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Adass and Chabad Meat Schism

September 12, 2012 – 10:10 pm33 Comments

By Rabbi Meir Rabi
“Don’t take this personally, but I wish to honour my Rabbi and cannot do this.”

What do you think is the background that has prompted this plea?

Would it be a favourite Uncle who cannot participate in his favourite niece’s church wedding ceremony?  Might it be a mother who cannot dine at her daughter’s non-Kosher home?  Would it be by chance a rabbi who cannot enter a Jewish home because there is no mezuzah on the doorpost? (There is no such law or opinion in our traditions, by the way) Or perhaps it is a rabbi who feels he cannot enter a Jewish home because the mezuzah on the doorpost is not written in accordance with his style of writing? (There are two major styles of writing used these days, both are perfectly acceptable).

Or perhaps, it is a rabbi explaining why he will not eat food that he readily admits is kosher, but is not under the certificate of his own rabbi.

Melbourne is blessed, as are its kosher consumers, with three kosher butchers. In a sense, these three butchers do not really compete with one another. Each butcher operates under a different kosher certification and each certification is affiliated with a different congregation which identifies itself with a different political/religious variation. Nothing wrong with that I suppose; after all, why should congregants who belong to a group not support their group?

But can the three kosher certifications be so different in Gd’s eyes that they prevent a parent eating at a child’s home? Or the children eating at the parent’s home? Or people who would be friends from eating at one another’s home?

The Gemara in BM 30b explains that our insistence upon imposing the strict letter of the Torah Law, was the underlying cause of both the destruction of the Temple and our exile.

I do not think this reflects upon the petty divisions that are the stuff of small minded and mean spirited people. Such things although regrettable are understandable; such is life. I do think, however, that this reflects upon using Gd’s Torah to fuel these divisions, using Gd’s Torah to camouflage this pettiness, using Gd’s Torah as a pretext to intensify division. This is not understandable; this is intolerable. It is an abuse and in fact a distortion of Gd and His Torah.

So when a kosher caterer in Melbourne provides for a family simcha, they must procure the meat from the butcher and the certifier that meets the specifications of that family. And when the same caterer prepares for a family that has other preferences, they must procure meat to meet their specifications. Fair enough; that’s part of supporting your group. However, we  agree that the meat is kosher, despite some possible minor variations in custom or tradition.

So let me ask you this: we know that a pot that has had pork cooked in it cannot be used for cooking kosher food until the pot has been kashered; so is it necessary to kasher the pots and pans and crockery between cooking the foods of one “group” and the foods of the “other group”?

Of course, the answer is no. Halacha does not require nor deem it meritorious, to kasher the utensils between one community’s kosher and another community’s kosher.

However, the sad truth is that as surely as utensils must be kashered if they have been used for pork, so must they be kashered, by decree of our leading congregational rabbis, if they have been used for another Orthodox community’s kosher meat.

And then we wonder why some do not have the greatest respect for the Orthodox communities.

“Don’t take this personally, but I wish to honour my Rabbi and cannot do this.”

When I heard this, I took a moment to gather my thoughts and then asked in return, “Why would anyone think that any honour can be attributed to Gd or to any rabbi, by sitting at a table amongst other Jews and refusing to eat the food that they are eating and that you in fact profess to accept is Kosher?”


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