Home » Recent Posts, Religion and Jewish Thought, Robert Bel

Six reasons why you might already be keeping kosher

February 6, 2012 – 9:31 pm113 Comments

Can food be kosher without a label?By Robert Efraim Bel

So you only buy kosher meat, stay away from crustaceans, never mix meat and milk, and always check the food labels. You try your best but all this is of course a long, long way from keeping real kosher, committed kosher – the kind of kosher kept by those strange people in black hats. Those people who seem to inhabit a different world, the world in which there is no place for a person like you. You could never bring to your dining table the same devotion and piety as they do, right? Well, what if you could? What if keeping real kosher was within reach? Let me show you how you may be closer than you think:

Checking the ingredients is all good and well but what about factory equipment? Wouldn’t the products manufactured on un-kosher equipment also not be kosher?

The subject of equipment contamination is discussed by Rav Moshe Feinstein – a leading authority in all areas of Jewish law. In a lengthy ruling concerning the kosher status of margarine manufactured on a production line previously used for other non-kosher products (Igros Moshe, YD 2:41) the Rav establishes two important principles. The first is that halacha does not require a rabbi or mashgiach to be employed to ensure that the cleaning required for kashrus is satisfactorily implemented. Provided the factory cleans to what are halachically acceptable standards for its own food safety protocols, we can rely upon them and the governments guidelines and the government penalties. Rather than acting as a second-tier system inferior to the ‘gold standard’ of direct supervision, Rav Moshe argues that this standard is consistent with the very principles of traditional Jewish dietary supervision.

The second principle advanced by Rav Moshe has even greater repercussions. Jewish law postulates that a utensil used for cooking absorbs and retains flavour of the food cooked within it. If used again – the vessel may impart this absorbed flavour to the food now being cooked. If the absorbed food is not kosher, it may make the food presently being cooked not kosher. However, once unused for 24 hours (aino ben yoma), the absorbed food inside the walls of the container becomes spoiled (pogum) and can no longer affect the kashrus status of the next food being cooked (Shulchan Aruch, YD 103:5). Jewish law designates all utensils owned by non-Jews as aino ben yoma, unless we actually know otherwise.

Nevertheless, we are not permitted, by decree of our Sages, to use such vessels until they have been kashered. This applies when a Jew will be using these vessels, or where the non-Jew has been directed by the Jew to cook on behalf of a Jew. However, where a non-Jew decides to cook on behalf of a Jew, even if a rabbi or mashgiach is employed to ensure that non-kosher foods and ingredients are not used, the vessels need not be kashered and the foods are kosher. Rav Moshe’s argument essentially renders the cooking utensils factor a non-issue in the determination of the product’s kosher status.

What about enzymes? Some say that they don’t make it to the ingredients list. If they are not-kosher, wouldn’t that make the final product not-kosher too?

The general rule is that an ingredient inadvertently added to a food mixture is nullified at the ratio of 1:60. This rule is restricted to a Jew adding the non-kosher ingredient inadvertently. A Jew may never knowingly add even the tiniest amount of non-kosher content to a food designated for kosher consumption. However, here too we must observe that a non-Jew is not restricted by such decrees of our Sages. A food manufacturer who is not Jewish can produce kosher foods even when he adds non-kosher foods and ingredients, and even if a rabbi or mashgiach is there to supervise that the final product is kosher.

However, a substance necessary to effect a transformation that is impossible without it (such as an enzyme) can affect the kosher status in any quantity. We must remember, however, that a substance can only have a kosher status if it is a food item. Something that is not food or is derived from food but rendered inedible (Nifsal M’Achila) is neither kosher nor not-kosher.

Many of the enzymes used in food industry are derived from food, some from non-kosher food – but they themselves are not food. It is meaningless to talk of a kosher status of an inedible item. A halachic template for this is the use of dried-up shavings of a cow’s stomach wall to produce cheese (Shulchan Aruch YD 87:11). The stomach of a non-kosher animal is not kosher. However, when the stomach wall is dried up and added to milk to transform it into cheese, the ingredient does not render the cheese not-kosher. In the words of the Shulchan Aruch, the stomach wall has become ‘like wood’ and no longer has a non-kosher identity.

What about gelatine and cochineal?

Gelatine is derived from inedible parts of the animal, usually hooves, horns, bones or skin. During its manufacture, gelatine is denatured into a tasteless, colourless matrix which is completely inedible. Cochineal is a red tasteless substance derived from insects and used in minute quantities as a red food colouring. Neither of the substances could ever be described as food and therefore do not fall under kosher/not-kosher definition.

What about Chalav Yisroel milk?

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 1:47-49) argues clearly that the modern regulation requiring strict supervision and testing of milk at the factory level as well as the risk of financial loss to the farmer if the milk is found to be contaminated with non-cow milk, appropriately reflect the standard of supervision required by Jewish law. Once again, this is not some kind of ‘second tier’ observance but a standard in line with halacha. It is noteworthy to mention that while Rav Moshe himself drank only chalav yisroel milk, Rebetzin Feinstein did not (as communicated by Rebbe Chaim Jachter, www.koltorah.org).

But on Passover the rules are different. So what about food ingredients then?

On Passover any leaven material added to a food product retains its unique identity and is not nullified in any quantity. This, however, only applies when the leavened material is added during the days of Passover itself. If added prior to Passover, the leaven becomes nullified by the same measurements as other food products (the 1:60 rule usually applies) and ‘disappears’ within the food mixture. Thus the frenzy of obtaining Kosher for Passover foods is in many cases nothing but a figment of the imagination.

The last argument

This argument has nothing to do with kashrus, or with food for that matter. It is the argument that kashrut supervision (in the form of a little symbol on your food container) is somehow inherently good for us. This argument is advanced in many different forms by various players in the kashrus field. We are variously told that kosher certification is good because it gives jobs to frum people, because it raises awareness of kosher, because it encourages stricter observance, because ‘otherwise you just can‘t be sure‘.

Most of all, an assertion is repeatedly made that the Jewish dietary laws are so complex, that food manufacturing is so advanced that an average person could not possibly comprehend all the intricacies of the subject. It therefore follows that we shouldn’t even try and should entrust ourselves instead into the hand of ‘knowing men’ who will take care of it all for us. To put it simply, this is nonsense. Indeed, while I hold in great admiration those individuals who choose to undertake tougher, more stringent levels of observance incurring a significant degree of additional effort and financial cost in the process, this admiration does not extend to those who seek to impose upon others their own ethical constructs which they seek to pass as true foundations of Jewish law.

To keep a kosher home is to feel the gift of spiritual connection with G-dliness resting in the very heart of our home. It must never be made the privilege of a few – a special task to be outsourced to ‘those people in black hats’. The Sages of the Talmud use poignant imagery to illustrate the damage one does in the process of making another feel embarrassed, humiliated or left out: the redness that rushes to a person’s face is compared to spilling blood in murder. Indeed, today we witness a generation being ‘murdered’ in this way through their inability to participate in the sacred tradition of keeping a kosher home – a tradition increasingly out of reach for ordinary Jews.

It may be hard for some to imagine, but for a sizable proportion of the Jewish community, the very thought of walking into a specialty kosher store is out of the question – for reasons of distance, price, or sheer embarrassment. In recent years a growing list of items (strawberries, honey, olive oil to name a few) have been branded as ‘unacceptable without a kosher logo’ for reasons unrelated to food production. With every new item declared off limits another wall is erected, another boundary separates the life of an ordinary Jew from the aspirations of holiness and connection to the bigger whole we all seek.

This article cannot and is not intended to be a comprehensive kashrus manual. To those who feel that the kosher world is beyond their reach, it is an open invitation to learn and educate themselves while letting go of the false notions they may have taken as truths. To those who couldn’t imagine a life without kosher, it is a heartfelt plea to not let themselves be intimidated into supporting opinions and views that are passed off as authentic Jewish tradition but in fact corrupt the very tradition and values they are meant to represent.

It is fitting to conclude with the words of the Sages (Yerushalmi, Kiddushin 4:12): “A man will have to give an accounting to the Presence for everything his eyes beheld but he chose not to eat, though permitted and able to do so.”

Robert is an Orthodox Jew, a life-long learner, and a kosher consumer.

Print Friendly

113 Comments »

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I love this article. I keep a kosher home like the one I grew up in, which is like the one my mother grew up in, which is like the one my grandfather grew up in, which is as described in the first line of this article.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Mr Bel,

    Time and again the representatives of kashrus agencies have explained in great detail the halachic concerns involved in hashgocha (readers unfamiliar with the original halachic sources can access a plethora of material in this respect on the websites of the world’s major kashrus agencies, notably the OU and OK. Even the NSW KA has some excellent guidance and background on its site).

    However, scholar that you are Mr Bel, you have decided to dismiss or simply ignore many of the halachic concerns in your endeavour to denigrate these agencies and to whitewash those who believe that a kosher-lite (i.e. “reading the ingredients is sufficient”) approach is 100% acceptable.

    The agencies’ stringencies have nothing to do with so-called “ethical constructs”, but rather a desire to promote authentic kashrus adherence. If the majority of gedolim say that gelatine from non-kosher animals is treif, who the hell are you to come along and decide otherwise? Are you the author of a contemporary shulchan aruch and sheelos and teshuvos on kashrus? Or are you simply a semi-knowledgeable Jew who has decided that he knows far more than the greatest sages of ours and previous generations?

    Further, you aver that the “black hats”, by seeking to supervise food production, are humiliating and embarrassing the average kosher consumer and are therefore guilty of murder. Is this a sane, reasoned argument or the rantings of an anti-rabbinic nutter?

    (By the way, many kashrus agency representatives are not “black hat” charedi. Shock horror, some are even firebrand tzionim and dati leumi in the extreme…)

    What about attacking the rabbis for daring to rule on matters of hilchos niddah, hilchos kedushin, hilchos gittin, hilchos eruvin, hilchos Shabbos, etc., etc.? Are the rabbis also guilty of murder by “embarrassing” those who keep these mitzvos in a superficial manner? Should we also be ignoring the rabbis’ piskei din on such issues in order to feel good about our level of observance, even if it isn’t informed by a solid basis of knowledge?

    This all reminds me of the old story of the son who dressed up in a captain’s uniform and bought a boat. He visits his parents and boasts to them of his knowledge of the seas. His father says, “Listen son, by me you’re a captain, by Mamma you’re a captain, and by you, you’re a captain. But by a captain, you’re no captain!”

    Similarly, one can try to keep kosher in a superficial manner by “buying kosher meat, staying away from crustaceans, never mixing milk and meat, and checking food labels”. You’ll consider yourself kosher, and even some of your friends will consider you kosher. But by the standards enshrined in our Holy Torah, you’re simply not there yet in terms of full kashrus adherence.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Further to my previous comment, see the informative article by Rabbi Moshe Gutnick Shlita of the (NSW) Kashrut Authority on “Kosher Standards Today”. http://www.ka.org.au/index.php/Halachic_Policy/Kashrut_Standards_Today_-_An_Halachic_Discussion.html

    He too discusses the leniences that can be adopted if the non-kosher additive was from a non-Jewish factory and if it was bedieved. However, things in life are not as simple as Mr Bel would have us believe. Read the article for a more in-depth insight – one that Rabbi Gutnick is far better placed to offer than a layperson whose knowledge of the area is obviously limited.

    See also this article on the OK website – http://www.ok.org/Content.asp?ID=116

  • Mr. Joachim, your ignorance is frankly breathtaking.

    >The agencies’ stringencies have nothing to do with so-called “ethical
    >constructs”, but rather a desire to promote authentic kashrus adherence.
    >If the majority of gedolim say that gelatine from non-kosher animals is
    >treif, who the hell are you to come along and decide otherwise?

    I guess your “authentic” kashrut/Judaism throws out little things like the past several thousand years of halacha, texts like Yoreh Deah (for example 99). It may surprise you that the dried bones of prohibited animals are actually kosher according to halacha. Don’t believe me? Try reading materials from one of the Kashrut authorities you likely respect: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-palate-gelatin.htm
    (although these materials adopt unnecessarily stringent positions it al least acknowledges some of the non-stringent positions).

    The fact is that the leniancies you disregard and ridicule were widely used by our grandparents and their grandparents who had neither light boxes to check for bugs nor the luxury of relying on stringiencies such as “glatt” and supervision of pure orange juice. If they had, they would have starved when travelling on business. What do you imagine they could they have eaten while travelling in the days before commercial refrigeration and kashrut agencies?

  • I’ve recently started studying for semicha – Rabbinic ordination. When I finish in about 2 years (hopefully), I will have good knowledge of three important sections of Jewish law relating to kashrut, and the fundamental concepts that go along with them, all learnt directly from original sources with several of the major commentators.

    Will that give me the knowledge to make pronouncements and rulings such as those in this article? Hardly! For every one of the points raised, there are hundreds of commentators and thousands of pages and responsa discussing the details and the pros and cons of each side, and the conditions under which they can or cannot apply. The people who wrote those commentaries had themselves studied for many years and thousands of hours, and read everything anyone else had ever written on the topic so that they could become subject matter experts in those areas.

    For people in these pages to argue over the application of Yorah Deah 99 is akin to some of the discussions taking place in online forums on the subject of medical diagnosis and treatment. If you were experiencing unknown medical symptoms, would you self-diagnose and treat using Google? Once diagnosed, would you seek out a well-known and published specialist or rely on word-of-mouth from someone who knows someone whose cousin had something similar to what you have?

    On Pesach, several people in my community have a custom to go back to basics, and not to use ANY processed products (not even that delicious Swiss chocolate). The food is simple and tasty.

    This is probably what keeping kosher was like for my parents and grandparents in Eastern Europe. Things were much simpler than the complex manufacturing processes prevalent today, and as a result, it was a lot easier to keep kosher. Many of the leniencies discussed in this article just didn’t come up in daily life. The galah that my late grandmother made was thickened using actual calves feet, and it was probably invented because they needed to use every single part of the animal possible. I don’t even want to think about what they do with calves feet now, nor what goes into the delicious sausages I get from the local kosher butcher!

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  • Mr. Werdiger, with all due respect, I believe you have missed the point. The fact is that many of the stringencies that kashrut bodies and consumers follow are well beyond what our grandparents and their grandparents followed. For example, how many “mainstream” kashrut organizations allow non-glatt meat today? Generations ago few followed glatt standards. Why? Because they and their neighbors typically pooled what money they had to buy an animal to slaughter. If it was found to have a problem, that money was lost and their stomachs went unfilled. Clearly, if one followed a glatt standard, there would be a significantly higher rate of meat being rejected. Were our ancestors less pious? Absolutely not, in fact they were more pious than us. A mark of a great Rav used to be his ability to find a way to mattur for example meat when questions arose so people were able to eat instead of starve and not suffer a loss. Today the whole world is topsy turvy and the mark of great Rav is to assur right and left and as a result the prices of staples such as meat and supervised frozen/canned vegetables continue to escalate and people without pay more than they need to for a kosher diet. We all see on a daily basis the impoverishment of many in our community of those who are mistakenly led to believe that the most basic of products must have the highest levels of supervision when none of that was true until the last 70 years or so.

    Mr. Joachim states that “If the majority of gedolim say that gelatine from non-kosher animals is treif, who the hell are you to come along and decide otherwise?” and throws away rulings going back thousands of years. I don’t expect you to comment on the fact that this is a modern stringency and that halacha reflects that the bones from treif animals used to make gelatin can be treated as kosher and that a century ago few in “mainstream” Orthodoxy followed such stringencies. Such talk would keep you from getting smicha.

    Using modern technology, a simple person today has access to the thousands of commentators and responsa at the touch of a few buttons, something that those in previous generations simply did not have as there were few extensive collections of seforim. Why should we ignore that? Do you really believe that if someone had a serious medical problem they should ignore the wealth of medical material available to them in on-line medical databases? That there is no benefit is discussing matters on forums or referring people to source materials? Just because there are several commentaries or responsa on a matter, we should not discuss matters? Why would you read a forum or post on it when you denigrate the idea or benefit of such discussions? Do you believe if the Rambam were alive today he wouldn’t be making use of this technology or commenting on such issues in on-line forums? Of course he would. All his writings demonstrate that he read everything he could get his hands on including what would clearly be labelled kfira today (and likely then too). Of course, the powers that be would attack and denigrate him publicly today for all of this, just like they did in his own time.

    >On Pesach, several people in my community have a custom to go back to
    >basics, and not to use ANY processed products (not even that delicious
    >Swiss chocolate). The food is simple and tasty.

    So we should catch our own fish, slaughter our own meat, raise our own chicken for eggs, grow our own fruits and vegetables and make our own matzah? And fry everything in chicken schmultz? Why not year round? Where do they get their salt, their sugar, their potato starch, their spices, their oil? Of course, when we have large operations that produce such products it results in greater yields and cheaper costs and a higher standard of living. Do we have more food and a greater variety of foods that a few generations ago?

    >This is probably what keeping kosher was like for my parents and
    >grandparents in Eastern Europe. Things were much simpler than the complex
    >manufacturing processes prevalent today, and as a result, it was a lot
    >easier to keep kosher.

    It was easier also to keep kosher when you do not take on unnecessary stringencies. But again, when your ancestors in Europe traveled on business what and where did they eat when kosher kitchens were unavailable? Did they bring their own light boxes with them? Where did they get their baked goods from (as of course unprocessed items were fresh for the briefest of times)? Did they not eat fish when traveling? Or did they catch that too? How did they cook it? Seriously, was it really easier to keep kosher? Perhaps if one starves when traveling instead of eating. One clearly had to rely on leniencies to eat from non-supervised markets, bakeries and restaurants. This required a knowledge of halacha that many today have replaced with an ignorance of halacha and an expertise in symbol recognition.

    >A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    Yes its what had led to the ignorance of this generation when it comes to their knowledge of kashrut and their reliance on symbols when determining what they can eat rather than a knowledge of actual halacha.

  • Yaacov says:

    How simple keeping kosher is today. All you need is to buy a book from Kosher Australia and all your problems are answered.

    I feel that things have not gone far enough, when are we going to have personalised kosher inspectors roaming the houses in the community so that we can know exactly whose houses we can be invited to for a meal and which houses are treif.

    And while we are on the topic of kosher authorities and the Bizzaro world that they live in, could someone please explain how the Rabbanut in Israel (even their mehadrin kashrut) is not listed by Kosher Australia as a legitimate certification. Or perhaps why the NSW authority is legitimate, but we cannot rely on them for any of their products in Melbourne (such as Slurpees).

    One thing is for certain, I am certain it could never be politics.

  • Australian Kashrut Organizations

    Registration Removed
    ADELAIDE KASHRUT (SA BN04767871)
    KASHRUT AUSTRALASIA (NSW BN97849239)
    MIZRACHI KASHRUT (VIC 1194263K)
    THE NSW KASHRUT AUTHORITY INCORPORATED (NSW P35397220)

    Current Registration
    MELBOURNE KASHRUT PTY LTD (ACN 074 523 989)
    THE KASHRUT AUTHORITY (NSW BN98171132)
    KASHRUT AUTHORITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA (WA BN09821326)
    THE KASHRUT AUTHORITY OF AUSTRALIA (NSW BN98395438)
    THE NSW KASHRUT AUTHORITY INC (NSW Y1165144)
    KASHRUT CERTIFICATION OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA & NORTHERN TERRITORY (SA BN05114196)
    THE KASHRUT AUTHORITY OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND (NSW BN98395439)

  • Mandi Katz says:

    David – it’s true that we use far more processed food products than was the case in our grandparents’ day but it’s also true that food labelling requirements (in Australia in any event) are more stringent.

    If a cheese stipulates that it used a non animal rennet, how is that problematic?

    And as to machinery, well ask people in the 70 plus age group who grew up in Australia, England or South Africa (maybe it was different in the US, even then) and they will say that when they were kids it was acceptable even in very observant homes to use basic products like canned vegetables without a hechsher- productionof which obviously involved the use of plant equipment.

    When and why did that change?

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Mandi – there is a rabbinic gezera (decree) against using cheese produced by non-Jews, even if it contains vegetarian rennet.

    Interestingly, the London Beth Din says that any canned vegetables are acceptable, but this standard is not accepted by kashrus authorities elsewhere, such as in Australia. There are legitimate issues relating to the additives and other use of the machinery.

    jewishwhistleblower – your ignorance is breathtaking (yes, I can also hurl insulting epithets, as you have done). you picked up on one point in my previous posting (about gelatine), and then proceed to ignore the lengthy discussion in the article from the OK (about the problems with gelatine) that you cite in your favour. However, all the other arguments I cite you have chosen to ignore. Similarly, you have deliberately misinterpreted David’s comment about self-diagnosis and doctors.

    You might think that you are doing the public a favour by exposing your thoroughly ignorant views on kashrus, but the opposite is in fact the case: You are causing simple Yidden to be led astray and to follow a Judaism divorced from the rabbis and rabbinic teaching. You are comparable to the pioneers of the early Reform movement in Germany, who regarded Yiddishkeit as a tawdry plaything to be manipulated at will according to the whims of time and place.

  • ariel says:

    I recall a few years ago I was at my parents’ cousins in Israel.

    They grew up in very frum homes in Europe and are frum to this day.

    However, they said “we don’t know much [about the intricacies of kashrut and shabbat]. we just know what our parents and grandparents told us back in the old country. and that wasn’t much because they weren’t learned or wealthy. now we have shiurim and books open to us to learn more. my children know much more than we ever did”.

    That is the reason why our grandparents were lenient – mainly because they were ignorant of halacha and too poor to go to the extremes many of us go to today. Sure there are poor people and they should be allowed to follow leniencies which the rest of us don’t have such an excuse to hold.

  • gedalia says:

    If it is a very simple arguement that our grandparents and their previous generations had simple standards of kashrut and took a lenient approach, it is an equally simple arguement that we are not living in their era and don’t have the same issues.

    Obviously, food production is more complex, therefore complications arise today that never previously existed.

    Also, if the technology and the capability is available to ensure full observance of halacha, why not take the benefit of it?

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    Having read the article and the comments I feel that there can be no doubt that there is a push by the pious to be ever more stringent. But what drives this? True as a society, we are immeasurably more wealthy than our Eastern European forbearsand this enables us to purchase stringency in the form of hashgachas but as a number of comments have pointed out, the burden of this punctiliousness falls disproportionately on large families that have only small incomes.
    My natural inclination is to be lenient but I am mindful that being Jewish is not about an individual’s relationship to G-d, but his relationship to the House of Israel and so we lenient ones must keep pace. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a mechanism in halacha for drawing a line and declaring a boundary – every morning we are reminded of the mitzvot which have no fixed measure – and certainly no Rabbi has been favourably noticed for saying “Yes”.
    For the time being at least, stringency rules.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to all. I wish to address comments posted by Harry Joachim: Feb 8,2012:1:04 am

    “If the majority of gedolim say that gelatine from non-kosher animals is treif, who the hell are you to come along and decide otherwise?”

    Firstly, there is no reason to be rude and/or aggressive.

    Secondly, Yes, We can agree – but that is a very big IF, IF THE MAJORITY OF GEDOLIM SAY THAT GELATINE FROM NON-K ANIMALS IS TREIF.
    Have you done the count?
    How do we determine who is a Gadol?
    And lets just say that the majority do rule that gelatine is not K, why are we to dismiss the opinions of various Gedolei Yisrael who rule that gelatine IS Kosher?

    PG I will post more after Shabbos

  • Meir Rabi says:

    I wish to address additional comments posted by Harry Joachim: Feb 8,2012:1:04 am

    “Are you the author of a contemporary shulchan aruch and sheelos and teshuvos on kashrus? Or are you simply a semi-knowledgeable Jew who has decided that he knows far more than the greatest sages of ours and previous generations?”

    Harry, you ask strange questions.
    If Mr Bel is an author of a contemporary Sh”A would you be any less opposed to what he is saying?

    Let’s say he is only a semi-knowledgeable Jew, yet he has quoted a well known Posek, HaRav Moshe Feinstien. Is that not worthy of some consideration? Does that not make you pause to consider his view?

    You say Mr Bel is opposing “the greatest sages of ours and previous generations”, yet you only a moment ago suggested that there are indeed Gedolim who do agree with him (although by your count and ranking they would only be a minority)

    Have a Gutt Shabbos

  • frosh says:

    Gedalia,

    The problem isn’t only about money, it’s about social divisiveness.

    When people won’t eat at other people’s houses because they don’t rate some hechshers etc

    For example, in Melbourne, I understand many Chabdniks and Adassniks won’t eat meat from the other’s butcher. Another example, I personally don’t eat food with gelatine but I understand that the Israeli Rabbanut give a hechsher to products that have gelatine based on the reasoning outlined in the article.
    I certainly don’t think it’s appropriate for me or anyone else to say that people who eat products with an Israeli Rabbanut hechsher are eating treif!

  • Rachel SD says:

    The most prohibitive ruling isn’t always the most pious and sometimes a ruling that is prohibitive in one situation is conceptually bound to a lenient ruling in another situation. There’s nothing Jewish or religious about having a predilection for prohibition: that’s just plain old conservatism (which, by the way, some of the commenters have in spades)! I would argue that the Jewish disposition is more toward (a) having a coherent interpretation of the underlying legal principles, and (b) having a good understanding of the diversity of plausible such coherent interpretations – that’s the intellectual essence of the halakhic tradition.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    I wish to address more comments posted by Harry Joachim: Feb 8,2012:1:04 am

    Harry says –
    “Similarly, one can try to keep kosher in a superficial manner by “buying kosher meat, staying away from crustaceans, never mixing milk and meat, and checking food labels”. You’ll consider yourself kosher, and even some of your friends will consider you kosher. But by the standards enshrined in our Holy Torah, you’re simply not there yet in terms of full kashrus adherence.”

    Well said Harry, and you have hereby proved Mr Bel’s point. You have just now demeaned all those Jews who do not keep Kosher to your standards, never mind that there are some rabbis (who you concede are Gedolim even by your standards) who approve of the Kosher guidelines (more or less) as outlined by Mr Bel.

    Is this not precisely the point made by Mr Bel?
    Unfortunately we know too well that these emotionally driven observations regarding Kashrut, are not only expressed in words but in actions as well. We use it to build barriers rather than building bridges. It does not sit pretty when looked at with an unbiased eye.

    Harry, are you sure that you are making Gd happy with your comments?
    Do you not think that a more balanced and tolerant posture would be more in keeping within “the standards enshrined in our Holy Torah”?

    I do not know who you are, I assume you know who I am. I beg you to please reconsider your tone and redirect your energy and enthusiasm to promote Torah and Halacha as we would imagine it being promoted by Chief Rabbi Sacks or those of his stature.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    I am shocked that you have reserved all your criticism for me, rather than attacking the arguments put forward by Mr Bel, whose article is a blatant attempt to demonise and deride established kashrus agencies and promote a “kosher-lite” path for the masses.

    Are you saying that it is perfectly acceptable to read the ingredients on the packaging to determine if the food is kosher? Are you saying that it is perfectly acceptable to follow your own reasoning in terms of kashrus rather than those of rabbis who are far more knowledgeable in the field?

    Are you happy for Jews to adopt a do-it-yourself Judaism? Is this not the modus operandi of the Reform movement?

    No wonder your Kosher v’Yosher/It’s Kosher supervision is so controversial – and unreliable…

    Harry Joachim

  • Sam says:

    I thought that Robert Bel’s article was a refreshing change from some of the earlier threads that have appeared on GA in it’s deliberate attempt to avoid pedantic stringencies and by its tone was written to attempt to be inclusive of most of us Jews.
    Rabbi Rabi also makes the point maybe Harry Joachim’s calling for ever higher standards of Kashrus is perhaps demeaning and intolerant of those that do their best but for financial or other reasons cannot acheive the lofty standard he expects for observant jews. I applaud Rabbi Rabi for those comments.
    Does it mean according to HJ that you have special “yikhes” if you are invited to dinner to a colleague (who keeps kosher),and you must question who their butcher is, and then after finding who, refuse to eat the meal.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom David, I wish you the very best in your endeavours to gain Semicha; and even if you do not, which I think most unlikely, I am sure that you will have gained much from your efforts and studies.

    Your comment “for every one of the points raised [by Mr Bel] there are hundreds of commentators and thousands of pages and responsa discussing the details” is true. This of course leads to your conclusion, framed as a rhetorical question, “Will that give me the knowledge to make pronouncements and rulings such as those in this article? Hardly!” But you, and I think many others on this forum, are making an assumption that needs to be questioned: has Mr Bel perhaps consulted with a Posek, a learned Halachic authority, and is posting ideas that have been vetted by that Posek. Remember Harry J has already informed us that there are some Gedolim who permit, at least some of these things.

    Why need Mr Bel post comments that are the opinion of a Posek and not allow that Posek to speak for himself? Or quote that Posek by name? The answer to that question may be reflected in the disclosures recently made by Rabbi Freilich in the AJN, where he speaks of very aggressive rabbis attacking and blackmailing other rabbis who in fact are working in the same rabbinic organisation. It is well known that the great Gaon, HaRav Sh Z Auerbach had his windows smashed by those who disagreed with various Halachic rulings of his. The aggression and wild illogical arguments voiced in this discussion by some posters, does not suggest anything much different.

    And David, forgive me for saying this, but you too, although not aggressive at all, have attacked the player rather than the ball. All you have told us is that Mr. Bel and perhaps the rest of us, are not competent to deal with the Halacha. You have not told us who is competent. You have not told us what criteria will determine who is a competent Halachic authority. Neither have you validated your argument with any Halachic support. Why would you aver that Mr Bel or anyone else for that matter has no right to study, analyse and suggest Halchic guidelines? Are we not permitted to argue a Halachic point with a rabbi or a Posek? And Mr Bel offers an opinion, a perspective not a Halachic ruling.

    David, your imagery of the Kashrus of your grandparents, your rose tinted glasses, are a delight to look through and are also important to maintain our respect and admiration for our grandparents and Ggranparents. However, there is another element to be noted. Our ancestors did not have two sinks, two ovens, two cookers etc etc etc. YET they kept Kosher. I am inclined to think they kept Kosher of the highest order; they kept Kosher in a manner superior to ours; they had no need to disqualify others, segregate classes, create castes and demean others living in the same congregation or the same village, in order to satisfy themselves that they were fulfilling Gd’s will.

    Indeed they were not grappling with the issues we deal with – they were dealing with far harsher realities: is the beast they just bought and slaughtered Kosher or Treif? And the rabbi’s main job was finding ways to permit that meat. And if he permitted it he would eat it himself. You know David, I am sure, many stories describing just that scene. Compare that to today’s “Halachic” fences that can obstruct even the same family sitting at one table and sharing food from the same kitchen. These Halachic considerations are insignificant by comparison – yet they are imposed with far more rigor and insensitivity and dare I say it far less Halachic competence.

    Of course we all agree with your conclusion, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, but not thinking or questioning is not only dangerous but anathema to our religion and destructive in the extreme.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Harry, you say the strangest things.

    For example, “the London Beth Din says that any canned vegetables are acceptable, but this standard is not accepted by kashrus authorities elsewhere, such as in Australia. There are legitimate issues relating to the additives and other use of the machinery.”

    Would anyone think that the issues are not legitimate?
    Well, yes; the London Beth Din certainly considers that there are no legitimate reasons to disqualify all canned vegetables and fruit.
    Are these some of the Gedolim you spoke of earlier who are a minority? Perhaps the LBD has a different scale for measuring Gedolim and according to them the majority of Gedolim rule as per Mr. Bel?

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Ariel, please do not say, “the reason why our grandparents were lenient – mainly because they were ignorant of halacha and too poor to go to the extremes many of us go to today.” It is untrue and demeaning.

    Even if they were not learned they had rabbis to whom they were very devoted and who directed them. Our grandparents were prepared to make and did make great sacrifices to maintain their heritage and loyalty to Gd. They did not use poverty as an excuse to compromise on Halacha.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    A story about how things have shifted.

    I remember as a kid our absolutely Orthodox rabbi came over to visit my parents. Our house was not a shomer shabbat house (although I was, then). My mother offered the rabbi tea and cake and he asked if it was milchik. She explained that it had no milchik ingredients but has been baked in a milchik pan. He said that was fine and had a piece of cake and a cup of tea. He accepted in good faith that my mother was reliable even if she wasn’t fully observant.

    Can you imagine a rabbi of today doing that today in the home of a non shomer shabbat congregant?

    We have lost more than we have gained by this stringency.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    I applaud Yakov for his penetrating questions [which in all probability will elicit a response that follows the tradition established by those who on this site and in these type of discussions provide their anticipated, well rehearsed or automated responses (four feet good, two feet bad)] Yakov’s question will be ignored and will go unanswered.

    So I will repeat the questions
    could someone please explain how the Rabbanut in Israel (even their mehadrin kashrut) is not listed by Kosher Australia as a legitimate certification.
    could someone explain why the NSW authority is legitimate, yet we cannot rely on them for any of their products in Melbourne (such as Slurpees).

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Harry,
    I have looked at the links you provided.
    Rabbi Moshe Gutnick’s article refers I believe, to the Teshuva that Mr Bel refers to and only legitimises Mr Bel’s argument. Rabbi Gutnick is inclined in a more strict fashion than is Mr Bel but that is his prerogative and is the nature of Halachic discussion.
    The article from the OK runs to more than 3000 words. It adds nothing of substance to Mr Bel’s points nor to your counter considerations.

  • R B says:

    Interesting. It seems that we in Melbourne are more limited in our food choices because Kosher Australia is too strict. For example, in Israel all function galls serve Campari at their bars and the bottles even bear a Kosher certificate issued by the a Rabbi from Italy, but in Melbourne it is considered non-Kosher because it contains red colouring made from cochineal, which is discussed in the above article. Add to this food supplements packed in gelatin capsules, (excellent) Nimbin cheese which is vegetarian but for some reason not Kosher, etc. etc.

    However, there is one thing bothers me much more, and these are the super-hefty prices of Kosher meat, especially chicken. I cannot find a reason why Kosher chicken fillets should cost 200% more than the trafe ones. Are the chooks, which are going to end their lives in Kosher slaughter, fed on a diet of diamonds and gold? The gap in beef and lamb is smaller, but still, they are expensive. I personally know middle-class households in Melbourne, in which meat is eaten only in Shabbat because of its hefty prices, and even then they buy the cheap cuts/products, like mince or chicken wings.

    True, the Shechita, salinisation etc. make the end product more expensive, but by 200%???

    It seems that someone makes a lot of money if the loyalty of us to our religion and traditions. and time has come for a consumer act against this rip-off. Our brothers in Israel did that a few months ago; they stopped buying cottage cheese due to its hefty price, and forced the dairies to reduce the prices of dairy products – a popular Israeli staple: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottage_cheese_boycott

    Now it is our turn.

  • Marky says:

    The following seems to explain the gelatine issue quite well:

    http://www.kashrut.com/articles/DryBones/

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Dear Rabbi Rabi,

    You have failed to address the issues I raised in my latest posting above, namely:

    1. Whether or not you support Robert Bel’s claim that reading ingredients on the packaging is a sufficient manner in which to keep kosher.

    2. Whether you support Robert Bel’s argument that the kosher agencies worldwide are guilt of “murder” by purportedly humiliating Jews who keep merely read the ingredients on packaging in order to determine if something is kosher.

    If you do not support these positions, why have you failed to attack them, rather than vociferously attacking me, David Werdiger, Ariel and anyone else who has sought to correct the mistruths in the article?

    Do you honestly believe that Robert Bel’s article helps to promote kashrus awareness and brings Yidden closer to mitzvah adherence? Is that why you are so gung ho in attacking me, David and others who view it as problematic?

    By the way, I would also like to draw your attention to false advertising on your Kosher veYosher website. You write that KvY is “recognised” by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. However, you do not substantiate this claim, other than showing that one of the products you supervised has an ishur from the rabbanut. Any legitimate kosher supervising agency – even with minimal standards – can get an ishur from the rabbanut for products imported into Israel. There are a plethora of imported products from Europe and elsewhere in Israel that have an ishur, even though the supervision is provided by authorities who are not widely accepted, such as Star-K.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Oops, I meant Triangle-K, not Star-K!

  • Marky says:

    I have just had a look through Harav Moshe’s Teshuvah on margarine brought by the author of this article. It seems from that teshuva that Rav Moshe would in fact hold the opposite in today’s manufacturing.

    He specifically talks about a plant that closes down from Friday afternoon until Monday morning(the author should have included this in his article, otherwise it is misleading).. So it is for sure eino ben yomo. In today’s factories where they process both products with meat and ones without meat, regularly doing both on the same day in the same utensils, it would still not be Kosher.

  • ariel says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    In my comment about our grandparents, I was alluring to the story of the young girl in the shtetl who brought a chicken to the rabbi as her mother suspected it was not kosher. The rabbi ruled it was not.

    Soon after another little girl brought a chicken to the rabbi with the same question. The rabbi ruled the chicken kosher.

    The rabbi justified this on the grounds that the first girl came from a financially comfortable family that could afford to buy a new chicken. The second girl’s family was poor and so, a leniency would have to be employed to enable them to eat the chicken.

    So back then, even if laypeople may not have wanted to compromise on halacha, the rabbis often forced them too for genuine reasons (often without the family knowing, as above).

    I don’t for one minute suggest our ancestors compromised; I suggest that the rabbis employed necessary leniencies and that food production was not as sofisiticated so as to require the extent of hashgacha which contemporary kashrut agencies employ.

    What I do suggest is that many kept sincerely kosher by reading the ingredients on a jar because it was sufficient to do so (actually my great-grandmother made all her own food at home until she died n the 1960s and saw no need to buy processed goods). However, the question here is that nowadays, may one rely solely on reading ingredients? Or does the use of complex machinery and the fact that multiple types of products are produced on the same machinery require Hashgacha?

    Thank you, A.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Ari, and thank you for your elaboration and contribution

    The story you tell is a Halchic principle – HefSed MeRuBah, a significant loss. Halacha recognises these considerations and never deemed the ruling influenced by these considerations to be a sub-standard ruling. That is why I emphasised in my posting that the rabbi who ruled in favour of the chicken being Kosher would without hesitation eat that chicken.

    The same principle of HefSed MeRuBah and Halchic standards and values, applies regarding the need to have food for Shabbos or for visitors or in a situation where one would be embarrassed if the food was not available.

    Halacha is an elusive and subtle discipline. It will urge stringencies on the one hand but at the same time will see no evil or unpleasant shortcut or sense of compromise in ones loyalty to HaShem when those stringencies are not applied. It is widely known that HaRav M Feinstien suggested that whisky aged in wine casks not the best option, yet he clearly says that when he is at a LeChaim and is offered such a drink he participates without hesitation; and that he was quite comfortable with his Rebbetzin using non.Chalav Yisrael.

    The very fact that we find this a little unusual and inexplicable is testament only to how far we have drifted from Reb Moshe’s Torah and life perspectives.

    No one wants to compromise Halacha. But we need to be trained to understand what compromise is. Consider the following for example: one who must bring a sin offering, may be means tested; the wealthy sinner must bring a large imposing animal sacrifice whereas the pauper must bring a meal offering. What if the pauper feels that he wants to truly repent and saves his pennies to bring a wealthy man’s sacrifice? Is he not to be applauded for his great sacrifice and carried on our shoulders as a sterling example of one who is Loyal to HaShem?

    No. In spite of his best intentions, the pauper has not fulfilled his duty and must still bring his sacrifice, the humble meal offering.

    I humbly suggest that the reason for this is that the great personal sacrifice made by the pauper has eclipsed the true nature of repentance and forgiveness. I fear that in our world we too are drifting in a direction that is inclined towards external and superficial displays of loyalty and this eclipses what should be our holy devotion; it saps our energy and distracts our minds from true expressions of loyalty.

    If a rabbi did not disclose his lenient ruling to a poor family it was due to the imagery I have outlined above; it had nothing to do with protecting the family from being troubled by utilising a lenient ruling. It would have been to protect them from the distortions of their own misplaced beliefs.

    You ask if it is correct to “rely solely on reading ingredients?” We have yet to see the Halachic argument that prohibits this. Mr Bel has put forward a well reasoned case that warrants serious thought. Even if his arguments fail to persuade you and I, they still need to be carefully appraised with regards to us accepting willingly and wholeheartedly, that our brothers and sisters are eating Kosher and that we may well be Halachically bound to accept an invitation to sup with them rather than dismiss their devotions as meaningless.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Marky, thanks for the link to Rabbi Blech’s article on gelatine.

    You are correct re Reb Moshe’s Teshuvah: the factory was shut for 24 hours. But I draw your attention to Mr. Bel’s article,
    “However, once unused for 24 hours (aino ben yoma), the absorbed food inside the walls of the container becomes spoiled (pogum) and can no longer affect the kashrus status of the next food being cooked (Shulchan Aruch, YD 103:5). Jewish law designates all utensils owned by non-Jews as aino ben yoma, unless we actually know otherwise.”

    So we need not verify that the utensils are not B”Yoma; unless we actually know otherwise, Halacha guides us to rely on the principle of a double doubt – SeFek SeFeika – to permit the foods cooked in those utensils.

    Regarding Rav Blech’s article on gelatine, he clearly recognises that there is a legitimate and significant body of Halachic opinion that rules gelatine to be Kosher.

  • Ari says:

    * It is important for Rabbinic authorities to ensure that their rulings can be upheld by the community. This perhaps means that there is room to be more lenient since most of the community does not keep kosher. For this I think the article is important.

    * Still those who are committed and don’t have a financial impediment should keep kosher to the highest degree possible. I am sure everyone would agree that leniencies are not the ideal – except when other considerations are at play. (From my reading of the sources I don’t think our earlier Rabbis thought one should always rule leniently).

    * Some things were not mentioned in this article that are worthy of consideration:
    * Gentile Wine(unsupervised wine from Grape-Juice-Wine) is not cancelled out even 1:1000. this is all the more so for additives derived from the grape juice and wine that add taste.
    * Some types of foods can renew taste that has become pagum.
    * The Taz mentions the Rashal who warns against travellers eating herring(salty food) from gentile plates. But rules leniently in some circumstances because it is a bedieved that becomes like a lechatchila due tot he situation. However, I am not certain he would rule leniently in our day and age. Perhaps only if it would encourage kashrut observance?
    * A vessel that is ben yomo(used within the last 24 hours) and has absorbed a forbidden taste in general renews this taste even if only water is cooked in it within 24 hours.
    * The presence of oily residue is problematic, probably even after 24 hours.

    I was always under the impression that in the KA guide there are foods that are certified kosher and foods that have been tested(without constant supervision) and have been approved.
    If this article encourages people to learn more about the laws of kashrut and how and when to apply them(when hechered food is unavailable or is difficult to find) I am all for it. However, I am also aware that the vast majority of those who do not keep kosher do so because they have no interest in doing so – not because of the cost. Those who find it prohibitive and speak to a rav may already have heterim. But most people are not even interested in keeping kosher even via leniencies – I’m not sure that toppling the kashrut organisations and making them more lenient will add to kashrut in australia.
    (Most who are vaguley into kashrut probably just want to see a hechsher and don’t care about the intricacies) – But until a sociologist does a survey who knows.

  • Marky says:

    RR, I am quite aware what Mr bell writes. However, a factory is not the same as stam kelim. A factory has records of what is produced as opposed to a gentile home. The former produces treifs and Kosher regularly on the same days. Rav Moshe’s teshuvah re the margarine plant the heter is because of the break of Shabbos and Sunday as he writes. He would not have, if he held it is stam kelim.

    Captains of Kashrus such as the OU and others also hold this way(apparently some also from a few generations back e.g. Aruch Hashulchan). And even the London BD- I have been told by someone over there-is not of the opinion that factories are stam kelim, which is precisely why they deem English marmite, Heinz baked beans, and some other Heinz products etc. to be treif.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Ari,

    I think, many would maintain that the rabbi’s responsibility is to uphold Gd’s word. To suggest that they ought to compromise Halacha in order to help more embrace a less invasive and stressful religion, would probably prompt a very harsh response.
    Your suggestion seems to be based upon a premise that every stringency is in fact a little better, every stringency brings us a step closer to sanctity; although these stringencies may be too difficult for the populace to embrace. I wonder if this is correct. Perhaps many stringencies are driven by considerations other than bringing us closer to Gd. Perhaps many adopted stringencies in fact cloud our understanding of what it is that Gd wants from us. Perhaps many stringencies are not guiding us towards better Yiddishkeit.

    I am not so sure that we know what Kosher “to the highest degree possible” actually means. For example, would you include not drinking milk since it may have been collected from a beast which is a Tereifa? Especially as the beasts we slaughter have a very high proportion of rejects due to damage to the lungs.

    It is true that true Yayin Nesech, wine that has actually been used for Pagan libation is not Battel. However, our prohibition these days is more lenient since the wine is not used for actual libation, is known as Stam YeyNom, and it is Battel 1:6, even though the taste at such proportions is clearly discernible.

    All non-Jewish vessels are deemed to be not BYoma by dint of there being a SeFek SeFeika, a double doubt.

    Reb Moshe in discussing the margarine factory was not concerned about non-K meat fats, and relied upon the regular cleaning processes applied by the factory.

    Ari, you seem to be at the same time positive that “the vast majority of those who do not keep kosher do so because they have no interest in doing so – not because of the cost.” Yet you admit that “Most who are vaguley into kashrut probably just want to see a hechsher and don’t care about the intricacies – But until a sociologist does a survey who knows”

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Marky,

    My experience and contacts suggest that there are almost no factories in first world countries that produce Treifus and Kosher on the same day on the same machinery.

    Furthermore, in all the Halachic discussions there is not even a proposal that we ask the owner of the vessel, “when was it last used”; and there is support for the notion that even if the information is volunteered, we ignore it.

    Reb Moshe’s Teshuvah is indeed discussing a plant that is shut on the weekend, but that is not a foundation consideration in his ruling. On the contrary, he says that the machinery does not require Kashering at all; and all the proofs he marshals, concern vessels which are assumed to not be BYoma since we have a SeFek SeFeika, not because we know that they have not been used for 24 hours.

    I would be grateful if you would indicate the source for the Aruch HaShulchan.

    There are I believe, other considerations that the LBD considers to be problematic; can you please refer me to where they deem English marmite, Heinz baked beans, and some other Heinz products etc. to be treif

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    “Perhaps many stringencies are driven by considerations other than bringing us closer to Gd. Perhaps many adopted stringencies in fact cloud our understanding of what it is that Gd wants from us. Perhaps many stringencies are not guiding us towards better Yiddishkeit.”

    So you are against adopting any stringencies in terms of kashrus?

    Is this the official position of Kosher veYosher, to be as lenient as possible in its supervision of products?

    Would you agree, therefore, that your agency’s supervised products can be classified as non-mehadrin?

  • Ari says:

    R’ Rabi,

    I would claim that Stam Yaynam is batel at 1:60 (or based on noten tam) and it is only water that cancels out Stam Yaynam at 1:6 – the reason is disputed with some seeming to claim that it is bcause the taste is nifgam.
    Given this additives that enhance flavour or give flavour would be problematic at any concentration even of stam yaynam.

    I think the vast majority of Jews do not keep kosher and aren’t interested in doing so, even leniently. I also think many who do keep kosher prefer to look for a hechsher than dabble in intricacies that are debated by the rishonim, achronim and current day poskim. Having said that, in a case where people would be willing to keep kosher but have decided not to based on factors of cost, accessibility, etc., I think Rabbis can (an do) suggest ways that one can keep kosher by sometimes relying on leniencies.

    I think a posek should not adopt stringencies that the populace cannot take on.

    I think that there are different types of stringencies. There are those that appear in normative halacha and should be followed in normal circumstances and there are chumrot bealma that sometimes can be followed depending on various circumstances. This is reflected in statements of the achronim such as Lechatchila X but in a case of monetary loss Y, or Vtov lehachmir, or vehamachmir tavo alav bracha etc.
    I think that the strength of true chumrot lies, not in its inherent sanctity but in the fact that all things being equal it is better to cover all your bases than not when it comes to G-d’s and our Rabbi’s law.

  • Marky says:

    RR, I have been shown letters from companies that they do both treife and non treife constantly on the same day in the same equipment. Take some time to visit the coles shelves where for example Heinz baked beans and baby foods, many varieties-treif and not treif-are side by side(pork, sausages, meatballs etc.). So a factory is nothing like a gentile home(could we eat parve cooked or fried veges at Mc Donalds, it is after all stam kelim?).

    Rav Moshe indeed brings proof from sources which include stam kelim. However, he is proving other issues, nothing about SK in this teshuva. To me it is clear from this teshuva that he needs 24 hours in such a case.

    Re LBD where they deem it unkosher. My source in the UK read it to me from a current LBD Really Kosher guide, saying that it is common knowledge that English marmite is disqualified for one reason only-shared equipment. And he says the same is with Heinz and other company Baked beans, baby food etc.

    I would have to look for that Aruch Hashulchan. I saw it a quite a while back

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve just discovered this article (thank you Robert) and numerous responses and I don’t intend on making a comment on Kashrut. I understand a decent amount about the issue and have learnt quite a bit just reading all of your posts (so thank you!) and recognise that there is always more to learn.

    But I wonder at what point members of this forum, engaged in what COULD HAVE BEEN a truly fascinating machloket leshem shamayim (‘a debate for the sake of heaven’), felt it necessary to be so disrespectful to one another. Do we not realise that the nature of this debate is in fact a stock-standard one, that could (and should) be much the same as all the debates between Jews (rabbis and otherwise) over Halakhic matters, ever since the oral law was first promulgated and debated?

    Why on earth is this discussion being conducted like a class room fight, where people hurl insults and scathing attacks at one another? and why do people feel that when another ‘challenges’ or ‘disagrees’ with their arguments – that this is called an “attack”?! Are we on this forum to gather agreeing voices and nodding heads – or debate, refinement of ideas and getting closer to our Truths? I can think of countless Talmudic examples that deal with how one should approach another in debate (that between Rabban Gamliel and R Yehoshua over the date of Yom kippur is one example). Most of those end in disaster or condemnation by the ‘author’, condemning the person who fails to debate with humility, kindness, love for the other and truly for the sake of heaven. We know of Rabbis suffered illness (and even death) when they failed to respect their Halachik interlocutors – EVEN WHEN THE DECISION WAS IN THEIR FAVOUR. It is said that the reason Beit Hillel is followed in almost all cases in our tradition, is not necessarily because that house of learning generated superior Truths or reasoning or had a secret key to ‘all the right answers’. No, it is said that they prevailed because, whenever the school of Hillel responded to Shammai in debate, they would raise the points of Shammai first and recognise their validity in the debate. They respected the other even if they disagreed. That is the standard of Truth – respect for our neighbour. And that, remarkable as it sounds, is not at all surprising.

    So I ask, please, not to let these debates – especially in the name of Torah whose nucleus Hillel says is: ‘Do not do to another that which you would not have done to you’ – descend into an intellectual bloodbath.

    We are all contributing to this forum because we care about these issues; about living authentic lives that are true to ourselves, to one another, our community and the Torah of Israel.

    Bivracha

  • ariel says:

    Dear Rabbi Rabi,

    Thank you for your reply to my post.

    I definitely value when someone keeps kosher even by the most minimum standards (eg reading ingredients) rather than eating complete treifut.

    However, al pi halacha, is there a reason for someone to do so in this day and age, when there is so much certified kosher food out there for any reason other than genuine financial reasons?

    To elaborate, it may be acceptable for us to consider eating at the home of someone who is not so well off, but who has made an effort in kashrut according to their means.

    But is it appropriate to eat at someone who earns a decent salary, but who keeps the most minimal standards of kashrut (eg only reading ingredients) for different reasons entirely?

    Would you yourself eat at their home?

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Well said ariel!

  • Sam says:

    Ariel

    If the food was delicious and hygienically prepared then definitely YES!

  • Yaacov says:

    Ariel,

    I refer you to Yebamoth 13a – If Hillel and Shammai could overlook their differences of opinion regarding mazerut and Kodshim (both of which have a far more severe punishment than eating non-kosher), I would hope that we might be able to overlook our own stringencies and eat at a friend’s house who may not meet our personal high standards.

    I am certain that a bit of bein adam le’havero and healing some of the rifts in the community are worth overlooking a humra or two for one afternoon.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Ariel,

    I am delighted to hear that you value those “keep kosher even by the most minimum standards (eg reading ingredients) rather than eating complete treifut.”
    But the issue is a little deeper, do the variations in their and your Kosher standards nevertheless warrant division in our community?

    In your words, “But is it appropriate to eat at someone[’s home] who earns a decent salary, but who keeps the most minimal standards of kashrut (eg only reading ingredients) for different reasons entirely? Would you yourself eat at their home?”

    It sounds like you don’t have a problem eating in the homes of those who keep the most minimal Kosher standards, if they can not afford it; but you do have a problem eating in the home of those who eat the same foods but could afford the extra expense of K certified foods.

    I am sure you did not intend this, but it sounds as though you are saying that we are to judge people and their relationship with Gd by what we perceive as the degree of their commitment. And we are to demarcate, to discriminate against those who we feel should be doing better in their religious lifestyle.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Ariel Shalom.

    I am so glad you have brought up this point, “Al Pi Halacha” – “according to the Halacha” – as you say, “al pi halacha, is there a reason for someone to do so [rely on the ingredients lable] in this day and age, when there is so much certified kosher food out there for any reason other than genuine financial reasons?”

    This is a critical issue which gets to the heart of the matter Mr Bel has raised. What is the Halcha?
    But before we can proceed, we need to define Halacha.

    But here is our problem. It is inescapable that Halacha means, even within the orthodox camp, different things to different people. At one end it means; what in actual fact is the ruling that applies, the bare bones so to speak. This would mean the actual Halacha without embellishments, without considering the plethora of opinions and attempting to satisfy them all or most of them.

    At the other end, Halcha is understood to be an instruction to accommodate as many opinions as possible; since we do not want to transgress Gd’s commands and we do not want to take avoidable risks that we may be transgressing Gd’s commands.

    As I mentioned earlier, every time we drink milk or eat a piece of meat we are subjecting ourselves to a risk. The risk is that the beast may have an injury that renders it a Tereifo. We check slaughtered beasts for some of the more common issues that may render it a Tereifo, but not for all possibilities.
    If meat that has been more scrupulously checked is available, are we Al Pi Halacha, bound to eat that meat exclusively? The universal answer is, “No, we are not bound by Halcha to eat that meat and no other”. And that is true even to those who define Halacha as having a far broader embrace. No Posek today suggests that it is Halacha to avoid drinking milk since it is very likely to have come from a beast which is a Tereifa. Keep in mind that a high proportion of beasts slaughtered are deemed to be Tereifa and we know that the older the beats are the more likely they are to be Tereif. Milk cows are well advanced in years and must be considered a very high risk of being Tereifa.

    Just as we have tax bracket creep we also experience Halacha Chumrah creep. What was yesterday’s innovation has become today’s standard. What was cutting edge, like air bags or fuel injection, and only available in the top end luxury cars, eventually filters down to the standard family car. Perhaps some consider Halacha creep to be a great thing. But our question is, is this a Halachic ruling? Is it “Al Pi Halacha”?

    And now Ariel, forgive me for the rather long introduction, we come to your point: There is no reason to rely on reading the label “when there is so much certified kosher food out there” And you appear to suggest that this is Al Pi Halacha. So your definition of Halcha accepts that the same food is Kosher for one but not for another. And you will point to the rules of significant loss, which we mentioned earlier, to support your view. But let us take a different perspective. Someone who should not have eaten that food, because he will not suffer a significant loss, does eat that food. Has he transgressed and eaten non-K food? He may well have failed our standards, but has he eaten non-K food?

    You are making a Halachic obligation out of the fact that super Kosher foods, foods with a Kosher certificate – from what are classified by some as a reputable Kosher agency – are now readily available. However, it is easy to see that your argument is upon shaky ground because you are making Halacha a subjective evaluation. You are making Halacha a constantly changing chameleon, it does not retain its shape, form or ethos from one year to the next.

    Can this be identified Al Pi Halacha?

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Marky
    Would you be able to show us copies of the letters you mention or at least provide a little more detail?

    Observing the supermarket shelves and the Heinz K and non-K products is inadequate proof that the K and non-K products are produced on the same day and on the same machinery.

    When a K org disqualifies a product due to “shared equipment issues” – we have no idea what precisely the problem is.
    It may be any one of dozens of issues, ranging from the equipment not being Kashered to the standards this K org demands [they insist on 100C but the company will not do more that 87C]; to the company’s refusal to use a particular additive that the K org insists be added to the boiler water. These factors may result in “shared equipment issues” even when the productions are weeks apart and the machinery has been cleaned and rested between K and non-K.

    Marky, I think we have all learned by now that “it is common knowledge” is quite an unsatisfactory guide on which to make evaluations about Kashrus.

    Reb Moshe quotes the Maharam of Lublin who says that Kosher food is produced not only when the non-J uses clean utensils that have absorbed non-K flavour which is now tainted since it is > 24 hours old, but even if there is actual substance of non-K food in the vessels [which we certainly are not permitted to allow into the mixture – Ein MeVatLin Issur LeChatChiLa] if this is cooked by the non-J, even if specifically for a Jew, it is Kosher. Having actual substance of non-K food is certainly less of an issue than just absorbed flavour in the utensils, as is seen from the fact that absorbed flavours become tainted whereas food residue does not.

    Same is true from the example of the cheeses made with an admixture of non-K milk.

    Same is true from the example of the non-K bakery. We may purchase from this shop even though he is using non-K spices. [Now think about that, we would these days argue, that spices would A) refresh the absorbed non-K flavour absorbed in the mortar and pestle; B) spices are a flavouring which we would these days argue can not be Battel] The only prohibition that applies is that we may not place a special order from that bakery.

    So picture this: every day you pass this non-K bakery [i.e. everything there is K, but for the spices which are rendered non-K since they have been pulverised in a non-K machine] and buy some biscuits. Absolutely Kosher. But when you want to place a very large order [i.e. the baker must make more than usual to satisfy your request] for your sons Barmitzvah, these same biscuits are not Kosher.
    Well, that does not make any sense; so truth be told, they are Kosher but YOU may not eat them because YOU gave instructions for them to be made; YOU are penalised.

    Marky, to see where Reb Moshe speaks about Stam Kelim you must turn to the next page of his Teshuvah.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Joel, Shalom to you.

    Thank you for your well chosen words and diplomatic rebuke.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    Why is it that you have avoided answering the questions I have posed to you in this forum?

    Namely:
    1. Whether or not you support Robert Bel’s claim that reading ingredients on the packaging is a sufficient manner in which to keep kosher.

    2. Whether you support Robert Bel’s argument that the kosher agencies worldwide are guilt of “murder” by purportedly humiliating Jews who keep merely read the ingredients on packaging in order to determine if something is kosher.

    3. If you do not support these positions, why have you failed to attack them, rather than vociferously attacking me, David Werdiger, Ariel and anyone else who has sought to correct the mistruths in the article?

    4. Do you honestly believe that Robert Bel’s article helps to promote kashrus awareness and brings Yidden closer to mitzvah adherence?

    5. Is the official position of Kosher veYosher to be as lenient as possible in its supervision of products?

    6. Would you agree, therefore, that your agency’s supervised products can be classified as non-mehadrin?

    7. Will you be correcting the false advertising on your Kosher veYosher website? You write there that KvY is “recognised” by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. However, you do not substantiate this claim, other than showing that one of the products you supervised has an ishur from the rabbanut. Any legitimate kosher supervising agency – even with minimal standards – can get an ishur from the rabbanut for products imported into Israel. There are a plethora of imported products from Europe and elsewhere in Israel that have an ishur, even though the supervision is provided by authorities who are not widely accepted, such as Triangle-K.

    I await your response to these questions.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Ari,

    Good, so we have sorted out that wine these days does in fact have a Bittul.

    See my remarks to Marky about the biscuits re your concerns about providing flavour. But as an aside, it makes no sense to suggest that wine mixed with water at a ratio of 1:6, is not discernible.

    Forgive me but I must protest your assertion that “the vast majority of Jews do not keep kosher and aren’t interested in doing so, even leniently”
    Mr Bel has provided a perspective, indeed a lifeline, for the majority of Australia’s Jewish population who do not want to speak to a rabbi about Kosher.

    You say, “the strength of true chumrot lies in the fact that all things being equal it is better to cover all your bases than not when it comes to G-d’s and our Rabbi’s law.”
    But I draw your attention to the very arbitrariness of what is a Chumra; as you say, “there are different types of stringencies. There are those that appear in normative halacha [That is certainly open to interpretation!] and should be followed in normal circumstances and there are chumrot bealma that sometimes can be followed depending on various circumstances. This is reflected in statements of the achronim such as Lechatchila X but in a case of monetary loss Y, or Vtov lehachmir, or vehamachmir tavo alav bracha etc.”
    See my commets to Ariel, February 16, 2012 at 12:39 am

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Harry, Shalom.

    I would be happy to engage in relevant discussion with you but how do you arrive at the following conclusion?
    “So you are against adopting any stringencies in terms of kashrus?”

  • Harry Joachim says:

    RR,

    Why do I arrive at this conclusion? Because you say: “Perhaps many stringencies are driven by considerations other than bringing us closer to Gd. Perhaps many adopted stringencies in fact cloud our understanding of what it is that Gd wants from us. Perhaps many stringencies are not guiding us towards better Yiddishkeit.”

    The implication of what you are saying is that chumras might not be a good thing.

    Or have I got it wrong and you do in fact support some chumras vis a vis kashrus. If so, how do you determine which chumras are “what Gd wants from us”?

  • Marky says:

    RR, the person who showed me those letters does not want to publish letters to him on a public forum. I know it’s the truth. I can’t see why it is so hard to understand. A company processing many millions of tins, they do batch after batch. All they worry about is that it is all sanitised between runs. They have no issue with meat on a Parve line. I can also tell you they write that the temperature of cooking is a lot higher than cleaning temp(both under 100c). Of course you can take it or leave it. Being a Rabbi of Kashrus, I would think it would be beneficial for you to go and have a look.

    When you say that “disqualifying the product could be a
    anyone of a number of issues”, then you would not rely on stam kelim and one cannot buy a tin just by reading ingredients because it could have a number of issues?

    BTW the LBD really Kosher guide says: that Margarine is only Kosher with hechsher, because(one reason) it is often produced on animal, dairy or fish equipment. They write this also about other products.

    Could you please let me know which part of the next page of the teshuva I should be looking for?

    Also some parts of your response, I wasn’t sure how it was relevant. Maybe it was above me..

  • ariel says:

    First, I would like to echo Joel – the disrespect being shown here is ridiculous. It’s probably what Rabbi Freilich was referring to in his letter of resignation to the ORA…

    Dear Rabbi Rabi,

    Thank you for your answer to my academic question.

    Truth be told, I actually hold by your hechsher. However, I still enjoy the halachic to and fro.

    Continuing on, I may have misphrased my question. I suppose I wonder why people decide to ignore even the most lenient kashrut agencies and buy products which are safek kosher when it is so simple to google a similar product with a (lenient) hechsher and which costs the same? (Sure some hechsherim allow any brand of tinned veges. But what about other products?)

    I would like to return the ball to Mr Bel (and Rabbi Rabi) and ask:
    Are we talking about a Jewish kitchen which at least has separate utensils?

    I find it hard to accept that even if the Jewish person keeps kosher (ingredient-wise) to a lower standard than me, that I can still eat there if they don’t at least use separate keilim. Am I being too machmir?
    Otherwise, why should I bother to separate my stuff at home?

    Thank you to all and let the debating continue!

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Ariel,
    sorry for the long response, I will answer your two points directly, at the end.

    Let’s consider the person who is particular about eating foods of a particular Halachic standard. We wish to investigate what is the Halacha regarding circumstances in which those standards need not, and/or should not, be maintained.

    Keeping an ancient Halachic practice, which has been maintained as a broad and unchallenged custom is Halachically more difficult to change than a private custom which is challenged by various Poskim.
    And circumstances vary from finding oneself pretty much without food to finding oneself in a situation where not eating that food may cause others some discomfort.

    So the formula has two variables: the co-efficient of the Chumra and the co-efficient of the need.

    But this is a very human evaluation because there is no such MATHEMATICAL formula neither do we have MATHEMATICAL values for those co-efficients. This is a HUMAN formula and it requires human evaluation.
    At the extremes, we are fairly confident of the solution. One would pretty much need to be in medical need before we could follow an opinion of the Rishonim or early Poskim that is not brought in the ShAruch. However, the closer an opinion gets to “mainstream”, the less demanding need be the circumstances in which we may follow that opinion.

    I think the best way to categorise this is – “Comfort Zone”. And I am referring to two CZs; A) the CZ of the Posek and B) the CZ of the ShoEl, the one looking for an answer.
    And this is exactly where you say Ariel, “I find it hard to accept that even if the Jewish person keeps kosher (ingredient-wise) to a lower standard than me, that I can still eat there if they don’t at least use separate keilim.” You are clearly reflecting on your CZ.
    But then you say, “Am I being too machmir?” which is the terminology reserved for Halacha.

    We have been drawn into this space without the benefit of having actually analysed the Halacha and one must add the Hashkafa, the human values perspective, which in fact are an integral part of the Halacha.

    This was alluded to in my earlier post when I observed that critics were stating that MOST great Poskim rule that gelatine is Treif. This undeniably cedes that some Poskim do recognise that it is Kosher. The evaluation of “most” is of course entirely dependent on how we set up the sampling population. It would not be difficult to present that most Poskim hold that gelatine is Kosher. So we have a good illustration of the nature of the formula we are discussing.
    And this of course does not yet touch the systems the Poskim use to make their determinations if it is or is not Kosher and to what degree those rulings are influenced by their CZ.

    BTW take note that others will not say Treif but “not acceptable” which reflects their recognition that some Poskim accept it as Kosher although they prefer to we generally keep away from it.

    This also dismisses the oft repeated argument that for anyone other than a Posek, investigating and/or suggesting Halacha is akin to suggesting medical treatment based upon research one has done via a web-search. The truth is that not only has research been done on line but well respected authorities have also been consulted who agree and support these treatments/arguments. Such investigations demand serious evaluation. If they are dismissed out of hand, we begin to suspect that there are other considerations at play.

    To answer your questions, Ariel: you ask, why is it that “people decide to ignore even the most lenient kashrut agencies and buy products which are safek kosher when it is so simple to google a similar product with a (lenient) hechsher and which costs the same?
    I do not know, but the fact is there are such people and I think that the vast majority of Jews in Australia and worldwide fall into this category. The question is though, if they would have easy access to Kosher foods, which were of equivalent quality and pretty much the same price, would they take the Kosher products? I think the answer is, Yes. Are they being catered for? I think the answer is, No. The main plank of Kashrut, Kosher meat, is disastrously priced and “qualitied”.

    Your second question, Ariel, “Are we talking about a Jewish kitchen which at least has separate utensils” in which Halachically we may eat? In a Jewish Kitchen there is no SeFek SeFeiKa, so the utensils can not be assumed to be non-BYoma. But identical circumstances in a non-J home, Yes, the utensils are Halachically assumed to be non-BYoma.
    So, back to a non-J manufacturer producing Eta potato crisps, they will be Kosher, but ETA could not contract manufacture for Leibels’s Foods because he is then acting for and on behalf of a J. Most importantly for our general discussion: No one suggests that there is any Chumra to avoid eating the Eta’s chips.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Marky,

    The secrecy is difficult to accept, it only feeds suspicion and creates mistrust. Transparency is a key quality to build trust and when K orgs do not answer questions or avoid addressing them in their responses or demand secrecy from those few chosen ones who are privileged to private information, we are left wondering, why all this secrecy?

    I have my own experiences with manufacturers and manufacturing plants which do not match your observations.

    Marky, I don’t follow your question, “then you would not rely on stam kelim and one cannot buy a tin just by reading ingredients because it could have a number of issues? Please clarify.

    Also please clarify which issues you thought were a bit :above” you, and I will endeavour to clarify.

    Yes the LBD Kosher guide says: that Margarine is only Kosher with hechsher, because (one reason) it is often produced on animal, dairy or fish equipment. But this is precisely the matter I was addressing when I wrote, “When a K org disqualifies a product due to “shared equipment issues” – we have no idea what precisely the problem is.
    It may be any one of dozens of issues, ranging from the equipment not being Kashered to the standards this K org demands [they insist on 100C but the company will not do more that 87C]; to the company’s refusal to use a particular additive that the K org insists be added to the boiler water. These factors may result in “shared equipment issues” even when the productions are weeks apart and the machinery has been cleaned and rested between K and non-K.”

    PG, I will discuss the relevant part of Reb Moshe’s Teshuvah after Shabbos.

  • ariel says:

    Thank you Rabbi Rabi for your reply, I enjoyed reading it as I’m still struggling with part of your answer.

    For a J who lives in a J area, right near Coles or Woolies where there is K food readily available and – let’s say – affordable (leave meat aside for now) – does the concept still apply.
    Here is a certified-K version; here is a non-certified, but possibly-who-knows?-K version – one aisle apart. Commensurate price. Why buy the version that has a safek?

    In any case, your answer leads me to seek clarification: if one has non-J relatives who wish to cook him a meal using K ingredients, can the J eat there?
    What if the non-J is simultaneously preparing mamash treif food for themselves in the same kitchen?

  • Marky says:

    RR, first of all I am not a k org and although what I know is fact, I don’t need to prove to someone on a public forum. And anyway, do you want me to post something without the letter’s owners permission, or to force him to.

    You yourself say that your information is different. I haven’t seen you posting any proof whatsoever.

    I will try to explain my question which you don’t understand, a different way. You write that there could be any one of dozens of issues why the LBD would say it’s not Kosher. Wouldn’t one who holds that it is all stam kelim, not have an issue with any problem. Otherwise, I can’t see how anyone could allow by just checking ingredients. There could be any one of dozens of issues. And we are talking about allowing, not giving a hechsher.

    I didn’t understand the relevance from your 5th paragraph until almost the end of your post.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Ariel, Shalom.

    Why do you speculate about the reasons people do not use K certified products?

    I think it may be quite reasonable that many people are distressed by what appears to be extortion type practices and price gouging akin to Rabbi Freilich’s criticisms of the rabbis he was working with; and do not wish to support this way in which Yiddishkeit is presented. Who KNows?

    You ask,”Why buy the version that has a safek?” As I explained earlier there are many Sefeikot that are Halachically permitted, also there are many Sefeikot that could be fairly easily avoided yet the Halacha does not always take that direction. Its to do with the formula of Halcha; see my earlier comments.

    A non-J voluntarily preparing food for a Jew is the subject of Reb Moshe’s Teshuva. Has no bearing if he is preparing non-K foods alongside the K food. The Mechaber – from memory – speaks of cooking in a communal kitchen and the non-K is cooking alongside the K and the ShA has no problem even though the foods are bubbling and may spray into one another

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Marky, Shalom.

    I am sorry you took my comments to be a demand or a suggestion that you ought to do something inappropriate, and I don’t see why you might have put that construct upon my words.

    Secrecy should not be a part of Kashrus provided by orgs who are working for the community. It projects very negative images about the certifiers and the people supporting them.

    Please try to clarify your question again – I still don’t follow your train of thought.

  • Daniel K says:

    Shalom all,
    Call me ignorant – I agree that I most certainly am – but it seems to me that there have to be simple rules for the poshete yidn such as myself to go by.

    My wife and I avoid rennet cheeses, though we don’t buy only cholov yisroel cheese or milk. Rennet often comes from pigs and in any event from animals slaughtered by unkosher shchita? To me that’s clear enough that it is not wood, but rather an animal product I prefer to avoid. Sorry if i’m not impressed by some yeshivish hitchakmuyot on the matter.

    Gelatine is often from pigs (where we live at least, in the Netherlands), and in any event produced from the bones of animals slaughtered through unkosher shchita? To me that’s clear enough that that is a product I prefer to avoid.

    I don’t feel limited by these avoidances. there are plenty of “vegetarian” cheeses out there. Gelatine products are often a case of “better off without it”.. Better off with a purer more simple pudding than one full of additives to make it more gelatinous. Completely unnecessary..

    Crimson is a tough one since it is in many products, and I actually commend industrial candy makers like the makers of M&Ms for using such a natural product that goes way back, but if I think about it honestly: This stuff is produced from crushing insects (not arbeh, which can be kosher), and then mixing the insect paste with alcohol to produce a tincture. It is a natural, completely treif product in my humble ignorant opinion, and I’m not so interested in a halachic loophole cooked up by some hotshot yeshivah bukhr. If I buy M&Ms I cannot pretend that the red ones are kosher – to me they are not.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    I think a brief review is in order: I will present it from one perspective and of course others may wish to add or modify.

    1. It is suggested that more recognition ought to be given to the fact that foods produced in most factories that list no non-K ingredients, are Kosher. R Moshe Feinstein is seen to support this.

    2. Many Kosher orgs do not agree with this, although the LBD appears to agree on a limited scale

    3. The main concern is of shared equipment; i.e. the same machinery, in part or in full, is used as well for non-K foods.

    4. If such equipment is deemed non-BYoma, then although a J may not use such equipment, the food produced with it is Kosher

    5. Similarly, ingredients that many K orgs pronounce as not acceptable, such as carmine and gelatine, are Kosher according to many Poskim

    6. There is a sense, amongst some in this discussion, that although being K, it is somewhat and somehow tainted and not the best way to keep Kosher.

    7. A penalty forbids the food cooked with that equipment to the cook and those for whom the food was produced

    8. Any other J may eat the food – it is Kosher without compromise

    9. A non-J is not bound by such penalties and therefore the foods he produces on his “shared” equipment is Kosher even if cooked specifically for J

    10. The non-J’s equipment is always deemed to be non-BYoma, due to a SeFek SeFeiKa, a double doubt

    11. This is challenged by some on this blog since they believe that the machinery must be BYoma

  • Marky says:

    RR, you write: “the secrecy is difficult to acceot, it only feeds suspicion and creates mistrust”

    This was a direct resopnse to my reason for not publicising those letters. If you agree with my reasons for not going public, then why go on about suspicion and mistrust Why make me feel bad about something I am not allowed to do!?.

    Re your further critcism of k orgs secrecy, aren’t you doing just that by not revealing the details your experiences which don’t match what I wrote?

    Re my question, I will give it another go in a different way. You write that there çould be dozens of reasons why a product is disqualified. If we hold that factories are stam kelim, why would we worry about any of those reasons. We are after all talking about buying something of the shelf and just checking ingredients?

    Re point #1 in your last post, I will agree to disagree as you have not brought any proof from Rav Moshe re stam kelim.especially as the teshuva is discussing a weekend situation specifically as I have pointed out previously.

    Point #2 re the London BD, sounds like being half pregnant. Either you need to worry about kelim or you don’t.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Marky,

    I am not trying to make you feel bad, Gd forbid, but to help you understand a perspective of why there are many who are not keen to participate in purchasing Kosher certified products, they feel its more like a racket than a true community service of which they would like to be proud. There has been a long discussion about this just recently on the KA facebook page, it might still be there.

    Secrecy which limits choice is suspect, especially if it is difficult to see WHY the secrecy is necessary. Someone on this discussion asked why the Sydney Kosher org is reliable according to the Melb K org, but nevertheless we in Vict are advised not to rely upon their approved list. At the same time not even the Rabbanut of Israel is not recommended, not even the Jerusalem Mehadrin.

    I understand your Q now re the LBD. You are asking: if the LBD says that some products ARE Kosher WITHOUT a certificate, then WHY are OTHERS reported to be NOT Kosher? So you are asking me why the LBD appears to be inconsistent in its guidelines. But how am I supposed to know that? I do not work for the LBD. Even if I did I may not know the answer. And even if I knew the answer I may be under instruction not to disclose any details other than saying it has to do with “Shared Utensils”
    So your question is really rhetorical: you appear to trust the LBD, therefore you assert that they MUST have good reasons to disqualify those products. Do you consider this to be a proof that they disagree with Reb Moshe’s Pesak? Or a proof that they hold that factory machinery must be assumed to be BYoma? Perhaps they do. Why not ask them? But what remains after all this to and fro is that Mr Bel has made some very strong observations which are very well founded on Halachic principles and precedents.

    I don’t know how you can propose that you agree to disagree about Reb Moshe’s Teshuva; you did not find what he says. From memory I say that over the page he talks about Stam Kelim and mentions that it is SeFek SeFeika, a double doubt. That logic is said by Reb M irrespective of the circumstances and the particulars of the question he was asked, but relates to the principles of Stam Kelim. Besides, Reb Moshe points out that from the Maharam, the same ruling is true even if there is actual non-K substance in the machinery provided it is less than Shishim. And actual non-K substance is never Pagum, it remains always BYoma.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Please pray for the well being of HaRav Yisrael Belsky, he is one of the major Poskim for the OU and a great Talmid Chacham, Rosh Yeshivah and Askan for all communal affairs. I am standing next to him in the photo alongside my postings on this blog

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Daniel, from one Poshette Yid to another

    Even if you consider yourself ignorant, you are certainly interested, so here are a couple of things you may wish to consider.

    Honey, you agree, is Kosher. But honey is not the Kosher product collected from flowers. The collected nectar undergoes a fundamental change, through enzymes produced by the bee. I assume you do not eat non-K insects, and just as you would not drink milk from a non-K beast, you would not want to eat foods dramatically and fundamentally produced via the non-K enzymes of a non-K insect. So why is honey Kosher?

    The answer is – enzymes are not a food in themselves and therefore the question of Kosher or not is misplaced. Enzymes can not be non-K. I know that some Kosher orgs will ban enzymes and will certify some enzymes, but we have yet to see their proofs that they are not Kosher, nor their answer to the proof from honey that enzymes are Kosher.

    Here is another proof enzymes are Kosher: our Sages banned cheese. Bur before the ban we were permitted to procure cheese from our neighbour the non-J. The cheese made by the non-J was Kosher. What type of enzyme did the non-J use for making cheese? He used enzymes from a non-K beast. How can such cheese be Kosher?

    Daniel, your preferences for vegan, vegetarian and/or plant based foods is a personal choice. I think many people admire you for your commitments and dedication. And I am sure you at the same time recognise the authority of the Gemara, Rishonim, Poskim and the ShA and his commentaries.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    You write above, “I would be happy to engage in relevant discussion with you”, however, you have yet to answer ANY of the questions I posed to you.

    You state on the KvY website that “KVY discloses the details of its Kosher processes and explains the systems and rulings utilised. That permits the consumer to make their own decisions about their preferences for Kashrut.” Why is it then that you appear unable to answer some basic questions on your position vis a vis an ingredients-only approach to keeping kosher, as advocated by Robert Bel’s article?

    The questions I posed above were:
    1. Whether or not you support Robert Bel’s claim that reading ingredients on the packaging is a sufficient manner in which to keep kosher.

    2. Whether you support Robert Bel’s argument that the kosher agencies worldwide are guilt of “murder” by purportedly humiliating Jews who keep merely read the ingredients on packaging in order to determine if something is kosher.

    3. If you do not support these positions, why have you failed to attack them, rather than vociferously attacking me, David Werdiger, Ariel and anyone else who has sought to correct the mistruths in the article?

    4. Do you honestly believe that Robert Bel’s article helps to promote kashrus awareness and brings Yidden closer to mitzvah adherence?

    5. Is the official position of Kosher veYosher to be as lenient as possible in its supervision of products?

    6. Would you agree, therefore, that your agency’s supervised products can be classified as non-mehadrin?

    7. Will you be correcting the false advertising on your Kosher veYosher website? You write there that KvY is “recognised” by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. However, you do not substantiate this claim, other than showing that one of the products you supervised has an ishur from the rabbanut. Any legitimate kosher supervising agency – even with minimal standards – can get an ishur from the rabbanut for products imported into Israel. There are a plethora of imported products from Europe and elsewhere in Israel that have an ishur, even though the supervision is provided by authorities who are not widely accepted, such as Triangle-K.

  • Shimon says:

    “Here is another proof enzymes are Kosher: our Sages banned cheese. Bur before the ban we were permitted to procure cheese from our neighbour the non-J. The cheese made by the non-J was Kosher. What type of enzyme did the non-J use for making cheese? He used enzymes from a non-K beast. How can such cheese be Kosher?”

    How do you understand S.A. Y.D. 87:11?

  • Harry Joachim says:

    I don’t know why Rabbi Rabi decided to enter the debate to begin with if he refuses to answer the questions put to him.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shimon, Thank you for your question re cheese, enzymes and the ShA YD 87:11.

    There are two stages that must be identified. The first stage is the Halacha as it is according to the rule of the Torah which precedes the decree promulgated by our Sages. The second stage is defined by the Halacha as it is modified according to our Sages’ decree.

    The Halacha you refer to is of course defined by the decree of our Sages. Our Sages, in attempting to socially isolate us from the surrounding nations in which we found ourselves whilst we wandered in exile, looked for ways of restricting circumstances that would promote social intercourse. This mainly found expression in food restrictions. In fact not all these decrees were instituted at once and we therefore have on record that even when we no longer permitted [by decree of our Sages] to acquire a pint of milk from our Gentile neighbour, we were nevertheless permitted to acquire from the same neighbour a pound of cheese.

    The opportunity to impose a decree against the cheese of Gentiles came about when cheese production underwent a general shift in production technique. Whereas in the past cheese was made from the CONTENTS of a freshly killed calf, it changed to using the FLESH of the stomach. What is the difference between the CONTENTS and the FLESH of the stomach? The CONTENTS are not food, it is PIRSHA, waste, and therefore can not be considered non-Kosher. Whereas the FLESH of the stomach is food and is non-Kosher. So when adding waste, the cheese would be Kosher but when adding non-Kosher food the cheese could be deemed to be non-Kosher.

    Now the enzymes that make cheese, rennet, are produced in glands that are located in the wall of the stomach. There is a rich supply of rennet in the stomach contents of a freshly killed calf, and in the old days that liquid or curdled stomach content was simply added to vats of milk and the magic would begin. Eventually, the stomach itself was taken and dipped into the vat of milk. Enough rennet was leached from the glands in the stomach wall to make cheese. That stomach could be used more than once and it would be dehydrated to keep it preserved and repeatedly used.

    So, my proof regarding enzymes being Kosher from cheese, is from the earlier stage, the rule of the Torah. At that time cheese was Kosher and could be acquired from our Gentile neighbours even though they certainly used rennet harvested from non-Shechted beasts and perhaps even from non-Kosher beasts. How could such a thing be Kosher? Very simple, enzymes are not food and are therefore Kosher even if used to set and manufacture cheese.

  • Shimon says:

    I need to look into what you are saying a little more. It would help me if you can give me some sources. For example, where is it documented that cheese made with non-kosher rennet was kosher before the decree. The way I understand the Rambam in Melachot Assurot 3:14 is saying the following points:
    1) Cheese with non animal rennet from a gentile should be kosher.
    2) Cheese with non-kosher animal rennet is not kosher.
    3) #1 was forbidden as a fence to protect against #2.

    I have not learned these sections in yeshiva and have briefly looked over the halakhot. I really don’t understand enzymes in halakha.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Shimon, and Gutt Chodesh

    I hope this helps. Be attentive to my additions in square parenthesis.

    RaMBaM MaAss, 3:12
    Milk of a non-Kosher beast does not form curd and can not be used for making cheese.
    Even if milk of a non-Kosher beast is mixed with milk of a Kosher beast, that mixture when made into cheese, will be made exclusively from the Kosher milk.

    3:13
    Accordingly, all cheese manufactured by a non-J ought to be Kosher. [RaMBaM is NOT concerned about the rennet being derived from a non-Kosher beast] even though their milk is prohibited since it may be contaminated with non-Kosher milk.

    Nevertheless, the Sages of the Mishnaic times banned such cheese since they make it with the stomach FLESH of non-Kosher beasts. [i.e. the Sages now found sufficient cause, which they did not have in the past when the CONTENTS of the stomach were used for cheese-making, to now ban cheese] And if you will query, why should such tiny amounts render the cheese not Kosher, should the rennet not be Battel? [RaMBaM is not concerned that this is the standard method and indispensable for making cheese and should therefore not be Battel and indeed it is staggering that anyone should ever propose such an argument when it is beyond doubt that cheese manufactured by non-J was until this Rabbinic ban, always permitted. Furthermore, it was always permitted even when the non-J was employed by a J to make cheese, and even Jews were permitted to use non-K rennet to make their cheese]

    The answer is that since the stomach flesh is a Davar HaMaAmid [it is used to set the cheese] it will make the cheese non-Kosher in spite of its tiny proportions.

    3:14
    Cheese that is manufactured by non-J with vegetarian rennets derived from tree sap and various plants all have a distinctive character that makes them easily identifiable, have nevertheless been banned by a few of our Gaonim since the Rabbinic decree was all encompassing.

    3:15
    Everyone agrees there is no ban against butter manufactured by a non-J [since it too can not be processed from non-K milk and the non-J would only be stupid and wasteful to add non-K milk, and besides any non-K milk that may have been included will be filtered out during the manufacturing process]. However, some Gaonim forbade its consumption since some droplets may remain behind in pockets within the butter and as identifiable droplets are not Battel.

    3:16
    It seems to me, that if one melts such butter it is Kosher since we can be assured that either no droplets remain or whatever has remained has become combined and is Battel.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Harry.

    The key words are “relevant” to “Mr Bel’s article”

  • Marky says:

    My source in the UK says that the LBD do not rely on stam kelim because they have had the same experiences in such plants as the letters shown to me from such companies.

    He told me a different reason why other tins they allow without hechsher. ..

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Marky,

    I do not doubt your integrity nor your passion for Jewish Values and Yiddishkeit, however put yourself for a moment in the shoes of an outside observer: what conclusion would someone without your passion, loyalty and dedication be tilted towards when considering the framework you have presented here?

    Letters that can not be disclosed, discussions with rabbis whose names can not be mentioned, Halachic principles that will not be discussed nor presented on an open forum.

    And it is not easy to understand why secrecy should be required in these matters; we are not discussing secret formulae or processes. This leads people I think, away from Kashrus and Yiddishkeit because the appearances suggest that there is something to hide.

    Gutt Shabbos

    HisO’ReRi HisO’ReRi Ki Va Orech KuMi O”Ri

  • Harry Joachim says:

    I see now Rabbi Rabi,

    So you can attack me and ignore my questions on the grounds that they are “irrelevant”.

    My questions go to the heart of KvY/It’s Kosher’s policies and practices.

    Re my question on reading ingredients: If you believe that it is perfectly acceptable for a kosher consumer to judge for himself whether or not a product is kosher based on a reading of the ingredients, then this says a lot about the standard you offer in your kashrus supervision.

    Similarly, my questions about your apparent dislike for chumras also implies much about the standards of your supervision.

    My final question above about false advertising on your website has also been ignored on the basis of “irrelevancy”. I cannot see how it is irrelevant for me to point out a major issue that you, as a rav, have a chiyuv to correct under the dinim found in the shulchan aruch about misleading business practices.

    It’s all very well you citing chapter and verse in halachic seforim about kosher cheese, when you are failing to answer the more fundamental questions about kashrus in general!

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Furthermore, you say “And it is not easy to understand why secrecy should be required in these matters; we are not discussing secret formulae or processes. This leads people I think, away from Kashrus and Yiddishkeit because the appearances suggest that there is something to hide.”

    Well, your failure to answer any of my questions leads one to wonder why YOU Rabbi Rabi are being so secretive and unforthcoming?!!!!

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you, Dear Harry.

    I wish to start on a positive note.

    I see you agree that the Kosher certifiers are secretive and this suggests that they have something to hide.

    Please CC me the letters you will post or have already posted to the worldwide Kosher organisations in your quest for transparency and keep us here on Galus informed of the responses you receive.

    I assure you that when you open such a thread on Galus, I will be happy to participate – to the same degree as the other world class Kosher authorities participate. BTW, would you please do me a favour and find out from the OU what they mean when they print their Kosher certificates for wine with the enigmatic declaration, “DiNo KeDin YaYin MeVuShal” which roughly translates to, “it can be thought of as being cooked”. I mean is it or is it not? cooked I mean.

    Otherwise I invite you to call me and we can discuss these matters face to face. I assure you that you will receive clear and unambiguous answers.

    Now I will repeat what I wrote earlier, “The key words are “relevant” to “Mr Bel’s article””

    Shalom Harry

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    It is not I who started attacking you. You, entirely unprovoked, took it upon yourself to slam me and others who commented negatively on Mr Bel’s article. It was you who attacked me for “demean[ing] all those Jews who do not keep Kosher to your standards, never mind that there are some rabbis (who you concede are Gedolim even by your standards) who approve of the Kosher guidelines (more or less) as outlined by Mr Bel.”

    I simply wanted to know whether you hold these standards – advocated by Mr Bel – in your KvY supervision. Do you also certify a product according to the published ingredients?

    Why should I contact the OU to ask these questions when they are not the ones who have gone out of their way to attack me, someone who strongly believes in the importance of kashrus and of following daas Torah?

    You should be applauding me and others for standing up for authentic Yiddishkeit! One would expect no less of a rabbi, including one who offers his own kashrus supervision!

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Harry,

    I do applaud your determination, vigour and commitment. You are an altruistic warrior for Kashrus and Yiddishkeit. I also applaud your recognition of the fact that there is secrecy in kashrus and that this cultivates a less than positive sheen on the rabbis and organisations working in Kashrus. It is for this reason that I urged you to pursue greater transparency with the big boys in Kashrus. Your energy ought to be driven by your noble character, not by a response to an imagined or real slight.

    I do beg you to re-read my comments that you consider to be provocative and an attack on you and others. I was in fact responding to your comments that I thought were rather graphic and truly fortified the argument proposed by Mr Bel. You said, on Feb 8, 2012:1:04 am, “Similarly, one can try to keep kosher in a superficial manner by “buying kosher meat, staying away from crustaceans, never mixing milk and meat, and checking food labels”. You’ll consider yourself kosher, and even some of your friends will consider you kosher. But by the standards enshrined in our Holy Torah, you’re simply not there yet in terms of full kashrus adherence.”

    Upon these words of yours I reflected, “Well said Harry, and you have hereby proved Mr Bel’s point. You have just now demeaned all those Jews who do not keep Kosher to your standards, never mind that there are some rabbis (who you concede are Gedolim even by your standards) who approve of the Kosher guidelines (more or less) as outlined by Mr Bel.”

    I believe my words were a fair appraisal of your comment, and were not at all an attack upon you or anyone else. I simply summarised your summary dismissal of a very significant number of our brothers and sisters who are trying to keep Kosher as best they can.

    Shalom to you Harry

  • Harry Joachim says:

    The only lack of transparency in kashrus that I have come across thus far is by you, Rabbi Rabi! I have submitted questions to the KA, K-Oz, OU and OK on a range of products and issues, and have received answers. You, however, have repeatedly failed to answer my questions. KosherVeYosher obviously has something to hide!

  • Harry Joachim says:

    By the way Rabbi Rabi, you might feel that I am denigrating Jews for keeping kosher-lite, and you have condemned me accordingly. However, you did not condemn Mr Bel for making outlandish remarks about the world’s rabbonim in the kashrus field, including calling them murderers. So I am treif because I promote authentic kashrus, but Mr Bell is kosher even though he labels rabbis in this pernicious manner?!

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Dear Harry,

    I hardly think someone of your integrity, determination and energy, as I said earlier, a warrior for Yiddishkeit and Kashrus, should be ever considered Treif. On the contrary I urge you to use your connections with the OU to assist us to understand the mystery of “DiNo KeDIn YaYin MeVuShal”. I also suggest you share with us here on Galus, your communications with the various Kosher agencies you have been in touch with.

    My observations were and remain a fair appraisal of your comment in which you dismissed a very significant number of our brothers and sisters who are keeping Kosher according to the standards of rabbis who you accept as highly respected Halachic authorities.

    My offer to meet and chat with you still stands and I assure you of unambiguous answers to all your questions.

    Shalom Harry

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi,

    Thank you for your kind comments about my determination and energy. These are most heartening.

    As stated before, the OU is not under discussion here. If you have a question for them, why not ask them yourself?

    My questions to the agencies are irrelevant to this discussion.

    I am simply trying to solicit a response from you as to KvY’s kosher standards vis a vis reading ingredients. This is a public forum and, as you have engaged in the discussion, I see no reason why I need contact you separately for your response to my questions.

    The fact that you have consistently refused to respond to the questions can only lead one to the conclusion that not all is kosher or yosher at KvY.

  • Marky says:

    RR, I have found the Aruch Hashulchan which talks about stam kelim. He is definitley against relying on it. YD 1 122:16.

    Also in that teshuva from Rav Moshe re margarine, in addition to stating at the begining that he is talking about a weekend situation, in the second last paragraph of this teshuva, where he says it is Kosher(although mechuar), he writes it is Kosher IF it is not bne yomon. If he held you can rely here on stam kelim, why the need to add “if bene yomon”?. The same where he says it is a weekend situation, he would have said you do not need this(just like he wrote that kashering is not needed).

    BTW what I wrote that the LBD have a different reason(not stam kelim) for allowing most tins, is not a secret. I have no problem divluging it. However, I have already twice asked you for details about your differing experiences re tinned food that you mentioned and you have not responded. So first questions first.

    I am not having a go at you just for the sake of it. You keep on criticising the k orgs for being secretive, when you seem to be doing what you are accusing them of!

  • Marky says:

    Sorry, typo: I meant “if enom bne yomon”

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Marky – well said. I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a response from the good rabbi.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom to you Marky,

    I thank you for your observations and questions. Let me begin with the Aruch HaShulchan, which I will translate and offer some observations in parenthesis. I have started the translation a little earlier in order to provide context. Please read it through carefully and see my concluding comments.

    A HaShulchan
    122:13

    Other than the RaMBaM, all Poskim agree that Stam Kelim, ordinary utensils, are not BeNey Yoman.
    The reason for this [according to the majority of Poskim] is that we follow the principles of SeFek SeFeika, a double doubt. Perhaps the vessel was not used in the past 24 hours, and even if it was used with non-Kosher food, perhaps the absorbed flavour became tainted, Pagum. This can happen anytime two foods are cooked one after another, when the two food flavours clash.
    This being the case, we must explain why this same rule does not apply to all Stam Kelim, even those belonging to a Jew. In truth the rule does apply universally, however, where the owner/user {the Aruch HaShulchan suggests that regarding who might be asked, is subject to a Machlokes} is available and can be asked, a penalty is applied if the question is not asked. A non-J cannot answer that question. [See BaEr HeiTev 122:4, if the non-J volunteers the information that it has recently been used for non-K, MaSiAch LeFi TuMo, if we need heed his disclosure.]

    122:14
    Foods prepared in such vessels may be used BeDiOvad, after the fact. [Many people do not understand what this means – they take it to mean that it is preferable NOT to use such foods. This is not correct as we shall see.] Therefore if the food is now at a point where it is to be consumed, such as water heated to have a drink, it may be used; this is BeDiOvad. However, if the food is only at an intermediate stage, i.e. the water is now to be used to prepare dough, it may not be used since it is not BeDiOvad.
    Furthermore, if the non-J heated the water for himself, it is already BeDiOavad no matter the purpose and use of the water. [Reb Moshe clearly disagrees with this ruling, as he Paskens that even if the non-J, of his own volition and even if in violation of the Halacha the J instructs him to heat the water; the water is Muttar]

    122:15
    Although the food is Muttar we are nevertheless not permitted to instruct the non-J to cook for us.
    However, we are permitted to request an Uman, an expert [as it is commonly translated but I think it actually refers to someone who is running a business and therefore is concerned with maintaining a high quality product] who makes MarKaChas or “Konditarsky” and sweets, to make foods for us since we assume they will not use their utensils for other foods.
    [It is worthy to note that the Tur and Mechaber, quoted by the Aruch HaShulchan, actually indicates a greater leniency that the Aruch HaShulchan describes here. They write that we assume that the non-J will ensure his utensils are clean, suggesting that they are indeed used for non-K foods but are carefully cleaned in order to guarantee the quality of the finished product. It should also be noted that the Mechaber concludes that a BaAl Nefesh, I do not know how to accurately explain that, ought to be wary since these matters bring one to Tahara and NeKiYus. For an understanding of these terms see the chapters so named in Mesillas Yesharim.]
    However, these days [Aruch HaShulchan who rules this lived 1829 1908] we may certainly rely on the fact that professional businesses ensure their vessels are dedicated for their particular function and even a BaAl Nefesh need not desist from such foods.

    122:16
    There is a dispute if we need to heed the non-J’s report if we ask whether the utensil was used recently. The truth is that it all depends on the circumstances; if circumstances indicate that the food was prepared with vessels that were used today for non-K foods, it is prohibited without question.
    It is unheard of that we employ the Halacha of Stam KeiLim Enom BeNey YoMan in such circumstances to permit such foods. And most certainly it is Assur to take coffee from the coffee houses where they use milk, the utensils are constantly in use; however tea is Kosher since they certainly use dedicated vessels. [I believe the Aruch HaShulchan is basing himself upon the tragic disclosure revealed to him that the coffee houses were combining animal fat into the cream that was served with the coffee in order to prepare a better product and boost sales.]

    122:17
    A vessel which requires Kashering since it absorbed non-K food flavour, will become Battel if mixed amongst other Kosher utensils. Even though we can Kasher all the utensils, and ought therefore be deemed a Davar SheYesh Lo Mattirin, something that has an option that will make it permitted and such things are usually not Battel; this rule does not apply where there is some difficulty or expense or inconvenience. The same is true if Milchig and Fleishif utensils become mixed.

    This is the part that I believe you were referring to when you said, “He is definitely against relying on it. YD 1 122:16” is this, “it all depends on the circumstances; if circumstances indicate that the food was prepared with vessels that were used today for non-K foods, it is prohibited without question.
    It is unheard of that we employ the Halacha of Stam KeiLim Enom BeNey YoMan in such circumstances to permit such foods.”

    You will see that the Aruch HaShulchan is not dismissing the principle of Stam Keilim. He is speaking exclusively about circumstances where it is almost inescapable that the utensils were used for non-Kosher on this day.

    The situation in factories these days is not like that. Even where non-Kosher meat is processed on the same lines as other Kosher products, this is not an everyday occurrence. The sheer size of modern plants and the magnitude of their production and the economies of large scale production, precludes constant daily co-production of Kosher and non-Kosher.
    Furthermore, we do not know when non-Kosher and Kosher are produced on the same day, and even if we would know, that production is mixed amongst other Kosher batches and is Battel.

    I will PG address your observations re the Teshuvah of Reb Moshe in due course.

    Gutt Shabbos

    May Purim bring the reversal today that we enjoyed

  • Meir Rabi says:

    I have been shown a comment made by Rabbi Moishe D Gutnick of the KA Sydney, May 6 2011, here http://pitputim.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/sydney-kashrus-authority-responds/.

    Please see the original – I have rendered his statement to make it more readable.

    “Although Kosher Australia has announced that it is phasing out its “approved” listings, the Kashrut Authority maintains that “approved” products are 100% kosher l’chatchila and should be listed. Furthermore, it is wrong to restrict the general community to certified products.”

    “If the consumer wishes to eat only ‘certified’ products that is the consumer’s choice but not a Halachic necessity. Approved products are no ‘less kosher’ than certified products, they just fall under a different halachic paradigm.”

  • Harry Joachim says:

    And the relevance of Rabbi Moshe Gutnick’s statement to your positions is what exactly, Rabbi Rabi?

    The non-mehadrin status of the KA is exactly that – 100% kosher but labelled as not of the same standard of the “C” or “K” products.

    If you are invoking the KA’s post as a way of justifying KvY’s positions, how would you respond to the claim by the KA at this time last year that your supervision – particularly with reference to soft matzas – cannot – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – be relied upon?

    The KA said that the flour you used for the first batch of such matzos WAS ORDINARY, NOT KLP flour. The KA also said that you coated the machines with maize! Furthermore, the ovens were not at a sufficiently high standard!?!!!

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Sorry, the last word in my post should have been “temperature” – the ovens were simply not hot enough to bake your so-called “matzos”…

  • Harry Joachim says:

    And in case you – Rabbi Rabi – question the veracity of the comment by the KA, I reproduce it here in full.

    WARNING RE: SOFT MATZAH – PESACH 5771

    It has come to our attention that Kosher V’Yosher has purportedly supervised for Pesach soft laffa type Matzot. As we have done in the past, we wish to warn kosher consumers that in our opinion the supervision of Kosher V’Yosher cannot be relied upon and these Matzot may not be used on Pesach.

    Last year, when Kosher V’Yosher supervised these Matzot for Pesach, according to the manufacturer and our visitation of the plant, the following occurred:
    1. Ordinary flour that was not kosher for Pesach was used.
    2. The conveyor belt was sprinkled with maize starch
    3. The process heat was not sufficient for the baking of Matzah

    In other words, the matzot were not permitted to be eaten on Pesach and were likely actual Chametz. It is therefore our opinion that Kosher V’Yosher cannot be relied upon.

    Furthermore Kosher V’Yosher this year on their website have sought to use “approbations” from two renowned experts in Kashrut to bolster their position – Rav Elyashiv Shlit”a and Rav Shachter Shlit”a.

    However the words of these Rabbis have in our opinion been misused by Kosher V’Yosher. Upon hearing of the manner in which their words were being used the two Rabbis issued separately the following statements:

    Rav Elyashiv Shlita:
    אסור לתת הכשר למצות רכות לקהילות אשכנז כי זו פירצה. ביהדות אשכנז אין על זה מסורת ואף פעם לא נהגו לאפשר אכילת מצות רכות.

    Translation: It is forbidden to give a hechsher to soft matzot for Ashkenazi communities as this is a “pirtsah” a breakdown ( in standards). In Ashkenazi Jewry there is no such tradition (for making soft matzot) and at no time was it customary to enable the eating of soft matzot.

    Rav Shachter Shlit”a:

    My note written last month regarding Sfardic matzos was somehow taken as an endorsement of some specific matzah plant in Queens. Others understood that I was obviously referring to some specific matzah plant in Petach Tikvah. Let it be known that I am not familiar with either plant, and my note was not intended to endorse any specific matzah manufacturer in the NY area or in any other location. One must take care to use only such food products made under strict Rabbinic supervision and approved by one’s local Orthodox Rabbi, and especially with respect to Pesach products where the laws of kashrus are much more complicated and much more serious.

    The above statements speak for themselves and in our opinion the lack of credibility of Kosher V’Yosher. Contrary to the Kosher V’Yosher website, Rav Elyashiv clearly forbids the making of such matzot for Ashkenazim and Rav Shachter does not allow his note to be used as an endorsement.

    Kosher V’Yosher can simply not be relied upon and the soft matzot under the supervision of Kosher V’yosher must be considered forbidden for Pesach use.

    The Kashrut Authority
    The Sydney Beth Din
    The Yeshiva Rabbinate

  • Marky says:

    RR, as discussed previously, factories do constantly process kosher and treif in the same kelim and on the same lines on the same day. I have seen it in letters and heard from those seeing it. So it is very clear that the Aruch Hashulchan holds in this case to be an “Issur gamur” which is the way he puts it.

    It would not be batul among other batches, when there are so many treif batches.

    Rav Moshe’s teshuvah would clearly also not allow stam kelim in a case like this.

    It is quite clear that the k orgs(including LBD) have very good knowledge of what happens at these factories, hence they do not rely on sk. They know these plants inside out.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Does anyone actually believe that Hashem actually cares about this sort of trivial stuff? i.e. soft matzoh etc

    I’d like to think that He would much prefer to see the money wasted on this sort of thing being used to help our poorer Jewish brothers and sisters to afford to have their children educated in Jewish schools frankly.

  • miriam says:

    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. – Churchill

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Miriam,

    Thank you for your advice, I agree but generally prefer to use more temperate language.

    May I simply point out that the LBD would never posit anything quite so ridiculous, nor would they have any official of theirs endorse such obviously distorted claims.

    The obvious emptiness of most if not all of the counter-claims to Mr Bel’s article, were adequately displayed by the lack of actual and factual considerations. And highlighted by their feeble attempts at being personal and off topic.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Mr Saducee

    I understand your perspective, why on earth or for heaven’s sake should Gd care?

    The answer is blindingly clear, Gd has no benefit from what we do or do not do; nor is Gd injured frazzled or troubled by what we do or don’t do.

    Nevertheless, everyone understands and can relate to this. When a grandpa goes shopping with his grandchild, the trinkets he buys for the grandchild’s pleasure are often not the “right” thing to buy. It will obviously break in short time, it will obviously soon become a useless dust collector. It is obviously beyond their age level. And even when significant items are purchased at the pleadings of the loved one, we clearly know in advance that it is essentially a waste of money.

    But it is not a waste of money. It is an expression of Love. Indeed, we speak of being “madly” in love. People do mad things when they are in love. In fact, the madness PROVES that the love is real, otherwise why else would they be doing it?

    We do mad things to express that we love Gd, that we are loyal to Gd.

    We do it like this because THAT’S THE WAY GD WANTS IT DONE.

    I buy this stupid useless trinket [I waste money, I waste time etc.] because that is what my grandchild wants, and I love my grandchild.

    This is the foundation of ALL our adherence to Gd’s commandments.

  • Marky says:

    RR, I don’t recall being personal or off topic. If I think you are wrong on this issue, it is not personal or off topic to halachcally and factually argue the point. It doesn’t make sense to me that LBD would hold stam kelim and then list a variety of tins as not Kosher, especially as you gave no other reason for them doing so, other than giving some of your own thoughts of possibilities..

    It is not personal that I don’t find much actual or factual in your considerations. You also gave no details of your experiences in factories which I asked you several times.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi – you claim that “The obvious emptiness of most if not all of the counter-claims to Mr Bel’s article, were adequately displayed by the lack of actual and factual considerations. And highlighted by their feeble attempts at being personal and off topic.”

    Lack of factual considerations and off topic? You support Jews who keep kosher-lite by only reading the ingredients. And then you repeatedly refuse to answer the straightforward question as to whether or not your Kosher VeYosher/It’s Kosher agency endorses a kosher-lite approach in the supervision that it offers.

    Lack of factual considerations and off topic? You fail to condemn the author of the article for saying that the rabbis behind kosher agencies are guilty of murder! Is it any wonder that I have repeatedly asked you to issue a condemnation?

    Lack of factual considerations and off topic? You invoke an (NSW) Kashrut Authority ruling purportedly in support of your agency’s position. However, you ignore another explicit ruling from the KA that your agency cannot be relied upon to offer an adequate level of kashrut.

    Lack of factual considerations and off topic? Marky cites the specifics of what the LBD offers in its supervision, and yet you repeatedly fail to offer any parallels or otherwise here in Australia. You simply cite chapter and verse from the Mechaber et al. without any practical application to the world of mass production today.

    Maybe if you actually answered the questions posed to you in this discussion chain rather than hiding behind pseudo-halachic analyses, Marky and I would not feel the need to continually submit post after post demanding answers!

  • Harry Joachim says:

    It is no wonder that TheSadducee finds all this discussion irksome!

  • ariel says:

    Harry,

    Do you support Jews who observe “davening lite”?

    That is, people who go to shule once a week instead of three times a day?
    Or would you rather they go to the beach on Shabbat and not bother at all?

    I think this is the message that Mr Bel and Rabbi Rabi are conveying regarding kashrut.

    Remember, nobody says you have to eat in these people’s homes nor that you have to rely on KvY’s kashrut. But, there are some people who – as appears in Rabbi Gutnick’s letter http://pitputim.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/sydney-kashrus-authority-responds/
    – are on the fringes of kashrut and if they did not have these leniencies, they would likely walk away.

    This is part of the reason eruv is so important in Sydney/Melbourne. It means those who can’t get a babysitter can push their prams and not violate Shabbat.

    Etc.

    BTW, you could probably ask Rabbi Rabi any halachic questions by emailing him privately.

  • Meir Rabi says:

    Shalom Marky

    Your assertions need to be verified; whereas mine are based on my experience and common sense, yours are based on letters you have seen; but you cannot show us those letters. The LBD makes no statement supporting your assertions, you derive them from a question you have regarding the LBD; why do they permit some tinned foods whilst prohibiting others?

    Further, I did not suggest that you were off topic or being personal, whatever is going on inside your head and heart to make you think so?

    Again I would like to thank Harry for his decisive statement that there are Gedoley HaPoskim who agree with Mr Bel. [Harry maintains that they are a minority, but that probably depends on who is counting]
    I also thank Harry for re-iterating that Rabbi M. D. Gutnick, representing the KAS, insists that “approved” Kosher is 100% Kosher and anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong.

    On another perspective, I am surprised that you all accepted that Miriam’s observation was made about you and not about me.

    And yes, thank you Ariel, I will certainly answer queries put to me through our website http://www.kosherveyosher.com/contact.html, or via email rabbi@itskoser.com.au

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi says, “Again I would like to thank Harry for his decisive statement that there are Gedoley HaPoskim who agree with Mr Bel. [Harry maintains that they are a minority, but that probably depends on who is counting]”

    Thanks Rabbi for restating this claim, one that I did not state, neither explicitly or implicitly. Peddling this lie does not help your failure to answer the questions I have repeatedly posed to you.

    Ariel – see my first post on this article, which I reproduce here…

    “This all reminds me of the old story of the son who dressed up in a captain’s uniform and bought a boat. He visits his parents and boasts to them of his knowledge of the seas. His father says, ‘Listen son, by me you’re a captain, by Mamma you’re a captain, and by you, you’re a captain. But by a captain, you’re no captain!’

    “Similarly, one can try to keep kosher in a superficial manner by ‘buying kosher meat, staying away from crustaceans, never mixing milk and meat, and checking food labels’. You’ll consider yourself kosher, and even some of your friends will consider you kosher. But by the standards enshrined in our Holy Torah, you’re simply not there yet in terms of full kashrus adherence.”

    END POST

    Likewise Ariel, one should never condemn those who are on the road to observance, even if they are taking baby steps. However, this does not give Mr Bel or Rabbi Rabi the right to attack the learned rabbonim at kashrus agencies the world over who are doing all that they can to encourage additional kashrus observance.

    Ariel, you also suggest that I should email Rabbi Rabi privately. Why? He, unprompted, engaged in this open debate via this website and if he can attack my postings, likewise I can post questions to him about his position on kashrus. The questions I have posted are not complex and warrant answers that all can see and by which one can base a decision whether or not to eat the food that he supervises.

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Rabbi Rabi says: “Your assertions need to be verified; whereas mine are based on my experience and common sense”

    Lovely, rabbi. Is this a Purim joke? You won’t discuss your experience about factory visits, nor discuss the positions you take vis a vis kashrus, yet you deride Marky for lacking experience and common sense?!

    “On another perspective, I am surprised that you all accepted that Miriam’s observation was made about you and not about me.”

    I never said that. I was simply too polite to comment about to whom I thought Miriam’s observation best applies.

  • miriam says:

    Harry appears to enjoy displaying that he has a number of problems, now he has added memory loss to the list and also the inability to recognise he is being stupid.

    Harry wrote, “If the majority of gedolim say that gelatine from non-kosher animals is treif, who the ?>$% are you to come along and decide otherwise?” from which Rabbi Rabi correctly points out that Harry is actually saying that “there are Gedoley HaPoskim who do agree with Mr Bel that gelatine is Kosher. Harry maintains that they are a minority, but that just depends on who is counting.

    I am fairly sure that Harry said this, not knowing WHAT he was saying. He was repeating the mindless mantra of the Kosher orgs. They can’t dismiss various great rabbis who disagree with them, so they just make up some meaningless comment like, “Most rabbis don’t agree with this”. Rabbi Rabi sees right through this nonsense and explains it in undeniable clarity.

    But Harry is sure that “I did not state [that], neither explicitly or implicitly.” Then he fires up his hyper-imagination in order to maintain his fantasy, and says, “Peddling this lie does not help your failure to answer the questions I have repeatedly posed to you.” What a spectacle Harry makes of himself. No wonder he wants to preserve his anonymity. Rabbi Rabi has comprehensively answered all relevant questions. Unless one is blinded by stupidity or more likely by loyalty to the “Captains of Kashrut”, the case put by Mr Bel and Rabbi Rabi is balanced, logical and compelling.

    Then Harry wants us not to roll about laughing when he offers that he is simply too polite and that is why he did not think I was saying that Harry is an idiot. So just to be clear Harry, read my lips, you are an idiot and Rabbi Rabi should follow Churchill’s advice.

    Also here again is Rabbi Gutnicks statement.

    “Although Kosher Australia has announced that it is phasing out its “approved” listings, the Kashrut Authority maintains that “approved” products are 100% kosher l’chatchila and should be listed. Furthermore, it is wrong to restrict the general community to certified products.”

    Which word is Harry having trouble understanding?

    Oh, and about Rabbi Rabi’s experience with factories, it probably goes something like this: “I have been there I have spoken directly to the managers and directors, they do not process meat and other products on the same machinery every day.”

  • Harry Joachim says:

    miriam –

    If you truly believe that the good Rabbi Rabi knows what he is doing when it comes to kashrus supervision, then good luck to you. If you want to be accountable in shamayim for eating treif, then that’s your call.

  • ariel says:

    Harry,

    There were recent cases of supposedly frum butchers in Israel and the US selling treif meat with falsified heschsers on them. So for years their customers were eating treif. Is it their aveirah?
    Maybe b’shoggeg, but most would say it’s on the butchers who misled them.

    If an obviously Orthodox rabbi tells you something is kosher, who are you to tell him he’s wrong and that he is machti et harabim?
    What does he have to gain from telling you something is kosher if it is not?

    We seem to be entering a phase of Jewish history where people won’t listen to a rabbi unless he tells them they have to be machmir.

    There’s no chochma in forbidding something. Anyone can do that.

  • Shalom Unter says:

    Rabbi Apple on whether reading the ingredients is good enough in keeping kosher – http://www.oztorah.com/2012/04/checking-the-ingredients-ask-the-rabbi/

  • Marky says:

    Meir Rabi says:
    March 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    “I will PG address your observations re the Teshuvah of Reb Moshe in due course.”

    Thanks. I am still waiting(why Rav Moshe would write “if it is not ben yomo”, if he holds it is stam kelim?)

  • Marky, please remind me what we were talking about, what is it that you think I might be able to explain to you

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.