Sep 2, 2010

The kashrus situation of Bet Shemesh is at very good standards

Last night Yechiel Spira of Jerusalem Kosher News came back out to RBS for a follow up talk about the kashrus situation in R/BS.

Spira has spent the last two months or so concentrating much of his efforts on becoming familiar with the kashrus situation in the greater Bet Shemesh area, visiting restaurants and supermarkets, bakeries and coffee shops, speaking to rabbonim, mashgichim, storekeepers, butchers, clerks and everybody in between.

He clearly has put a lot of work into this project, so kol hakavod to him for his efforts, and to BTYA and Rav Malinowitz for commissioning him to do so with the goal being to raise awareness among the tzibbur and thereby raise our personal levels of kashrus.

Overall, R' Spira added nothing really new tonight from his previous talks or if you follow his emails. He stressed many times that his goal is to make us aware of how to look at kashrus situations and to determine for ourselves, with the help of a rav if necessary, if any given situation is acceptable, each according to his own standards. He stressed nobody should be mezalzel any hecsher, even one you personally do not hold of.

He described scenarios of stores that sell packaged salads, a common situation in this area, and you have to realize most of the time, based on his findings, you are not relying on a hashgacha, but you are trusting the proprietor that he really brought the salads from the place he says he brought them, as the original had a hechsher, but what he is sselling does not - so you are trusting him that these salads are the same as the original. This is his classic situation - to realize you are not relying on a hechsher, because it doesn't exist, but trusting the sller. It is for each person to decide if he wants to trust the person selling the item or not, but he should realize that there is no hecsher..

Overall I was impressed that he was impressed with the kashrus of the greater Bet Shemesh area. He said the situation out here is far better than it is in Jerusalem or any of the other cities he has looked into. There are none of the fake hechshers that are common in Jerusalem, most of the stores and restaurants have the hechshers displayed properly, etc. Of course nothing is perfect, but the situation is very good. He even stressed that he is very impressed with the local Rabbanut - the facts on the ground match very nicely with what the Rabbanut says they do, and he said that is unusual.

One thing that made me uncomfortable was that despite him repeating that he is not telling us what is good and what is no good, just trying to make us aware and that we should determine for ourselves, there seemed, to me at least, to be an underlying insinuation that nobody can be trusted and you can only rely on one of a few hechshers. It might just be a personality thing - I am a very trusting person and if I see a scenario that looks to me like I can trust a person, I almost always will, and he seemed, to me, to be insinuating that nobody can ever be trusted and I think he is a very distrusting person.

But besides that, overall his message was that it is important to be aware, check the hechsher, realize what looks suspicious and what looks to be true, and know what's going on.

42 comments:

  1. Vayiftach HaShem es Pi Ha'asonSeptember 02, 2010 10:36 AM

    Rafi,

    I am surprised at your last paragraph and the lack of sensitivity you have for victims of child abuse in this community.

    Like it or not Rav Malinowitz does hold a shitta that endangers children in RBSA. His public announcement to women (that I witnessed firsthand) that they should not go to police/authorities was dangerous and illegal.

    So yes, while he and BTYA may be modern on areas of kashrus,etc. he still falls way below when it comes to bein adom l'chaveiro..namely children.

    Your sarcasm that could be hurtful to innocent victims less than a week before RH is out of place.

    ReplyDelete
  2. it was to preempt all the expected comments. now there is no need for this to change topics..

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  3. where can you buy packaged salads in BS?

    ReplyDelete
  4. you are right though, it is inappropriate and a distraction form the post, so I moved it here to the comments..

    One additional note - although it was an unbelievable and unqualified success, it was marred by the fact that it was arranged by the known sonei yisrael child-molester-abbetor Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz , and took place in that hotbed of chareidi extremism, BTYA. The mitigating factor in this is that at least he was not sitting on the dais of the 5 AM slichos the other day, so perhaps it balances out..

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  5. Rafi,

    So as a member of BT I know that I will go to din next week on RH having a high standard of kashrus behind me and also knowing that I belong to a kehilla that sanctions non reprorting of child abuse and the punishment of the poor (from the rav himself).

    Which do you think will carry me further?

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  6. Judging from the sell out crowd, there seems to be a lot of support for the idea of an independent investigation into the level of kashrus in the city.

    Perhaps we can extend this to other areas of halachah. An obvious example would be an independent review into the community’s response to child abuse. I am sure there are other areas too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. See Josh's reaction to one of Yechiel's issues here-

    http://parsha.blogspot.com/2010/08/interesting-posts-and-articles-282.html

    I think this is indicative of his general outlook. While Yechiel has done many great things for my own personal kashrut standards and I'm sure for others' as well, you have to take what he says with a grain of salt, knowing that he's coming from a particular point of view (even while he claims he doesn't).

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  8. Kol Hakavod to BTYA and Rav Malinowitz!

    This has been an important issue for a long time. Thank you as well to the Rav for his abundant articles in Chadash about Mehadrin standards. One living in Israel is often fooled by the thinking that everything is kosher.

    I can now be reassured that the kashrus in RBS has the same high level of supervision that the lack of reporting of child abuse does.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am familiar with that incident. I am not sure what it shows though as far as agenda, as to me it shows he is even being critical of the Eida, and not giving them the benefit of the doubt just like he wouldnt any other hecsher.

    but yes, he does come off a bit harsh, and as I mentioned he is very against trusting anything or anybody which I am not comfortable with..

    ReplyDelete
  10. If Yechiel's role is to uncover kashrus problems, then you want a suspicious type of personality to tackle it. Suspect, worry, dig, poke around....

    Just like it takes a certain personality to do well in the internet security department - if they don't have a ta'avah to hack, forget it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was amused by your last comment, but I think you forgot to preempt both the R' Chaim Soloveichik trolls as well as the Rab' Da`wid Bar_r-Hayyim [or whatever it is...] posters who will remind us that his shiurim are available at machonshilo.org.

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  12. Your uncomfortableness with the presentor's lack of trust is well placed.

    Al pi Halocho - Ed Echod Ne'emon b'isurin.

    This is the most basic of Kashrus rules.

    So long as one is basically a religious Jew - unless you have a specific good reason believe they are either lying or are not sufficently aware of the Kashrus issue at hand - you can trust their Kashrus much like you trust your spouses or your neighbors w/o a hechsher.

    There is no such thing as being sure is Kashrus - even with the most respected hechsher - it always biols down to this concept of Ed Echod which is fundamentally an issue of trust and the Halocho is clarion clear that we ARE to trust every Jew as everone has a chezkas kashrus until shown otherwise.

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  13. agav, the concept of hechsherim lichoira only came about in the past 60-70 years or so due to commercial production of foods in non-Jewish/non-religious factories (no chezkas kashrus). Or maybe matzo where the process is easily messed up.

    but theoritcally even if food comes from a factory but that factory is owned by a religious Jew producing for other Jews - one could rely on Ed Echod w/o a hechsher as well stricly halochikally speaking. (of course this is a stricly academic question as no religious Jew would produce w/o a hechsher since it would never sell.

    ReplyDelete
  14. true, and when you go to someone's house you are relying on eid echad and that is fine.

    The problem comes when money is involved.. I was always taught that eid echad falls away when there is money involved- if the storekeeper stands to profit, how can you trust him as an eid echad? There are situations where you might be able to, but as a whole it is a problematic situation

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  15. Troll and Proud of ItSeptember 02, 2010 12:57 PM

    Mikeage,

    I'd much rather be a Rav Soloveichik "troll" than a Malinowitz oveid avoda zara.

    ReplyDelete
  16. As for the specific incident, I'm not sure why he thinks the Badatz Eida Haredit can't simply believe that a product with another hechsher also meets their standards.

    His reporting on the incident was a bit strange, as Josh pointed out.

    ReplyDelete
  17. How about the hechsher company, which is for-profit or at least the mashgichim rely upon for parnassa - are they an eid echad?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Shira is making a good point. The hechsherim are no less money oriented than the proprietors. The are not some 'shluchei bes din'. They are quite lucrative business. The Eida Hechsher supports all of Meah Shearim and the Beit Shemesh suburb.

    But look it up. I do not think it makes a difference.

    Money, no money I do not believe such a distinction is found - regarding issurim a Yid is muchzak not to mislead until he loses that chazoko somehow.


    Shochad is a special din by a dayan who has a kinship or inability to 'stab' his benefactor in the back.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey don't turn my words around....

    I don't know why but it's clear that eid echad isn't good enough to buy food products otherwise we wouldn't have hechsherim - and it happened way before the Oilom "frummed out."

    I was adding to that the idea that on some level even the hechsher company itself must be inspected and reviewed for propriety.

    ReplyDelete
  20. see Taz in YD 127:7 from where it is clear that having a monetary incentive is not a factor in Eid Echad.

    ALso, the source in Shas is a Shochet who is making money who is relied upon to check his knife for nicks by himself. (Chullin 10b)

    (Today's shochtim, who are also making money and have hourly quotas or get paid by the bird/cow also check their knives themselves. The rav hamachshir does not go around checking all the knives the whole time)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I was disgusted and embarrassed at the lecture when I heard Rav Spira's account of our wonderful local Chinese restaurant, the Oriental. without even consulting with the owners or their Mehadrin Mashgiach, he issued a scathing warning against their kashrus, which was unfounded and may caues nezek against their long time family business. How can he think that the kashrus in a Haredi owned restaurant with a permanant mashgiach is less than some of the chiloni owned felafel stores run by two teenagers in jeans. We have eaten by the Oriental many times and I hope many more.
    As someone famous once said ( yes, I know who, but won't say here), "May he who is without sin cast the first stone". I challenge Beis Tefilla to allow Rav Spira to comment on the level of kashrus allowed in the Beis Tefilla catering hall before commenting on other hard working people's businesses! Aryeh Sonnenberg...would you like Rav Blau to comment on the kashrut of the music in your gym? I think the Oriental is owed a HUGE apology!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Has anyone noticed Rav Malinowitz's recent charm offensive??

    The whole English section of Chodosh has been created simply as a platform for Rav M and his groupies.

    Rav M's obsessive defense of haredi chumras, under the veil of claiming to be Mr Moderate (Rabinate is also sort of kosher)...

    While still banning Lema'an Achai, for standing up against Rav M's illegal (criminal) shita on child abuse.

    Will the real Rav M please stand up?

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  23. oh is that what you were talking about Rafi?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Shira- of course this is what rafi was talking about.

    There is a group out there that feels it must openly criticize BTYA and its Rav.

    They use every opportunity to bring up the Lema'an Achai or child abuse issues and comment on the Rav's policy.

    I can't understand why these people feel that the ban on Lema'an Achai (and punishing the poor) or the tampering with justice for abuse victims is wrong.

    BTYA has great shiurim, community lectures and wonderful simcha hall.

    They are open minded and welcoming to anyone except Lema'an Achai and victims of child abuse.

    Why can't these commentors just keep their opinions to themselves so that poor people will receive less help and molestors can live in peace!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I suggest that we fabricate a sexual molestation charge on the owner
    of the Oriental. Then beis tefila's rabbinic leaders will be inclined
    to protect his parnasa. And all of the sheep in beis tefila will eat
    there davka to protect him and his family. Does anyone want to chip in
    for a black hat and frock for the owner to implement this?

    ReplyDelete
  26. you shouldnt make such a suggestion about anybody even as a joke. somebody else will repeat it, changing it just a bit, and eventually it will spread as a rumor.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Rafi - you 100% correct. Bad idea.
    But every time I see things like this, and every time I think about Beis Tefila members being blindly guided by awful people with no moral compass, I am reminded by words from Rabbi Berel Wein that really is the source of my personal ability to remain true to Torah:
    Do not confuse Jews with Judaism. Jews can be bad. Even very smart, charismatic talmidei chachamim, like some of the rabbinic leaders locally. But we, as honorable Jews, should fight against the corrupt. We should support the Oriental and we should destroy sexual assault that is rampant and protected in RBS.
    I just saw the backwards irony and used bad tasted sarcasm to drive the point home.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rafi -
    Quick question:
    You said:
    "...it was marred by the fact that it was arranged by the known sonei yisrael child-molester-abbetor Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz , and took place in that hotbed of chareidi extremism, BTYA."
    Was that serious or sarcastic? Aren't you a part of that community?

    ReplyDelete
  29. it was a tongue-in-cheek comment. every time the words BTYA come up, no matter the topic, the comments get out of hand turning it to attacking Rabbi M.

    I have no problem with anybody not agreeing with him on any specific opinion of his, yet agreeing with him and following him on other things.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Perhaps Rabbi SuperMehadrin should care just a little bit about the dangers of lashon harah and the damage to a family's parnassah while he is being supermachmir about his hechshers....

    This from the owner of the Oriental restaurant to the BS email list.

    The Kashrus Certificate at the Oriental Chinese
    Posted by: "The Viflics" viflic@012.net.il
    Thu Sep 2, 2010 4:48 am (PDT)


    Dear Listland,

    I was very kindly informed by one of my neighbours this morning regarding what was said about the kashrus certificate of The Oriental Chinese restaurant. and I would like to give our side of the story.

    It is correct to say that our mehadrin teudah was in fact expired for a period of time, HOWEVER, during the WHOLE TIME we had a FULL-TIME MEHADRIN
    YERUSHALAYIM MASGIACH on the premises and daily visits from the rabbinut Bet Shemesh masgiach, which was not mentioned.

    Anyone who had a problem with the certificate was encouraged to speak to our masgiach and if this was not enough, we gave them the the telephone number of the Mehadrin Yerushalayim supervisor.

    I wish that Rabbi Spiro had spoken with us, toured our kitchen, spoken to our mashgiach (like some other establishments metioned). If so, he would have seen that the kashrut standards of the Mehadrin Yerushalayim were being upheld by us in conjunction with the mashgiach while we were working on
    fixing the expired teudah.

    My husband, Itzak, is a frum, well-known and long-time member of the community. The kashrut of our restaurant has always been at the same high standard that is demanded by Mehadrin Yerushalayim even when our teudah was expired.

    If you have any questions, please call us. We are always available to our patrons.

    Please come visit our restaurant, come to our kitchen, speak to our
    mashgiach and judge for yourself.

    Thank you
    Tamar Viflic

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am preparing a post on this issue of The Oriental (and more), but I would like to point out now that as far as I know anything that was said or discovered was by R' Yechiel Spira. Not by Rabbi Malinowitz or anybody else from Beis Tefilla. They commissioned R' Spira to conduct a kashrus survey in the Bet Shemesh area and he described his findings and feelings. If anyone owes the clarification, it is R' Spira, not anyone else.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You're Joking, Right?September 03, 2010 2:31 PM

    Come on Rafi - surely this is one of your tongue-in-cheek items?

    BTYA "commissioned" this guy. Invites the whole world to hear his presentation. And then claims his damaging nonsense has nothing to do with BTYA...

    LoL.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Rafi, please-look at this weeks'BTYA Shabbes bulletin. Rav M has offered a public show of thanks for Aryeh in organizing and editing the kashrus lecture. It was sponsored by BTYA and they hold full responsibility for it. Don't try and wiggle out. This was absolute loshon hora. The back of the book declared that the restaurant had a valid teuda at the time of going to print, Aryeh CALLED them to confirm this. So WHY WHY WHY didn't Rav Spira or Aryeh mention this at the lecture? They misled a crowd of hundreds of people. SHAME.

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  34. A local Rabbi (who I spoke to first hand) was asked to check out the kashrut situation of a Rabbanut restaurant. When he did, he found some things that were unusual. The Mashgiach said everything was good.

    He went ask Rav Goldstein what to do and framed the question as being from someone who holds by Rabbanut. Rav Goldstein said that it was permitted to say that were some suspicoous things, it was absolutely ASUR to say the restaurant was not kosher.

    I once ate at the Empire Kosher Chicken Restaurant in Cleveland. The Vaad HaKashrut had disbanded the week before, because the head had left for another job. We were told that no restaurant would relax their kashrut standards, to take advantage of the situation because they would experience the rath of the community once everything was in place again a few weeks later.

    It is important to make sure that the Kashrut organizations are kept on their toes and decisions about Kashrut are made based on halacha and not politics. However a great deal of care needs to be taken to distinguish between not a Kashrut level I hold and treif.

    ReplyDelete
  35. anon and you're joking - I did not get a statement from BTYA or Aryeh or Rabbi M. I stated my own opinion that what was said at the lecture was based on his findings alone. I didnt see in the book on The Oriental page anything about it having a new teudah, and if he knew about it at the time of the shiur it raises questions why he mentioned the expired teudah but not the new teudah. I was not aware that the investigations were being performed by anybody other than R' Spira.

    But again, those were his findings. I am uncomfortable, as I said in the post, with his style and it comes out in numerous ways. This is one of them. But it is his style, and this drive to go through the country and fix the kashrus according to his opinion is his. I look at him like a maverick - like the famous story of the guy after WWII who felt like shaatnez was an issue that people were not aware enough of, so he made it his agenda and spoke everywhere about it until he pushed for improving the shatnez situation. Spira seems to be doing the same thing - he found this issue that speaks to him and is going about it in his way. Mostly it does good, and BTYA wanted to take advantage of that for the betterment of Bet Shemesh.

    BTW, once on the topic, why was an expired teudah on display for something like 2 months? regardless of the fact that they had a mashgiach the whole time. why did they not take down the expired teudah? I agree a teudah would not even be needed when they have their own mashgiach, but why continue displaying the expired teudah? It does look a bit problematic, and despite R' Spira being wrong in general for not mentioning the new one, and for not going in and talking to the mashgiach, he did have a point about them hanging an expired teudah.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I found it in the book, and it raises a serious question why he didnt mention it. I sent him an email asking him why not, along with other clarifications. I hope to have answers for my upcoming post.
    As well, I sent an email to the Viflics asking them for clarifications as well.
    As of this printing I have not received answers from either party. I hope to at some point, and if I do get answers I will hopefully share them with you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. one more thing, anythign I say is my opinion alone. I do not speak for BTYA, not for Aryeh Sonnenberg, not for Rabbi Malinowitz. It is my opinion based on the information I know and am aware of. It might even sometimes be accurate, more likely not..

    I only speak on behalf of myself and nothing stated here or anywhere else on this blog should be construed as being anybody's opinion or statement other than my own.

    If I quote somebody, they said it. If I just say something, it is my own opinion, analysis and thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  38. In answer to Rafi's question, the new Jerusalem Mehadrin hechsher is mentioned in the book - p. 57, #8. It was also mentioned in the talk (at 39 minutes into the MP3) - "He does have a hechsher again...."

    ReplyDelete
  39. Don't Blame Judaism for Its JewsSeptember 03, 2010 5:29 PM

    Rafi,

    I commend you for providing a forum for the frustartions many of us experience.

    Your tongue-in-cheek comment in the original post, which you moved to comments, is understood.

    People have no other place where to vent their frustration and anger at some of the blatant hypocracy coming from BTYA.

    This blunder on the part of the shul through their commissioned Kashrus detective should be a lesson.

    As we approach another Rosh Hashana where the shul continues to ban a local chesed organization perhaps the time has come for BTYA, its members and even its Rav to be as careful with what comes out of their mouths as much as with what goes in.

    Chumros in kashrus are great for people who choose to follow them but alas they are just chumros.

    Most Bein Adom L'Chaveiro issues are d'oyraisa.

    HKB''H judges us based on how we deal with others. I hope that the cherem makers and kashrus machmirim of BTYA understand the implications of their bein adom l'chaveiro.

    May we ALL have a Shana Tova and a Gut G'benched yohr.

    ReplyDelete
  40. If Jo's Club Health & Safety Certificiation (if there is such a thing) was two months out of date, would BTYA make a public pronouncement to avoid excercising there?

    Of course not, the customers know and respect the Sonnenbergs - and that the expired H&S Certification was because they hadn't paid, or a technicality.. but not that Jo's Club is unsafe.

    Surely everyone knows this is the case with the Oriental's expired kashrus certificate.

    The Viflic's are yirei shamayim and highly respected. The mashgiach is a yirei shamayim and highly respected.

    And the food was definitely kosher.

    BTYA should publicly apologise for misleading the public.

    As teshuva, I suggest they order the Oriental's (very tasty and 100% kosher) Chinese for their next shul function!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. The food might be kosher, the owners mught be good, honest G-d fearing people.
    If someone wants to trust them on their say-so, that's ok.

    Bu they didn't say "we are good honest people all our food is kosher trust us" , they had an expired hechsher teuda hanging. That means that they knew that although they are very nice people, some people only want to trust a recognized kashrus organization. By having the teuda hanging they were misleading the customers.

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  42. So let's assume for a moment that one of their two teudot kashrut (as I understand it, from the recording of the presentation) was out-of-date, and that it should therefore not have been displayed...

    And that this was (apparently) due to financial/administrative reasons, rather than any irregularities with the kashrus itself...

    And that the teuda was since rectified....

    Then what is the toelet in announcing this to a group of several hundred residents?

    Except to show off to everyone what a "good spoof" BTYA hired??

    Isn't there an issur on building oneself up, by pushing someone else down?

    ReplyDelete

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