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Jun 21, 2022

who can claim kashrut?

Haredim10 has an interesting story that raises a common debate in kashrut today.

Rav Yitzchak Levy, the Chief Rabbi of Nesher and member of the Chief Rabbinate Rabbinic Council, recently hosted a catered event. Mazel tov, whatever the event was celebrating.

The issue raised is that the caterer hired for the event bears no kashrut certification. The situation is exacerbated a bit by the fact that Rabbi Levy was one of the main opponents fighting the recent kashrut reforms proposed by Matan Kahane - Rabbi Levy believed and fought that the Rabbanut should retain all the power and control in kashrut.

And then Rabbi Levy himself goes and hires a caterer that claims to be kosher but does not have kashrut certification.

it at least looks weird, if not bad.

When asked, the caterer responded that he hires a local avreich to supervise the kashrut but he has no formal certification. Let's not forget, Rav Levy fought bitterly against the kashrut reforms that would have made what Rav Levy did for his personal event perfectly ok. Rav Levy's main opposition is that without the Rabbanut, the law will not obligate any private rabbi to express his decision that food being supervised is problematic or not kosher, and only with the Rabbanut system can the rabbis retain the power to declare something not kosher.

Rav Levy himself responded to questions saying this was a private event, a family dinner, a family event, even though there were other people invited, and and family dinners do not need supervision. Rav Levy mentioned that he just had another similar event on Shabbos and made a similar catered meal.

So according to Rabbi Levy, personal events, like wedding meals, bar mitzvahs and the like, do not need official kashrut supervision. So what does need kashrut supervision? Obviously restaurants do, but no event halls? Is every private affair a personal matter, a family dinner, no matter how many non-family members are invited so they do not need supervision? I agree that a family dinner, cooked by me or my wife, with guests, family members or other, and that dinner will not need supervision. If I invite you to dinner, or you invite me to dinner, neither of us need to hire a mashgiach. But when you hire a caterer and are not doing the cooking yourselves, does the caterer not need supervision?

Halachically, the entire kashrut requirements are based on trust. There is no real halachic need for kashrut organizations. They became a thing when restaurants and caterers basically became a common thing, so we started eating in places where we did not know the proprietor and could not just trust him - so the kashrut agencies became a thing and in place of trusting the owner, who we often do not know, we trust the reputable kashrut agency supervising. Technically Rav Levy did nothing wrong - he trusts the caterer either because he knows the fellow and trusts him or because a private mashgiach was hired. But wouldn't it behoove Rabbi Levy to adhere to the rules he pushes on society where caterers are required to get [at least] Rabbanut hechshers to be considered kosher?

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  1. I don't understand the problem. Did the caterer claim to be kosher? There are many events halls and caterers that do not advertise themselves as kosher, some are completely treif, others may prepare kosher food, but are not certified.

    Rabbi Levy is not obligated to eat kosher food an a private event, it is his personal decision whether he wants the caterer for a family simcha to be kosher, or whether he wants to self-cater or get a friend to cater, or everyone brings their own sandwich.

    There are many small caterers who will prepare a kiddush or small simcha using the kitchen in their house, with no claim to be kosher. If you know the caterer and would eat the food in their kitchen, you are free to decide whether to eat the same food in a different location.

    There would only be a problem if the caterer that he used advertised themselves as Kosher, or had some type of certification from a private body with the word Kosher on it.

    1. first, I personally dont think there is a problem with what he did
      second, what he did goes against everything he campaigned for in his opposition to the reform evem if it is somewhat more personal in nature. It looks like what's good for you isnt necessary for me. It at best looks bad.

    2. no, he is fighting against reforms that would allow people to misuse the term "kosher". he never objected to private people trusting those that they know, as long as they are not claiming to have kosher certification.

    3. according to the story as reported he hired a caterer that claims to be kosher with a private mashgiach
      and, do you think he asked the caterer, hey are you kosher? and the caterer said no, yet he still hired him?

  2. Same old. Same old. The rules do not apply to the ppl in power. As Orwell put it: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others


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