Volume 32 Number 51
                 Produced: Tue Jun 13  6:06:01 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?
Kosher L'Mehadrin (3)
         [Judith Weil, Anonymous, Mark Steiner]
Mehadrin vs. Kosher
         [Joshua Hosseinof]


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 11:11:24 -0500
Subject: Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?

An anonymous poster asks ...

> By way of example, would we buy meat from a shop that sells kosher and
> *possibly* non-kosher meat (but it's okay, because the meat is only
> *possibly* traif, and the rov giving the hechsher said that are
> different opinions whether or not it is traif and he follows the lenient
> opinions, and even if it *is* traif, it would be nullified because....)?

Maybe I would!  If the meat is possibly treif and there is no reason why
it would be bateil (nullified), then it would of course be prohibited as
a safeik d"oraita.  On the other hand, if there is a halakhically
legitimate heter that would make it bateil even in the eventuality that
you are worried about, then there is no longer any possible way that you
could be doing anything improper.  I'm of course not in favor of
inventing bogus heterim.  But if a heter can be found based on
legitimate principles, why shouldn't we be willing to rely on it,
especially when the issur is only a possibility?  The same God who told
us what foods are prohibited is also the God who gave us various heterim
--- bateil, notein ta`am lifgam, sfeik sfeika, etc. --- under which we
don't have to worry about these issurim.  So if we're going to abide by
His rules, we should be willing to accept ALL of the ones that He gave
us.  In fact, it seems to me that REFUSAL to use the heterim He gave us
is awfully xutzpadik --- it is basically telling Hashem that His rules
are not good enough for us, and we know better than He does what is
REALLY the right way to conduct ourselves.  Lots of people argue against
the "lowest common denominator" (LCD), but in a sense the LCD is the
most desirable place to be --- doing everything that's required, but
also having enough faith in Hashem to trust Him when He specifies
conditions under which things are NOT required.  Thus, I find it
difficult to accept the common argument that it's better to be certain
JUST IN CASE, and the last paragraph of this posting (below) addresses
this issue further.

The poster's words above also seem to be denigrating anyone who relies
on a more lenient opinion.  Is he really suggesting that whenever there
are two opinions, we should always choose the stricter one?  Everyone
has the right to rely on their own poseik --- so if there are two
opinions, some will be strict and some will be lenient, and nobody
should be criticized.

The poster continues ...

> but still, is that how we run the rest of our lives - would we buy a house 
> or a car or take a job with so many question marks hanging over it?

I'll briefly restate a point that's been made before on this list.  With
the house or the car or the job, or with food possibly contaminated
(with poison, not tarfut), the danger is PHYSICAL.  As such, we should
be very worried about the possible problems even if they have low
probability.  But SPIRITUAL danger is different --- it is often removed
EVEN IF IT IS PHYSICALLY PRESENT if the probability is low enough.  For
example, if I have a piece of meat that has a 75% chance of being kosher
and a 25% chance of being treif, I am allowed to eat it because of
bateil b"rov --- and hence it poses no spiritual danger to me even if
the physical reality is indeed that it's treif.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO
NEED TO WORRY ABOUT "WHAT IF".  That's very different than having a
small chance of getting stuck with a lemon car --- if it happens, no
matter how small the chances were at the time you bought it, you have a
big problem.


From: Judith Weil <weildj@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Jun 2000 19:48:39 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

>>But they couldn't explain the difference between "kosher" and "Kosher
>>L'Mehadrin."  Does anyone have a good explanation?

A lot of people use the expression kosher limhadrin when they mean
kosher, but kosher limhadrin means kosher for the more meticulous.

There is a lot of pressure on kashrus boards to provide a minimum "OK"
level of kashrus. There are people who do not want to pay more than the
minimum, there are people who argue that modest dress by female waiters
has nothing to do with kashrus per se, there are people who argue that
it is unnecessary to supervise milk at a farm where there are no pigs
etc.  anyway, and so on. Food which is OK by some minimum standard -
food which would pass muster by even a single authority - can be
described as kosher.

Food which would be accepted by virtually all authorities as kosher
would be kosher limhadrin. Here the shochet might examine his knife more
frequently, all kitchen staff may themselves be observant Jews, and so

Kosher limhadrin would also not accept the hetter mechira for shmitta.

One could use the analogy of cleanliness. One person may bathe more than
once each day - another person could consider once weekly, or even less,
to be sufficient.

There is no official definition of kosher limhadrin - but it would mean
more than a minimum standard of kashrus.

Best wishes,

Judith Weil

From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 08:33:41 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

> From: Anonymous
> [This submission came from someone who has spent many years in the field
> of kashrus, and asked to remain anonymous. Mod.]

[This submission also came from someone who has spent many years in the
field of kashrus, and also asked to remain anonymous. Mod.]

> From: Chaim Tatel <chaimyt@...>
> > But they couldn't explain the difference between "kosher" and "Kosher
> > L'Mehadrin."

I thought to ignore this post b/c what I have to say is very hard, and
it's always a question of whether a person should say Tochacha --
whether I am worthy of saying it, and whether the party addressed will
take it to heart.  But when I saw that someone wished to post this to
another mailing list, thus increasing the problem -- I decided to

> Although this might be a bit of a long answer, I think it important to
> go through the details to get a clear picture of kosher vs. m'hadrin.
> According to Israeli law, only the Rabbanut (to be referred to as "R")
> (local or Rasheet) is allowed to give hechsheirim in Israel.  (We will
> leave the obvious question of the various BaDa"TZim for the meantime.)
> In addition, it is a "given" that every R accepts every other R's
> hechsher.

This is as it should be.  Why?  Let us analyze this.  Do we expect
ourselves to go out and make our own butter, cheese, bread etc. or is it
accepted by all that these will be made by others for us?  The answer is
obvious.  But what does this have to do with kashrut and Hashgacha?

We have a basic duty in Judaism to ask for the guidance of Judaica legal
experts, known nowadays as Rabbis.  This is ordered in the Torah in a
few places to the degree that Chaza"l have decreed: Yiftach Be'Doro
KeShmu'el Be'Doro -- each generation will have the Torah Scholars it
deserves/ each generation has to accept the ruling of the Torah Scholars
of that generation.

Another aspect of this Halacha is Lo Titgodedu which basically is a law
that intends to prevent divisions in the nation, divisions based on
differences of psika.  This is what stood as a guiding light to those
who set up the central chief rabbinate system in the State of Israel.
The fact that the divisions have remained is a topic to be discussed

What does this have to do with Kashrut?  I'll tell you.  It is well
known that when a woman goes to Mikva, she worries many times that
perhaps a hair is left out and then her immersion won't be right.  So
halacha decreed that when the woman supervising the immersion declares
the immersion kosher -- then BeShamayim, in heaven, the immersion is
decreed kosher and the woman is ordered to set her mind at rest.

The same when we go to a rabbi with a question.  Supposedly when a Rabbi
paskens, he does so under the Hashgacha of Hashem/under the spirit of
Hashem, and therefore when the rabbi paskens, it is _not_ the duty of
every lay person to investigate, but rather to accept this.  Yes,
certain people will question the psak and _learn it and study it_ -- but
not the vast majority of women and men.  For them this psak is Hashem's

So when you come and say what you did in your post, especially the

> Why would they do that?  There are two reasons, neither of which will
> make people happy to hear:
> 1.  *OUR* tzibbur doesn't eat R hechsheirim , and those who *do* eat R
> are not usually particular about the quality of the hechsheirim they
> use.  (*OUR* means the chareidi / semi-chareidi world - *many*, and
> possibly most Mo'atzot Datiyot in Israel and their kashrus setups are
> run by chareidi / semi-chareidi rabbonim)
> 2.  Most of the people in Israel are not religious, and would eat
> products which are traif (even b'di'eved) as easily as they would eat
> kosher.  Better to have them eat kosher using various heteirim, than
> eating traif.

> In other words, the kashrus system in Israel is geared to the *lowest*
> common denominator, not the highest one.

Then you and every single Chareidi Mashgiach who follows this are Over
(sin) Choteh U'Machtih (to sin and bring others to sin).  Especially the
disrespect shown in the 2nd option, as many non religious jews will keep
fully kosher kitchens -- and you are saying that you have no compunction
in treifing them, and you have no compunction in lying to them just b/c
they are not you!!! How DARE you?!!!

You are also over on Lashon Hara.  There are plenty of excellent regular
hashgachot, but you have now tarred them all with the same brush.

Next, Halachically I and hundreds of thousands of religious jews rely on
these hashgachot, never imagining that any person who calls himself
Chareidi (Fearful of Hashem) would do anything to jeopordize our souls.
I and others keep Kalah KeVachamurah including Lo Titgodedu, which means
that we will not eat any food without a rabbinate hechsher in Israel --
and having a BD"TZ hechsher (Eidah Chareidit or other) is not sufficient
without the product also having the local rabbinate approval.  Just the
fact that BD"TZ hechsher couldn't exist if the owners didn't pay for it,
while the rabbinate would exist even without the Kashrut department to
the extent that no state rabbi's income is dependant on his approving a
product as kosher, makes the rabbanut more reliable.

I hope you will tell the following to all your friends -- when the time
comes and I go to Shamayim and I will be questioned there, I intend to
formally charge all the Chareidi mashgichim who did not do their job
faithfully and I will ask that any damage to my soul done by these
people -- fall on their heads.  I hope others will join me and that you
will tell your fellow Mashgichim to first of all respect Hashem, respect
the rabbanim he gave the wisdom to to pasken and lastly -- respect your
fellow jew.

This is sent Erev Shavu'ot and it is a good time to accept the Torah
again and follow it faithfully and honestly.

Thank you.


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Jun 2000 21:52:54 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

"Anonymous" in in the course of a very enlightening discussion of "mehadrin",
ended with a story:

There is a story of a man who came to a shtetl and asked the rov about
the shechita.  The rov said he was the shochet, and the man said that
was good enough for him.  The rov then asked him for a sizeable loan,
and the man said "I'd like to give you the money, but I don't know you".
The rov then asked him, " You wouldn't lend me money because you don't
know me, but yet you would eat my shechita?  You don't even know if I
know what a chalef (special knife used for slaughtering) looks like!  Is
your money worth so much to you (and your neshomo worth so little) that
you are so careful about it, but so careless about your soul?"

    Actually, I think the man who didn't want to lend the rov money was
correct from the point of view of halakha.  Since the rov was the only
shochet, we can assume that he ate from his own shechita.  The Raavad
states, in his "issur mashehu" (his first work, composed in Lunel), that
one can stay at the house of a shochet who has been caught passing trefa
meat as kosher.  We assume that what the shochet himself eats is truly
kosher even though he doesn't care about what he feeds others.  This is
an unfortunate fact of human nature, but the halakha is not based on
wishful thinking. (By the way, I'm not a Rav myself and am not deciding
the law in favor of the Raavad; I'm just pointing out the psychological
principle he uses.)

    In Israel, conversely, I find it a useful rule to ask the kashrut
authorities--mashgichim, makhshirim--whether they eat from their own
hashgacha.  Most of the time the answer is no.  But even if the reason
for the "no" is certain "humrot" the mashgiach holds that I don't, the
fact is, as the Raavad says, there is no comparison between the
vigilance a Jew maintains when he knows he will have to eat from his own
hashgacha and the vigilance the same Jew has when he "only" has to worry
about others.  Again, this is far from normative Judaism, but halakha
realistically takes into account how human beings actually behave.  So I
think twice before eating where the mashgiach gives me that answer.


From: Joshua Hosseinof <hosseino@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 17:42:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Mehadrin vs. Kosher

I can think of several differences between Mehadrin/Badatz Hechsherim
and Regular kosher in Israel:

1. Glatt vs. Non-glatt meat (This I think is the most important
difference - those of us in NY are accustomed to eating in Kosher
restaurants where all the meat is Glatt.  In Israel, regular Kosher
restaurants have non-glatt meat.)  This is one of the reasons why people
associate Mehadrin with being Glatt.  There are however several more

2. Meat that is Soaked and salted within 3 days of slaughter or frozen
immediately and then soaked and salted after a much longer time.  Such
meat or restaurants that serve this meat will usually have the phrase
"Bassar Kafoo" (frozen meat) on the certificate of kashrut.

3. Chalav Yisrael vs. chalav stam (this is only an issue in packaged
foods that use milk powder since almost all fresh milk in Israel is
Chalav Yisrael)

4. The problem of milk that was milked on Shabbat from Jewish owned

5. Greater assurance of Trumot and Ma'asrot being taken from fruits and
vegetables (though to be 100% you should always separate it yourself).

6. Gelatin from hides and bones of non-kosher slaughtered animals.
Rabbanut hechsherim will write "Kosher L'ochlei Gelatin" on such items.
For Badatz it must be from kosher slaughtered animals.

7. On Pesach Badatz products do not have kitniyot, rabbanut hechsherim
will say "Kosher l'ochlei kitniyot" (This is more an issue of consumer

8. During a shmitta year (and for several months after) there is the
issue of using produce from heter mechira farms.

9. Overall better supervision.

Now once you know what all the issues are, you may decide that for meat
restaurants you will only eat at badatz/mehadrin places, but for dairy
regular rabbanut will suffice.  Or perhaps chicken you will buy with a
regular rabbanut hechsher (because all chicken is Glatt and it's almost
all domesticly bred in Israel so the soaking and salting is done
immediately) but beef or lamb you will only get badatz/mehadrin.

Besides the above halachic issues, there are the political ones.  Some
people may prefer to buy Badatz Belz, Badatz Agudas Yisrael, Badatz
Yerushalayim, Rav Landau because they are from a particular community.


End of Volume 32 Issue 51