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Jul 19, 2012

Community Rabbonim Sign Commitment About Eating At Catered Events With No teuda

Yehiel Spira, from Jerusalem Kosher News, has been advocating for a long time about increased awareness regarding issues of kashrus. One of the main issues he tries to raise awareness about is events in simcha halls.

Very often, the baal simcha gets a caterer but there is no certification or supervision of the specific event. So, it turns out, even if the caterer is "Badatz" or "Rav Rubin" or under whatever other hechsher, there is no hechsher on the food served at the event. As soon as the food was removed from the caterers kitchen, unless there is additional supervision, which there generally is not, the event is not certified kosher. You are simply trusting the caterer, the waiters, and anybody else who has access to the food and utensils. This leaves an opening for all sorts of problems to rise that nobody might even be aware of.

the guests, in this situation, chow down on the food, trusting the baal hasimcha to have provided a nice kosher, even mehadrin, dinner. Maybe they asked what hechsher and were told this or the other hechsher, but at the end of the day there is almost never a hechsher, and anything goes.

A group of community rabbis have signed a letter of commitment to raise awareness to this issue, by not eating at catered simchas that do not have arrangements for a mashgiach with a certificate on display. This will be promoted and encouraged in their communities and they hope the movement to demand this will grow.




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32 comments:

  1. eh! Not a bad idea, but most of the time rabbonim don't actually eat anyway at affairs they go to. They go in for a few minutes and leave, or even if they sit there for a longer time, most rabbonim have adopted a policy to not eat out of their own homes. I don't know many of the rabbonim who signed this letter, and I do not know if they do or do not eat out, but I would bet that most do not. So this little protest isn't really a big deal.

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  2. I just got married and used a mehadrin catering to cater to the needs in my family. It shocked me that I needed to request (and pay extra) for a mashgiah on the premises. My understanding is that in the US, only the mashgiach has the keys to open the catering truck so that there is no issues with transport and what could/would happen on the way to the hall.
    I also made a copy of the teudah and brought it to the wedding in case my family needed to see it. I just dont understand how I (a non-frum person) knew that this was necessary but my mehadrin catering didnt offer this.

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  3. you really put out the extra effort, but it is not common. Just so you should know, the mashgiach should have issued a certificate specifically for the event. photocopied certificates are meaningless (and they generally say so on the certificate itself). Anyways, I think if a mashgiach is present no teuda should be necessary. the mashgiach is there and is available for people to ask.. the teuda might still be helpful for people who are shy or dont want to get into a conversation about it..

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  4. I don't get it. If the caterer is certified by the Hashgacha, doesn't that mean the Hashgacha trusts him? If yes, then why do you need a special mashgiach etc? If no, then what good is the hashgacha

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  5. It's very possible that one may decide they don't need a hashgacha on the event, and are content with the fact that the food was originally prepared according the rules of a mehadrin hashgacha. But in many cases, people are not aware of what they're doing, and do in fact think that the event is under a hasgacha that it's not. In some cases, the caterer doesn't even claim to be using dishes (or "generic" things like bread...) that are under a particular supervision, but advertises as serving food under a particular hashgacha.

    Education is a very good thing.

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  6. OJ - no. the hashgacha doesnt trust him. If they did, they would tell him he doesnt need a hechsher. Their hashgacha means they are certifying, and the people eating can trust them, not him.
    if they only certify him in his kitchen, thats all the people can rely on them regarding. and thats all they claim to be reliable for. If they arent being hired to certify the catering hall as well, they give no gaurantee on anything after it leaves the area that they certify. anything can happen, and according to the stories, anything does happen.

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  7. Soon only sealed and stamped food boxes will be acceptable,otherwise unreliable.

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  8. "we are not permitted to eat food unless someone we trust tells us he knows it is kosher"

    Question- I am invited for shabbat lunch to a friend's house. I trust his standards of kashrut but know his wife cooks food thursday night and leaves it in the refrigerator in unsealed containers. I also know the plumber was working in their kitchen friday morning without a mashgiach present. Mau I eat there on shabbat?
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  9. Joel,
    Its ok if either theres no benefit in switching the food, its recognizable that the food is the same food, or if the plumber may think that a household member may arrive at any time and see what he's doing.

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  10. in someone's private house it is a matter of trust. you will eat byy those people you trust and you wont eat by those you dont trust. there is no issue beyond that. if you trust them, you trust they did not leave the food exposed to non-frum people who might maliciously replace the food. That is part of the trust.

    the problem is really once money comes into the picture. Once food is being sold, then they have something at stake. personally, I dont buy from people who advertise selling food out of their house using all badatz (or whatever) products.

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  11. I note the comment about "small neighborhood affairs, catered by members of our own communities" not being included in this ruling. With all due respect to Zevy Weismandl et al, why the exclusion? Either you insist on a Mashgiach at ALL affairs, or you've re-opened the whole issue. After all, Moshe Fink of Monsey was a respected member of that community, and we know how that turned out.

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  12. R'Ramat Eshkol,
    My point exactly. R' Rafi's coomment goes to when is the chezkat kashrut lost. M'ikar hadin IIUC one wouldn't say once money is involved it is lost. We of course may be more stringent as we choose but unless there is a miyut hamatzui of problem cases, I think even rabbinically it would be hard to argue that one must.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  13. I should qualify my comment more accurately. i might buy from someone selling food if I personally knew them and know their trustworthiness. If it was just someone who i dont really know, and he seems ok to me but I dont know firsthand, I would not buy from him/her.

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  14. Unrelated to the post, but this is a great video especially for the 9 days.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPmViwmJSJE&feature=player_embedded

    Now, related to the post.

    Whats wrong with trusting people?! The only reason not to trust someone is if there is a fiancial gain for them to serve non-kosher food, or you are afraid that these people really hate Jews and want to make them eat nonkosher food.

    After the food has been prepared, why would they possibly make your food unkosher?

    And now that I think about it, maybe the video is related to the post afterall.

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  15. who said there is anything wrong with trusting people? trust whomever you want. I am a very trusting person by nature. But if I dont know someone personally and he has a financial interest than regarding kashrus I might be more wary. People I know, and I know them to be careful regarding kashrus, and I consider them honest and trustworthy people, I eat from them no questions asked.

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  16. Typical, Kashrut and the "rabbis" get all apoplectic signing "how serious and important this is"... little girls getting abused? Nada.

    This perversion is why there is so little respect left for some of these so-called Rabbis.

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  17. But if I dont know someone personally and he has a financial interest than regarding kashrus I might be more wary.
    ==================================
    True, but from a pure halachic standpoint isn't the starting point eid echad neeman bissurin? and here we seem not to be talking about industrial kashrut where there may be technical knowledge that your average Yussie wouldn't have.
    KT

    Joel Rich

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  18. I can't believe that a rav with the integrity and sense of Rav Yaacov Haber would lower himself to be signed with some of these less than honorable rabbonim.

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  19. Anon - 10:56,
    When there is a financial benefit the concept of Eid Echad is thrown out.

    ReplyDelete
  20. r'ehwhy
    source please
    KT
    Joel Rich

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    Replies
    1. I have seen it come up a number of times over the years both in sources and allegorical examples.

      I know Rav Danny Myers has said it a number of times in shiur. Menorat HaMaor allows potluck kiddushes.

      Delete
    2. On a separate topic, of people bringing food from home, I think it is far more common in Israel than in the USA for shuls to allow people to bring food from home for kiddushes. Also schools. I think in a religious neighborhood in Israel there is more of a sense that we can trust that any given member is adhering to the standards set by the shul, whereas in the US you never know what someone might bring.

      as far as trust, back to the original, yes. They might allow potluck kiddushes (BTYA does as well), but once it is catered it needs a mashgiach/teuda. That is still less common when the caterer is a local person who is well-known in the community, but I have heard of the demand.

      Delete
    3. There is definitely a difference between here and Chul. My wife's grandmother had been the public relations director for COR for 30 years. She was very upset when she found out we would trust potluck. Over the years they had a number of scandals of food being substituted and not easily caught by the mashgihim. One mashgiach was applauded for going dumpster diving, in order to obtain the proof that the caterer had been providing catfish.

      Once money is involved there is always the risk that finances will cloud their judgment. Imagine being (in a time without mass production) a shochet, having to tell a community, he made a mistake and the cow is trief. Alternatively, I had learned (although I have seen different in practise) a young child who just learned their Aleph Bet, should be used to if there is a question a Sefer Torah is Pasul. At that stage they know enough to identify the letters but not enough to be worried about the consequences to influence their answers.

      Delete
  21. I can't see how one mashgiach would be enough to ensure proper kashrut. There would need to be at least two, possibly three depending on the size of the affair. One needs to be the shomer of the food as it exits the kitchen, into the truck, and makes its way to the hall. Another needs to be at the hall during preparation to ensure that the proper fleishig (or milchig - shudder) plates and utensils are being used, and to verify kashrut of other items being prepared - drinks, soft and alcoholic, etc. I once personally witnessed a bottle of a clearly milchigs alcoholic drink being opened by the bartender at a frum fleishigs wedding. Turns out that the baal simcha assigned a cousin to pick up the alcohol and bring it to the wedding hall, and the cousin didn't realize that it was milchigs (despite it having the word "cream" in the name!) At American-style weddings, you would probably need an additional mashgiach because the reception is held in a different room from the dinner and each area needs proper supervision.

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  22. Mark SoFla, "cream" in the names of wines and beers does not mean "milchig", so his mistake isn't as unreasonable as you make out.

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    Replies
    1. This was an Irish cream liqueur. It wasn't Cream White Concord wine :-)

      Delete
  23. When there is a financial benefit the concept of Eid Echad is thrown out.

    No, it isn't. You may adopt it as a private hiddur, but the halacha is clearly not so.

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  24. After all, Moshe Fink of Monsey was a respected member of that community, and we know how that turned out.

    That's irrelevant. The din of ne'emanut is not premised on trustworthy people never lying, so it's not invalidated by an instance of this happening. People were right to trust Finkel, and the fact that they were unfortunately nichshal doesn't change the halacha that if Finkel's clone were to open shop the next day he would have the same ne'manut and nobody would have the right to cast doubt on it.

    Planes that are built to spec and properly inspected still crash every now and then; and yet the very same day people keep flying, and are right to do so.

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    Replies
    1. Milhouse - I am the comentator you're responding too. I agree with you conceptually that the din of ne'emanut applies. My point is that if we're saying that we can't trust caterers and need a Mashgiach at the hall, we should apply the same reasoning to all caterers with no exceptions, or else we're headed down a slippery slope. My reference to Moshe Finkle of Monsey was intended to point out that if we're taking on this Chumra, the logic to exclude known "local" caterers is weak, at best.

      Delete
  25. If the caterer is certified by the Hashgacha, doesn't that mean the Hashgacha trusts him? If yes, then why do you need a special mashgiach etc? If no, then what good is the hashgacha

    There are two kinds of hechsher: There's the traditional one where the agency is saying "we trust him". If so, he's just as trustworthy outside his kitchen as in it. This sort of hechsher is more commonly given by the "heimishe" machshirim. Then there's the sort given by the big agencies, which says not "we trust him", but "we're watching him". The advantage of such a hechsher is that it can be given to anyone, so long as there is adequate supervision. The disadvantage is that if he's determined to cheat no amount of watching is guaranteed to prevent it.

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  26. http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2012/07/agudah-responds-to-viznnitz-rebbe-call.html

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  27. I live in Modiin Elite, and there are several caterers who do not have a hechsher, either because they don't have a kitchen with separate access; or other technical reasons. Yet everyone knows them - they are neighbors and friends, and relied upon. I have never heard of a simcha hall refusing to allow them to cater an event. Equally, when friends get together to help a baal simcha make a seudah, either with cooking main courses or desserts, this food is served, with venerable Rabbis present. Those who don't want to eat homemade food normally have the option of a store-bought boreka or rogelach

    ReplyDelete

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