R’ Meir Rabi, Ben Pekuah Commercial Kashrus Venture and Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter

I am not here to discuss the laws of a Ben Pekuah. Look in Shulchan Aruch. Those who do not know about it (I’ve found it rather gross personally), let alone a commercialised farm of these, should discuss a commercialisation venture directly with their Rav who I expect will likely speak to a world-renowned kashrus expert.

I have mentioned R’ Rabi’s trips to various Rabbonim around the world, where he seeks their agreement to commercial projects he and his investors are involved in.

I have mentioned that the renowned world posek Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter, Chief Posek of the OU (with Rav Belsky) was displeased when I showed him a picture of himself and R’ Rabi from the day before, disbursed via the internet, as he had asked this not to be distributed via the net.

There is a danger that people would conclude that Rav Schachter was endorsing in any way R’ Rabi’s commercial kashrus projects or his stature. Rav Schachter is too nice a man to refuse a picture.

In that vein, I issue the following.

I have been in direct contact with Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter Shlita today, and he indicated that R’ Rabi had approached him about R’ Rabi’s plans for a commercial Ben Pekuah farm. Rav Schachter advised R’ Rabi clearly that in no way can Rav Schachter be involved or seen to be involved in such a venture, nor should anyone conclude such involvement by virtue of Rav Schachter’s picture appearing on web pages (without permission) or otherwise. The same applies to future communication that may be published by R’ Rabi with any pointer implied or otherwise regarding Rav Schachter.

Mori V’Rabbi advised R’ Rabi that he was in no way giving a Hechsher or even implied Haskomo to the concept. Nobody should conclude, therefore, that Mori V’Rabbi R’ Schachter is in anyway involved or has given approval to R’ Rabi’s commercial Ben Pekuah venture. There are many intricate and complex concerns about such a commercial project and these need very close and careful hands-on supervision by a knowledgeable expert, world-renowned Rav, who agrees specifically with each and all the details of R’ Rabi’s methodologies and particular supervision regime.

Rav Schachter does not endorse in any way, Rabbi  Rabi’s commercial Ben Pekuah farm, and encourages those who do wish to avail themselves of produce from such a farm, to discuss that issue directly with a world-renowned expert Posek who is fully across all the details of the commercial farm.

The exact above words were read to Rav Schachter and he thanked me for ensuring that people would not be misled in any way.

Meir Gershon Rabi’s latest venture: From Flesh to Milk

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.

From Greenberg Art

 

He’s really doing us a favour, truly altruistic!

So, all the treyf gelatin that has been around for ages is suddenly acceptable! The company that makes the Gelatin have never been interested in Kashrus.

Look at the list from “It’s kosher?

PK®Blue Mint

Hubba Bubba®Strawberry Original

Extra® Peppermint Spearmint Strawberry,

EXTRA® Active™ Peppermint Spearmint

ECLIPSE® Peppermint Spearmint Cool Breeze Berry

ECLIPSE® Chewy mints Spearmint Fruit Trio Peppermint Watermelon & Strawberry

EXTRA® Professional Lemon Lime Bubblemint Peppermint

AIRWAVES® Menthol Eucalyptus 5gum® Cobalt (peppermint) Electro (spearmint) Tempest (watermelon)

Strawberry. SKITTLES® Fruits

Sours and Tropical

Now what I want to see is

  1. Each overseas Posek, who he likes to be photographed with happily munching on these based on his authoritative Psak
  2. His wife and children doing likewise.

Forget about either. It’s a business. Those who eat out, also follow this “authority”.

Open your books and stop taking the community on a rodeo.

The bottom line: if they still have a taste after 3 minutes, they are trayf.

The ‘phenomenon’ never sleeps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Git Voch from Crown Heights

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.kosherveyosher.com/passage-certificate.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://weblaw.haifa.ac.il/he/Events/eveFile/NetanelNimme.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

The Hamori family deserve an explanation and apology

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.

Slurpees and the intrepid one man hashgacha

[Hat tip BA]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this how respected Poskim decide Halacha

In the comments section on a rather bizarre post on another blog, Rabbi Meir Rabi made the following statement:

 I suspect that erudition is important, but not as important as the Posek’s mental posture, the landscape he sees himself operating in. If the Posek has already made up his mind about the style of Pesak that he is inclined to follow, the erudition will select those perspectives that suit and block out those that do not. It is the Talmid Chacham’s Placebo effect.”

All I can add is that if Rabbi Rabi paskens according to his self-declared “placebo effect”, he certainly need not explain his decisions to anybody.

I wonder if he’d pass this theory of Psak to the great Poskim of our generation for their הסכמה.

Statement from מו’’ר, Rav Hershel Schachter שליט’’א

This puts an end to R’ Meir Rabi’s attempts to use Rav Schachter’s name in support of his Laffa. I hope he has the good sense to remove Rav Schachter from his marketing and information websites.

In English:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERNI have been asked many times over the past years if it is correct for Ashkenazi Jews to fulfill their obligation to eat Matza on the night of Pesach with Sephardic Matza. I have always answered that, in my opinion, this is not against custom provided that the Matza is produced under expert supervision and under the strict guidance of reliable and responsible Rabbinic authorities. My intention was in strict reference to the Sephardic Matzas that are known to us here in New York. I have now been informed from afar that there are new varieties called Laffa and Mountain Bread that I have never seen and know nothing about and I have not expressed any opinion concerning them, for one may only rule on what one’s eyes have seen. It is impossible to give my opinion on anything that I am not familiar with. I am greatly astonished how a “living person can contradict a living person” and how it is possible that anyone can say things in my name that have totally never entered my mind.Signed: Tzvi Schachter

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.

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.