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Sunday, July 12, 2009

What is Really Kosher, Halachically?

I first saw this by JS on DovBear and was shocked and angered by what I read in the article in the Baltimore Jewish Times.

I distinctly remember when frum Jews ate non-glatt meat; glatt was a chumrah which some right-wing Jews took on themselves, but a Jew eating non-glatt would not be looked upon as having eaten treif.
Apparently times have changed: now, at least in my community (and I understand many others), people will not eat in your house if you say you buy non-glatt meat.

I always thought that Hebrew National was not only non-glatt, but 'questionable' in its kashrut. I wouldn't dream of having it in my kitchen. Now that it is under Rabbi Ralbag's supervision and the Triangle K, it should be a different story. But it isn't. Read the whole article, and tell me why I shouldn't be buying Hebrew National hot dogs for my family.



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6 comments:

DYS said...

In principle I agree, but if the community won't eat in your kitchen if you have HN there, it may not be worth the battle.

Lady-Light said...

DYS: Yup. Maybe it's time to find another community; people who have the courage to follow what they believe, because it's right, not because of mar'it ayin; which of course is another problem in and of itself...
It boils down to 'in which community do you want to be?'

Michael Kopinsky said...

I don't know enough to comment on Hebrew National or Triangle K or hashgachot in general, but I have a lot of difficulty in viewing as objective an article that prefaces its comments with, "More than one prominent Orthodox rabbi has suggested that modern kashrut 'is 2 percent Halachah and 98 percent ego and money and politics.'"

The sources that the article brings supporting Triangle K are real, and definitely peripheral in the orthodox community. Rav Abadi is a serious posek, and very few of his psakim are followed in America today. Will you eat in a treif Subway if the ingredients of the food you order are all neutral? I won't, and don't know anyone in the Orthodox community who would. Would your shul use a sefer Torah printed using silk screen printing? I know your shul, and can assure you that no, they wouldn't. These are all acceptable halachic opinions, but they are deiot yachid, and no American posek (or Israeli, for that matter, other than Rav Abadi himself) holds of them.

Halacha does not work following the "facts" of some clearly biased newspaper reporter, or following a daat yachid on a website. Asei lecha rav - you must have your own rabbi whom you trust with halachic questions.

Lady-Light said...

Michael K.: I see what you are saying, and understand why your comment was so vehement; you and I are on different rungs of the ladder in our maturity, knowledge and growth as Jews vis-a-vis the 'big picture,' i.e., the culture and politics of Judaism in our time.

I have had prior experience as a mashgicha with more than one Vaad Hakashrut and know very well that what the author of that article meant by stating "that modern kashrut 'is 2 percent Halachah and 98 percent ego and money and politics'" is more or less correct, by which I mean, perhaps not 2 percent-maybe a bit more, but definitely embroiled with ego, money and politics, as unfortunate as that is.

I also agree with you that notwithstanding the sources for info on Triangle K being correct, they are still peripheral in the Orthodox Jewish community, which does not accept the hechsher.

However, that does not make their decision correct. It is similar to teaching children that "chalav stam" is treif (because only "chalav Yisrael" is kosher), or that 'non-glatt' meat is frowned upon, or that chickens and processed foods are now sometimes labeled 'glatt' (last time I checked, no chicken lungs are blown up to check for sirchot.) In addition to these humrot, there are all sorts of 'political' reasons why certain hechshers are not accepted. I will go out on a limb and say that sometimes, da'at rabim is wrong, plain and simple. It's just that no one has the courage to take a stand for fear of ostracism by the kehilah.

Over the years, the Jewish Orthodox community has moved to the right, taking on humrah after humrah, with the implication that anyone who does not follow along, is not considered a 'frum' Jew.

Regarding your example of eating vegetarian food at the fast-food eatery "Subway," there was a time when many Orthodox Jews 'ate milchigs out,' or at least, ate 'pareve' in non-kosher restaurants.

Many "Modern Orthodox" Jews still do today.

No, my shul would not now accept a silk-screened Torah as kosher, but who knows what will be in the future?
Maybe this is a method for writing a Sefer Torah that should be discussed by Rabbinic authorities? After all, a Sofer still inks in the silk screen by hand over the lettering.

In short, maybe it's time to set up a Sanhedrin, to review Halacha and make decisions which could possibly be more relevant to modern discoveries and new scientific knowledge?

Suffice it to say that what we know as "halacha" is a fluid thing. It has changed over the centuries and is mutable still.
You might want to peruse some other blogs, such as DYS's Torat Ezra and/or XGH's Modern Orthoprax, for thoughtful discussions of Judaism.
But, thank you for visiting (I mean that sincerely)!

YoJewMama said...

Interesting discussion. It reminds me of the saying: "do less than me and you're a heretic, do more than me and you're a fanatic." It's sad and I hope we don't get caught up in a mentality that criticizes others for their choices of where to hold. Pointing fingers becomes a slippery slope, and during these three weeks we need to be so very sensitive to each other. We're all trying our best.

As for eating pareve out: something as simple as balsamic vinegar, which is made from grapes(!), must have a hechsher. How well were salads inspected for insects which are completely treif!)? Or the oyster sauce used in Chinese foods that are otherwise pareve? Or the lard used in pie crusts? There are things that are problematic about eating out pareve and other things that are completely treif which are hidden ingredients. It takes learning and understanding to choose confidently. The natural food coloring carmine is made from beetle wings and is commonly used. But it doesn't sound terrible if you don't know what it is.

As I heard one rebbitin say about someone who was newly exploring a Torah based life: "It's a level." So hopefully we can all make our choices and then respect others choices--even if that means that someone chooses not to eat in my home! It doesn't matter what you do or who you are, someone won't eat in your house for one reason or another. Oh, well.

Great blog, keep up the good work! Have a great summer!

Lady-Light said...

YoJewMama: You said it correctly:
It takes learning and understanding to choose confidently.
The key is learning - studying the sources of your heritage and laws, and coming to informed conclusions.
Thank you for your visit (and your video).

 
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