Nov 24, 2014

Jordanians make it harder for mashgichim to do their job

The big salvation for the people who keep what they call "shmitta l'chumra", i.e. not touching any produce from Jews in Israel but only non-Jewish (aka Arab) produce, or imported produce, was supposed to be the initiative by some involved with the Eida to grow produce in Jordan and bring it in. They bought/rented the land, set up the farm, created a system with mashgichim being sent from Israel, and this would create a system of Jewish produce that is imported, instead of local Arab produce (that is usually lower quality and has the problem of supporting the Palestinians).

All was good until it no longer was.

The Jordanians are now making trouble for them. In this time of political tension and terror, the Jordanians seem to be leaning to support the Palestinians over Israel, even at the expense of the peace treaty.

Everything was working nicely, with the mashgichim coming and going, until the Jordanians put new regulations into effect this past week.

According to the new regulations, Israelis can no longer enter Jordan as individuals, but only in groups of 6 or more, along with being accompanied by a policeman and a guide during their entire stay in Jordan..

This regulation will definitely hurt their tourism industry, but more to our point, mashgichim can no longer go check out what they need to supervise, unless they go in large groups. They now lose their element of surprise, as well as requiring travel coordination with a large group, rather than one or two being able to go do their work on their own.
source: Ladaat

I am not sure what these mashgihchim are even needed for. If they already set up the farm, they already ensured it is outside of halachic Israel. Meaning, there are no shmitta issues, mashgichim are not needed for the purpose of tithing and separating truma. The produce is natural, so manufacturing or ingredients don't need supervision. Why do mashgichim need to go to Jordan to check out tomatoes and lettuce? Maybe to ensure that the vegetables are bug-free, assuming they grow them by bug-free methods?

I feel bad for the investors who put a lot into this initiative. It looks like they are going to take a hit just because they thought the Jordanians are trustworthy and want Israeli business..

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  1. Why the heck do vegetables need hashgacha?

  2. Actually, there are a variety of issues, anything from determining the extent of insect infestation to whether animal byproduct-based lubricants are used on cutting tools.

    But, anyway,....

    ..."shmitta l'chumra", i.e. not touching any produce from Jews in Israel but only non-Jewish (aka Arab) produce, or imported produce...

    What about the Southern Arava? [properly constructed] greenhouses?

    I thought these were well-received in at least many Haredi communities.

    BTW, soon we will have to begin worrying about fruit. I know at least some Haredi communities which do eat/drink otzar bet din supervised produce. The Eidah does not?

  3. offhand I dont remember the eida position regarding fruit. it is less of a problem because of the non-issue of sfichin, so I am not sure.
    some do hold of southern arava produce. eida holds it is not eretz yisrael at all. I think though that not enough is grown there. maybe it is also cheaper ni jordan

  4. What about green houses? During other years, they are preferred, no? During shemitah, isn't this considered לא מחובר לקרקע, assuming they are properly constructed.

    Even when people had packed earth for floors, my understanding that indoor plants (w/small enough drain holes in the pots) were not considered מחובר לקרקע.

    Regarding the Arava, I can understand there not being enough. Still it fits your bill regarding who to support, no?

    I remember seeing it in the Shuq in previous shemita years. I haven't see it yet. Next spring and summer look for melons from the Arava. :-) I don't recall what else is grown there.

    1. the Eida doesnt use produce form hothouses in Israel. others do (like Rav Efrati), but not the eida.

  5. Replies
    1. its a machlokes on whether the hothouse is called a bayit or a sadeh. the eida holds that it is normal to grow produce like that, so even though it has walls and a ceiling, it is still called a sadeh. everyone else holds it is a bayit.


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