Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kashrus - Agriprocessors threatened with loss of certification

New York Times reports:

The leading Jewish authority in charge of certifying kosher food has threatened to withdraw its certification from the products of Agriprocessors Inc., the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, after criminal charges for more than 9,000 child labor violations were brought against the company and its owners in Iowa this week.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, who is in charge of kosher supervision for the Orthodox Union, the major kosher certifying organization in the United States, said he had set a deadline of “several weeks” for Agriprocessors to name a new chief executive, or the group would suspend supervision of kosher production at its plants.

“Because of the new charges in the state of Iowa, we believe it is in the best interest of the kosher consuming public to have new management with a new C.E.O., that will give people a new sense of confidence that all laws and regulations are being completely complied with,” Rabbi Genack said in an interview on Wednesday.

Losing the kosher certification of the Orthodox Union would be a potentially crippling blow to Agriprocessors, whose meat and poultry — sold as Aaron’s Best and Rubashkin’s, among other brands — are staples in Jewish households nationwide that observe kosher practices. The company is by far the largest producer of kosher meat, with annual kosher sales estimated at $80 million. Although other groups provide certification, they are less widely known, and the loss of the familiar circled-U seal on the company’s products could drive away many customers.

Agriprocessors has been struggling to maintain its production since 389 illegal immigrant workers were detained at its plant in Postville, Iowa, in a raid on May 12. On Tuesday, Iowa’s attorney general brought 9,311 criminal misdemeanor charges that accused the company of employing 32 workers under the legal age of 18 in Postville. Many of the youths worked night shifts in dangerous jobs that exposed them to hazardous chemicals, according to the charges.

Aaron Rubashkin, the Agriprocessors owner, who is a Hasidic Jew, and his son Sholom, the former chief executive of the Postville operation, were named as defendants in the criminal cases.

The Orthodox Union’s ultimatum was first reported on Tuesday by JTA, the Jewish news agency. The agency also reported that a second kosher certifier working in the Postville plant said that he would not withdraw.

Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, the other certifier, said he would remove his seal of approval only if the company failed to follow strict procedures for slaughter and packing mandated by Jewish dietary ritual laws, JTA reported.

Rabbi Genack said he had told the Rubashkins after the raid that he expected them to seek new leadership for the company. Shortly after, Aaron Rubashkin announced that he had fired Sholom Rubashkin as chief executive, and was seeking to replace him, but no new executive has been named.

Agriprocessors has already met another condition laid down by the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Genack said, by hiring James Martin, a former United States attorney from Missouri, as a compliance officer to enforce labor and safety standards.

For the top manager, Rabbi Genack said, “We want to see a new face, somebody independent who can give new direction to the company.”[...]

24 comments :

  1. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 11, 2008 at 1:09 PM

    A displaced and thinly disguised blood-libel of "Gurnisht mit gurnisht"!

    Is that the best the local Iowa authorities could do is to come up with "9,311 criminal misdemeanor charges that accused the company of employing 32 workers under the legal age of 18 in Postville" and of that the OU is scared like a chicken and cries foul? (oops, good puns!)

    So let's do some arithmatic now, if "32 workers under 18" = "9,311 misdemeanor charges" how many trillions and zillions of charges could be made against the Nazis for all the slave labor they used and then actually killed or of the American's abuse of the American Blacks as slaves? And how many time sover should the leadership of Germany and America be spinning over by now to make aammends for those truly evil past wrongs. Nut let us not run ahead of ourselves quite yet, there will be time to scream if things get worse for Rubashkin and by definition for all consumers of kosher meats in America, and hopefully they will not

    All sense of proportion and sanity is being lost in this bloodhound (good pun again) chase of the Rubashkin fox, and all to what end? Would Klal Yisroel gain if God forbid they would close down for good or if the OU would withdraw its hechsher? Everyone would lose, except for Rubashkin's rivals who are not provably better than them.

    Rabbi Genack is a brilliant man and a huge Talmid Chochem who actually has ruled the OU's kashrus divison for a very long time. He was hand picked for that task by none other that Rav Yoshe Ber (JB) Soloveitcik of YU zt"l fame as he was one of the Rav's star talmidim, and Rabbi Genack is alos a worldy, wealthy and politically savvy man (he is actually called "Hillary Clinton's rabbi" so he knows the art of being political) and hopefully he will resist the temptation to be too "politically correct" and cave in to this blood-libel level series of assualts on shechita and kosher meat via phony-baloney (good pun) excuses of defending teenage Hispanics whoeagerly applied for these jobs together with the others (would they be doing better in Mexico or Humduras?)

    There is nothing in HALACHA that the Rubashkins have transgressed beyond some minor rules required of following dina demalchusa dina and unfortunately most Charedim and Chasidim do not follow that in any case, or don't believe it should be followed. But at any rate, these are only secular questions and SO FAR nothing to do with the Halachos of Shechita and Kashrus as far as anyone knows. So let's hope it turns out for the best!

    For the benefit of all kosher meat consumers who rely upon and eat Rubashkin's products (and I am one of them) let us pray and hope that the redifos and tzores that they have been facing will be solved with Rabbi Genack's wisdom and a willingness on the part of the Rubashkin family (after all, they have grown VERY rich and fat from this [good puns]) to make some changes and "throw a dog a bone" (good pun too) like when during the Yom Kippur Avoda that we are soon approaching the Rabbeinu Bechaye says that the seir la'azazel was necessary as a kind of surrogate "korban" to the Satan to keep him busy and shut him up while the real business of the korban laShem could fulfil its role of attaining the true mechila and teshuva for Klal Yisroel.

    As for the rodfim in Iowa, and animals rights lovers and bloggers like "Failed Messiah" who aid the sonim, they are plain reshoim who have no interest in kashrus or helping Yidden eat Bassar Kosher, they are just a bunch of sonei Yisroel who are jealous and angry and want to inflict maximum harm, in this case on the Rubashkins (for some it is as a way of getting at Lubavitch which is dumb because most of the shochtim are not Lubavitchers) and by implication on all the Jews who depend upon, pay for, and enjoy the fresh and delicious products that Rubashkin puts out.

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  2. "There is nothing in HALACHA that the Rubashkins have transgressed "

    How about Tzaar Baalei Chayim?

    Isn't this the whole reason for shechita?

    There is also a Takana against a kosher slaughterer owning its treifas. This might account for the fact that Rubashkin has been criticized for years by experts in shechita for having an impossibly low ratio of treifos despite the fact that they buy the lower grades of cattle.

    And while we are on the topic of suffering, what about the way that the workers were treated? There are many halachot regarding the way in which a Jew treats his employees.

    Agriproceesors is right out of Sinclair's "Jungle" and it has been common knowledge in the kashrus business for years. (Ask Yudel Shain).

    The Jewish people are to be a "Light unto the Nations", not a Chillul Hashem like the Rubashkins who obviously think they are above the law; and not just the "Laws of the Land", but the laws of this land which ARE based upon our Torah. For Rabbis in shechita, the kashrus of every observant Jewish home, to flagrantly disregard the law (and therefore halacha) is a grave aveira.

    The kosher consumer should be OUTRAGED!

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  3. RaP,

    I would hope you could come up with a better defense for Agri than that they are clearly superior to the Nazis!

    In any event, while I personally can't too excited about accusations of illegal workers and "child" labor and I am always sympathetic to private businesses getting harassed by Big Government, if the accusations of widespread violations of the law are found to be true, then it does raise questions that should be seriously considered by kashrus supervisors.

    There is a definite correlation between law-breakers and halacha-breakers, and if a person is a habitual liar in one area, he will tend to become a habitual liar in other areas. I have always felt that once a person/business is known to be unscrupulous, he/it should not be able to get a kashrus certification. Not as a penalty for his other improper actions, but simply because it is too likely that he will engage in improper and deceptive practices that are directly relevant to kashrus. Kashrus supervising agencies are not spy agencies, on some level they all rely on a certain degree of honesty by their clients. If a client is actively working to deceive them, the client will almost certainly succeed.

    Personally, I stopped eating Rubashkin a while ago, before these accusations came out, for other reasons.

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  4. Other things that Rubashin has done is commit a CHILLUL HASHEM. Not just because they got caught, but in the eyes of their non-Jewish employees and the townspeople in Potsville.

    We walk around all dressed up in supposed holy garb, black, tzitzit, etc. and then we behave like hucksters. This is an epidemic in the frum community.

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  5. While I wouldn't dignify jersey-girls rechilus & am-hoaratzus with a response, I do believe that a reality check is in order. We are shortly approaching the Yom Hadin. There is more than ample reason (based on shas etc.) to believe that he who judges other yidden (even) k'shuras hadin, will likely be judged harshly (exactingly) for the new year.
    Is it worth it ?

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  6. Shloime:
    "he who judges other yidden (even) k'shuras hadin, will likely be judged harshly (exactingly) for the new year."

    Publicizing kashrus violations is Toeles (see Chofetz Chaim).

    I asked a specific shaila regarding what I may say and what I must say regarding Rubashkin after I saw first hand Rubashkin operating on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

    I was told by my Rav that it is a mitzvah to warn other Jews.

    The Rabbeim of KAJ stated the following in their public letter regarding the termination of their kashrus certification of Rubashkin.

    "We are fully cognizant of the momentous repercussions that our decision entails and can assure you that we have not taken it lightly."

    The Rebbeim of KAJ have also decided that it is a mitzvah to publicize to other Jews that they removed their hashgacha from Rubashkins for kashrus reasons (letters October 2007 and 12/31/07). It was also announced from the bima Shabbos morning in the Washington Heights Shul, shortly before the December letter went out).

    As a result of reading this blog and some others, I ran out to the butcher this morning. I was thinking about Yom Tov.

    My regular butcher told me that he was having an impossible time getting any meat and he was out of stock on everything. It seems that many of the stores that were carrying Rubashkin will no longer do so, and the demand for other shechitas is way up.

    Butcher number 2 told me that effective immediately, he will no longer carry Rubashkin. He was sold out of everything.

    Butcher number 3 had a piece of chuck that I decided it would be good enough for first night Yom Tov under the circumstances. He told me that he is not getting his delivery next week from Alle because of the increased demand for shechitas other than Rubashkin.

    The store looked more like a bank run than a butcher shop.

    Unless you live in Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Monroe or New Square where there is always a regular and steady supply of non Agri meat, you might want to buy your meat for Yom Tov now, while you can and put it in the freezer.

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  7. So 'jersey girl' claims to have seen something very serious... "
    I asked a specific shaila regarding what I may say and what I must say regarding Rubashkin after I saw first hand Rubashkin operating on Shabbos and Yom Tov." and out of her boundless ahavas yisroel, would like to save other Jews !!
    If this is true, and since we don't know who you are, why won't you share with us, 1. the facts of this story, and 2. WHO the rov was that paskened what he did, and 3. the details of the psak ?
    If what you allege is true, this shouldn't be too difficult, and you wouldn't want to let down the Chofetz Chaim, nor to be oiver on 'lehafrisho meissura'.
    Oh, and one more little question:
    All those Rabbonim who visited Agri a few weeks ago and reported that the kashrus/shechita to be the standard of excellence...are we to assume they were all lying ? Does the NY Times have a chezkas kashrus, does a gentile have ne'emonus...? Are you familiar with issur v'heter, dinei chazoko, ne'emonus, rinun, etc. Obviously not. Spare us the crusade, please. Build a model chabad house and burn it, throw darts at pictures, or vent your hatred some other way. But please spare us the libel, it's really tired.

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  8. Shloime,

    Rubashkin's Gentile workers have been operating its plant and distribution centers on Shabbos for years. Soaking and salting, packing and shipping can be done by Gentiles on Shabbos according to Rabbi Don Yoel Levy of the OK who wrote in a responsa that it falls under a heter of the Maharam Shick.

    Restaurants and caterers have operated on Shabbos under the OK using the same heter for many years. All I had to do was ask Rabbi Levy about it and he very kindly and patiently explained it to me and even gave me a letter about it.

    Most of the Rabbis in the US and Israel that I have asked have paskened that it is tricky but could be acceptable for Gentiles to run kosher food operations on Shabbos.

    My Rav, Rabbi Aharoni does not approve of it but some Rebbeim do.

    My shaila was regarding whether or not it was a mitzvah to inform others that Rubashkins runs its non shechita operations on Shabbos after I had seen a Rubashkin truck delivering to a supermarket on Shabbos morning as I walked to shul.

    My Rav said that I should tell people so that they can ask their own shailos.

    "All those Rabbonim who visited Agri a few weeks ago".

    They did not visit on Shabbos.

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  9. Hopefully this link will work.

    Maybe ask your Rav in Israel if this is kosher.

    http://www.petatv.com/swf/video.swf?v=agriprocessors_cruelty_and_deception_august2008_high

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  10. This is actually an improvement. Originally, they were using a hook to reach through the shechita cut and pull out the trachea (and other stuff). This was done immediately after the shechita. I don't know if this is technically a kashrus problem but it is certainly not halachically required and it almost certainly caused significant pain. Shechita itself is almost painless because it is a cut with a sharp blade. By the time the animal would start to feel significant pain it would have lost consciousness and died. Using a hook to pull out internal organs is quite different.


    You can see the old original PETA video here:
    http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=agri_long

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  11. Well thanks for clarifying, and confirming my suspicions - good old sinas-chinom disguised (badly) as yiras-shomayim. Jersey girl informs us that "I asked a specific shaila regarding what I may say and what I must say regarding Rubashkin after I saw first hand Rubashkin operating on Shabbos and Yom Tov. I was told by my Rav that it is a mitzvah to warn other Jews."
    After screaming 'fire', we hear that it amounts to "My Rav, Rabbi Aharoni does not approve of it but some Rebbeim do." So jersey-girl's rav, Rabbi Aharoni, doesn't approve of a heter Rav Weissmandl, the OU, and (a mumche muflo like) R'Don Yoel Levy do. Wow, your world-renowned posek disagrees with major kashrus experts, and based on this you take it upon yourself to try and destroy a Jewish family's parnosso, not to mention all the destitute Jews they've been feeding for so many years. However, since you're obviously a machmir 'kechut hasaaro' in halocho, allow me to offer a little suggestion. According to the Tzemach Tzedek (and other poskim), every time one shaves their beard, they transgress multiple issurim d'oraysa. I'm sure you're familiar with the standing of the TT in 'olam hahalocho', so I’m sure you will now take it upon yourself to warn your husband (if you have one) and male relatives, of this severe risk. And taking your 'chumra' to its logical conclusion, you will now warn people against eating in most OU-certified restaurants or functions on motzei-shabbos, as they routinely rely on this (and similar) heterim – or are your ‘chumros’ reserved for Chabad…

    "All those Rabbonim who visited Agri a few weeks ago".

    They did not visit on Shabbos.
    Now you expect us to believe that all these expert rabbonim who recently checked-out Agri are unaware of a major heter they’re using, and well-known in the kashrus industry, or did you decide to conveniently ignore that?
    I'm sure your concern for the spiritual wellbeing of your fellow Jews will stand you in good stead for the yom hadin

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  12. Lazera, with all due respect, you might brush up on your knowledge of hilchos shechita. Halachically, once the 'koneh uvoshet' are cut, the animal is dead - period. There is no pain felt after shechita, regardless of what peta says. (This is the basis of the famous heter of the Terumas Hadeshen regarding the stun-gun/shooting after shechita). And that video shows 'shechita munachas' which is actually a major hiddur, and, to the best of my knowledge, not widely practiced in Nth.America, though it is in Israel.
    Frum Jews accept the Torah's definition of life, pain, and everything else - not Petas.

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  13. The Humane Slaughter Act CLEARLY states, that ONLY the actual act of religious slaughter is EXEMPT from Humane Slaughter law.

    Rubashkin's second cut is NOT part of shechita. The USDA would allow the second cut if carried out by a shochet with a knife that is similarly sharp as the shechita knife.

    But Rubashkin has untrained, non-Jewish workers do this second cut with a meat hook or a boning knife.

    The meat hook or boning knife used by a non-Jewish worker is not protected by the HSA religious exemption. Only a sharp knife used by a shochet would be protected.

    When publicly exposed by PETA, Rubashkin voluntarily stops the second cut because he fears the USDA will be forced by public pressure to compel and that is seen by all as crossing the line into regulating religion.

    If the USDA is forced into regulating shechita, it could endanger ALL shechita in the US.

    This is what Rubashkin is doing to American Jews. It is not "neo Nazis" in the USDA or PETA who are putting shechita in the US at risk, it is Rubashkin.

    This is a video of shechita in America in the 1930s.

    This is what I saw as a kid in the 70s. My uncle was a shochet in Philly and my mother took us to watch so we could learn what shechita should look like.

    There is just one cut, then the behema is allowed to expire before dressing begins.

    As an aside, I think it is notable how robust and healthy the cows look in this film.

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/02/1930s-american.html

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  14. shloime said...

    "Halachically, once the 'koneh uvoshet' are cut, the animal is dead - period. There is no pain felt after shechita, regardless of what peta says."

    It is true that I have minimal knowledge on the technicalities of shechita, it is not an area that I have ever studied seriously.

    Nevertheless, while the animal may well be halachically dead instantaneously after shechita, in which case, technically, one can presumably do whatever one wishes with it, biologically, absent a severe trauma to the brain, death simply does not occur instantaneously. Scientists (and common sense) tell us that the animal is still alive for some very brief amount of time after the shechita.

    Now, normally, this would not matter much. We're talking about seconds. Certainly, by the time anyone would get around to butchering the animal, the animal would be totally dead by any definition.

    In this case, however, we are talking about ripping the animal's throat open with a meathook immediately after shechita.

    Given that ripping out the animal's trachea with a meathook is not, in any way, a part of halachic shechita (even shechita munachas), and it is, apparently, not done by any other kosher (or non-kosher) slaughterhouse, it seems like an unnecessarily cruel practice.

    Again, I have no reason to believe that this practice raises any actual kashrus issues. It may be permitted m'ikar hadin. But it is still cruel. Let the animal die peacefully, as klall yisrael has done for generations.

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  15. Me again.

    I just did a little research and it seems clear that Torah sources definitely recognize that biological life can/does continue for some amount of time after shechita. For a very clear example of this, see Rashi ד"ה השוחט בהמה טמאה לעובד כוכבים in Chullin 121a.

    There are a number of other sources that relate to this. It appears (I haven't seen the sources yet) that there is even a machlokes haposkim whether there is tzaar baalei chaim after shechita. (This latter bit I found out from some interesting blog postings here and here.)

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  16. There are indeed various machlokessen among poskim regarding some of these issues (the Trumas Hadeshen is a daas yochid, for example), but halachically, the Agri method is on very solid ground, perhaps (by Israeli standards) even better than most (munachas, etc.) So the chabad-lovers having a feeding frenzy at the Agri trough had best find a new 'halachic concern'.

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  17. Jersey Girl has left a new comment on your post "Kashrus - Agriprocessors threatened with loss of c...":

    from http://mentalblog.com/2004/12/second-cut-on-halachic-aspects-of.html

    The second cut on the halachic aspects of shechita
    What follows is a compilation of my conversations with two halachic sources who pondered this subject in depth. During the last two weeks I exchanged notes and spoke with the two, they prefer to remain anonymous. Both sources often disagreed with each other. One of them deservedly called me an idiot and ignoramus repeatedly... I thank them for persevering. The two concluding paragraphs is the only content of this post to which I claim credit. Please do not reproduce this post without our permission (updates or revisions are likely in the coming days). Instead linking to the URL is requested. Sorry, this is a long post.

    People debate whether or not there is Tzar Baalei Chayim ("animal suffering," which we will refer to as TBC) after shechita. In fact, there is TBC during shechita itself. You may ask how are we permitted to slaughter an animal if it is TBC? The answer is: the Torah allowed this because of tzorech adam (human need). Yes, we try to make this procedure as painless as possible; but one can't say that an animal does no feel it.
    [...]

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  18. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    [...]

    It is pathetic, yet why should it be surprising, that Jersey girl freely quotes from BOTH the so called "Failed Missiah" blog and the "mentalblog" that were set up separatly by two guys who fell from grace in Lubavitch and took it upon themselves to attack Chabad any which way. Both these guys have renounced Torah umitzvis opnely and publicly on their blogs and in mentalblog's case he has openly been attacking and renouncing God Himself in the vilest ways and for the vilest ofd reasons. Just see this latest gem of Sunday, September 07, 2008
    at http://mentalblog.com/2008/09/lets-say-there-was-god.html "let's say there was a god Praying to the blood thirsty thug would be beyond contempt. Associating with the hypocrites and sheep that cling to the sadist would be simply uncool." (his words!)

    Shemarya Rosenberg (he uses his name openly) of "Failed Messiah" and Tzemach Atlas (he too uses that name openly) of "mentalblog" are not neutral sources and it is shameful and disgraceful that that is where Jersey girl digs to find her sources.

    [...]

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  19. RaP: Jews are not forbidden to take scientific information from non Jews or from apikoris Jews.

    There is no Posek who forbids a person from seeking out medical care or scientific knowledge from a non religious Jew.

    Nevertheless, Shmarya says he is observant of kashrut, Shabbat and Family laws and describes himself as Modern Orthodox. I do not know him personally, but do find some of his blog articles very interesting. Obviously I do not take halachic advice from Shmarya or any of the blogs that I read.

    Rabbi Eidensohn has also posted from Failed Messiah.

    It is true that most of Chabad's staunchest critics are former Lubavitchers. My husband has smicha from Chabad and was a shaliach for 10 years. One day we both realized that since the Rebbe's death, too many things were happening that were against halacha.

    I do not know anything about Tzemach Atlas personally. I found his summary analysis of the issues surrounding Rubashkins to be concise and easily understood. What was posted was very similar to the opinions I have read that were written by experts in Shechita, only this article was written entirely in English and more easily understood.

    If you do not like the information, please help us to understand by bringing counter arguments and citing halacha. It is not a Jewish mode of thought to discredit an idea because it comes from an apikoris.

    This is how the Catholic Church brought about the Dark Ages, by suppressing ideas from non theological sources.

    This is not the Jewish way. The Rambam studied the mathematics and medicine of great Muslim scientists such as al-Ghazali. The Lubavitcher Rebbe regularly consulted with doctors, physicists and engineers from all over the world.

    Shmarya posted a film on shechita from the 1930s. I had been looking all over the web for such a thing. It is absurd to say that it is wrong to use Shmaryas clip of a film on shechita as part of a discussion on the same topic.

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  20. Dark Meat
    By: Shmuel Herzfeld
    Washington - According to the Jewish calendar we are now in the month of Av, a period of increasingly intense mourning that culminates with a total fast on the Ninth of Av, which this year coincides with Sunday, Aug. 10.
    One of the customary practices in these nine days is the avoidance of meat: it’s the way we commemorate the destruction of the Temple, where daily animal sacrifices were once brought.
    Refraining from food is symbolic, of course. The idea is not just to avoid meat but to limit ourselves so that we can better focus on the spiritual.
    Unfortunately, this year kosher meat has become a different type of symbol, one not of mourning and spiritual devotion but of ridicule, embarrassment and hypocrisy. In May in Postville, Iowa, immigration officials raided Agriprocessors Inc., the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the country.
    What began as an immigration sting, however, quickly took on larger dimensions. News reports and government documents have described abusive practices at Agriprocessors against workers, including minors. Children as young as 13 were said to be wielding knives on the killing floor; some teenagers were working 17-hour shifts, six days a week.
    This poses a grave problem and calls into question whether the food processed in the plant qualifies as kosher.
    You see, there is precedent for declaring something nonkosher on the basis of how employees are treated. Yisroel Salanter, the great 19th-century rabbi, is famously believed to have refused to certify a matzo factory as kosher on the grounds that the workers were being treated unfairly. In addition to the hypocrisy of calling something kosher when it is being sold and produced in an unethical manner, we have to take into account disturbing information about the plant that has come to light.
    The affidavit filed in the United States District Court of Northern Iowa, for instance, alleges that an employee was physically abused by a rabbi on the floor of the plant. If true, this calls into question the reliability and judgment of the rabbi in charge of making sure the food was kosher.
    What’s more, two workers who oversaw the poultry and beef division were recently arrested for helping illegal immigrants falsify documents. If they were willing to break national immigration laws, one could reasonably ask whether they would be likely to show the same lack of concern for Jewish dietary laws.
    Unfortunately, the responses of the leading Orthodox organizations, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union, have, in my opinion, fallen far short of what is needed to be done and have done little to diminish the extent of the desecration of God’s name. I am a member of both groups, but I am dissatisfied with their stance, which asks us to sit back patiently and wait for the results of a federal investigation. On some level, this might be prudent, but on another it is unacceptable.
    What is needed is for the Orthodox Union to appoint an independent commission whose members have not in the past been paid by either the Orthodox Union or Agriprocessors. Such a commission would select a team of rabbinic experts to spend an extended period of time at the plant and then make suggestions and recommendations. This independent team would make sure the plant upholds basic standards of kashrut and worker and animal treatment — and that it is in full compliance with the laws of the United States.
    Hebrew National used to run a commercial that said: “We answer to a Higher Authority.” Well, we do. We need to express shame and embarrassment about the reports coming out of Iowa, and we need to actively work to change these matters. Then we should ask ourselves if our behavior and our values need improvement. Only if we truly think about these issues will we truly be keeping kosher.
    Shmuel Herzfeld, rabbi of Ohev Sholom-The National Synagogue, is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America.

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  21. Jersey Girl, who are you ?
    Do you claim to be someone who respects "dvar hashem zu halakha" ? If so, how do you post a critique of frum Jews by a man who flagrantly and publicly flouts halacha ? Can you even imagine what any of our past or present gedolim would say about this man and his 'synagogue' ?! This is a man who invites female gospel singers to perform at his 'shul', and is proud enough of his disdain for the Shulkhan Arukh that he posts pictures of this disgrace on their website. see http://www.ostns.org/pics/2006MLK/
    The article you posted is full of many violations of chazals teachings, including "dan et hadam lekaf zechut", basic halakhic standards of "neemanut" (as others here have pointed out), and "motzi shem ra", to name just a few. Imagine what the Chatam Sofer would say to this article, or what the Rav Shmuel Salant would say about Rabbi Herzfeld's behavior. What would Rav Shach say ? I'm no great friend of Chabad, but your campaign on this issue has been beyond anything halakhicly acceptable, and to show this kind of hate right before Rosh Hashanah is disgusting.
    Please control (or stop) your hateful rants, they're getting too predictable, and have a gmar khatima tovah.

    Jacob Freund

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  22. shloime said "Wow, your world-renowned posek disagrees with major kashrus experts,"

    Shloime....the experts that you name each had a financial incentive to make the rulings they made. How could they be credible? That's like a Judge judging a case where he is personally a plaintiff.

    You make the error of deciding in advance what is correct and then fit the facts to your thesis. If you look objectively, you may reach different conclusions.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Even an avowed sinner can make observations that are true. I don't really care where Jersey Girl gets her information. I only care if it's true.

    From what I've seen of Lubavitch, up close and personal for the last 20 years, they sanction so many practices that are anathema to Judaism that it is probably a Mitzvah to hate them.

    What part of Jewish life have they not scrambled up?

    I see everyone is quick to speak of Loshon Hara. My response is that it's clear nobody learns the halachot anymore, because there are clear cut cases where it is a Mitzvah to speak up, and a great Aveira to be silent.

    If one has seen a Rabbi permitting cooking on Shabbos, it's a Mitzvah to warn others.

    If you know a group of Jews are necromancing (that's when they put their life questions into a book of a dead mans letters to see what they should do, as many Lubavitchers do), it's a Mitzvah to warn them and others about this practice.

    If you know that the basic laws of Shechita are being violated by a particular shochet or a group of shochetim, it's a Mitzvah to warn consumers about it.

    To stand back and say that it must be permitted if Rabbi so-and-so is allowing it is nothing short of cowardice.

    I was taught about "Shamor v'Zachor" with regards to Mitzvos.

    These days, the only thing people might speak out against is child molestation.

    If you see something you think is wrong, ask about it. And if you get a baloney answer like "everybody else does it", then hopefully you have enough education and backbone to not accept that as a real answer.

    I don't know who Jersey Girl is and RaP is, but these two should be commended for having the guts to voice observations and opinions which might be unpopular, but are often correct.

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  24. Dear Jacob Freund,

    Rabbi Shmuel Hertzfeld is an Orthodox Rabbi with smicha from YU and a member of the RCA in good standing. Rabbi Hertzfeld sits on the Vaad of Greater Washington, DC headed by Rabbi Barry Freundel, VP of the RCA and head of its Conversion Committee.

    I am not qualified to judge Rabbi Hertzfeld, only to learn from him.

    Rabbi Hertzfeld's article was also published on Vos iz Neias. It was sent to me by a family friend who was the Principal of Judaic Studies of one of the top Yeshiva High Schools in Brooklyn.

    I trust that Rabbi Eidensohn is careful to reject posts that are inappropriate. I am relying upon Rabbi Eidensohn's judgment and knowledge of halacha which is surely far superior to my own.

    ReplyDelete

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