Oct 2, 2017

Interesting Psak: food distributed to the needy

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was asked two interesting questions about the distribution of food to the needy. (source: Behadrei)

In one question he was asked if a tzedaka organization is required to distribute fine meats and sweets as per requests submitted by potential recipients.

Rav Kanievsky responded to this by saying that as long as it is something considered "regular" food it can/should be included in the distribution even though it is beyond what is normally given. 

I guess this means they would not distribute steaks and spare ribs, but a brisket would be considered reasonable.

In the second question Rav Kanievsky was asked about someone who applied to receive food form the tzedaka organization and set a specific hechsher as his standard. Upon receiving the meat with his preferred hechsher he announced that he longer eats that hechsher and only eats meat from a different hechsher - does he have to return the meat to the organization or can he keep it and give it to someone else (eg family member or friend) who does eat that hechsher?

To this Rav Kanievsky responded that he already acquired the meat and it is his and he can do with it what he wants and give it to whomever he wants.

On this question I think the question should have been followed up with more questions. I would then have asked if the organization is required to give this fellow more meat, this time with the hechsher he now requires or because they already gave him what was agreed upon they should not feel any obligation to give him again? I would also have asked if they can look at this recipient askance because of what he did and view it perhaps as a scam of sorts as a way to get someone else the meat they wanted because they are not recipients - and this might effect future distributions to this person.

Another thought is that from Rav Kanievsky's response it seems it is not inappropriate to make hechsherim demands from an organization distributing foods. This fellow seems to have the full right, as no comments about it seems to have been made, to demand a specific hechsher and can even change his mind and demand a different hechsher when he so pleases...

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  1. Why wouldn't you have the right to demand a specific Hechsher? The answer can always be no.

  2. I guess the question isnt can you demand. you can always demand. the question is does a recipients demands obligate the organization to respond positively (assuming his demands means they have to outlay more money to meet his demands).


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