Monday, September 18, 2006

Shevach Butcher

The big news in the Jewish world this past week was the Shevach butcher scandal. In short, a Monsey butcher has been buying non kosher chicken, sticking a kosher label on it, and selling it to the Monsey community. This may have been going on for years.
FoxNews has a great clip. Notice that the reporter lady is tzniut.
Many people seem to be shocked about this whole thing. How can a Chassidishe guy trick the whole community in such a grave way?? I think the qestion that SHOULD have been asked a long time ago is, How can Rabbis charge so much for a hechsher when they're only working fifteen minutes a day??
Here in Israel there is kosher and mehadrin (superkosher). But that's not enough. So there's also mehadrin min mehadrin (uberkosher) and bdatz mehadrin min mehadrin (ultimate kosher). Very often on an ultimate kosher poduct, there is also a regular hechsher (kosher certificate). So what's really going on there is that the company is paying the Rabbinut to check and make sure their plant is kosher. And it is kosher, so they get a little kosher label. But then the find out that a large population wont eat it because their Rabbi hasnt checked it. So the ompany pays more money so that another Rabbi can walk through, confirm that its kosher, and give them his label.
I was a waiter at a simcha in Har Nof. The caterer was obviously a mehadrin min hamedrin, as Har Nof is. That means that in terms of truma and maaser (tithing fruit and vegetables), the farmer seperated, the middle man seperated, the Rabbi seperated, and the caterer seperated. So now we're in the kitchen with the many-tithed fruit, and a man walks in and says he cant eat food that he personally didnt tithe. And then he starts taking off pieces of fruit and vegatables. Isnt there a point where it's just called "wasting" and not "tithing"?
My local pizza place doesnt sell Coke, only Pepsi. I asked him why, and he told me that he has an "Edah Charaidi" Hecsher, so he can only sell food that they certify. I was shocked, and asked him if Coke isnt considered Kosher enough. He told me of course Coke is very kosher, but its certiied by a different label, so he cant sell it. IN OTHER WORDS, the Edah Charaidi doesnt care if the food he sells is kosher, they care that they are the ones profiting off the kosher label. This is not in the category of kosher/not kosher anymore, it's in the category of business. They have a solid business plan to keep away the competition.
I asked a shwarma guy once why he doesnt have a mihadrin hechsher, since his food all had mehadrin stickers on them. He told me that he had looked into it, and the price for the mehadrin was more then double the price of the regular hechsher, and he couldnt afford it.
Naive people may actually think that the Rabbi's goals would be to increase the amount of kosher food around. The more kosher food there is, the more people will eat kosher, and the better it is for Israel. The objective would be to encourage people to have kosher eateries. The reality is just the opposite. "Kosher" is a big business. If you want your store to be kosher enough for everyone, its nots enough to only buy the highest kosher products, you also have to be willing to pay top dollar for the Rabbi to check it out.
In this world, where Kosher isn't about "food that's fit to be eaten", and is all about money, is it any surprise that the butcher found a way to screw the system? Is that any more immoral then the price he was paying for his hechsher?


Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

It's so funny. There are more Mitzvot governing business ethics than there are concerning Kashrut. It's always nice to see the "frum" world finding ways to sacrifice both at the same time, in the name of "Kashrut" standards.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Rafi G said...

not to argue with you, because I agree with your thoughts overall however I want to point out something regarding one of your points...
you wrote, "He told me of course Coke is very kosher, but its certiied by a different label, so he cant sell it. IN OTHER WORDS, the Edah Charaidi doesnt care if the food he sells is kosher, they care that they are the ones profiting off the kosher label. "

I have gone into restaurants that have a Coke drink frisge. They only stock drinks made by the Coca Cola company. They are not allowed to put any other drinks in that fridge. If they do and are caught, Coke will pull the contract and not sell to them anymore.
The eida in that regard is doign the same thing. If the EIdah Hareidit certifies the shop, only their products can be sold there. How can the Eidah certify a store selling products under different hashgacha?

3:28 PM  
Blogger Just Shu said...

Rafi - there is a big difference between Coke not wanting to share fridge space with Pepsi, and the Eidah refusing to give a hechsher to a store that sells Pepsi.

Coke goal is to make sure that make money and sell more then Pepsi, The rabbi's goal SHOULD be that the people who eat in this store don't eat non kosher and end up in hell because of them.

The Rabbi's don't make the products, they are just bitter that someone else got the Pepsi account so they figure screw them. If it's a questionable food, or hechsher then it makes sense to allow it in the store. Bt if it's something that is unquestionably Kosher then there shouldn't be an issue.

4:11 PM  
Blogger stillruleall said...

Rafi, my point is exactly what Shauli is saying. In the business world, it makes sense for Coke to compete with Pepsi. In the world of hechsherim, when one hechsher is competing with another it shows that they don't care about the food being kosher, only about making the money off of it.

5:43 PM  
Blogger rockofgalilee said...

did you notice the guy who said people and woman are not doing nothing?

8:23 PM  
Blogger Rafi G said...

I agree with your points that in the ideal world everybody would be altruistic and looking out for the overall good and the Eidah would say Coke is kosher. The fact is it is a business and they approve Pepsi not Coke. How can they certify the store as selling kosher produtcs at the Eidah level of certification if the store sells Coke and/or other products that were not checked and approved by Eidah?
It is completely 100% a business decision. But then again, why are people only eating Eidah. What is the stricter higher level of certification they offer over Rav Landau (who certifies Coke), that requires the store owner to pay extra for Eidah? That is an even greater stupidity.

12:10 PM  

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