Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Important Kosher Conversation


Writing re kosher supervision. There are many things added to foods, that are harmful to health though they have been certified as kosher, GMO is extremely damaging but it is certified as kosher and etc. The question and request is since it is Torah law to not do things that harm health, how can all these harmful additives, GMO etc. be certified kosher, and also animal food products from animals that are badly mistreated, it is not just how they are shechted, it is how they are treated and live their lives before being shechted and the conditions also at the time of shechting… Torah is against cruelty to animals but this is not considered when animal food products are certified as kosher. Please, our people are getting sick unnecessarily because of the food they are eating which is making them sick. People trust that if something is labeled kosher it is healthy and OK to eat, but it is not so. Please, think the requirements for kosher certification need to be changed not for profit, for care of am Yisrael. Thank you for your consideration.


Thank you for your email. You have raised wonderful points.

And the answer is, that kosher is not a HOLISTIC approval of all 613 mitzvot, commandments, but rather a SPECIFIC approval of those mitzvot that apply locally to kosher law. The misconception is that kosher means EVERYTHING is ok, and that is not the truth at all. "Kosher" means that it adheres to those narrow rules that apply. Kosher does not check for all the mitzvot and health concerns. Very fattening or high cholesterol foods can be kosher, but not healthy for you. Therefore, those concerns that you mentioned, although important laws, are not part of the kosher inspection.

It would be similar to going to the doctor and getting a full physical and passing with flying colors and therefore deciding you do not need to go to the dentist or the eye doctor. But the doctor just checked his parameters. He did not check your teeth or eyes. So to be completely healthy you ought to check those things too.

I agree with you that a person should take care of his health and should make sure that the food he eats adheres to all healthy standards and that the people preparing it must be moral.

Perhaps there needs to be another type of certification that checks for those other concerns. And perhaps it should be made clearer that Kosher does not necessarily mean healthy or that all the 613 mitzvot have been checked for. Maybe there should be a checklist of ALL the aspects that one needs to check for before he eats his food.

As far as the shechita goes, and this may sound contradictory, but I have been in a few slaughterhouses and great care is taken not to treat the animal cruelly. Even though the animal is killed, there is a great reverence for the life that is taken.

Thanks again and please let me know if this answer suffices and please feel free to ask any other question you have.

All the best,

Rabbi Zev

Friday, March 2, 2012

IN THE PARSHA: A Message for the Ages

This week is a double Parsha Tetzaveh and Zachor
In Parshas Tetzaveh basically the command to light the Menorah daily, the Priestly garments and Golden Alter are described.
In Parshas Zachor we are told about the command to never forget what Amalek did to us.
The Jewish people had just left Egypt, happy in their salvation and confident in their purpose. They were not threatening anyone, keeping to themselves and doing what they were supposed to do. Yet there are always some people who are bothered by that, either because of jealousy or pure evil. And as I mentioned in a previous post, the Amalek isn’t always from without. Sometimes the Amalek is from within; sadly many Communities have been devastated by conflict and maliciousness from within.
Amalek saw the Jewish people in their splendor and although being evil they were cowards and attacked the Jews from behind, attacked the tired stragglers, attacked sneakily. Cowards can do a lot of damage too.
But the answer to combat Amalek was to STAND STRONG and LOOK UP!
Moses went to stand on top of the hill with his hands up defiantly.
The message is that we must remain firm in our morals and principles.
Often we drift along in life without the need to stand up and commit to what we believe in and require. Events like Amalek help us to define who we are, to solidify our convictions and compel us to further our goals and purpose in the correct Torah way.
That’s why it is a commandment never to forget. That’s why it is a message for the ages.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We Must Remain Focused On Our Goals

We are now almost 1 week into Chodesh Adar. It is the month of Joy. But it also is the month that Haman tried to destroy us. The modern day Haman is the one who tries to divide. There are Hamans from without and unfortunately Hamans from within.
We must not let Haman take control, we must not let Haman turn us around from what we want to accomplish. We must keep om marching ahead focused.
Then we will truly be able to rejoice in the Geulah.


Purim is almost 1 week away and I was thinking about the Purim story and an important message. During the time of Purim the threat to the Jews was worse than ever before or since. EVERY Jew was in danger. In every other instance the threat was in one or more countries yet there was always a place that Jews were safe. During the time of Purim, since Achashverosh ruled over all the known world, every Jew was under his control and therefore in danger.
And yet it all got turned upside down and all the Jews were saved.
What happened? How were they able to fight against it?
Because they all came together.
The Megillah tells us that in order to get his decree passed Haman told the King that the Jews were "spread out and divided". The commentaries tell us that this means that they were not united and all the diferent factions were not getting along. In order to save themselves Mordechai managed to get everyone to come together. קיימו וקבלו היהודים - Keemu V'kiblu Hayehudim. It was nothing short of spectacular. It doesn't say that all the Jews became the same, that all the Jews became Sephardic or Ashkenazic, so to speak, no. Despite their differences they embraced, respected and understood each other.
So the message is clear. Strife brings destruction and unity brings joy & salvation.
ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר אמן כן יהי רצון

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tu Bishvat - A Man is aTree

As it is Tu Bishvat, the new year for the trees, we are technically celebrating the trees. But there is a strong connection between a tree and a human being. And that allegory is made throughout the Talmud. There is a Possuk, verse, in the Torah, where it discusses the rules regarding how to act in a war when entering an enemy's territory you're conquering. The Torah tells us we may not cut down any fruit bearing tree, because "Ha'adam eitz hasadeh". Which is translated to mean that the tree of the field is indispensable to the man. However, the literal translation is "the man is a tree of the field" From there go all the teachings which compare the human to the tree. And all the lessons we learn from that.
Today someone taught me a new comparison with a wonderful lesson.
He said that a tree cannot move, yet it is able to spread it's influence far and wide.
It can spread it's seeds all over to plant new trees and it's fruit can be enjoyed all over the world.
Sometimes we think we are only successful in influencing others if we go out and around "influencing", and sometimes we need to, since we are mobile. Yet the tree teaches us that we can still do a lot of positive, inspiring and motivating, by staying right where we are and being a proper role model doing what we're supposed to do.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Parshas Beshalach - Moshe's Hands

The Jews just left Egypt, barely cohesive as a nation and Amalek decides to attack them.
Moshe tells Yehoshua to go the next day to fight with Amalek and he will go up and stand on the mountain.
Whenever Moshe, on top of the mountain, raised his hands Bnei Yisroel were stronger but when he put his hands down Amalek was stronger.
The Mishna in Rosh Hashana asks, "V'chi yadav shel Moshe osos milchama?"
"Do the hands of Moshe make war or break war?" Was it actually magic hands of Moshe which made Israel win or lose the war?
"Rather it showed the Bnei Yisroel that when they looked up to Hashem for their answers and devoted their hearts to their Father in Heaven they would succeed, they would win"
Also I believe that the message is that one, especially a leader, needs to stand strong and firm in his principles. Not being wishy washy but being upright and definite in his morals and values. Then the people will follow him and do the correct thing. When Moshe showed strength and conviction by keeping his hands "up", the people were able to be follow and fight the war successfully.
It is really important to know that we must look up to Hashem for our assistance and guidance, and that we must remain determined and resolute in our morals and principles.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Parshas Shemos - Hashem Heard?

Moshe is charged with the task and mission of saving the Jewish People and taking them out of Egypt.
Hashem tells Moshe, "The cries of the Jewish people have come to me..... and now go and I am sending you to Paroh and take out my people from Egypt"
And Hashem says that he knows Paroh will need a little "encouragement", but after that the Jews will go out in style.
Sounds like a done deal. Yet Moshe goes to Paroh who doesn't seem so impressed.
Paroh says, "These Jews are lazy! That's why they have the time for this talk" and he makes things worse.
The Jewish people are livid and Moshe was so frustrated that he asked Hashem, "Why have you made it worse for these people, why did you send me for this? From the time that I spoke to Paroh in Your Name, it's become worse for the people and you haven't saved them!"
Hashem says, "Oh you'll see what I'll do to Paroh! He'll be forced to send them out."
So what's the point? Hashem had already said before that he heard the Jewish people's cries and that he'll save them and it became worse?
So Rabbi Moshe Chait said that the lesson is a very profound one. That even after Hashem has decided to answer you, even after he has already started the process, it sometimes has to get worse before it will get better.
But that is a part of the salvation. A part of your redemption. Not Hashem ignoring you but rather responding to you.