wanted me to be able to eat them, after I mentioned this.
What started as an altruistic notion, was also expressed explicitly at the time, and even now, in terms of the fact that I do not consider, based on reliable world-renowned Poskim, the Government milk (Chalav HaCompanies) as any less Kosher. I did not take a blanket Neder (vow). As such, I never had or have a question of Keilim (vessels). I simply do not consider such vessels Treyf in any way or form.
Unfortunately, come companies, such as Cadbury’s do use real milk, so the milk powder view mentioned above loses much value! In Israel the Rabbinate notes when overseas chocolates are made with Milk Powder.
Enter Meir Gershon Rabi (MGR). He wants to produce Chalav that is supervised, using a web cam style supervision. The supposition is that in addition to Government regulation, one could “see” (although technically that can be faked easily enough) that its real milk from a Cow. Now, of course, as is well-known, MGR, runs a private BUSINESS from his Kashrus together with other investors. I would call them business entrepreneurs who use kashrut as their commodity. I have no doubt that MGR and his family did not rely on the Chazon Ish or R’ Moshe Feinstein, and instead bought the fresh Chalav Yisrael from Adass or the long life version.
So, MGR announces that he has put into place a series of cameras for surveillance of a farm or two so that “more” confidence in the source of the milk can be ascertained. I assume he either considers this as more Mirtas or real Hashgocho. Whatever.
I don’t understand the business model. People who are quite comfortable with the Chazon Ish and R’ Moshe Feinstein can buy any milk on the Kosher Australia app or web sites or publications. These are Kosher. They are not mehadrin according to those who don’t follow the Chazon Ish or R’ Moshe. Those who know, make their mind up.
Presumably, MGR wants to increase the “confidence” in the mehadrin status of the milk through cameras. My prediction is that those who need a physical set of eyes via a Yotzeh V’Nichnas (surprise occasional visit from Mashgichim) or a full-time Mashgiach (who also examined the cans before milking—ask whether MGR’s web cams do that). Those people, and there are many, will not engage in MGR’s supervision of anything. They don’t eat from his Hashgacha anyway, and I’d love to know if MGR will now bring this new milk (which is used in this way in Israel but not accepted as mehadrin by the OU and others) into his own house for his own wife and children and grandchildren.
The others who are happy with milk as listed in Kosher Australia don’t need to be bothered with his innovation. The milk in the Kosher Australia list is already deemed Kosher Milk. Why do they need MGR’s Camera Milk suddenly? Did he tell them they needed traditional Chalav Yisroel before his got his surveillance by video working?
At the end of the day I am puzzled by this from a business perspective (although there is an initial outlay). Who are the potential buyers of such milk? MGR and his business partners must feel there is a new market? At the end of the day MGR’s business is a private company, and they will not allow the community to see their books or the money made from his Kashrus “innovations”.
I just don’t get it. There seems to be no money in it!
A much more pressing issue is the Kashrus of cows in general! One must ascertain that they haven’t had their lungs punctured because of stomach problems, by veterinarians, because their Milk would be Treyf even with human eyes. Perhaps MGR also uses web cams to scrutinise the veterinary procedures and records. [I’m told that in Australia these procedures are less likely than in the USA due to the quality and type of feed]
What have I missed?
* There have been revisionists who claim the Chazon Ish wasn’t serious about his view. He most definitely was. The rest is the type of revisionism beautifully described by Marc Shapiro in his “Changing the Immutable” and documented with great precision by HaGaon R’ Dovid Segal.
The following is from Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, Dean, Machon Tzomet. The mind boggles in regards those who approve the lowest level AND run it as an entrepreneurial private business with closed books, wealth accumulation and a dishonest attempt to work with Halal on the grounds that they might imagine they are the ‘authority’ to represent the majority of kosher consumers, most of whom reject such supervision.
A hearing will soon take place in the Supreme Court in Israel on a request for an injunction by some restaurant owners in Jerusalem against the Chief Rabbinate, which fined them based on the Kashrut Fraud Prevention Law that gives the Rabbinate (and the IDF) exclusive control over the concept of “kashrut” in Israel. These restaurants are “approved by the community” in the framework of “private supervision,” headed by Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, who is challenging the local Rabbinates and the Chief Rabbinate. The approval certificates are worded in a sophisticated way, in order to avoid using the protected word “kosher” – (for example “this place is supervised,” and other roundabout hints). And just in case somebody might think that the supervision involves other issues, such as health, ecology, or security, he can check his assumptions at their website, kashrut.org.il. The State Attorney as usual sets his eyes on the strict letter of the law, and he has therefore expressed support for the petitioners. The judges of the court scolded him, trying to “pay attention to how the people normally behave” [Berachot 45a], and demanded to hear from him the position of the Chief Rabbinate. The future result is not easy to guess. Will it depend on the specific judges who are called upon to rule? (As an aside: the kashrut approvals of the “Badatz” organizations are evidently provided in addition to regular approval by the Rabbinate. They have branded themselves as “Mehadrin,” holding to an especially stringent level of kashrut, and it seems that there is a demand for this.)
I agree with the feeling that the time has come for privatization in the realms of kashrut and other religious services (such as has been done with medical insurance and public transportation…). This would place the Chief Rabbinate in a regulatory role, “higher-level” supervision, giving approvals to those who directly supervise the kashrut, attesting to their honesty and their authority . Perhaps the Rabbinate should also be involved in setting the work conditions of the kashrut supervisors. With respect to the new organization in Jerusalem, I would insist on one other precondition – only groups that have proven experience in the field and that have attained public trust would be able to enter the arena as independent supervisors of kashrut. And there is another prerequisite: Transparency – the organization must prominently display the “kashrut elements” on which they depend, and which rabbis give them approval. For example, there might be room to accept rabbis who are willing to give kashrut approval to firms which do not observe Shabbat, while some people might reject them. Some would prefer to be stringent with respect to cooking in a restaurant by a Gentile, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, while others may be more lenient, following the opinion of the RAMA (see Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Yechaveh Dei’ah, 5, 54). Some will be willing to accept the “heter mechirah” for Shemitta, while others will not. Some will be stringent about milk of Gentiles. Many examples can be given. But the main point is that there should never be any room for deception and misleading claims.
In the petition in Jerusalem, as long as the current law remains in effect and there is no regulatory mechanism, and as long as there is no “higher-level” supervision over the “private supervision,” the situation is indeed one of deception and misleading claims. The normal citizen, who is not aware of the ins and outs of all the power fights against recognized institutions, will tend to accept any “certificate of supervision” as if it was given by the officially recognized kashrut authority. Would we tolerate such sophisticated wording with respect to the ingredients of our food? Would the relevant government authorities allow “approvals” of this type with respect to health, security, or ecology, using very tricky wording?
Let me add that rabbis who are not expert in the issues involved should refrain from giving Shabbat approval to eg hot water heaters or samovars, or to ovens. And this reminds me of the recent scandal of the “kosher switch” which is being promoted by a group in the United States. This “kosher for Shabbat switch” has received approvals by some very low-level rabbis but is rejected by all the rabbis of recognized authority.
Just as it is unthinkable that approval by an amateur will be accepted in matters of security or health, so caution is needed for religious approvals.
Important posting by the administrator (Yankel Wajsbort) of the Ask Kosher Australia Facebook group…
We do not recommend this rennet set cheese. Please see here for a discussion about how to make cheese kosher https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/kosher-cheese/.
Coon & King Island cheeses are made by Lion Dairy – a non-Jewish company – and these mass-produced cheeses would be considered Gevinas Akum. The question is how “It’s Kosher” (the supervising Rabbi) makes these Coon & King Island cheeses Gevinas Yisrael. Normally, non-Jewish cheese companies schedule a special supervised run for kosher cheese with kosher symbol on the label. A mashgiach/Rabbi is present in the factory who will add the kosher rennet to the milk for each kosher batch (this is the opinion of the Shach, as explained in the OU document). We believe that Coon & King Island are made in different factories.
Happy to provide you some information how mass produced yellow rennet set cheese is made. These companies usually manufacture cheese 24 hours a day. Milk is pasteurised and cooled to the right temperature and fed into the cheese vats (at least 8). The cheese vats for cheddar and tasty style cheese (made by large dairy companies) have typically a capacity of 14,000 litres each. By the time that the eighth vat is full, the first one has been emptied, washed and is ready to fill again. Every time the mashgiach would need to add rennet to the milk in each cheese vat order to make all the cheese kosher. Curds from the cheese vats are combined and further processed on the continuous line into large blocks of cheese. Large blocks of cheese are then matured for a couple of months and finally sliced, cut, shredded, packed and labelled, possible in a different location than the cheese making and/or maturing.
We suggest you ask the agency to explain, when and who they sent as a mashgiach to the factories to add the rennet, in order to consider all these cheeses Gevinas Yisrael and kosher.
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.