Aug 3, 2017

Tzitzis strings with a hechsher - good enough?

I'm not sure what to think of this. It is a bit shocking.

A class action suit worth 100,000,000nis was recently filed against the company "Mishkan Hatcheilet" claiming deception of the customer.

Mishkan Hatcheilet is the largest manufacturer of tzitzis strings and tallis garments in the world. The claim, and take pride in this, that their tzitzis strings are prepared and tied by "God fearing avreichim".

The person who filed the suit claims that Mishkan Hatcheilet employs prisoners to spin and tie the tzitzis strings. The claims includes testimony from some Arabs in prison that they too were employed preparing the strings.

Tzitzis strings prepared by non-Jews are invalid for use. If the claim is correct, not only are the strings not being prepared by God fearing avreichim, but they might not even be kosher at all.

The court has given Mishkan Hatcheilet 90 days to respond to the claim.

Mishkan Hatcheilet has responded that all the tzitzis coming out of their factories have any of various hechsherim on them, including Eida, Beit Yosef, Rav Wosner and others. He admits they, as other tzitzis factories, use prisoners to make the strings, but the tying is all done with a hechsher.
source: Behadrei

It seems to me that the lawsuit is claiming a problem in the spinning process while the response from Mishkan Hatcheilet deals only with the hechsher on the tying process.

I have nothing against prisoners doing productive work, but some people might want to know this information. There is definitely a machlokes about non-Jews spinning the tzitzis strings. For people relying on only the best hechsherimm, they might want to know such information, and it is surprising that the Eida, for example, would allow this.







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7 comments:

  1. Please keep us posted on this.
    We all buy tzitzis with one of the hechsheirim. I would like to know if its a bidieved, or based on some machlokes. Def not "edah" standard

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Prisoners are "G-d fearing avreichim"?

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  4. Regarding the spinning: there is a dispute. Some Rishonim ruled only Jews may spin, provided they have the proper intent (this is the literal reading of Rambam). Some ruled that if a Jew starts (or at least participates in) the spinning process, a Gentile can do the work (I presume this is parallel to the rule about Gentiles cooking for/with Jews).
    Others allow a Jew to direct the Gentile to specifically do the work so long as the Gentile focuses on the fact that he is doing this to fulfill the Jew's intent. It's not clear if the leniencies can be ruled on a group of tzitzit, or whether the Jew must be involved in making each individual tzitzit. But I assume the manufactories are relying on one of these leniencies.

    Jeffrey Smith

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  5. I was shocked when I saw the original report, showing Arab prisoners tying the strings. I have no idea if they are in jail for terrorist attacks, murder, or "ordinary" criminal activity. And it is does not make much difference to me if the are Jewish or Arab. I am sure there are other jobs that these "unfortuante" people can be given to do. Why does it have to be something as holy as tzitizes. The very thought of kissing them in davening, and realising that a prisoner was involved in such an intimate way in tying, would in my humble opinion make them posul. Next time I will buy the strings, and tie them myself.

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    Replies
    1. you seem to have it confused a bit. according to the report, the prisoners, including non-Jews, are involved in making the strings - spinning the wool, etc. After that, the tzitzis are tied by God-fearing avreichim.
      so, while you might not like that prisoners are involve din making your tzitzis strings, tying them yourself will not help anything.

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  6. I am almost 100% sure that in the report I saw, they were tying in the prison.

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