Volume 32 Number 63
                 Produced: Mon Jun 26 22:20:31 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kosher L'Mehadrin (4)
         [Alexander Heppenheimer, David Cohen, Kenneth G Miller,
Alexander Heppenheimer]
Kosher vs. M'hadrin (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Chaim Mateh]
Mehadrin: After 120


From: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 15 Jun 2000 11:13:04 -0700
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

In MJ 32:54, Danny Skaist <danny@...> wrote:
> <<RABBI: The hechsher is based on the famous heter of the Achiezer [Rabbi
> Chaim Ozer Grodzinski]. >>
> Is there anbody on this list who is willing (after 120 years) to look
> Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the eye and tell him that they were too
> observant to accept his heter ??

If I recall correctly (and I don't have the necessary sefarim available
now), R' Eliezer Silver, R' Aharon Kotler, and R' Moshe Feinstein
(zecher tzaddikim livrachah) opposed this heter. Is there anybody on
this list, then, who is willing to look those Gedolim in the eye and
tell them that they're being too strict in rejecting this heter?
Obviously, they had a perfect right to dispute R' Chaim Ozer's heter;
and that being the case, it's not for the kosher consumer to decide
between these different opinions - the only thing one can do is to ask
his or her LOR which opinion to follow.

Kol tuv y'all,

From: David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 13:49:00 -0400
Subject: Kosher L'Mehadrin

I have been fascinated by the discussion of the different kashrut
designations that appear in Israel. The question, however, that no one
seems to be dealing with is defining the term "kosher".

    Is kosher a relative term or an absolute term? In other words, when
dealing with an item or a certain practice (or whatever you want to
append the kosher adjective to) when you describe it as "kosher
lemehadrin" are you saying that that an item which is not "kosher
lemehadrin" is not kosher? Or can item be kosher, but relatively
speaking it is still unusable? (Or to use a mundane example, can you be
a little pregnant, or is it all or nothing?)

    Which brings me, to the question of the definition of chumra--- does
chumra mean that I am following a practice that is not required by the
halacha but for my own spiritual needs I do it anyway (and in that case
those that don't practice a particular chumra or acting perfectly within
the normative confines of halacha) or does chumra mean that the practice
I follow is the correct one out of 2 possibilities, one being a stricter
point of view and one being a lenient point of view, and therefore one
who does not practice in this manner is acting (at least according to
me) incorrectly. (I'm OK, but you're not).

    If we can agree on what we mean by terms "kosher" and "chumra", then
I think we can at least begin to understand each other.

David I. Cohen

From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 06:59:38 EDT
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

In MJ 32:51, "someone who has spent many years in the field of kashrus,
and asked to remain anonymous" wrote:

<<< 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 word. >>>

I have long searched for a source for this, and have been unable to find
one. If anyone knows of such a source, PLEASE let me know.

Anonymous continued: <<< 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. >>>

There is a big difference between Yiftach and Shmu'el on the one hand,
and our rabbis on the other: Real Semicha. When the Torah speaks about
following the authorized leaders of the generation, it is required that
they have been duly ordained by someone else who was authorized and
ordained, in an unbroken chain going back to Moshe Rabenu.

But this chain was broken many centuries ago. The semicha and ordination
which we have nowadays is comparable to a college degree: It certifies
that the person in question has completed a significant amount of Torah
learning, but nothing more than that. It is a useful tool to *aid* in
determining who knows more than who, but that's all.

It most certainly does not endow the rabbi with abilities such that <<<
when a rabbi paskens ... this psak is Hashem's word >>> Rather, when a
rabbi paskens, he is informing you that to the best of his
understanding, the halacha is such-and-such. But he might be wrong. If
he permits something which is actually forbidden, people will not get
off scot-free in Heaven by claiming that Rabbi XYZ said it was okay. His
psak may well be a mitigating factor, but my point is that the rabbi's
say-so does not make it inherently permissible.

The converse is a little more complicated. If the rabbi declares
something forbidden, then indeed it is forbidden even if the rabbi is
mistaken. But this is *not* because the rabbi is paskening "under the
Hashgacha of Hashem", as Anonymous claims, but for other reasons. But
even this only applies to specific tangible objects which the rabbi
rules on. If a person asks a question to the rabbi, about what the
halacha is in a certain situation, with no object be ruled on, then his
psak is *not* necessarily The Word Of G-d.

Of course, the average person is well advised to follow what the rabbi
says. Only a fool would ignore the advice of someone who is more learned
than he. However, if one has studied a certain area of Torah carefully,
and has come to a different conclusion than his rabbi, he is not bound
by that psak. Other rules may come into play, such as not standing out
from the rest of the community, or not undermining the authority of the
community's chosen rabbi, but let's get back to the original topic, that
of various competing hechsherim.

Chaim Tatel wrote <<< it is a "given" that every Rabbinate accepts every
other Rabbinate's hechsher. >>> And Anonymous responded <<< This is as
it should be. >>>

I respectfully, but forcefully, disagree. Just because some rabbi
somewhere declared a cookie to be kosher does not make it so. I have no
personal knowledge of the qualifications of anyone in the Israeli
Rabbinate, nor of the rabbis in any other kashrus organization. Most or
all may indeed be very qualified and reliable. But how can Anonymous
feel that accepting every other hechsher unquestioningly is <<< as it
should be >>> ??? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This
statement can only make sense in the context of Anonymous's other
remarks that if a rabbi paskens something to be kosher, then it is
kosher, period.

The reality is that different rabbis will have different opinions on
various issues. If Rabbi A rules leniently on a certain food-related
issue, then he is entitled to certify that food as kosher. But if Rabbi
B disagrees on that question, and according to him that food is
forbidden by halacha, then how can he allow it to be used as an
ingredient in something he certifies, just because it has Rabbi A's
hechsher on it?

Sources for much of the above include Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 242, and
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "Handbook of Jewish Thought", 10:40, 12:45, 12:62,
and elsewhere.

Akiva Miller

From: Alexander Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: 15 Jun 2000 13:29:23 -0700
Subject: Re: Kosher L'Mehadrin

In MJ 32:55, Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...> wrote:

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

Which may be - and is - perfectly true; but who says that this implies
putting down other people who can't (or won't) live up to that standard?
Yes, it is unfortunate that some people use chumros as a club with which
to bash others who don't follow them; but that's a fault of those
people, not of the chumros or hiddurim per se.

If one person can be "more meticulous" in dress, food (kashrus issues
aside), housing, etc., then what's wrong with being at least as
meticulous in mitzvos?

I submit that the real issues in evaluating chumros are:

(1) whether a particular chumra is encouraged (or at least sanctioned)
by a Torah authority; (2) whether all authorities agree that this
behavior is acceptable according to halachah (i.e., no one holds that
this chumra is actually in violation of halachah).

If a particular chumra meets both criteria, then, you might say that
it's "more kosher" to follow it, since everyone agrees that it meets the
minimum standards, and some opinions hold that it exceeds them. Which
doesn't mean that acting another way, then - under guidance of your LOR,
of course - is "less kosher": it's "kosher" without an adjective. (And
if a person who follows this chumra starts thinking that "kosher" equals
"less kosher," remind them that they're violating - not a chumra, but a
Biblical mitzvah - of Ahavas Yisrael.)

On the other hand, if a particular action fails criterion (1) - no one
holds that this is a more preferable way to act - then there's obviously
no reason to call it "more kosher." And if it fails criterion (2), then
ask your LOR: if he nonetheless prefers this course of action, then it
becomes "more kosher" for you, whereas for someone else (who follows a
different Rav), the best one could say of it is that it's at least as
kosher as the alternatives.

And, as always, watch out for things that are merely appearances of
greater frumkeit without any substance behind them. (This is not a new
problem, either - see Sotah 22b.)

With this, I would answer Carl's questions as follows:

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

Yes, since there are many Posekim who hold that it is better (or even
required), and no one holds (as far as I know) that it is in violation
of halachah.

> Is it more kosher to wear a black suit to the pizza parlor on a 95 F day?

No, because there is nothing in halachah that requires (or encourages)
wearing a black suit; it's a matter of appearances. [The issue of
chukkos hagoyim (not to imitate the non-Jews) means (according to some
opinions) that we shouldn't dress like them, but it doesn't prescribe a
particular outfit.]

> Is a shietel more kosher than a tiechel?

Based strictly on my definitions above, the answer would be, "They are
equally kosher," since there are Poskim who prefer a sheitel (since it
can cover all of the hair, whereas a tichel inevitably leaves noticeable
strands of hair sticking out), and others who prefer a tichel (since it
makes it obvious that the hair is covered, thus avoiding the issue of
mar'is ayin (appearance of violating halachah)). My own LOR - the
Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l - has stated several times that a sheitel is
preferable, for a number of reasons, and therefore that is "more kosher"
for me (or rather, for my wife); since you have a different Rav, a
tichel might be "more kosher" for you.

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

No, because there is no Posek who holds that this is halachically
preferable; indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 148:10) states that
it is better to greet a gentile than to wait for him to do so and then
to reply. Again, this behavior is something which has just an
_appearance_ of frumkeit, but no more (and in fact less), and definitely
does not deserve to be called a chumra.

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

Depends on what issues are involved. Are there any Posekim who hold that
whatever processes are involved in Chassidishe shechitah are less
preferable halachically? If so, then the decision of which is "more
kosher" for you will depend on which opinions your LOR follows. But if
(as I suspect) everyone agrees that Chassidishe shechitah meets or
exceeds all halachic criteria, then it would indeed be "more kosher" -
again, without any pejorative connotations about the alternatives.

Kol tuv y'all,


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 09:50:18 -0400
Subject: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

From: Danny Skaist <danny@...>
<<Is there anbody on this list who is willing (after 120 years) to look
Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the eye and tell him that they were too
observant to accept his heter ??>>

	No,  not if they are acting on their own.  

	But if I live in a community, of which AIUI the United States is
one, where the overwhelmingly predominant custom of both kashrus
organizations and their poskim, as well as kosher consumers, is NOT to
rely on this heter, then nobody on this list who lives in that community
has the *right* to use the heter.

	Are you now stating a general rule, that if any posek in any
time or place, in any area of halacha, promulgated a heter, that we will
be accused of being "frummer than thou" if we do not take advantage of
that heter?

	What about if any posek in any time or place, in any area of
halacha, promulgated an issur or chumra, will we be accused of
disrespect to that posek and to halacha in general, if we do not follow
that issur or chumra?

	Or is "not as frum as thou" somehow better than "frummer than
thou" ?


From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 23:06:50 +0300
Subject: Re: Kosher vs. M'hadrin

In vol 32 #54,  Batya Medad <isrmedia@...> wrote

<<Don't be so sure.  A few years ago visitors brought us a Badatz gift that
had kitniot, because there are now sephardi charidim.>>

That was a Sfardi Badatz.  AFAIK, none of the Ashkenazi Badatzim (Eida
Chareidis, Belz, Aguda, Rav Landau, Rav Rubin, Chassam Sofer, etc) give
hashgashos to kitniyos products for Pesach.

<<Luckily I checked everything first.>>

Checking which Badatz hechsher it was would have been sufficient.

Kol Tuv,


From: <dovid@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 19:02:24 +0200
Subject: Mehadrin: After 120

> Is there anbody on this list who is willing (after 120 years) to look
> Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski in the eye and tell him that they were too
> observant to accept his heter ??

So I guess you expect to see him (after 120) and be congratulated by him
for not being swayed by fanatics.

But there are also two other scenarios:

1) I see him after 120 and he sternly says to me "Yungerman [I imagine
R' Chaim Ozer calling me "Yungerman" even after a literal 120], why did
you not follow my heter?" I reply, "I was always taught to follow the
decisors BAYAMIM HAHEM [in those days], and all the standard [read,
non-fanatic] hechsheirim ruled that I could not eat gelatin." End of
scene: R' Chaim smiles.

2) You see him after 120. You go over to him and say, "You were my
Rav. I followed your heter and I ate gelatin." He sternly replies, "and
why did you not follow the ruling of the OU, OK, Khof K, Star K
etc. when every beginner in frumkeit knows that those are the basic
hechsheirim. What right did you have to follow my psak when the Rabbis
that you follow for everything else tell you not to?" End of scene:???

I"m sure you know the famous reply that Rav Moishe gave to a person who
was apologetic about questioning his psak. He said that the whole way of
psak is based on one person ruling as he sees it, another questioning
and so on, until a conclusion is reached.

I can relate if you would say that leniencies should be available to
beginners in Yiddishkeit, but why must everybody be bound by every
leniency that every great Rabbi says? [By the same token, I certainly
don't believe that everybody should be bound by every stringency that
every great Rabbi says!]


End of Volume 32 Issue 63