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Nov 18, 2013

Rabbanut warns about unauthorized Breslav hechsher

The Rabbanut newsletter has been warning consumers for years about unauthorized kashrut agencies, fraudulent agencies, that give certificates of kahsrut to restaurants. The consumer who walks in, sees a nice certificate declaring the place, usually, to be mehadrin, with a name that looks authentic and connected to  some familiar rabbinic name, really has no idea whether there is anything behind the certificate or not.

What could be wrong with a hechsher from this or that Hassidic group? Surely it is mehadrin! Maybe some people might argue about certain preferences, but for most objective mehadrin eaters, any frum group, Haredi nonetheless, giving a hechsher will almost always be thought of, or just assumed, to be reliable.

A group of Breslavers has started giving a hechsher, but the Rabbanut is calling them out.

From the latest newsletter:

By law, all establishments must have a local Rabbanut hechsher. If they want a mehadrin hechsher, a private hechsher, they are welcome to have one, but only in addition to the Rabbanut hechsher - not instead of the Rabbanut.

This hechsher being given from the Breslav beis din of Yavniel is both unauthorized and has been spotted in establishments without the Rabbanut hechsher. That's a double whammy for the Rabbanut.

There is no transparency. They answer to nobody. And nobody, including the consumer, has any way of being sure that things are ok - the consumer might assume Breslav is surely a fine hechsher, frum people, trustworthy and reliable, but really how is anyone to know.

The truth is that in halacha no hechsher is really necessary. We work on trust,, and if you trust a person saying any given place is kosher, you can eat there. Technically, if you trust these Breslav people, you can eat there assuming it is kosher and mehadrin by whatever standards the Breslav people are claiming. You do not need the Rabbanut, you do not need someone to confirm whether Breslav is good or not - it is a matter of do YOU trust them or not, just like your eating habits depends on if you trust the housewife or husband in the house you are invited to eat in, or the restaurant with whatever hechsher it might have. Trust is the name of the game.

And, I was recently in Yavniel and davened a number of times in the Breslav beis medrash. They seemed to me like fine, upstanding people. I don't know anything about them, I do not know if they are reliable and trustworthy and am NOT saying you can trust their kashrut declarations, but a superficial connection left me with the impression that they are fine people.

But, I would follow the Rabbanut's directive on this and not rely on this hechsher. Because there is a purpose to it. Without following the rules, there is no transparency at all and no way for anybody to know what is going on, what the standards are, what the level of supervision actually is. I would rely on any Breslaver I know who invites me to his house to eat, but at an institutional level there has to be a system.

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  1. In fairness, as far as I can tell, the hechsher doesn't use the word "kosher", just that the product is supervised by the Bresev Beit Din.
    I thought that law was only against using the word "kosher" if you don't have supervision from the Rabbanut.

    1. if I am not mistaken, only tyhe Rabbanut is allowed to use the word "kasher" (for restarants). all other teudot only say "teudat hechsher" and say "b'ishur". I think only the rabbanut is allowed to say "kosher"

  2. Would you trust Rav Berland?

  3. When my daughter worked at the dairy at Givot Olam, she says the rabbanut inspectors were always very thorough and on the ball, but the only thing that interested the Badatz mashgichim was their payment. At Givot Olam they referred to them as "Chatam Sofer" (sign and count).

  4. Question is, how much does the hescher cost? That to me tells me if I can trust it or not.


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