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Mar 16, 2008

Rav Chaim Kanievsky talks about Arab labor

Now, I normally would not write about this because many others already (among others) have, but I have a different twist on it that nobody else mentioned... so bear with me.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was asked, in light of the recent terror attack on Yeshivas Merkaz HaRav by an Arab from East Jerusalem, by representatives of yeshivas whether they should fire Arab employees and whether they should avoid hiring Arab employees.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky's response was that according to Halacha it is prohibited to hire Arab employees, especially in a Yeshiva, because it causes a danger to lives. After all, we are in a war with them! He further expressed his amazement that people would hire Arabs in the first place, saying "Are there no Jews who need work?"
Rav Kanievsky also said this should be publicized. He repeated that they should not hire Arabs (or any non-Jew), but should employ Jews and give parnassa to Jews. When the difference in price between hiring a Jew and a non-Jew is so great, then the Chachamim allowed one to hire a non-Jew due to the prohibitive excessive cost. But when we are talking about Arabs, it is a danger to life [and not allowed, even when there is a great difference in price].

I am not really sure what the big deal is and why this is making waves... my friend Chaim (not Rav Chaim Kanievsky) has been saying this for years already.

It seems the Haredi public likes to hire Arabs to save some pennies, so this is a big shock to this community to hear that we are at war with the Arabs and that they mean us harm. We have deluded ourselves to thinking they are our friends and are only against the evil Zionists, so to hear Rav Kanievsky call them the enemy and instruct us to not hire them, is a big deal...

I wonder though whether this would have any effect on whether one should or should not be eating Arab produce during this shmitta year. The Shmitta year has caused a dilemma for many consumers - among the Haredi public almost all reject use of the hetter mechira, and the importing of produce from Europe is on too small a scale to supply everyone with veggies, and basically the only solution for the Haredi public has been to purchase Yevul Nochri - Arab produce (technically it refers to any produce grown by any non-Jew, but the overwhelming majority is Arab produce).

Now that Rav Kanievsky has said they are our enemy and we should not be supporting them, even if it means paying more for Jews, will this have any effect on the purchasing of yevul Nochri in the Haredi consumer market?


  1. Forget Shmittah. Even in non-shmittah years, much of our produce comes from Arabs. (I don't think those who consider themselves part of the National-Religious community and like to criticize the Haredi community for its use of "Arab" produce during Shmittah realize this.)

  2. they do realize it, but it is a bit of fiction as well. The percentages of arab produce in a non-shmitta year is much smaller than in a shmitta year. Most vegetables are supplied by a minority of arab produce in a regular year. only a couple of veggies have the majority being supplied by Arabs. Yehuda once had the numbers from the Ministry of Agriculture. I can ask him for them.

  3. yoni,
    the reason that "we" (not that i necesaarily "consider myself part of the National-Religious community and like to criticize the Haredi community") don't realize this is because it is NOT TRUE.
    the facts are, that less than 5% of the local vegatable market is produce from the PA.
    and even among Isreali non-jewish farmers, other than cucumbers and tomatoes, their produce is also negligable. (that's why the example that the "chareidim" always give is that most cukes are arab produce - which also isn't true).
    the biggest proof of this is that this year when all the chareidim only eat and only give hechsherim to non-jewish produce, they cannot supply more that 10% of the market without importing from chu"l even if they wanted to.
    (i.e. if "Even in non-shmittah years, much of our produce comes from Arabs" how come this year there isn't enough arab produce even to feed the chareidi population?)
    in addition (even if it were true) there is a big difference between having some israeli arabs get a big percentatge of a certain market (e.g. cukes) in a free, open competative market, than where the chreidi population "boycotts" the jewish farmers (notwithstanding any halachik considerations)

  4. If they would start shooting Kassam's, and grads into Meir Shirim, has va shalom, they might even listen to the passak of Rav Chaim.

  5. The Arab's were even considering of calling there kassam's "melafafon aza", but they publicity might hurt there cucumber business.

  6. The Arab's were even considering of calling there kassam's "melafafon aza", but they publicity might hurt there cucumber business.

  7. Thank you for the plug of our blog!

  8. "It seems the Haredi public likes to hire Arabs to save some pennies"

    i think this characterizes israelis in general, not just haredim. and i'm not sure how many jews will really line up to replace the arabs in those jobs. mostly likely they will be filled by foreigners (as what happened when the palestinians lost their jobs as farm laborers during the intifadeh). simply put, avodah ivrit is a thing of the past for most israelis. (note that even rav k. leaves open the possiblity of using foreign non-arab labor when there is a wide difference in labor costs, which is probably most of the time.)

    but anyway, that's an interesting point about the shemittah.

    could you please explain to this am-haaretz was exactly is this issur with shemittah. is it on us working the land, or is it on the land itself being workded. if the latter, then how can it be permissible to buy arab produce. if the former, then why can't the land be sold to the druze (or is that what heter mekhirah is?)

  9. LOZ - that is exactly what hetter mechira is.

    Those who oppose hetter mechira say you can't do it because a)nobody really intends to sell the land so it is not real b)nobody has the right to sell the land (often it is not clear who the real owner is) c)there is an issur in the Torah against selling the land d)many other reasons..
    I posted about it once detailing more of the reasons...

  10. and to think R' Chaim Kreiswirth paskened this 30 or so years ago. as well as not doing business with the "cousins" in any way even if you are gonna save money


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