Jun 30, 2015

Rav Ariel on Hashgacha Pratit

Rav Yaakov Ariel, rav of Ramat Gan, has said that the alternate hechsher known as Hashgacha Pratit cannot be relied upon for kashrut. He also said about its founder, Rabbi Aaron Liebowitz, that not every rav can give kashrut certification, and definitely not someone who is destroying kashrut.

He also said that the various Badatz hechshers generally only go into a place and declare it kosher after the Rabbanut has already done so. The Badatz cannot be relied upon in a place where they declared it kosher without first the Rabbanut doing so, according to Rav Ariel.
source: Srugim

So, according to Rav Ariel, Hashgacha Pratit is just like any other hechsher - just like any private Badatz, for example. According to Rav Ariel, only the Rabbanut can give kashrut and be trusted, and no private hechsher can.

Legally that is the case, and will be so even more so after Shas's new law will be passed in the near future. Halachically that is not the case.

According to halacha all you need is to trust the person telling you it is kosher. There is no concept of hashgacha, private or public. I can trust the Badatz privately, without needing the Rabbanut, from a halachic perspective. I do not even need the Badatz if I trust the owner of the restaurant, or if he hires a private mashgiach that I trust.

That being said, as I have said before, I do not really get how Hashgacha Pratit works. At best it is like any other private hechsher, as Rav Ariel said, and one can choose to trust them or not. In reality though they are trying to do things differently. They have some system of volunteer supervisors, but for the most part people are relying on the word of restaurant owners who are largely not religious and whom they generally do not know personally. Can they be trusted? I don't know. Anybody and everybody can decide for himself or herself, but to me it seems spurious. Even though in theory I like the idea of going back to the system of trust that kashrut is really based on, I do not see how it can work the way it is working.

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  1. Although I trust Rabbi (now Jerusalem City Councilman) Leibowitz's kashrut if I were to eat in his house, I do not necessarily trust those he has placed as mashgichim, nor do I trust some of the places which have his heksher, without the Rabbanut breathing down their necks, even to the limited extent that they do that.

    I believe I hold to a higher than average standard, and I am more comfortable eating at a particular coffee house in Rabbi Leibowitz's neighborhood of Nachlaot without any heksher at all. I know the owner, it is closed on Shabbat, and I know where all of the food comes from, just by asking a few questions. Done.

    And, I am not the only religious person who feels this way. Haredim also eat at this coffee house.

    -Nachlaot Resident

  2. Common sense says that the Rabbanut must have the power about hashgachot for restaurants, etc. and the proprietor of any establishment can also have the hechsher, along side of the other, of his own choosing. The consumer and customers of such establishments should feel that they are eating 'strictly kosher', without the fear of being, c'v, conned. Kashrut is second to the Shabbat in importance to the observant Jew and, woe unto those who, even in the slightest, try fooling their customers. How low can the world sink that we need to worry about the most basic Jewish laws.

  3. What Nachlaot said. The mistakes someone might do in one's own home and the solution to correct them are definitely not on the same level of what a restaurant has to deal with. If I make a mistake, I can just chuck the mistake in the garbage and/or rekascher the tools/appliances. The restaurant owner's expense is much much higher and no one knows how honest they will be when they occur (not if, because mistakes happen all the time in restaurants).
    I think it's great that restaurants have properly accredited health supervisors and kashrut supervisors from at least the central body. The 'Shas' minister (nice how you label "Shas's new law" ) had a good example - he said no one questions Misrad Hapnim to give out identity cards even though sometimes mistakes happen there. So why should kashrut be privatized as well?

    1. So why should kashrut be privatized as well?

      How about, because it's purely a matter of ritual law, and ritual law doesn't demand governmental regulation? Eid Echad Ne'eman B'issurim. It's only a matter of finding a Halachicly-acceptable witness.

    2. And please tell us, how do we find such a 'Halachicly-acceptable witness'?

  4. I don't know if they changed the title of the article after you posted, or you deliberately left out the offensive headline - R Ariel says that he doesn't know if R Leibowitz is even a rabbi. And of course R Ariel is not at all a nogea bedavar as a municipal rabbi or anything.

  5. Listen to this interview with Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz and then decide whether his hashgahah is serious or not. One of the reasons why his hashgahah appeals to people is that there are no payments under the table in cash and no mashgihim who get paid but rarely show it. Many restaurants are using because him davka b/c they care about kashrut.


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