Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fish Worms:Conflicting Kashrus Rulings Translated

5tjt by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

So what do you do when you open up the newspaper and find two diametrically opposed Kashrus rulings and letters from leading Poskim?  The newspaper was Wednesday’s issue of the HaModiah and the two ads appear on pages D5 and D14 respectively.

We will start with D5.  D5 is a full page ad dated in the month of Iyar 5771.  It is signed by Rav Elyashiv, Rav Feivel Cohen, Rav Dovid Feinstein, and Rav Aharon Schechter.  Rav Shmuel Vosner’s name also appears on the letter, but with the remarks that he has already made his opinion known in Shaivet HaLevi 4:83.

What does the letter say?  In Hebrew and English it states (this is actually the 5TJT translation of the Hebrew section): [....]

Turning to page D14, we have a ruling issued in the name of the Orthodox Union by Rav Yisroel Belsky.  This ad is a half page long and also has the “Gilui Daas” heading.  This ad only appears in Hebrew, but is translated by the 5TJT below:


  1. My comment didn't get approved yet, so let me try to repeat what I said there.

    Rabbi Hoffman opens, "So what do you do when you open up the newspaper and find two diametrically opposed Kashrus rulings and letters from leading Poskim?"

    What a sad comment on the fall of normative halachic process! We apparently have gotten so used to deciding things for ourselves based on English popularizations of the halakhah that the obvious answer is missing. You aren't supposed to decide halakhah from letters in the newspaper.

    Halakhah is detemined by consensus, not majority. You don't need to find the one true halakhah -- if there are conflicting letters, there isn't one. So what do you do?

    Go to your own poseiq! Yes, that's right, Judaism is supposed to be based on a personal relationship with one's mentor. You get a pesaq from someone whose path in Torah observance is similar to yours, who you know, and who knows you well enough to know where you are holding and what you're capable of.

    Posqim in newspapers? It just doesn't work that way.

    We have become neo-Karaites. We turn to texts. Judaism is supposed to be a living tradition, Oral Torah is after all, Torah. "Asei lekha rav"!


  2. micha u missed the boatJune 4, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    micha you missed the boat, you are to busy trying to find a reason to mention kariates......the point is that there are people going around distorting the words of the gedoli poskim and trying to use them for their own agenda. The Giluy Das signed by Rav David Feinstein was to specifically clarify that they do in fact hold that these worms are ossur. Of course on must have his own Rov/Posek that he goes to for psak, no one is debating that.

  3. You mean the gilui da'as "signed" by someone who said he didn't have a position on the subject? (I am reminded of the Slifkin Ban, which also carried his signature and yet R' Dovid Feinstein later clarified that he was told he was agreeing to put his name on something less severe.)

    There is a major issue with our reliance on books rather than mentors. R' Hoffman's opening, which asks "what do you do when you open up the newspaper and find two diametrically opposed Kashrus rulings and letters from leading Poskim?" does not reflect that. I'm not saying that the phrasing captures R' Hoffman's opinion, just that it does reflect a flaw common among the essay's audience (and, in fact, the contemporary O community in general).

    Part of what empowers people to put words in gedolim's mouths is this reliance on print rather than a rebbe-talmid connection.

    "The gedolei haposeqim" is not a monolithic concept. To pick those one is comfortable with is not the distortion of the words of the others. (But how one chooses a rav is itself an important matter that can't be done simply because you like his qulos.) Until we get past that step, and realize that machloqesin exist, that multiple approaches exist, and that the only way to consistently follow a real derekh is to have a rav, the problem will persist.



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