Where is Beis HaTalmud (Lakewood Kollel in Melbourne) on RMG Rabi issues?

I don’t frequent this Kollel, so there may have been a learned treatise published from its Rabbis which address RMG Rabi’s broad-shouldered pronouncements on grave Kashrus issues. I do know that the Rosh Kollel there takes his Halachic advice from Rabbi Heinemann.

I’d like to think that an institution that pays its members to sit and learns all day and is supported by various, actually has an opinion and is ready to publish this somewhere; all other groups have disavowed themselves of RMG Rabi’s Kashrus Business, including the Haredi Adass through Rav A.Z. Beck, Rav Schachter from the OU, Chabad, and leading Haredi Poskim in Israel. There can be no doubt that some of the few who do eat based on Rabi’s supervision attend a Shiur at Beis HaTalmud.

If a place of learning is silent and doesn’t publish halacha, then one has to wonder what the value of pilpul that never ends with a definitive full stop is worth? Many Gedolim, such as R’ Chaim Brisker thought that pilpul was a waste of time, as is well-known.

I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume this isn’t some mysterious case of misplaced diplomacy gone wrong. שתיקה כהודאה?

If anyone has an analysis coming out of that Kollel, I’d be pleased to read it.

Thanks.

Does a pure Tzadik like Rav Kanievsky need this?

My intention is not to give free airtime to business person and rabbinic authority R’ M.G. Rabi (RMG) of Australia and his newest venture (Ben Pekuah farming) although that is inevitable. Those who follow RMG as their Rabbi did so with his many controversial views and will continue to do so. Good luck to them. It is their right and their choice. In my estimation the majority of Torah Observant Jews will not ever rely on RMG’s decisions especially now for reasons that have been documented in many arenas.

On a recent overseas trip to seek agreement from authorities, RMG  had many believe that he found approbation from the venerable 87-year-old sage Rav Kanievsky, son of the Steipler Gaon, and universally recognised as a pure Tzadik who sits and learns like no one else. Having heard this, including having personal direct knowledge of RMG’s words with acclaimed Halachists who refused his requests for support, I suspected, that Rav Kanievsky featured on RMG’s marketing and communication campaign. RMG has a habit of having his picture taken with a recognised Halachist.

Someone who has seen RMG’s media and communications arm still promoting Rav Kanievsky as a supporter, please let me know, especially if Rav Kanievsky’s name and face are still displayed and I will make sure that Rav Kanievsky is informed dispassionately via a third-party about the context of the use of his name and picture. Rav Kanievsky has a right to know.

Why do I say this? Because, like Rabbi Abraham from London and others who have found themselves superglued to RMG’s marketing, my view is that the number of respected Halachists who refuse to meet with him in the future will increase. This will not strengthen his position.

RMG will counter with “This is not the way of Halacha”. I do not know who gave RMG license to pasken (Smicha) so we cannot ask that Rabbi directly if this is his way as well and that he approves of the path RMG has chosen to take. It could be asked if that Rabbi is identified and still alive.Does anyone know who it was? If they are alive do they feature on RMG’s websites?

That being said RMG doesn’t have to follow his own Rabbi’s path as long as he is sure he is acting according to Shulchan Aruch. There have always been sole opinions in Judaism. Some opinions remain a Daas Yachid, when it is a respected Posek, others just disappear into the ether.

It is well-known  now that Rabbi Kanievsky has explicitly not agreed to RMG and the venture. If RMG wants to argue that Rav Kanievsky was “manipulated” then I suggest RMG should never have gone to see him in the first place for approbation! There are many Halachists of note who are not elderly, well aware of the issues and capable of agreeing or disagreeing with him.

Those who followed him will follow him and likely have the attitude that

I can eat it, it’s on that Rabbi’s head not on mine if it turns out to be not permitted

If  it is now in the public domain that Rav Kanievsky has explicitly signed against RMG Ben Pekua farms, will RMG remove Rav Kanievsky’s name and face from his marketing and communications?

If RMG does not, then I ask RMG is that “the way of Halacha” as RMG often writes and says. Categorically, and here there isn’t any question in my opinion, one must take down Rav Kanievsky from all marketing and communications campaigns in respect of RMG and his business investors foetus farms. One doesn’t even need to ask. Yiras Shomayim dictates it as does common decency.

I will mention a recorded and written event from a Rav who has influenced my life, the Grid, Harav Yosef Dov Halevi Soltoveitchik זצ’’ל (the Rav)

One of the Rav’s students, to whom he had given permission to make halachic judgements (that is, was already a Rabbi) came to see the Rav to ask a question about male and female equality in an aspect of one part of Torah/Rabbinic obligations and practices. The Rav listened to his question and (the best way I can describe it) heard it but did not listen. The questioner, presented a range of halachic reasons and presented his conclusion and sought the Rav’s agreement. Upon leaving the Rav’s house, one of those present asked the Rav “why didn’t you explicitly tell him that you disagree with his approach and conclusions”. The Rav answered in his sage and distinguished way words to the effect

“When he entered and began speaking, I realised that he hasn’t come to ASK me for my Halachic view on the matter. He had already made up his mind before he entered my house. When someone genuinely comes to ask my opinion, I will give it, but if someone comes to prove their Halachic opinion in my presence and I detect that they are not really interested in what I have to say on the matter:  I could see that in this Rabbi.”

In response, the person said that “but your silence could be interpreted as agreement” (and this is a Talmudic dictum). The Rav responded that this might apply in a case where his lack of silence was actually listened to. However, this person was never going to listen to me or my opinion and was only interested to use my name as agreeing with him. That sort of person is entitled to his opinion, but he doesn’t need mine, and I have nothing to say to him as a result.

Others may disagree and say the Rav should have acted like the common practice of Haredim and put out an open letter/poster disagreeing (the Rav did on choice public matters especially via the RCA and official positions) even against the opinion of his ex-students, who were now Rabbis of note. I’m guessing that the Rav didn’t feel this was to be used except for well-known broad policy issues because he did not feel he would be listened to based on letters or posters and the Torah would not be honoured in any way.

I think the Rav was arguably right. A day doesn’t go by without some ban or disagreement signed by Gedolim X, Y and Z plastered in the streets of religious cloisters within Israel and the diaspora. These are ignored by those who ignore such things, and listened to depending on the range of those who signed and the issue at hand and the reader.

That being said, if someone came to the Rav and simply asked a plain question he answered it. For example, some bugged the Rav about the Halacha of women’s head covering (the Rav’s wife didn’t wear one). The Rav, repeated and continued to repeat, “it is absolutely forbidden for a woman to go without a head covering”. The Rav was way too smart to be goaded. Another asked about dubious ways to repeal a marriage. The Rav came out strongly, and condemned the view as he saw it as dangerous. When someone came and said he was a Cohen and was in love with someone forbidden to the Cohen, the Rav said “you are forced to accept that it is forbidden, this is the Halacha”. There are many examples. He wasn’t a shrinking violet.

In conclusion, I think it is incorrect to place an alleged opinion of Rav Kanievsky, together with his picture for one’s business/supervisor/kashrus activities after Rav Kanievsky has explicitly signed onto a letter with other Poskim who disassociate themselves and are firmly in opposition to RMG’s Ben Pekuah farms.

For the sake of Kavod HaTorah, he should take anything using Rav Kanievsky down from his web site. It cannot be the halachic way to use what is in black and white, even if RMG claims he has something else in black and white from before. The Halacha is that the upper level is stronger תתאה גבר and the lower level the תחתון is inferior. This situation isn’t the case of בשר בחלב that I quoted, but it has all the hallmarks of at best a misunderstanding of Rav Kanievsky by RMG or RMG might wish to argue that Rav Kanievsky changed his views. Whatever the case, his view is explicit in the widely circulated letter. Those Poskim are firmly of the view that RMG should cease and desist from his venture.

Rav Kanievsky should however not feature any longer as someone supporting RMG. By all means let him find a bevy of respected Poskim who agree with him and explicitly write that they also approve of the Kashrus of that meat.

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

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

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

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

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

So, I am just ranting? Nope.

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

Some tidbits:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 2.32.13 pm

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

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

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

I noticed the following issued by the Rabbinic Council of Victoria

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

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

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

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

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

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

This gives new meaning to the term השגחה פרטית.

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

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

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