Volume 32 Number 57
                 Produced: Sun Jun 18 21:37:01 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?
         [Alexander Heppenheimer]
Kosher L'Mehadrin (3)
         [Mark Steiner, Shoshana L. Boublil, Gershon Dubin]


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 13 Jun 2000 15:14:50 -0700
Subject: Re: Halakhically Legitimate Heterim --- Why Not?

In MJ 32:51, an anonymous poster wrote:

> 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.

It's a little more complicated than that. The Rema (Yoreh De'ah 116:5)
writes that a "baal nefesh" (someone who cares extra for his/her soul's
wellbeing) should not eat meat whose kashrus had been in doubt but which
a Rabbi permitted, if the Rabbi's decision was based on his own logical
analysis, rather than on an earlier written source (or, the Shach
(116:8) adds, a tradition from his teachers). The source for this is the
Gemara (Chullin 44b), which states that Yechezkel followed this

Now, on the face of it, you could use the same argument here: once the
Rabbi decided that the animal is kosher (based on legitimate principles
of halachic logic) - and G-d orders us to follow the opinions of our
contemporary halachic authorities - how dare Yechezkel, or any other
baal nefesh, flout G-d's will and say that "we know better," etc.? And
yet we see that the Gemara mentions this behavior approvingly, and the
Rema cites it as halachah (albeit halachah addressed to baalei nefesh

Clearly, then, G-d designed the Torah in such a way as to leave room for
actions beyond the bare minimum required by halachah, and He approves
such actions. Again, then, the argument can be raised that one's concern
for the neshamah (i.e., level of being a baal nefesh) should be at least
proportional to one's concern for the body and its comforts; how to work
this out is a matter for personal evaluation with an appropriate guide.

[In the case under discussion here, where the issue is one of bittul
(nullifying something unkosher with a preponderance of kosher), it is
true that the foregoing apparently wouldn't apply, since the heter for
that is clearly stated in the Shulchan Aruch. I don't know whether there
is any halachic source, though, that advises a baal nefesh to refrain
from eating such food; perhaps one of the MJ readers knows of such a
statement. At any rate, though, we do see that the idea of not relying
on (some) heterim in the area of kashrus is well established.]

> 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.

If a person has reached the level of bitachon (trust in Hashem) to act
this way in all areas of life - essentially, going through the motions
but never feeling that his or her own efforts actually control the
outcome - then, maybe, such a person would have the right to take the
same approach to their spiritual welfare. But let's make an honest
cheshbon hanefesh (spiritual stocktaking): how many of us have actually
reached that level? Me neither.

In any case, though, the issue here is not really one of bitachon. A
person who follows certain chumros, such as the one I mentioned above,
is not saying that he or she doesn't trust Hashem to tell us what's
right and what's wrong: that would indeed be chutzpah of the lowest
sort. What we're saying is that we would like to go beyond the bare
minimum requirements that He gave us, much as a loving child would want
to do far more for their parent than the basic actions expressing
"honor" and "respect" that are listed in the Shulchan Aruch. Provided
that we stay within the bounds that Hashem Himself gave us (for example:
not denigrating someone who doesn't follow this particular chumrah),
what's wrong with that?

In short, let's keep in mind the mitzvah of "kadesh atzmecha bemutar
lach" (sanctifying oneself by avoiding some things that are actually
permissible). Or, in the words of R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi, "The first
principle in serving Hashem is: what's not allowed is not allowed, and
what is allowed is not necessary."

Kol tuv y'all,


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 21:17:59 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

A recent poster asserted the following:

> 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.

    With all due respect, and appreciation for the hurt feelings of a
good Jew who was told by another anonymous poster that the rabbanut
hekscherim in Israel are geared to the nonreligious rather than the
religious (I'm oversimplifying what was said), these two paragraphs
contradict one another.  If the rabbanut hechsherim are reliable, as he
continues to believe, then the poster has nothing to worry about in
Heaven.  If the poster was persuaded that the "chareidi mashgichim" used
by the rabbanut are unreliable, then he can do teshuva now by not
relying on the rabbanut further without checking, and he will have no
sins to pour on the heads of the poor mashgichim.  In any case, I'm sure
the Ribbono Shel Olam can be trusted to do justly and needs no special
earthly prosecutors to help Him out.

    It is important, however, to distingush the kashrut authority
(i.e. rabbanut or moetza datit) in Israel from the kashrut supervisors,
the mashgichim; the poster's words confuse the two.  Mashgichim are not
responsible for the overall kashrut of a factory or hotel; they are not
necessarily rabbanim, but employees.  For example, a mashgiach is hired
to work from 9 to 2--I would not blame him in Heaven for what goes on
later.  He is told exactly what hachgachot to allow, and has no
discretion.  He's there to make sure that the instructions of the
rabbanut, whatever they happen to be, are followed while he's there.  He
sees that the flour is sifted, that there are no blood spots in the
eggs, that meat and dairy are kept separate, that the oven is lit by a
Jew, etc.  Hence, I think that the condemnation of "mashgichim" is
completely irrelevant to the issue, unless you believe that a mashgiach
should not take a position in any establishment that he wouldn't eat in
himself--I think myself that this is an unreasonable position to take,
one which would probably lower the level of kashrut in Israel.

    Now some words about the Badatz vs. rabbanut (I'm speaking of the
Eda Charedis, Jerusalem):

1.  In both the rabbanut and Badatz hechsherim the MASHGICHIM are not
paid directly by the firm.

2.  It is true that the Badatz charges money for their hechscher,as does
the OU in the U. S., but I believe that it is harder for the "rabbanut"
to remove a supervision from a company when they find wrongdoing than
the Badatz.  There was a recent convention of rabbanim in Jerusalem to
protest the growing practice of attacking rabbanim physically where they
dare to remove their supervision, the courts being very lenient in
sentencing the criminals.  Wouldn't you think twice about relying on a
hechscher when the rav involved is living under threat of violence?
(This was the case in the U. S. in the good old days.)

3.  I have heard from OU kashrut professionals who have personal
knowledge that the Badatz Eda Chareidis is a very good supervision.  On
the other hand the OU does not give a blanket endorsement to "rabbanut"
products without checking further.  (In fairness, let it be said that
sometimes the opposite occurs, as in the case of tuna fish.)

4.  As for lo titgodedu, I don't regard myself as a big enough halakhic
expert to challenge dayyanim like R Sternbuch, R. Fischer, and R. Blau
of the Eda.  From their point of view the Eda Chareidis well precedes
the State of Israel, so it is the rabbanut which are the interlopers.  I
note, however, that the "rabbanut" and the Eda each accepts the other's
marriages and divorces, thank Heaven.

5.  There is no such entity as "the rabbanut."  Each city has its own
standards.  For example, the Jerusalem rabbinate requires the use of
bug-free lettuce (grown in Gush Katif) even for the non-mehadrin
hechsher, on the reasonable grounds that there is no heter for eating
bugs, and that no hotel has the manpower to rid leafy vegetables of
insects as we do at home.  I note that it was the rabbanut, and not the
Badatz, that introduced this improvement.  But what about other cities?

6.  Another good word about our rabbanut (Jerusalem): their shechita is
regarded as top notch, and all the bnei yeshiva I know in Jerusalem
prefer the local rabbanut shechita to that of the Badatz for beef (I'm
not of course referring to the imported meat supervised by the Chief

From: Shoshana L. Boublil <toramada@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 23:24:15 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

> From: Dovid Oratz <dovid@...>
[del for bw]
> We thought we had an easy job and we told him
> that we did not know those Rabbis. The next day, he is back with two
> letters from Rabbis who work in the Chief Rabbinate saying, "Rabbi so
> and so's G-d fearingness is even greater than his wisdom..." -- we don't
> have to tell you the standard language of these letters. Now according
> to the law, if a product from abroad has a hechsher from a Rabbi and
> that Rabbi is known by Rabbis in the Chief Rabbinate, we MUST give the
> product a hechsher

As the legal aspect has been brought up, I would like to clarify the
legal situation.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has an Import Department.  Over the years
a list has been compiled of rabbis/hashgachot that are considered
reliable by Chief Rabbinate Hashgacha Dept.  This is not a blanket
approval.  Sometimes you will find two products with the Hashgacha of
the same rabbi abroad, one with the "Be' Ishur HaRabbanut HaRashit"
(with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel ) label -- and the
other without the Ishur (approval).  The product without the approval is
_not_ kosher for use in Israel.  If you come across such a product, you
can contact the Import Dept. and ask them about it.

So, just b/c a rabbi is "known" -- it doesn't mean that the Chief
Rabbinate "must" give the product a hechsher -- and there are sufficient
products without local approval to be found in various gas stations
across the country to give the lie to this claim.

OTOH, If Rav Eidlitz (for example) would send Rav Re'uven (some rav
mashgiach) on his behalf to be in charge of Hashgacha in a specific
plant, or the OU would send Rav Shim'on to be in charge on their behalf
-- then if Rav Eidlitz or the OU are found reliable, and they testify
that their Shaliach (emissary) is reliable -- would any of us question
them?  I doubt it.

Shoshana L. Boublil

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:12:09 -0400
Subject: Kosher L'Mehadrin

From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
<<What is meant by a "more meticulous (Jew)" -- what is a chumra, what is
simply putting down other Jews or setting themselves apart from other
(frum) Jews.  The implication might be that some Jews just want to keep
minimally kosher while others are more meticulous.  If this were
debate101 one could posit that some Jews keep kosher (period) and others
feel obliged to exceed the traditionally accepted norms (for whatever

	If this were debate 101 I would answer you that perhaps some
Jews want to keep kosher (period) and others, for whatever reasons, want
to "cut corners" and do less than kosher (period).

	I think broadbrushing all people who are more machmir than you
as holier than thou separatists is no better and no more helpful towards
achdus than calling all people who are less machmir than you,
lazy/superficial people who are looking for easy ways out.  Neither is
true and neither should have any place in our discussions.

	Your  "whatever reasons":

<<a more indepth knowledge of halacha and the food industry>>

	Sounds like pretty darn good reasons to keep a "chumra".  

	If I am more familiar with the halacha, and feel that based upon
my knowledge, this chumra is appropriate, am I wrong in not doing it
because it makes me look "frum"?  It appears to me that au contraire, the
first siman (paragraph) in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim contradicts this
very attitude.

	Likewise, if I am more familiar with the kashrus scene than you,
and know that what you think is kosher (period) in your terminology, is
in reality kosher (question mark) or even worse, should I eat it so you
won't think I'm unduly frum?

<<fear of HaShem?>>

	Something wrong with this as a behavior motivator?

<<Is it more kosher to have separate seating at a wedding?>>

	Maybe.  CYLOR.

<<Is it more kosher to wear a black suit to the pizza parlor on a 95 F

	Depends on the motivation.  CYLOR.

<<Is a shietel more kosher than a tiechel?>>

	Depends on the motivation.  CYLOR.

<<Is it more kosher to not say hello to the gentile as you walk down the

	Here we can agree;  it is more kosher to SAY hello to the gentile.

<<Is it more kosher to buy  Chasidishe Shita vs. OU or OK or Kof-K or
Star K?>>

	Not ipso facto that it is Chasidish.  There are areas in which
Chasidishe Shechita is better than the alternatives; some where they are
equal (or even the same-something that you'd have to know something
about the kashrus scene to be aware of) and some where they are worse.

	**Based on your knowledge**, therefore, and most definitely NOT
on what someone will think of you, you choose which of these is more
kosher.  CYLOR.



End of Volume 32 Issue 57