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Yom HaAtzmaut To-Go
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks speaks on Hamas and the Middle East Peace Process
Yated publishes ban against Mishpacha
Rabbis: Save the Sabbath, Change Lag BaOmer
Magen Tzedek Responds to Agudath Israel
Jewish museum to open Saturdays
Call me Jacob (again): Hebrew baby names still tops in 2010
Op-Ed: Elevate more female rabbis into leadership roles
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate agrees to recognize all conversions
At last, a new deal on mechanism for converts to marry
Reform’s Distracting War Over Politics
SALT Friday
On Faith and Forgeries
Dissertation: The Book of Abraham
Alienation From Israel Hitting Liberal Seminaries
Agudath Israel: New Hechsher “Magen Tzedek” A Falsification Of True Judaism
Yom Haatzmaut To-Go
New Israeli biometric passports best in world
Oprah honors Freedom Rides rabbi
SALT Wednesday
Boston’s Experiment Taxing Non-Profits Should Crash
Rejoice with appreciation for our troops, intel
House Divided: The history of the synagogue in America
Elders of Ramapo – a Rebuttal
New Publications on Tefilla
Culture Hopping in a Fedora
In Pope John Paul II, Jews remember a friend
Middle East politics at play in passport dispute
New OU Kosher Program in Yoreh Deah
Survey Confirms Depth of the Political Divide Among Jewish Voters
Anti-sharia laws stir concerns that halachah could be next
In the Eye of Jerusalem’s Archaeological Storm
SALT Tuesday
Religion should deal with Shoah too
The Hidden Costs Of The Shtiebel On Your Block
Chopping Wood: Halachah as Self Interest
Where Have All The Rabbis Gone?
Incoming Reform chief rabbi’s Zionist credentials spur rift
In N.Y. Town, Orthodox and Locals Vie for School Control
SALT Monday
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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

267 comments

  1. On Yom ha’Shoa, it is worth reading this essay that appeared last month in the NY Review of Books by the author of the recent book “Bloodlines” (there is also a book session with him available on C-Span, by the way):
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/mar/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/?pagination=false

  2. IH: The author there writes that “The total number of noncombatants killed by the Germans—about 11 million—is roughly what we had thought.”

    But compare with the discussion here:
    http://www.jewishreviewofbooks.com/publications/detail/simon-wiesenthal-and-the-ethics-of-history

    “In the 1970s, Wiesenthal began to refer to “eleven million victims” of the Holocaust, six million Jews and five million non-Jews, but the latter number had no basis in historical reality.”

  3. Well spotted. As far as I know there is no feuding between these 2 respected historians, so worth investigating. FWIW, pp. 383-4 in Snyder’s book seem consistent with his article: http://tinyurl.com/6yheobh

  4. There was a review in the Sunday NY Times of the LA Holocaust Museum that also demonstrated the absence of any real proof for the 11 million figure and suggested that the same essentially is a nice way of allowing the Umos HaOlam to avoid dealing with the uniqueness of the Shoah and its 6 million Kedoshim. FWIW, the author was also critical of the nature and themes of the Skokie Holocaust Museum. Like it or not, minimization of the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the route from the rise of Hitler Yimach Shmo VZicro to Auchswitz begins by piling on addditional statistics of non combatants, and segues easily into using the term “Holocaust” to describe post WW2 ethnic , racial, gender and tribal based conflicts. The same strikes me as an obbvious fund raising oriented gimic that is devoid of any real appreciation of the events from 1933-45.

  5. Whether the holocaust should be viewed as sui generis is dealt with in this excelent series:
    http://www.vbm-torah.org/shoah.html
    KT

  6. Lipstadt, of course, does not deny that others died, only that the word “Holocaust” can’t be applied to them. After all, 45,000,000 Allied civilians died in World War II, which is a lot more than 11,000,000. In correspondence with her (I don’t think I’m violating any confidentiality), she wrote me that she’d include Jews and Gypsies (500,000?), no one else, a sentiment with which I agree.

  7. I e-mailed Prof. Snyder earlier and just received this response:

    “If you’d like documentation of non-Jewish victims, I do it as carefully as I can in Bloodlands. The numbers there are reckoned conservatively and are not in themselves at all controversial. The same goes for Jewish victims: I actually tabulate the total figure, which almost never happens.

    For me “the Holocaust” means the mass murder of Jews; it is the most important but not the only deliberate mass killing policy of Nazi Germany. I wouldn’t ever say that eleven million people died in the Holocaust; for me that’s an unnecessary blurring of categories, since policies towards Jews were substantially different than other policies, we should reserve a particular world for them. I would say that in policies of mass killing the Germans killed about 11 million noncombatants.

    I had no idea that Wiesenthal used this figure; he was not a historian and his claims have nothing whatsoever to do with my calculations, which are based on the sources cited in Bloodlands.

    I can’t stress strongly enough that I take enormous care with all of these issues in Bloodlands, and that no email exchange can replicate the book. If you are interested in these matters I recommend that you read it. I can’t speak for Professor Lipstadt; I would only say that on my reading of the article she’s not denying the murderousness of German policies to non-Jews, but rather noting that Wiesenthal was just guessing about the number and was careless with categories. But of course it would be best to ask her about her own views; I can only speak to mine.”

  8. IH, thanks for following up.

  9. I have read other works similar to Bloodlands, which merely views the Holocaust as one element of the well known Nazi policy of Lebensraum via Eastern Europe and the plans for the political and economic subjugation thereat. I think that such a perspective ignores the origin , totality and singleminded determined POV of the Nazis, Yimach Shmam vZicram, in rendering Europe Judenrein even if it meant diverting military and other resources and ultimately losing WW2-a point that IMO was cogently argued by Lucy Davidowicz, Saul Friedlander and Ron Rosenbaum. WADR to Professor Snyder, where is the evidence of any campaign against any Eastern European minority by the Nazis with the same means as the Final Solution?

  10. Steve — WADR, you do yourself no favors when you illustrate so clearly that your reading comprehension is constrained by what you want the text to read (both in secular and Jewish texts).

  11. IH- I think that IMO most readers of Daviodowicz, Friedlander, amd Rosenbaum would support my premise. In any event, academic and cultural minimization of the uniqueness of the Holocaust, by both Jews and non-Jews, is a curious intellectual psstime . Professor Snyder and others merely content that because of Germany’s economic and political goals, the Final Solution was bby no means the only mass killing of civilians. Based on the sources that I cited, regardless of the Nazi goal of Lebensraum, the evidence remains that the origins, goal and tactics used to effectuate the Final solution were a conscious goal of Nazi ideology and policy from the time of Hitler’s assumption of power through the waning days of WW2, when, despite the fact there was no doubt that the end was in sight for the Germman armed forces , the Holocaust continued unabated until the Nazis fled the camps and the Jews that they had been murdering on death marches throughout the last months and weeks of WW2. WADR, minimization of the uniquely Jewish nature of the Holocaust borders perilously on Holocaust denial, regardless of the academic, cultural or intellectual credentials of the person involved.

  12. Steve, did you read what Prof. Snyder wrote IH? “For me “the Holocaust” means the mass murder of Jews; it is the most important but not the only deliberate mass killing policy of Nazi Germany. I wouldn’t ever say that eleven million people died in the Holocaust; for me that’s an unnecessary blurring of categories, since policies towards Jews were substantially different than other policies, we should reserve a particular world for them.”

    Sometimes, instead of blindly adhering to your talking points, you should listen; if you did that you might, as in this case, be able to take yes for an answer.

  13. “In any event, academic and cultural minimization of the uniqueness of the Holocaust, by both Jews and non-Jews, is a curious intellectual psstime”

    See Rabbi Shalom Carmy’s “On the Subversion of Yeshiva Values.”

    Students in a yeshiva had been asked by secular faculty (upon return from a trip to Europe I believe) to compare the suffering of the Holocaust to the suffering of African Americans in slavery. A religious faculty member argued: “To dry and draw a parallel between the murder of six million persons and the enslavement of others is to make ‘an obscene comparison’…Is the suffering of our people to become just another example of ‘man’s inhumanity to man?'”

    Rabbi Carmy fiercely attacks just this sort of attitude. He then lays out his own view. Worth a read.

  14. The Supreme Court granted cert (i.e., accepted the appeal) in the born in Jerusalem case. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110502/ap_on_re_us/us_supreme_court_born_in_jerusalem

  15. IH and Joseph Kaplan-I stand corrected, in my overreaction to Professor Snyder’s quoted comment.

    OTOH, I think that as evil and bad as slavery was in the pre Civil War US, I would hesitate in classifying the evil therein as on the same level as the Holocaust. Slavery in the US definitely was a horrible and unjustifiable social and economic institution that was one of the causes of the Civil War, but I question whether slavery in its application can be compared to the facts on the ground between 1933-45, especially after the commencement of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen and the establishment of the death camps, and the deliberate diversion of state resources to effectuate the Final Solution even if the same was deleterious to the Nazi war effort.

  16. Nathan Diament’s column IMO is a superb summary of how we should all react to the death of Osama Bin Laden Yimach Shmo vZicro.

  17. Steve — Which article or comment was the basis for your 2nd paragraph at 2:26pm? Have you even read the article you continue to criticize?

  18. IH-Apparently, you did not read and see that I withdrew my comment re Professor Snyder’s comments.

    The second paragraph of my post dealt with R Carmi’s article, which I recall reading R Carmy’s article a few years ago. Please provide a link to the views of one serious historian of the Civil War period who makes such an equation.

  19. IH-I reread R Carmi’s article. As bad as slavery was, I question whether the comparison is historically valid. Even the Confederacy seriously considered drafting slaves in the latter years of the Civil War-a possibility that the Nazis never entertained.

    Moreover, IMO, it is simplistic to view the purpose of the Exodus as simply that of freeing the Jewish People from the bondage in Egypt. Rather, I think that the Haggadah and the commentaries on the relevant Parshiyos in Sefer Shmos emphasize that the purpose of the redemption was spiritual-to receive the Torah on Har Sinai.

  20. Ah. It seemed to be linked to the Snyder piece by OTOH. Thanls for clarifying.

  21. IH-FWIW, Desmond Tutu, another person not known for his Ahavas Yisrael, views apartheid as worse than the Holocaust. I consider that POV repugnant and anti-Semitic. R Carmy’s POV, if not unsubtsantiated by a serious Civil War scholar, would IMO, be merely PC. I do not consider it to be a virtue or a mitzvah to hold Jews or Israel to a higher ethical standard than North Korea or Cuba. Doing so , IMO, to paraphrase Scharansky, is Jewish anti Semitism.

  22. MiMedinat HaYam

    re: Anti-sharia laws stir concerns that halachah could be next

    i dont know what the problem is. no one listens to batei din either. and i note that many commenters here also do not listen to batei din. (and a certain bet din discussed on another post here doesnt respect itself either, as alluded to in the article.) so why should this be a problem?

    somewhat sarcastic above, but i hope the point is made. maybe ask that next sunday.

  23. Steve — I’m not sure why you’re addressing the Carmy piece or any other analogies to me. The piece I recommended had nothing to do with any of these comparisons.

    For what it’s worth. my recommended Shoah-related books that I read in the past year are:

    http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Search-Six-Million/dp/0060542993/ref=sr_1_1
    http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Hell-Berlins-Hospital-Outlasted/dp/0618485406/ref=sr_1_1
    http://www.amazon.com/Mauritian-Shekel-GeneviZve-Pitot/dp/0742508552/ref=sr_1_1
    http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Vaja-Reconstructing-Hungarian-Jewish-McGill-Queens/dp/0773515348/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

  24. Steve — I’m not sure why you’re addressing the Carmy piece or any other analogies to me. The piece I recommended had nothing to do with any of these comparisons.

  25. IH-you cited the piece by R Carmi vis a vis those who compare the Holocaust with other similar episodes, such as American slavery. I am prepared to let the issue drop if you can’t find a mainstream historian’s works who equates American pre Civil War slavery with the Holocaust. In the absence of such a position, IMO, R Carmi’s position sounds PC, but not convincing. Desmond Tutu’s comments re apartheid in S Africa should be seen as pure and unadulterated anti Semitism.

  26. IH- You are correct in that Jerry recommended R Carmy’s piece, and that my comments are properly addressed to Jerrry’s reference to the same.

  27. Steve: “Please provide a link to the views of one serious historian of the Civil War period who makes such an equation.”

    “Daily Life During the Holocaust” by Eve Nussbaum Soumerai, Carol D. Schulz (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZXH2bHJjtsUC&pg=PA4&dq=civil+war+slavery+holocaust&hl=en&ei=cZTATen1MsGFhQeJju3BBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=civil%20war%20slavery%20holocaust&f=false)

    …to name just one of many, many books and articles.

    But of course that’s not the point. Since you obviously have not bothered to read Rabbi Carmy’s article, you missed the part where he explains why he doesn’t like to compare major tragedies to each other.

    If your argument, however, is that the Holocaust is “worse” than southern slavery, then you have a lot of explaining to do to Rabbi Carmy! (Aside from the fact that a value judgment like this is completely absurd on its face; indeed, one can just as easily (and equally nonsensically) make the argument that the sheer brutality of the slave trade and slave life (not just in the American South!) over hundreds of years, and affecting millions of Africans – well-documented (so you have no excuse not to read about it) – DWARFS the mere 4 years of horror that the Jews of Europe had to endure ).

  28. Jerry-WADR, the link in question “blames” the Jewish People for anti Semitism based on their failure to assimilate and embrace Christianity. I consider any such source as bordering in anti Semitism in its very premise inasmuch it is trading in “the Jews deserved to be punished for rejecting JC” rhetoric. It also ignores the well demonstrated connection between the old RCC based anti Semitism and secular anti Semitism that led to the Hiolocaust. The fact that Jews enaged in spiritual resistance by no means that life in the ghettos and death camps was a normal existence.

    The claim that the US persecuted Japanese makes sense only if one ignores the fact that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and committed war crimes against American POWs that far dwarfed any “crimes” committed against Japanese Americans, whose homeland withstood four years of a war , fire bombing and then only surrendured when the US dropped two A-bombs as a means of avoiding the expected horrific American casualties. The authors also ignore the fact that German saboteurs were apprehended, tried in a military court and executed.

    As far as “genocide” is concerned, the term IIRC, was coined in 1944. Like it or not, the treatment of African Americans was not the same as rendering Europe Judenrein, which was the apogee of centuries of anti Semitism-regardless of it being a RCC or secular based philosophy. One cannot claim that the Holocaust merely comprised the years in the death camps-which were the logical conclusion of centuries of anti Semiotic rhetoric which Hitler rendered such an important part of the Third Reich’s policy that he was willing to lose the war-which Hitler himself stated in his famous speech to the Reichstag in 1939. AFAIK, the Nazis never considered drafting Jews to serve in the Wehrmacht. I look forward to more of the “many, many books and articles ” that you vaguely refer to.

  29. Steve, with all due respect to YOU, you are out of your mind. Soumerai and Schultz make the point that that is what Christians THOUGHT – and that this led them to become anti-Semitic. They CONDEMN this attitude in no uncertain terms as leading to genocide!

    “The claim that the US persecuted Japanese makes sense only if one ignores the fact that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and committed war crimes against American POWs that far dwarfed any “crimes” committed against Japanese Americans, whose homeland withstood four years of a war , fire bombing and then only surrendured when the US dropped two A-bombs as a means of avoiding the expected horrific American casualties.”

    It doesn’t ignore it. It rightly regards these issues as separate. One can easily admit that the Japanese committed war crimes against American POWs and ALSO maintain that the US persecuted Japanese Americans. Why you feel that one negates the other is beyond me.

    “I look forward to more of the “many, many books and articles ” that you vaguely refer to.”

    Fine, Steve. We can play this game. I guarantee that you will lose (mostly because anyone who has ever studied genocide, or the Holocaust before knows that the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust is a raging debate amongst specialists).

    D. Lipstadt, “Denying the Holocaust” (1999), p. xiii

    Jeffrey Herf, “Comparative Perspectives on Anti-Semitism, Radical Anti Semitism in the Holocaust and American White Racism,” Journal of Genocide Research (2007)

    Mark Levene, “Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State, Vol. 1: The Meaning of Genocide” (2005), p. 2

    Adam Jones, “Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction” (2010), 254-255

    Tell me when to stop…

  30. The link in question also contains IMO the following problematic perspectives:

    1)Contrary to the authors’ assertions, even before 1865, slaves either fled or were freed by the Union Army, during the Civil War, even prior to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclomation. This was recently set forth in a recent review in the NYT Book review about a book about such actions conducted by Generl Ben Butler in early 1862 in Virginia.

    2)I would suggest that any interested reader in the wars between the various American Indian tribes and the movement west from the Pacific understand that the truth about the nature of the American Indians and each tribe lies somewhere between the Dancing SWith Wolves/Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee caricature that American liberals trot out and the equally mistaken portrait of the Indians as vicious raping and murdering marrauders that one finds in the Westerns of the 1940s and 1950s. I have always suspected that Larry McMurtry’s novels are a good introduction to this subject. For those interested, there is a wonderful book of recent origin on Quannah Parker, the last war chief of the Commanches. I do note that that there is yet another book on the NYT best sellers’ list about Custer’s defeat and death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Perhaps, de Toqueville’s comment on observing the Seminoles leaving Florida of one civilization being unable to withstand and resist the advancement of another civilization is a more accurate depiction.

  31. “Japanese Americans, whose homeland withstood four years of a war , fire bombing and then only surrendured when the US dropped two A-bombs…”
    Of course, some might think that the “homeland” of “Japanese Americans” is, in fact, America…

  32. Joseph Kaplan

    I wonder if I’m the only one who is disturbed by the discussion of the “comparison” of the Shoah to US slavery. I believe that all agree that both were horrific events that demonstrated the worst of humanity. But which was “worse”? I don’t know; who was a greater athlete? Babe Ruth or Wilt Chamberlain? Who was a greater religious leader? R. Moshe Feinstein or Cardinal O’Connor? What’s a more important invention? The airplane or indoor plumbing?

  33. Joseph,

    You’re not. That’s what I’ve been saying (I described both comparisons above as “equally nonsensical”). And that is one of the major points of Rabbi Carmy’s article. Comparing the two cheapens both. Both should be commemorated as uniquely horrific episodes in human history.

  34. It is a maudlin form of Jewish exceptionalism (from one who said Yizkor for too many of his parents aunts, uncles and cousins who perished.)

  35. i don’t understand what the problem is with the hechsher tzedek.
    and if there is a problem with it, why does agudah care?

  36. Rafael Araujo

    Was the purpose and intent of Southern US slavery to wipe out Africa, African slaves, and later, African-Americans? I believe that this points to a fundamental and important difference between slavery and the Holocaust.

  37. The problem is that hechsher tzedek purports to deal with the actual kashrus of food, when in fact the issues that are supposed to be dealt with by the hechsher tzedek, have nothing to do with hilchos kashrus. I am not discounting or denying that there may be other halachic concerns, but that does not fall into the purview of kashrus.

  38. There are few episodes in the past 500 years of human history that are even comparable to the Holocaust (much less equivalent). Some possible candidates:

    1. Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.
    2. Post-revolutionary Maoist China.
    3. Post-revolutionary Russia/USSR up through the end of Stalinism.
    4. Armenian genocide.
    5. Rwandan genocide.

    There are many other general examples of man’s inhumanity to man in recent history, and perhaps the Japanese occupation of China and Asian territories could be added to the above list.

    For all the evil of black enslavement in….. both the Eastern and Western hemispheres, the scale, results and goals of the abuse were not equivalent to the intentional, industrial genocide and sadism committed by modern Germany.

    The urge to “compare” two evils to determine which was “worse” somewhat eludes me in any event. Is a given crime only evil if it can be awarded the prize of “worst” among a group? If we could “prove” that the Armenian genocide was worse than the experience of black slaves in North America, would it make their persecution “better” or “not that bad”?

    The enslavement of Africans and black Americans was foul enough on its own, without any need to compare it to humanity’s subsequent adventures in evil.

  39. Seems to me taht the complaints against the hechsher tzedek are merely semantical and not substantive. From what I’ve read, no product without a kashrut hechsher will get a hechsher tzedek. So this is not a case of undermining kashrut; it’s a case of adding to it. I remember when I was younger, a number of my rebbeim said (paraphrase): you know what proves that the Conservatives are wrong? They say that they want to “modernize” halacha but it’s always to find some kullah. I’d be more impressed if they sometimes found a chumrah.

    Well, they’ve found a chumrah and the Orhtodox are still not impressed. Big surprise.

  40. Rafael Araujo:

    1) “but that does not fall into the purview of kashrus”

    neither does mixed dancing or objectionable forms of entertainment. yet that doesn’t stop the major and “heimish” american kashrith organizations placing enterainment restrictions on establishments it supervises. (similarly in israel, although iirc the courts stepped in.)

    and agudah really feels that kashruth should be narrowly defined, where was the outrage when glattyacht was threatened with losing its hashgocho because of mixed dancing?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/28/nyregion/is-dancing-kosher-jews-struggle-to-define-orthodoxy.html?pagewanted=all&pagewanted=print

    or is mixed dancing worse than abusing workers, needlessly harming animals, polluting the environment, etc.?

    in short, can’t have your cake and eat it too

    2) “I am not discounting or denying that there may be other halachic concerns”

    the agudah statement notes that the other concerns addressed by hechsher tzedek are covered by halachah, but can it point to any real initiatives by agudah-affiliated organizations to carry out those halachik mandates? what is agudah otherwise doing to protect workers’ rights?

    3) even if there were legitimate concerns with hecsher tzedek, i still don’t understand why agudah cares. a) we know conservative judaism is not a legitimate form of “torah-true” judaism, so who cares about some initiative that is the least of their “deviances” (and probably won’t succeed anyway?); b) when agudah starts issuing similar declarations about problematic activities in its own midst (use your imagination) then it can worry about what something benign like hescsher tzedek

  41. RAFAEL:

    and what about the manner in which all the kashruth orgs. have expanded the scope of “kashrus,” even stricly defined. why does it give hechshers to so many products even they admit don’t halachically require it? (bleach, toilet cleaners, bottled water, etc.) why is this less problematic than hechsher tzedek?

    and what about hechshers in israel for clothing stores? surely the laws of tznius are covered elsewhere by halachah?

  42. “The problem is that hechsher tzedek purports to deal with the actual kashrus of food”

    This feels like another example of reading comprehension constrained by what one wants the text to read. The Hechsher Tzedek website is explicit:

    “Magen Tzedek is a supplemental mark that will be affixed only to foods bearing the symbol of a ritually certifying organization. It does not replace a traditional kosher symbol.”

    http://magentzedek.org/?page_id=45

  43. Yes, IH, I am dyslexic. I missed that…

  44. I mean, come on, I don’t care what is written on their website. It is interesting that they are only going to affix it to foods already bearing a hechsher. Why limit it only to that? If the goal is social justice, who cares whether it is kosher. Also, most Conservative Jews don’t keep kosher. So, if they want to provide this service for their laymen, they should be doing this for every kosher and non-kosher products. It is obvious by its implementation that this is squarely aimed at the majority of kashrus consumer ie. Orthodox Jews.

  45. Abba’s Rantings:

    I am sorry. There is a major distinction here in terms of effect. When the OK refuses to provide its hashgacha because of tzinus issues, the usually effects places like stores and restaurants. It is very specific scenarios. These considerations do not effect goods sold to the public in supermarkets and like ie. retail. However, the Hechsher Tzedek will appear, I imagine, on canned goods, boxes of foods, frozen foods, etc.

  46. The sad part of this is that is will not promote kashrus among American Jewry. People won’t keep kosher because of this. But this does fit the politically correct/leftist agenda of much of American Jewry when it comes to unions, labour laws, human rights, corporate America, etc. that will assuage the guilt of many.

    Let me ask many of the commentators here: when a consumer will refrain from consuming a product because of alleged abuse of workers’ rights by the producer, does that in fact fulfill any halachic obligation/mitzvoh like kashrus does? If it doesn’t, what spiritual good is it doing, other then making people good and trying to make Jews believe that they are morally superior by relying on this hechsher?

  47. “I don’t care what is written” — yep, that is a key problem with RWMO, who then complain that those to their left are selective in the sources they quote.

  48. Michael Rogovin

    Rafael:
    (1) why would conservative Jews put their seal on non-kosher foods, implying that it is permissible to eat them? That many Jews eat non-kosher is beside the point, the movement endorses kashrut. That they might expand beyond food is separate
    (2) The AI and you are simply wrong. From the beginning the clear intent was to address issues not covered by the current hechshers and to supplement not supplant. If the latter was the case, they would put it on any food, even pork. Clearly that is not what they are doing. This is not about redefining kosher, this is about applying other standards (many based on halachic concerns) to food production. Let the AI clean up its own house. In fact, there are similar orthodox-run programs in the US and Israel.
    (3) calls for a boycott are just dumb, sumb, sumb. Makes it sound like the orthodox don’t care about anything other than is it kosher. Oh wait…

  49. >The sad part of this is that is will not promote kashrus among American Jewry.

    It actually might. Imagine that, the food you can eat is not only inspected by rabbis, but the company also treats people well. There are probably a lot of Jews who don’t care so much about the rabbis, but at least think they care about how people are treated. Since this symbol could only go on kosher food, then it really could give kosher consumption a boost, and mitoch she-lo li-shma, etc.

    Yes, there are problems with it, such as – come on, how on earth can they actually police the companies, and what if one worker feels screwed, etc. And yes, almost all Orthodox Jews want to say black if the Conservative Jews say white. But you can’t say that it cannot, indirectly, promote kashrus. I think it actually could.

  50. RA: The Conservatives obviously believe there is a “spiritual good” in not paying money to companies who abuse their employees. You clearly believe that there is no spiritual good in doing that; as long as the product is (a) kosher, (b) meets your needs and (c) the price is right, you’ll buy it even if, for example, they don’t pay their workers what they are obligated by law to pay them. Okay, so you can go ahead and buy products without the hechsher tzedek. Nobody’s stopping you or the members of AI from doing that. What’s your problem with their taking care of their spiritual needs even if your spiritual needs are different?

  51. Rafael:

    “The sad part of this is that is will not promote kashrus among American Jewry. People won’t keep kosher because of this”

    You are probably correct, but this doesn’t make it wrong or worthy of agudah’s censure. Neither does the fact that it is may be part of a PC/leftist agenda. (and are you insinuating that merely the fact it may be influenced by pc-leftists this makes it inherently wrong?)

    “There is a major distinction here in terms of effect”

    I don’t see th distinction the same way you do. In both cases the scope of kashrus is expanded to promote some (percieved?) good. Alternatively, in both cases someone is sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong. But pick one.

  52. Let’s also be careful about assumptions. I know many non-halachic Jews in the US and in Israel, who observe baseline kashrut. They may not meet the Orthodox definition of kashrut, but then neither would have the Orthodox of 30 – 40 years ago,

  53. I eat chocolate and, I admit, I don’t check whether it is produced using slave labor. Nevertheless I am pretty sure that the fact that it is produced using slavery is not a religiously neutral matter.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_in_cocoa_production

  54. MiMedinat HaYam

    because many C (and other non observant) jews dont care if its kosher, just “kosher style”. and by (extended) definition, a hechsher zedek would become kosher style.

    2. should kashrut agencies ensure a hotel has an eruv (assuming you hold by eruvin), mechanical keys, a shabat elevator (lets not go there), etc. (and if the owner is jewish, no checking in and out on shabat)?

    3. should the o-u forbid membership to a shul that does not close its parking lot on shabat? that has a lawyer as a baal tfillah? (let alone a shul rav)

  55. Rafael:

    “Let me ask many of the commentators here: when a consumer will refrain from consuming a product because of alleged abuse of workers’ rights by the producer, does that in fact fulfill any halachic obligation/mitzvoh like kashrus does? If it doesn’t, what spiritual good is it doing, other then making people good and trying to make Jews believe that they are morally superior by relying on this hechsher?”

    Ok, we get it. You don’t like the conservative movement. That’s fine. I’m just curious, do you think that there is any (halakhic, moral, ethical, whatever) imperative to do one’s best to treat goyyim properly, regardless of any void of “spiritual benefit”?

    (incidentally, our civil law is holy because it is divinely ordained, but I’ve never thought of it in terms of a “spiritual benefit.” is that wrong?$

  56. Rafael Araujo

    “Ok, we get it. You don’t like the conservative movement. That’s fine. I’m just curious, do you think that there is any (halakhic, moral, ethical, whatever) imperative to do one’s best to treat goyyim properly, regardless of any void of “spiritual benefit”?

    (incidentally, our civil law is holy because it is divinely ordained, but I’ve never thought of it in terms of a “spiritual benefit.” is that wrong?$”

    Of course there is. Why tie it kashrus? Why can’t the Conservative movement vilify such conduct on its own merit? Give the hechsher on non-food items, if the concern is genuine. Why limit it only to consumers who are aware and rely upon food hechsheirim? I disagree that a registered member of the Conservative laity will follow this. They won’t. This comes from somebody who grew up in the Conservative movement here in Toronto, USY, etc. Also, look around at what is happening in the new movements springing up in Conservative laity. There is a disconnect that is growing between Conserative leadership and its laity in terms of authority and knowledge of halochoh.

  57. Rafael Araujo

    HAGTBG – can you be specific. What halachos prevent me from wearing Nike shoes produced by a 7 year old in Bangladesh? And don’t give me “its immoral” as the basis for your evaluation.

  58. Rafael Araujo

    IH – if you are correct, and I don’t believe you are, then those keep kashrus without looking for hechsheirim are not the focus of this campaign. Since there are people who may rely on ingredients and contents alone, and not finding an OU or OK on the package, what does this do for them in preventing them from enjoying the fruits of underage/underpaid illegal workers from Nicaragua? On the other hand, this campaign should be broadened for those people so don’t consume products they consider kosher, without a hechsher, that may have involved illegal activities during production.

  59. Rafael Araujo

    “RA: The Conservatives obviously believe there is a “spiritual good” in not paying money to companies who abuse their employees.”

    Doesn’t that apply to food Conservative Jews will likely eat, which in most cases doesn’t have a hechsher on the label? What about non-food items? To me, this smacks of the Conservative trying to keep itself relevant, one-up Orthodoxy in failing to be sensitive to these issues, and insert itself in the kashrus market since the Conservative movement has no neemanus when it comes to kashrus supervision.

  60. “Israeli policy, particularly regarding the settlements and West Bank occupation (not to mention the Orthodox monopoly on conversion, marriage, divorce and male prayer at the Western Wall), as oppressive and immoral.”

    I’m Orthodox, and *I* have a problem with some of this. But I’m also aware that the two democratic (small ‘d’) political movements in Palestine together got 5.1% of the vote in the last Palestinian election.

  61. We Orthodox would have a better argument against the Conservative movement’s non-kashrut hechsher if our institutions were more careful about halachic observance in that area.

  62. >Why tie it kashrus?

    Probably because it’s the only item that requires, or people think requires, rabbinic supervision. The idea (I guess) is that rabbis are saying you can buy this and this, but turn a blind eye away from exploitation and other wicked practices. Since they’re not endorsing sneakers in the first place, they’re not literally standing buy, not noticing or pretending not to notice the bad stuff, and then telling people they may consider it kasher (fit) by Torah law.

    Kashrus organizations and rabbonim already play moral judge when it comes to non kashrus related things, as we all know, and they also certify non-food items and other things which do not require hashgacha and are neither kosher nor non-kosher.

    So why should anyone be surprised, now that they do these things, if some people would say that they are not concerned with certain kinds of morality? Keep it about food only, fine. But don’t pretend that you already do that and that’s all you can do.

    Of course Hechsher Tzedek is flawed and pie in the sky, but that doesn’t change the other points.

  63. Joseph Kaplan hit in on the head at 10:31am.

  64. Helicoptering up from Rafael’s assumptions about who seeks products with a hechser, as opposed to just looking at ingredients I see another example of the dangers of RW Orthodox rhetoric.

    The kosher foods business in North America is generally accepted to be a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Do you really think that is on the basis of the Orthodox Jewish demographic in North America?

    And to use my favorite example, someone is buying Triangle-K hechsher meat in my neighborhood, although none of the Orthodox shul Rabbis think it meets community standards.

  65. Rafael Araujo

    IH – if none of the Orthodox shul rabbis think it meets community standards, then why is that person purchasing the meat? Is the opinion of those shul rabbis simply chopped liver (no pun intended)?

  66. RAFAEL:

    ditto to “S” above.

    also, i don’t really disagree with any of your assesments of hechsher tzedek (except for you claim that this is a nefarious [my interpretation of your sentiments] plot directed at orthodox jews). but still, these assessments don’t mean it is a bad, wrong or anti-halakhic idea. i’m just not sure why agudah (and you) are up in arms over this.

  67. Rafael Araujo

    No, I wouldn’t describe it as nefarious. Its simply an attempt to stay relevant. I am sure many involved are quite earnest about it.

    As for the Agudah’s outcry, this is par for the course. Nothing unexpected. The Agudah and many other orgs simply feel that there is a need to decry and put out statements against activities of the Heterodox movements, in an almost knee jerk fashion. I personally have no problem with it, even if its not always my bread and butter.

  68. HAGTBG – can you be specific. What halachos prevent me from wearing Nike shoes produced by a 7 year old in Bangladesh? And don’t give me “its immoral” as the basis for your evaluation.

    I can’t comment on the particular case of Nike shoes (the kid in Bangladesh might be starving or else “slaving away” on his parent’s farm, if the Nike factory weren’t around), but in general, “kedoshim tihyu” is a halacha which lines up well with the feeling of “it’s immoral”.

    IH – if none of the Orthodox shul rabbis think it meets community standards, then why is that person purchasing the meat? Is the opinion of those shul rabbis simply chopped liver (no pun intended)?

    The non-Jews, or non-0rthodox Jews, are buying it. That was his point!

  69. Joseph Kaplan

    “Doesn’t that apply to food Conservative Jews will likely eat, which in most cases doesn’t have a hechsher on the label?”

    Just imagine the yelling and screaming and gnashing of teeth from AI and, most probably, from RA, if they would put the hechscher tzedek on food items that did not have a kashrut hechsher. Tricking people into eating treif etc. etc. etc. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Bash them for kulot, bash them for chumrot. Just make sure to bash them. The more we bash the more holy and triumphant we can be. Wow!

  70. Rafael Araujo, as I said I eat chocolate. However, halacha also lets me keep a slave and, some say, commit tax fraud. Doesn’t mean I think G-d wants people now owning slaves who are committing tax fraud. Yashrut means something too.

    Really I have little problem with this symbol though even as I think basic kashrut restricts my choices enough thank you very much. As some note who want to boycott this evidently realize, the manufacturer will view this as an advertising expense. If there is demand for this in the kosher marketpalce then it will make it and, if not, it won’t. Personally I say live and let live and, if this succeeds, at least some consumers will be getting something evidently closer to what they want and, who knows, maybe it will be appropriately approving the lives of hard workers. I understand rabbis saying they lack technical expertise to set workplace standards and therefore leave that to the government and I understand arguments over what constitutes anything other then an arbitrary standard but do not understand the argument that was made here by Agudah that the government is a moral authority on minimum workplace standards.

    I will say that being machmir on workplace rules makes far more sense to me then being machmir about glatt.

  71. And now with less typos…

    Rafael Araujo, as I said I eat chocolate. However, halacha also lets me keep a slave and, some say, commit tax fraud. Doesn’t mean I think G-d wants people now owning slaves who are committing tax fraud. Yashrut means something too.

    Really I have little problem with this symbol though even as I think basic kashrut restricts my choices enough thank you very much. As those who want to boycott this new symbol evidently realize, the manufacturer will view this as an advertising expense. If there is demand for this in the kosher marketplace then it will make it and, if not, then its just like now. Personally I say live and let live and, if this succeeds, at least some consumers will be getting something evidently closer to what they want and, who knows, maybe it will be appropriately improving the lives of hard workers. I understand rabbis saying they lack technical expertise to set workplace standards and therefore leave that to the government and I understand arguments over what constitutes anything other then an arbitrary standard but do not understand the argument that was made here by Agudah that the government is a moral authority on minimum workplace standards.

    I will say that being machmir on workplace rules makes far more sense to me then being machmir about glatt.

  72. The real issue with Hechsher Tzedek IMO is whether it will promote further adherence to Kashrus or simply serve as a Trojan horse for a liberal-left agenda that arguably, has little, if anything to do with Kashrus.

    As far as the comparisons between the Shoah and other periods in human suffering, one must always remember who is asserting that such a period makes the Shoah seem palid in comparison, and comparing the two epocs. WADR to R Carmy , Jerry and others, I don’t see either internment of Japanese Americans or Afrrican American slavery as having the same state implemented policy goal of rendering Europe Judenrein. Stating such a view IMO is not an overwrought exercise in exceptionalism. It is based on the historical record. I would venture to state that with the exception of Dr Lipstadt, that it would be interesting to see the POVs of those who deny the uniqueness of the Holocaust and compare the same with their views on anti Semitism througout the ages as well as the rise of Zionism and the creation of the State of Israel.

    In a totally unrelated comment, I would add that CUNY deserves a major round of kudos for deciding not to honor Tony Kushner, another liberal-left intellectual who has made no secret of the fact that he believes that Israel was created via ethnic cleansing and that the world would be better off without its creation.

  73. Joseph Kaplan

    “WADR to R Carmy , Jerry and others, I don’t see either internment of Japanese Americans or Afrrican American slavery as having the same state implemented policy goal of rendering Europe Judenrein.” The point you seem to miss, Steve is that R. Carmy, Jerry and others (I guess I’m one of the others) do NOT want to make ANY comparison, EITHER WAY. The point we’ve tried to make, which you ignore so you can repeat your talking points, is that both events — the Shoa and American slavery — were each horrible in their own way, and to compare them, either to say they’re of equal horror or, as you continue to do, to say the Shoa was worse, is, in I think Jerry’s words, “nonsensical.” t is, I think, an apt word.

  74. >Rafael Araujo: IH – if none of the Orthodox shul rabbis think it meets community standards, then why is that person purchasing the meat? Is the opinion of those shul rabbis simply chopped liver (no pun intended)?

    Canuck: What do you mean that Triangle-K does not meet community standards? Is meat under their supervision kosher on non-kosher?

  75. STEVE:

    “The real issue with Hechsher Tzedek IMO is whether it will promote further adherence to Kashrus or simply serve as a Trojan horse for a liberal-left agenda that arguably, has little, if anything to do with Kashrus.”

    1) a trojan horse to do what?
    2) just because something is associated with a liberal-left agenda doesn’t make it wrong (stop viewing the world in black and white). do you really think there is no positive value in trying to protect workers from abuse?
    3) how does putting a hashgocho on bleach or toilet cleaner “promote further adherence to Kashrus”? or how does denying a hashgocho to an establishment that provides inappropriate entertainment “promote further adherence to Kashrus”? (to the contrary, it sends people who want that entertainment to establishments where they may consume non-kosher food.) do you object to these practices as well?

  76. SHLOMO:

    “in general, “kedoshim tihyu” is a halacha which lines up well with the feeling of “it’s immoral”.”

    my son’s parsha book (“My First Parsha Reader” by R. Moshe Weissman) specifically states in parshas kedoshim, “A Jew must pay his Jewish worker on time”

    ’nuff said

  77. Let’s be more explicit. Some order of magnitude arithmetic will quickly illustrate that in reality the non-Orthodox consumers of kosher products are subsidizing the variety and likely cost of the certification.

    Be careful what you wish for, as the old adage goes.

  78. Canuck: although not my community, on Triangle-K, see: http://www.asbi.org/public/Updated_Community_Standards_of_Kashrut.pdf

    Unfortunately, Rabbi Lopatin’s previous update is no longer accessible online.

    Net net: it’s considered neither treif nor kosher. Strange world.

  79. Setting up an “ethical hechsher” sound good in theory, but in practice it would set up arbitrary standards, would be very difficult to manage, and would be cost prohibitive. Food producers need to follow the kosher rules specifically for their kosher food products [orthodox certifications already verify this], and the local civil laws when dealing with employees and government regulations. The promoters of Magen Tzedek probably have good intentions, but they are also seeking recognition and relevance. I believe it’s counterproductive to lambast the Conservatives on this issue. But, the leaders of Agudath Israel are entitled to disagree.

  80. >Net net: it’s considered neither treif nor kosher. Strange world.

    IH: Thanks for the link to the (29 April 2011) Community Standards of Kasrut by Rabbi Asher Lopatin. I previously thought the only problem with Triangle-K was that its meat was not glatt certified.
    But, in Rabbi Lopatin’s letter, he notes that certification from Rabbi Ralbag (of Triangle-K) is “no better than nothing at all” and no explanation is provided. Don’t you agree that if one makes such a serious accusation about an other observant Jew, not to mention an orthodox rabbi, one should provide an explanation?
    Rabbi Lopatin also writes that Rabbi Ralbag is fully acceptable in other matters of halacha such as gittin (writs of divorce). How can one be trusted for gitten but not for kashrus? You wrote that meat (or other food) can be considered neither treif nor kosher. How can that be? Do you mean that if some food certified by Triangle-K is kosher and some isn’t, then the status of everything is unknown and can’t be eaten by Jews?

  81. Canuck: All good questions. I raise it from time to time and have yet to hear any satisfactory answers. It is a bizarre situation which seems remarkably un-kosher in its secular parlance sense.

  82. Just to be clear, it is not me that is saying that it is neither treif nor kosher. See the first 2 complete sentences on Page 2 and tell me if you read it a different way.

  83. Thanks IH. I knew you were paraphrasing from the kosher guidelines document from Anshe Sholom synagogue in Chicago. Here are the first two sentences at the top of page 2: “If you have used Triangle K products in the past, you do not need to kasher your dishes, and if you are in an extremely awkward situation where you feel you will embarrass someone by not eating a Triangle K product, there is room to be lenient and eat it. But, on a regular basis, Triangle K does not meet the standards of the Anshe Sholom community.” I hope one day to get a clear explanation – or those who castigate Triangle-K will recant and apologize.

  84. Abba wrote:

    “) a trojan horse to do what?
    2) just because something is associated with a liberal-left agenda doesn’t make it wrong (stop viewing the world in black and white). do you really think there is no positive value in trying to protect workers from abuse?
    3) how does putting a hashgocho on bleach or toilet cleaner “promote further adherence to Kashrus”? or how does denying a hashgocho to an establishment that provides inappropriate entertainment “promote further adherence to Kashrus”? (to the contrary, it sends people who want that entertainment to establishments where they may consume non-kosher food.) do you object to these practices as well”

    let me suggest the following observations-the current liberal/left agenda as does the libertarian right needs to prove its benefits to me as a Torah observant voter. OTOH, I am not sure that the labor union establishment’s main goals today are the protection of workers from abuse but rather to ensure that its members retire comfortably even if American businesses close in the process, and cities bankrupt themselves paying pension benefits.

    In this respect, Mayor Bloomberg’s pointed comment about sending immigrants to the all but prostrate city of Detroit should be considered not as a joke but as a serious comment on what hath the UAW wrought. In the most recent issue of Commentary, there is an excellent article about the issues surrounding the struggles in Detroit to maintain its world class symphony, which are also traced to the decline of its biggest boosters-the American auto industry.

    I can’t and won’t speak for the O-K, with respect to the Kosher cruise or a pizza place in Crown Heights, but many companies seek the OU simply as a source of consumer approvcal, ala the Good Housekeeping seal. To the extent that such companies are willing to seek approval from the OU, regardless of the lack of necessity for the same, I have no objection, especially since it is well known that the OU uses the moneys raised via Kashrus as a means of funding its other programs, especially NCSY.

  85. >many companies seek the OU simply as a source of consumer approvcal, ala the Good Housekeeping seal

    But it isn’t, and the OU knows it isn’t.

    I guess you’d be okay if the OU pretended to certify ethical behavior, but really didn’t. At least that would be consistent with your Good Housekeeping approach.

  86. STEVE:

    please reread my questions, then reread your responses, then reread my questions, then actually respond to my questions.

  87. STEVE:

    “many companies seek the OU simply as a source of consumer approval, ala the Good Housekeeping seal.”

    do you undertand what the good housekeeping seal of approval is? because assuming it is true (as you describe) that the OU lets companies use its symbol to inspire consumer confidence (i assume you didn’t really mean “consumer approval”?) like the GH seal of approval, then the OU is complicit in mass genevas da’as (at best)

    fwiw, i agree with you about the UAW, but what does this have to do with treating workers properly? because the auto workers in detroit have been pampered you think the mexicans who work in your stores on main street don’t deserve a living wage and to be paid on time?

    again, stop looking at everything in black and white.

  88. R A
    No need to back down .You hit the nail on the head.

  89. “is fully acceptable in other matters of halacha such as gittin (writs of divorce). How can one be trusted for gitten but not for kashrus? You wrote that meat (or other food) can be considered neither treif nor kosher. How can that be?”

    Agree with concept- as I have commented in other contexts the Israeli CR is phony with its list of “acceptable” Rabbis for conversions it includes people who most of us wouldn’t buy water if it was from their hashgacha.

  90. “To the extent that such companies are willing to seek approval from the OU, regardless of the lack of necessity for the same, I have no objection, especially since it is well known that the OU uses the moneys raised via Kashrus as a means of funding its other programs, especially NCSY.”

    Tend to agree-but for complete disclosure and avoid even the possibility of genevas daas the OU should put a simple statement in its Kashrut magazines etc-that all products that we certify are Kosher,we certify products as a service to our clients that do not require hashgacha..
    I am paraphrasing from a response by Rabbi Genack when he was a scholar in residence at my schul-during a Q&A at shalo shudis.

  91. “I am not sure that the labor union establishment’s main goals today are the protection of workers from abuse but rather to ensure that its members retire comfortably even if American businesses close in the process,”

    As is the purpose of any organization of workers be it medical associations, Rabbinic associations, mechanchim, etc-to ensure the economic well being of its members-even if patients can’t afford medical care, people can’t afford Yahadus etc.

  92. “if American businesses close ”
    and of course, American businesses don’t care about their American workers-they would set up a call center in India etc to save a penny.
    Steve-UNions are concerned about their workers as they should-but so are professional associations etc which often get state protection via licensing laws for their economic benefit.

  93. “we certify products as a service to our clients that do not require hashgacha”

    Sounds like the old “kosher-style” in reverse.

  94. Rafael Araujo

    “R A
    No need to back down .You hit the nail on the head.”

    Thank you. I wasn’t backing down. I merely pointed out that this statement from the Agudah should be no surprise to many here. MO generally does not feel it necessary to keep up the battle cry with the heterodox movements and let sleeping dogs lies. That seems to be the common wisdom here. I, and the Agudah, disagree. They will never get it right, as far as I am concerned, despite Joseph Kaplan’s insistence to the contrary. They don’t deserve the credit.

  95. IH:

    “Let’s be more explicit. Some order of magnitude arithmetic will quickly illustrate that in reality the non-Orthodox consumers of kosher products are subsidizing the variety and likely cost of the certification.”

    certification for restaurant can be a relatively large expense, but how much does the OU et al charge large corporations? does it really add to the retail cost of a single kit kat?

    or is the so-called salt tax is true?

  96. Abba: Dunno, but there are business articles about the kosher industry that highlight the huge growth curve — and given Orthodox Jewish demographics, it is highly unlikely this is driven by Orthodox Jewish demand.

    In any case, you are making my point. The cost of certification is low for a branded mega-product as long as their is perceived brand value — precisely because of economies of scale. Consumers of Paskesz are not what drove the mainstream sweets market to invest in hechsherim.

  97. Here’s one: http://www.ats.agr.gc.ca/amr/4975-eng.htm

    “What makes the American kosher market particularly profitable is that kosher foods are increasingly attractive to the non-Jewish population, who now make up the leading and fastest-growing consumer base for kosher products. This increase in popularity has provided the U.S. kosher market with a value of US$12.5 billion in 2008. It is predicted that this value will increase to US$13 billion by 2013.

    The popularity of kosher foods among non-Jewish consumers is due to both the relative availability of kosher-certified products and to the perception that kosher-certification provides an additional level of quality assurance, beyond typical government inspection. 55% of American consumers buy kosher because they believe kosher food products to be safer and healthier. Only 38% of consumers buy kosher because they want vegetarian products and 24% because they want dairy free products.”

  98. “Who Buys Kosher?

    As previously mentioned, the typical kosher-seeking consumer is no longer represented solely by religiously-observant Jews. In fact, this traditional category currently represents only a portion of kosher consumers. The majority of today’s kosher consumers are classified within the following categories: 1) non-Jewish religiously-observant consumers such as Muslims and 7th Day Adventists; 2) Consumers with specific dietary restrictions and preferences, and; 3) Health and safety-conscious consumers, accounting for more than 75% of non-Jewish kosher-seeking consumers. Despite their unique characteristics kosher-food customers are marked by two key factors: 1) higher than average spending power and 2) a willingness to spend more for products that they deem superior in quality and intrinsic value. Research demonstrates that the average American non-kosher buyer spends an annual value of $1,873 on food purchases, while the kosher buyer spends $2,748 annually. This is a 47% increase in food expenditure per year. More importantly, kosher foods sales have been demonstrated to sustain momentum even during an economic downturn. Clearly, these segments present excellent profit potential to food manufacturers.”

  99. IH:

    “55% of American consumers buy kosher because they believe kosher food products to be safer and healthier.”

    hmm.

  100. The market analysis provides context for R. Genack’s comments on “services to our clients” for products that do not require hechsherim.

  101. so essentially caveat emptor wins

  102. With all due respect to R. Cohen, that article on correcting the Ba’al kriah was a very superficial discussion of a complicated topic and did not deserve a link.

  103. Re: “55% of American consumers buy kosher because they believe kosher food products to be safer and healthier.”

    For some items, a presumption of superior health or quality in a kosher certified product is indeed justified. Kosher baked goods, for example, are extremely unlikely to contain any animal fats (unless you’re getting “fleishig” muffins or cakes — virtually nonexistent), which can make them somewhat healthier by default.

    In countries with a weak quality control culture, like China, kosher certification isn’t just about religious acceptability — it’s an indicator that certain quality standards have been followed, and that the product is uncontaminated by insects, unlisted ingredients, etc. In many respects reputable kosher certification ends up serving as a de facto additional quality control on a product.

    On the other hand a product with kosher certification can have just as high a fat or sugar content as non-kosher foods or be unhealthful in other ways. And ultimately everything comes down to the integrity and knowledgeability of the kosher supervisor and agency. So it all depends on the individual product and what the customer is looking for.

  104. ditto to MDJ. for a much better discussion on correcting the baal kore, see articles by r. moshe rosenberg in rav chesed and RJJ journal (although i thought he gave to much weight to the embarassment issue).

    for halakhic problems involving “mistakes” rooted in localized pronouciation variants (such as the deterioration of the mapik heh r. cohen mentions), there is is much wider literature that is relevant (e.g., isaac gottlieb).

    also r. cohen misses what (imho) is the biggest problem in his disucssion of mapik heh, i.e., the fact that by not pronouncing mapik heh one is in actuality omitting a letter rather than merely mispronouncing a letter. also he asks why no one corrects the baal kore on mapik heh. this is in large part because most gabbaim and people in shul don’t know what it is. i’m also curious why if he thinks its so important, as a mora de’asra did he try to correct this problem?

  105. “For some items, a presumption of superior health or quality in a kosher certified product is indeed justified. Kosher baked goods, for example, are extremely unlikely to contain any animal fats (unless you’re getting “fleishig” muffins or cakes — virtually nonexistent), which can make them somewhat healthier by default.”

    Except that in many cases, the highly processed vegetable fats are as bad, or even worse than, animal fats.

  106. >Except that in many cases, the highly processed vegetable fats are as bad, or even worse than, animal fats.

    Vegans probably appreciate it. Another factor is that non-Jews don’t really appreciate nuances regarding Jewish observance. Many of them probably have no idea whatsoever that most Jews don’t observe kashrus, or if they do they do it in a pretty limited way. Since Jews are considered successful and educated, it’s not a great stretch to think of Steven Spielberg and Alan Greenspan, not to mention a gazillion physicians, as looking for an OU symbol in all the food they buy. So there’s probably at least some factor of “Jews are smart, Jews eat kosher” involved too.

  107. You might want to close your SALT Wednesday B-tag.

  108. Abba-I see no reason to condemn the OU merely for providing what certain corporations deem to be in their best interest even if Hashgacha is not warranted Al Pi Din. FWIW, more than one brand of toothpaste is endoresed by the ADA. Are you claiming that the same is a violation of dental ethics? Please explain how doing so constitutes Gnevas Daas, when both the OU and the corporations involved fully know that hashgacha Al Pi Halacha is unwarranted.

    As far as Detroit is concerned, the black and white evidence is on the ground. It is truly a depressed inner city due to the demise of the American auto industry which IMO can only be traced to incessant union demands ( which IMO cannot be compared to that of professional associations) and environmentalism.

  109. Abba- Please explain how doing so constitutes Gnevas Daas, when both the OU and the corporations involved fully know that hashgacha Al Pi Halacha is unwarranted.

    As far as Detroit is concerned, the black and white evidence is on the ground. It is truly a depressed inner city due to the demise of the American auto industry which IMO can only be traced to incessant union demands ( which IMO cannot be compared to that of professional associations) and environmentalism.

  110. S wrote:

    “>many companies seek the OU simply as a source of consumer approvcal, ala the Good Housekeeping seal

    But it isn’t, and the OU knows it isn’t.”

    Proof please?

  111. FWIW, Jewish Ideas Daily has a great link to an excellent interview with Professor Ruth R Wisse and Dr. Jack Wertheimer on American Jews and the defense of Western Civilization.

  112. >Proof please?

    I need to prove that the OU doesn’t really test aluminum foil for quality (and knows that they don’t)? I don’t think so.

  113. I think that one can argue with the basic premise of Hechsher Tzedek inasmuch as Kashrus is at the core a Chok, which our adherence to and being very knowledgeble in, as Rashi points out at the end of Parshas Shmini, plays no small part in creating a Goy Kadosh UMamleches Kohanim. Except for the arguably related Halacha of Tzaar Baalei Chaim, which is rooted in TSBP, I would like any defender of Hechser Tzedek to prove how its notions can be justified within the traditional Halachic basis of Kashrus, which is also largely defined by TSBP.

  114. Steve: the rabbinic insertion of shmirat shabbat into aspcts of the chok of kashrut takes the wind out of that sail. And tza’ar ba’alei chaim of course is mi’deoraita so it is hardly “arguably related”.

  115. S-As long as the OU and a company that is aware that it need not Hashgacha seeks the same, that IMO is merely a contactual agreement reached between two willing parties. Viewing the same as Gneivas Daas IMO simply ignores the factors that drive companies to seek approval, regardless of a lack of necessity for the same. Perhaps, you should attend an Ask OU seminar or an OU Dinner where corporations that need and have sought Hashgacha from the OU could inform you of why they work with the OU, as well see that the OU’s work allows for a mainstream baseline observance of Kashrus on a mass level.

  116. R. Gil,

    There’s a strange phenomenon whereby everything turns to bold font whenever I go to the News & Links site. Please fix this.

  117. > I would like any defender of Hechser Tzedek to prove how its notions can be justified within the traditional Halachic basis of Kashrus, which is also largely defined by TSBP.

    They’re not saying the food is or isn’t kosher because it is produced in an ethical way. They’re saying that kosher food (like all food) can be produced in an ethical or in an unethical way, and the consumer could be informed about it and then decided whether or not they want to eat a burger produced at the expense of another human being, or not. Since they see being ethical and humane as a religious concern (I know, how terrible of them) they feel that such a certification is warranted.

  118. >S-As long as the OU and a company that is aware that it need not Hashgacha seeks the same, that IMO is merely a contactual agreement reached between two willing parties.

    The consumer never contracted to get a fake impression about the quality of a product. Collusion between the companies and the OU doesn’t change this.

  119. Orthodox Jews are receiving a subsidy from those who value the OU brand imprimatur irrespective of whether the product is meaningfully certifiable.

    Personally, I don’t think it is impermissible; but, it does cause complications that I don’t think we need to elaborate on in detail.

  120. MiMedinat HaYam

    “In a totally unrelated comment, I would add that CUNY deserves a major round of kudos for deciding not to honor Tony Kushner, another liberal-left intellectual who has made no secret of the fact that he believes that Israel was created via ethnic cleansing and that the world would be better off without its creation.” — steve b

    next week, hechsher zedek might say thats not proper. (though i 100% agree with steve b. and steve wiesenfeld.)

    2. next week, hechsher zedek might say chinese production is immoral, while other leftists might say its moral, its good chinese leftists.

    at least we have a shulchan aruch to decide our kashrut issues. they dont have one.

    3. next week, they’ll say our kosher food production from atarot industrial park is not moral.

    4. by the way, they (copnservative rabbinate) checked the triangle-k meat, when rabbi r got that hechsher, and approved it. (sounds like $ changed hands. no rav hamachshir will allow another rov to check his production.)

  121. MMhY — sounds like you’re itching for someone to raise the issue of what the OU said about the Rubashkin (and when). Glass houses and all that…

  122. IH-please explain this comment:

    “Steve: the rabbinic insertion of shmirat shabbat into aspcts of the chok of kashrut takes the wind out of that sail. And tza’ar ba’alei chaim of course is mi’deoraita so it is hardly “arguably related”.”

    S wrote:

    “The consumer never contracted to get a fake impression about the quality of a product. Collusion between the companies and the OU doesn’t change this”

    Please show me how a single consumer relies on a validly entered contract between the OU and a company to his or her detriment.

  123. S wrote in part:

    “They’re not saying the food is or isn’t kosher because it is produced in an ethical way. They’re saying that kosher food (like all food) can be produced in an ethical or in an unethical way, and the consumer could be informed about it and then decided whether or not they want to eat a burger produced at the expense of another human being, or not.”

    WADR, that is a PC ethical standard, as opposed to a halachic standard.

  124. STEVE:

    “Please explain how doing so constitutes Gnevas Daas, when both the OU and the corporations involved fully know that hashgacha Al Pi Halacha is unwarranted.”

    the genevas daas isn’t vis-a-vis the contracting company but rather the consumer.

    “more than one brand of toothpaste is endoresed by the ADA. Are you claiming that the same is a violation of dental ethics?”

    huh? ADA endorsement has a meaningful implication for the consumer, as does the good housekeeping seal of approval. what exactly is the meaning of an OU on bleach?

    “As far as Detroit is concerned, the black and white evidence is on the ground. It is truly a depressed inner city due to the demise of the American auto industry which IMO can only be traced to incessant union demands”

    i agreed with you above about the pampering of the auto workers union, but it is silly to say this (and evironmentalism) is *the* cause of the industry’s demise. much of the blame goes to the corporate leadership that for many years continued to make fuel-inefficient, unreliable and boring cars as japan, korea and europe wooed americans away from detroit.

  125. IH wrote:

    ” And tza’ar ba’alei chaim of course is mi’deoraita so it is hardly “arguably related”

    Tzaar Baalei Chaim is assumed to be an Issur Min HaTorah but there is no explicit Biblical source, rather a wide variety of Shitos HaRishonim that view it as such based on their understanding of various Biblical passages and Sugyos in Shas. See R Asher Weiss Minchas Asher Devarim, Parshas Ki Savo 51, who enumerates no less 11 such sources.

  126. STEVE:

    “WADR, that is a PC ethical standard, as opposed to a halachic standard.”

    so . . .?
    does it violate halacha?

  127. Abba wrote;

    ” I agreed with you above about the pampering of the auto workers union, but it is silly to say this (and evironmentalism) is *the* cause of the industry’s demise. much of the blame goes to the corporate leadership that for many years continued to make fuel-inefficient, unreliable and boring cars as japan, korea and europe wooed americans away from detroit.”

    WADR, I disagree. IMO, environmentalism is a coercive utopian philosophy rooted in telling people how they should live without enabling them how to provide for their families, and in ensuring that our social mobility is reduced so that our parks remain safe for those who can camp in them, as well as ensuring that we use solar heat, as long is is NIMBY, ala the Hamptons or depriving me of my right to own and be transported in my privately owned Gulftstream private jet.

  128. Abba wrote:

    “so . . .?
    does it violate halacha

    NO, IMO, it is a concern and standard that is irrelevant to Halacha.

  129. Abba wrote:

    “ADA endorsement has a meaningful implication for the consumer”

    Proof please?

  130. Kosher Consumer

    I don’t understand the complaint against the OU. Do they certify as kosher something that isn’t? No- everything bearing an OU symbol is kosher. So where is the gneivas das?

  131. Steve — Bava Metzia 32b/33a using the prooftext Shemot 23:5.

    Whilst there is no explicit resolution, the arguments that it is not mi’deoraita are all quashed and the “mesorah” (as you like to call it) is that it is mi’deoraita as far as I remember.

  132. Kosher Consumer – being paid to certify a product for which “kosher” is meaningless as being kosher is a questionable proposition.

  133. STEVE:

    “WADR, I disagree. IMO, environmentalism is a coercive utopian philosophy . . .”

    huh? you disagree with what? i didn’t deny or affirm the role of that environmentalism played in the demise and detriot. i merely wrote that you can’t attribute the demise soley to unions and environmentalism and there was also poor corporate leadership. how about addressing what i wrote. (sorry, i’m not really interested in what you think about environmentalism as a tangent.)

    seriously, what is your problem?

    “Proof please?”

    see http://www.ada.org/1322.aspx

    “S” and i went throught this with you above regarding the good housekeeping seal of approval. it stands for something. ADA endorsement stands for something. good housekeeping stands for something. what does OU on clorox stand for? you don’t see the distinction?

    “it is a concern and standard that is irrelevant to Halacha”

    please clarify

  134. If not for the market power of the OU, by the way, the certifying agency that puts a “Glatt” hecher on a package of Turkey Breast would be legitimately questioned. This abuse of halachic terminology is now de rigueur in the Kashrut industry — another example that people who live in glass houses are best advised not to throw rocks.

  135. Kosher Consumer

    IH – I am not as learned as you which might be why I fail to understand why a pot can be non-kosher but not lubricated aluminum foil.

  136. And, let’s not forget that these ethical hechsher efforts came in the wake of the disgusting chillul ha’shem of the Rubashkin mess in which the OU was, minimally through ommission, complicit.

  137. Kosher Consumer – Check with your Rabbi. But, earlier in the thread the discussion was on bleach and toilet cleaners. And the more open-ended statements by R. Genack.

  138. IH wrote:

    “And, let’s not forget that these ethical hechsher efforts came in the wake of the disgusting chillul ha’shem of the Rubashkin mess in which the OU was, minimally through ommission, complicit”

    IIRC, the OU was instrumental in removing Rubashkin from a management role before the conviction in Federal court. i think that it can be argued that even if Rubashkin erred in his judgment how to run his business, the sentence handed down was excessive, and the uproar over Rubashkin’s practices should be compared with the relative silence over a very prominent scion of MO who had more than a passing familiarity with the creator of the worst Ponzi scheme in American history. Where is Hechser Tzedek in determining the appropriate level of conduct for Wall Street investors, professionals , and hedge fund operators?

    With regards to Tzaar Baalei Chaium BM 32-33 is one of the 11 sources referred to R Asher Weiss, but as R Weiss points out, that is only one of them. Instead of viewing the OU view the prism of some sort of conspiratorial/Naderseque POV, we should be applauding its efforts to enable the kosher consumer obtain kosher food

    I can only reiterate my prior statement about where the revenue from OU Kashrus is reinvested and its respect throughout the secular coeporate and Torah worlds. If that is market power, Kol HaKavod,

  139. Joseph Kaplan

    “WADR, that is a PC ethical standard, as opposed to a halachic standard.”
    “NO, IMO, it is a concern and standard that is irrelevant to Halacha.”

    That’s EXACTLY the point Steve. In YOUR opinion it’s PC (I hate that term and use it reluctantly) and not halacha. But those behind the hechsher tzedek believe that these ethical concerns are related to halacha. They’re Conservative and they see halacha differently than you do. So those who agree with them and care about the ethical or non-ethical actions of the companies that make their food will now be able to get information that wasn’t available before. If you don’t care about the ethics of those companies, or if you do but think it’s not halachic and therefore irrelevant to your food buying choices, that’s your right and just simply ignore the hechsher tzedek. But for the life of me I just don’t see why anyone should be AGAINST it other than, as I have said before, it gives them yet another opportunity to bash the Conservatives.

  140. >Please show me how a single consumer relies on a validly entered contract between the OU and a company to his or her detriment.

    You claimed that consumers “see” a kosher symbol as something akin to the Good Housekeeping seal. It is not. The companies and the OU know it is not, yet they are fine with this misimpression which, apparently, will guide some consumers in what to buy. If some people would buy shampoo if they knew a rabbi blessed it, do you think a rov should bless it, because, why not?

    >WADR, that is a PC ethical standard, as opposed to a halachic standard.

    Oh really? It’s “pc” to treat workers decently and humanely?

    >Where is Hechser Tzedek in determining the appropriate level of conduct for Wall Street investors, professionals , and hedge fund operators?

    Rabbis certify that *food* is kosher, fit. They do not certify sneakers. They don’t certify bicycles. They don’t certify wall street. Since they say, for example, “This restaurant serves kosher food which may be eaten” if they do so while abuses are going on around them, then some people might feel that they are missing an opportunity to be moreh tzedek (do you really think the kashrus establishment didn’t get a black eye from Rubashkin?). Since they have their noses, so to speak, in food production, and food becomes a religious field and they’re telling the world that you can eat the food, some people apparently feel that people would like to know that in other respects this food is produced, or this restaurant is run, according to halacha.

    I agree that in practice I don’t think it’s possible for this organization to actually do what they think they can do, but that doesn’t mean in theory it’s wrong or chutzpadik.

  141. Steve — repeating your strawmen multiple times does not make them any more credible than the first time. Do you have something new to add?

  142. S wrote:

    “Where is Hechser Tzedek in determining the appropriate level of conduct for Wall Street investors, professionals , and hedge fund operators?

    Rabbis certify that *food* is kosher, fit. They do not certify sneakers. They don’t certify bicycles. They don’t certify wall street. Since they say, for example, “This restaurant serves kosher food which may be eaten” if they do so while abuses are going on around them, then some people might feel that they are missing an opportunity to be moreh tzedek (do you really think the kashrus establishment didn’t get a black eye from Rubashkin?). Since they have their noses, so to speak, in food production, and food becomes a religious field and they’re telling the world that you can eat the food, some people apparently feel that people would like to know that in other respects this food is produced, or this restaurant is run, according to halacha

    That IMO does not answer my query re the silence by the same critics re an accomlice of Madoff who were oh-so vociferously critical of Rubashkin.

    Joseph Kaplan-WADR, I see no downside in viewing certain cultural, political and religious phenomena and rationales as PC,when the description is apt. In all seriousness, one cannot view CJ today, as opposed to the the JTS rooted CJ of the heyday of RSL as being rooted in Halacha. Viewing Hechher Tzedek as merely some C clergy’s approach to Halacha, IMO, mistates the issue.

  143. History shows that large amounts of money flowing into an organization with little transparency and a subservient Board of Directors leads to disaster.

    I have seen little evidence that this lesson has been learned; and R. Genack’s public statements do not inspire my confidence.

    The several attempts to influnce the Kashrut industry, of which Magen Tzedek is one, may fizzle as independent enterprises, but if they can catalyze change and encourage greater transparency, they will have served American Jewry well.

    Until then, Deep Throat’s rule applies: “Follow the money”.

  144. One final point: most business frauds do not start out with an intention of malice. It’s just that the need to meet some benchmark become harder and harder to meet which leads to more and more corners being cut. Until, at some point, a line is crossed.

  145. >That IMO does not answer my query re the silence by the same critics re an accomlice of Madoff who were oh-so vociferously critical of Rubashkin.

    I don’t think Ezra Merkin has too many fans in general, and no rabbis approve of him or Madoff.

    What are you saying, that really no one cares about ethics? I dispute that.

  146. “WADR, I see no downside in viewing certain cultural, political and religious phenomena and rationales as PC,when the description is apt. In all seriousness, one cannot view CJ today, as opposed to the the JTS rooted CJ of the heyday of RSL as being rooted in Halacha.”
    Don’t glamorize JTS in times of RSL-certainly since 1945 and R Gordis’ famous call for change has not been halachik.

  147. Let’s face it. It’s somewhat of a sad statement regarding the state of orthodoxy that there is opposition to the idea of magen tzedek on an ideological level.

    It seems to be a good if impractical idea and I get the sneaking suspicion that aguda and the ou would have loved to come up with it first but now that the conservatives are advocating it, they will end up being reactionary.

    The only criticisms I can think of for this idea is that – if it would be successful, it may punish businesses that are ethical but can not afford the certification process by forcing them to get it or face a stigma for the lack of the symbol. Also, I am not sure how such a small organization can practically investigate all the potential ethical problems that may arise in the industrial world – how can they actually know what is going around in a company. It just does not seem to be workable.

  148. Mycroft: Your accusation that the OU was somehow complicit in Rubashkin’s crimes is pure lashon hara. It is based on some version of “they must have known” which comes from complete ignorance of facts and real conditions. Please recognize that you are accusing real people of overlooking crimes without speaking to them or understanding what they knew and when. I am normally silent on OU discussions but this is ridiculous. I have had many discussions (and arguments) about Rubashkin with OU people from the time accusations started emerging through now and while we disagreed on many things, no one ever gave any indication that they were aware of any crimes taking place.

    I, for one, am sick and tired of your cynical accusations. I would ban you immediately from Hirhurim (which I should have done long ago) but my negi’os with OU would taint such an action. All I can ask is that, once and for all, you stop with your lashon hara. If you have factual basis for an accusation, make the evidence known. All I have ever seen from you is innuendo, often against organizations against which you have a bias (I can say that because I know your real identity). It’s people like you who create the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation for communal leaders. Yes, we need watchdogs. You aren’t one of them. You have proven yourself to be totally incapable of differentiating between tough decisions, bad decisions and corrupt decisions.

  149. It seems to be a good if impractical idea and I get the sneaking suspicion that aguda and the ou would have loved to come up with it first but now that the conservatives are advocating it, they will end up being reactionary.
    ==============================================
    You mean like tikkun olam in general now seen as beyond the pale of orthodoxy (I guess the prophets of old could be categorized as – they could say it, we can’t :-))
    KT

  150. The JPost article on the “new deal on mechanism for converts to marry” has some more detail:
    http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=219466

    Kol ha’Kavod to R. Seth Farber.

  151. Oops. I see both the JTA and JPost pieces are up. My mistake.

  152. IH wrote:

    “History shows that large amounts of money flowing into an organization with little transparency and a subservient Board of Directors leads to disaster.”

    Do you apply this Watergate standard to all such organizations, regardless of their hashkafa or ideology, or merely the list that you have hashkafic disagreements with?

    S-I have seen no outcry from Hechsher Tzedek or their supporters within MO against Ezra Merkin in the same way that matches their outcry against Rubashkin. AFAIK, the Torah and the SA contain many Halachos of a Torah basis that would certainly have warranted at least a panel, a conference and handwringing. Yet, except for RHS’s drasha at the Jewish Center and R Wieder’s Kinus Teshuvah, the MO world has been quite reticent on the issue. One wonders if Merkin had been Charedi would he have received the same level of condemnation as Rubashkin. IMO, the lack of outrage over Merkin is indicative of a selective sense of outrage at the “other” and moral hypocrisy. I have seen noone ask whether and who Merkin consulted as a Posek with respect to his conduct, as opposed to a defender of Rubashkin, who was asked this question in an open forum at YU.

  153. R Gil-who WADR was your last post directed at? Please clarify.

    IH-please clarify the following comment:
    “Steve: the rabbinic insertion of shmirat shabbat into aspcts of the chok of kashrut takes the wind out of that sail”

    In the absence of the same, are you referring to the fact that Shmiras Shabbos is considered one of the sin qua non of Edus? If that is so, the reason for Shmiras Shabbos is because a Shomer Shabbos by definition, ( unless he is Orthoprax), believes and accepts HaShem Yisborach as the Boreh Olam and the Goal Yisrael, who entered into Bris Sinai with Klal Yisrael.

  154. Steve: Look at the first word of the comment.

  155. Anonymous — all. Unequivocally.

  156. IH-that Anonymous query was mine. I look forward to seeing evidence of your even-handedness in applying that standard in other issues that are touched on this blog.

  157. R Gil-WADR, I don’t see how your comment could be directed at Mycroft, who often invokes Negiah BaDavar and criticizes the espenses of MO life today, but rather other posters who have written in an explicitly conspiratorial and far more condemnatory fashion of the purported actions and lack of action, acts and omissions, as well as the overblown rhetorical reference to Chilul HaShem vis a vis the OU and Rubashkin. I see nothing in Mycroft’s postings that adopts a Watergate stance toward the OU.

  158. That’s because I deleted it.

    Rubashkin’s conviction *was* a Chillul Hashem.

  159. R Gil-thanks for that clarification. BWIW, I agree that the Rubashkin conviction was a Chilul HaShem, but I do think that the sentence is grossly excessive in nature.

  160. >S-I have seen no outcry from Hechsher Tzedek or their supporters within MO against Ezra Merkin in the same way that matches their outcry against Rubashkin. AFAIK, the Torah and the SA contain many Halachos of a Torah basis that would certainly have warranted at least a panel, a conference and handwringing. Yet, except for RHS’s drasha at the Jewish Center and R Wieder’s Kinus Teshuvah, the MO world has been quite reticent on the issue. One wonders if Merkin had been Charedi would he have received the same level of condemnation as Rubashkin. IMO, the lack of outrage over Merkin is indicative of a selective sense of outrage at the “other” and moral hypocrisy. I have seen noone ask whether and who Merkin consulted as a Posek with respect to his conduct, as opposed to a defender of Rubashkin, who was asked this question in an open forum at YU.

    And how do you justify your outrage at Merkin but your apologies for Rubashkin?

  161. I said that while Rubashkin was hardly the best manager of a business, the sentence was grossly excessive. I don’t consider that apologetics. OTOH, the lack of critical comments of Merkin by those most critical of Rubashkin is IMO evidence of an obvious sense of outrage over the acts of a typical Charedi who ignores secular law, while excusing the acts of Merkin because he was a MO and huge Baal Tzedaka for many MO institutions.

  162. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Where is Hechser Tzedek in determining the appropriate level of conduct for Wall Street investors, professionals , and hedge fund operators?”

    they cant. i’m sure many of the above are their consituents / members / even $upporter$.

    2. tzaar ba’alei chaim is not mideoraita. (gemara betzah — doesnt override yom tov)

    3. what about the sha”tz in my shul this morning who regularly makes a “mapik aleph” in kaddish?

  163. MeMedinat HaTam wrote in part:

    “Where is Hechser Tzedek in determining the appropriate level of conduct for Wall Street investors, professionals , and hedge fund operators?”

    they cant. i’m sure many of the above are their consituents / members / even $upporter$”

    Excellent point!

  164. Why is that an excellent comment? Where is the OU, OK, AI, etc. in such matters? Hechser Tzedek is dedicated to food. There are likely other liberal organizations (that you probably dislike, too) that deal with choshen mishpat.

  165. MMHY:

    “tzaar ba’alei chaim is not mideoraita”

    and . . .?

    STEVE:

    do you think jews should care about workers’ rights, the environment, animal mistreatment?

    please just answer the question without any evasive tangents.

  166. Steve — I really don’t understand why you volunteer hostages to fortune in your argumentation. As far as I remember Merkin has not (yet) been convicted for his dealings with Madoff. And what about the fiduciary responsibility of his fellow board members at YU?

    In any case, this sad case you raise exemplfies the need for transparency and the dangers of subservient boards of directors as per my previous comments.

    Since you are looking for analogies: perhaps the equally sad R. Milton Balkany case is more on target. He was convicted of extortion that, we’re told, came about because he needed to subsidize his Bais Yaakov day school.

    My previous comments (10:17pm and 10:20pm) apply.

    Please no more throwing mud on Magen Tzedek that just backfires…

  167. Lawrence Kaplan

    While– as should come as no surprise–there is much I do not agree with Steve about, I share his concern about the (lack of) reaction to Ezra Merkin in the MO community. On Purim night, the year before this past one, I was at the Megillah reading in the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. Ezra Merkin read the Megillah for the congregation. QED!

  168. Abba-The answer is yes-but I see the question and answer as far more complex and nuanced than how you have phrased it-“care about workers’ rights, the environment, animal mistreatment” , which IMO is a typically non-negotiable demand postured in a vague phrase , does not mean endorsing explicitly or implicitly the liberal/left or conservative agendas or pretending that Halacha is equivalent to the liberal or conservative agenda.

    For very different reasons, I also see no connection IMO based on the Halacha of Tzaar Baalei Chaim as a basis for any alliances with “animal rights” groups agendas that see no difference between humans and animals. IMO, the notion that Tzaar Baalei Chaim can be invoked as a rationale to even remotely support PETA’s work cannot be justified. Like it or not, PETA’s mission and ideology is just another example of the age old anti Semitic nature of the critique against Shechita , which has its origins in supercessionist theology and critiques of the law obssessed Jew, dressed up in Darwinian rhetoric and Hollywood spokesmen, IMO deserves far more scrutiny and criticism that it has been subjected to.

  169. Steve — your conspiracy theories are absurd. How do you expect us to take you seriously?

  170. STEVE:

    what does PETA have to do with anything?

    in any case, let’s just keep this simple and deal with workers rights. what types of rights do workers have?

    LAWRENCE KAPLAN:

    “I share his concern about the (lack of) reaction to Ezra Merkin in the MO community”

    who?

  171. Abba-Obviously, you deal in a simplistic view of the world-I don’t. I stand by my answer.

    IH-You invoke Watergate as a means of sitting as judge, jury and prosecutor on every organization that you disapprove of-that is IMO prima facie a conspiratorial POV. Ignoring the history of anti Shechita campaigns OTOH, is a highly selective reading of history.

  172. IH-when I see Merkin condemned in the MO world with the same vigor as either Balkany or Rubashkin, then “Moshiach Tzeitzen.”

  173. Richard Kahn=name one LW MO organization that deals with CM. If MO views itself as dealing with the issues that people face on a daily basis, MO should be out and front and CM related issues.

  174. IH commented:

    “. As far as I remember Merkin has not (yet) been convicted for his dealings with Madoff”

    Up to the point of his conviction, many made the same point about Rubashkin and invoked Chillul HaShem, etc. At least with respect to Rubashkin, no one took his or her own life.

  175. STEVE:

    “Obviously, you deal in a simplistic view of the world-I don’t.”

    i can live with your characterization of me as having a simplistic view of the world. but please recognize that indeed you do to. your responses (when you can stay on track, that is, without going off on evasive tangents) repeatedly demonstrate that you view every thing in black and white. i ask about workers right and you repeatedly refer to detroit, as if that defines what it means to give workers basic rights? i ask about not mistreating animals and all you can do harp on about PETA and anti-shechita campaigns? you think there is no middle ground between grossly mistreating animals and PETA?
    you view I stand by my answer”

  176. Rafael Araujo

    So IH, its come to who was convicted and who wasn’t the. The MO, or your case, the Conservative standard for chillul Hashem is criminal conviction? What about morality, divorced from halocho? What about conduct causing a chillul Hashem, without a conviction. Let me ask you – if OJ Simpson was a visible Orthodox Jew, would you consider what he did a chillul Hashem or not?

  177. Rafael Araujo

    I don’t know if there are LWMO orgs that promote CM, but might be due to their reliance on dina d’malchusah dina.

  178. “PETA’s mission and ideology is just another example of the age old anti Semitic nature of the critique against Shechita”

    Steve, it’s hard to tell, but are you suggesting that PETA is just old antisemitism in new garb? If so, that’s absurd. (I suppose the anti-fur campaign for which PETA was famous for years was just a clever fig-leaf to cover up their nefarious anti-jewish plot, or perhaps they targetted fur because it has religious significance to chassidim?) If not, perhaps you should clarify rather than just “standing by” your answer.

  179. Back to the issue of supra-chok-kashrut standards, everyone’s favorite scientific expert on Kashrut just wrote in the Forward:

    “I have become disgusted by the frequency with which procedures in a given plant seem perfect when I am visiting, but as soon as I have left an undercover video surfaces that reveals bad practices. This has happened in both conventional and religious slaughter plants.”

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/137318/#ixzz1Lb2U2AK0

    I guess she’s now in on the anti-Semitic conspiracy as well.

  180. Sorry, that should have been “scientific expert on shectita”

  181. >I said that while Rubashkin was hardly the best manager of a business, the sentence was grossly excessive. I don’t consider that apologetics.

    Is he a criminal?

  182. Joseph Kaplan

    Ezra Merkin is no longer president of the fifth ave. synagogue nor is he on its board of directors. I believe the same is true of the various YU boards, and I couldn’t find any current reference on the web in general or YU’s website in particular to the Merkin Family Chair which Ezra had donated. It appears to have disappeared. I know he is reviled in my MO circles and I doubt he remains in any leadership position in any MO institutions. Does anybody know for a fact whether that’s true?

    One difference between him and Rubashkin, aside that he has not been indicted for any crime, is that Rubashkin’s company continued providing services to the Jewish community so he remained an issue for the Jewish community. I don’t think that’s true for Merkin. Another difference is that there were (and still are) many in the Orthodox community who defend Rubashkin and in reaction to that others spoke out against him. I haven’t heard anybody (other than his lawyers) defend Merkin; quite the contrary. I’m not exactly sure what people want the MO community to do about Merkin (other than not have him read the megillah).

  183. And, at the very least, no one is holding asifas for Ezra Merkin, he is not issuing communiques to the frum world, he is not regarded as a cross between Mendel Beilis and a Lamedvovnik, and he is not considered essentially identical with the entirety of kosher meat in America.

  184. IH-AFAIK, the OU has worked extensively with Dr Grandin.

    Emma & Abba-PETA is well known for stating that there are no differences between animals and humans, and comparing slaugter houses to concentration camps. As long as PETA plays a major role in anti Shechita campaigns, IMO, their critiques that are grounded in “animal rights” deserve to be scrutinized very carefully. I view such a view as objecting to the fact that we are permitted by the Torah to eat meat provided that it is properly slaughtered in accordance with Halacha as a contemporary example of anti Semitism. To quote Santayana, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it-anti Semitism has had many different varieties-insisting that there is no difference between an animal and a human is merely another contemporary example of anti Semitic thinking.

    Abba-Merely because you pose a question in a black and white fashion does not demand that I answer it in that format when IMO, the issues cannot be reduced to a simple yes or no answer. Workers have the right within the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act, but management is not without remedies. Moreover, for those who followed the Rubashkin case, the conviction had nothing to with abuse of either labor relations or immigration related statutes. Merely because some workers in any plant want to unionize does not mean that all must automatically consent or that management agree. That is one of the benefits of living in a democracy. IIRC, the union lost more than one attempt at unionization at Rubashkins. As far as Flaum’s, can anyone verify if management appealed the most recent court decision?

    Larry Kaplan-Thanks for that tidbit re the Fifth Avenue Synagogue and Purim.

  185. S wrote:

    “And, at the very least, no one is holding asifas for Ezra Merkin, he is not issuing communiques to the frum world, he is not regarded as a cross between Mendel Beilis and a Lamedvovnik, and he is not considered essentially identical with the entirety of kosher meat in America”

    But-he is not regarded as persona non grata and I have never heard anyone in the MO world view his actions as constituting Chilul HaShem-which AFAIK, is not at least to the Rambam at all related to being convicted in an American court. If any of us had been in the Fifth Avenue Synagogue on Purim, would we have formed another minyan in protest of the choice of the Baal Koreh for Megilas Esther? When I briefly lived on the UWS, my wife and I were invited to the apartment of a son of a person who had been the subject of state hearings, criminal prosecution and sentenced to jail and recently released for treatment of nursing home patients for desert one Shabbos evening. We declined the offer because of our queasiness in eating in the home of such a person.

    As far as Rubashkin is concerned, he was a poor manager, but a businessman who violated statutes not related to labor relations or immigration. However, his business played no small role in making Kosher meat accesssible at a reasonable cost throughout the US. As I stated before, the conviction was a Chillul HaShem, but the sentence IMO is grossly excessive.

  186. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Ezra Merkin is no longer president of the fifth ave. synagogue nor is he on its board of directors. I believe the same is true of the various YU boards, and I couldn’t find any current reference on the web in general or YU’s website in particular to the Merkin Family Chair which Ezra had donated. It appears to have disappeared. I know he is reviled in my MO circles and I doubt he remains in any leadership position in any MO institutions. Does anybody know for a fact whether that’s true”

    Larry Kaplan wrote:

    “On Purim night, the year before this past one, I was at the Megillah reading in the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. Ezra Merkin read the Megillah for the congregation”

    Joseph & Larry Kaplan- Serving as a Baal Koreh on Purim does not strike me that a person is persona non grata or reviled. As far as YU is concerned, IIRC, immediately after the news broke about Madoff, Merkin was asked to leave the board and any position therein. IIRC, wasn’t the RIETS chair donated by Herman Merkin ZL?

  187. Steve — I’m sorry, but: “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!”
    Shabbat Shalom

  188. But, if you want to keep going:

    1. Given that “the OU has worked extensively with Dr Grandin” what do you make of her stated disgust?

    2. Given your feelings about Ezra Merkin, what about his fellow board members that did not fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities? Should they too be shunned?

    3. Of what relevance is an appeal by Flaum, given your position on Merkin?

    On the otheer hand, perhaps we can just stop this spiraling discussion.

  189. S wrote:

    “Is he a criminal?”

    Are you using the term “criminal” as having the same meaning as “convicted?–he was convicted of violating certain business related statutes, received a grossly excessive sentence, all of which is part of an appeal before the federal appellate court.

    I am not sure that places him in the same league as a terrorist, spy or racketeer.

  190. There you go again, to borrow Pres. Reagan’s line…

    rack·et·eer/ˌrakiˈti(ə)r/
    Noun: A person who engages in dishonest and fraudulent business dealings

    Isn’t that is precisely what Rubashkin was convicted of being?

  191. IH wrote:

    1. Given that “the OU has worked extensively with Dr Grandin” what do you make of her stated disgust?

    2. Given your feelings about Ezra Merkin, what about his fellow board members that did not fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities? Should they too be shunned?

    3. Of what relevance is an appeal by Flaum, given your position on Merkin?”

    1) I would like to see the OU’s reaction.

    2) From what I read, Merkin had a “my way or the highway” approach to many organizations that trusted his expertise, and simply intimidated other board members from questionning his judgment. I tend to doubt that most board members knew what Merkin was doing in his area of expertise.

    3)The same people who condemned Rubashkin have the same POV re Flaum and are curiously quiet re Merkin. FWIW, last year we received an issue of a women’s RZ magazine which listed the major donors-including Ezra Merkin-I don’t consider that evidence of someone disappearing into the woodwork.

  192. IH wrote:

    “Isn’t that is precisely what Rubashkin was convicted of being”

    IIRC, the convictions were for false and misleading statements on bank loans, etc. I used the term racketeer in its more generic and classic sense-ala Capone and Gotti.

  193. “insisting that there is no difference between an animal and a human is merely another contemporary example of anti Semitic thinking”

    This position may be wrong and anti-Torah, but it does not distinguish Jews from other humans, nor is there any evidence that the position is motivated by anything having to do with Jews, making your use of “anti Semitic” to characterize it somewhat astounding.

  194. 1) And you’ll be checking this given how important PETA’s conspiracy is to you? Let us know, please, when you find out.

    2) Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Merkin’s previous history was well documented.

    3) Non responsive. If your position is that Merkin should be shunned pre-conviction (let alone appeal), then of what relevance is whether Flaum appealed?

  195. “The same people who condemned Rubashkin have the same POV re Flaum and are curiously quiet re Merkin”

    Look, I agree that the evidence suggests he has not been shunned, and that is probably wrong. But are people running to do business with him? The latter is what the Rubashkin/Flaum’s protests are all about: getting people not to do business with them.
    In other words, what actions can the avg MO person who has never seen and will never see Merkin in the flesh (and thus has no chance to deny him kibbudim, etc) do? In contrast, we have straightforward choices as to whether/how to interact with Rubashkin and Flaum products.

  196. Emma wrote:

    “This position may be wrong and anti-Torah, but it does not distinguish Jews from other humans, nor is there any evidence that the position is motivated by anything having to do with Jews, making your use of “anti Semitic” to characterize it somewhat astounding”

    WADR, an anti Torah statement , especially one that goes to the core of how the Torah views humans and animals IMO is anti Semitic. Viewing animals as identical to humans and denying the fact that only mankind as declared in the Torah was created Btzelem Elokim cannot be rationalized as not anti Semitic in nature.

  197. Steve — Please provide a source for your assertion that PETA insists that there is no difference between an animal and a human. I missed it on their website that I have now looked at for the first time in my life.

  198. Lawrence Kaplan

    As I mentioned, Ezra Merkin was the Baal Koreh at the 5th Avenue Synagogue the Purim BEFORE last. I trust that, as my brother suggested, things have changed since then.

  199. Joseph Kaplan

    “IIRC, wasn’t the RIETS chair donated by Herman Merkin ZL?”

    There are/were two Merkin Chairs. One was the Lieb Merkin chair donated by Hermann Merkin which was occupied by the Rav and is now, I believe, occupied by Meir Twersky. The other is the Merkin Family chair donated by Ezra. It is that chair that I can find no reference to.

    I too would have been uncomfortable about having Ezra Merkin layn the megillah. But other than that, is anyone in the MO community (a) defending him in any way or (b) giving him any positions of leadership? And the first is, as I mentioned before, a critical difference between him and Rubaskin. Many continued to support Rubashkin so others had to make it clear that the MO community does not support him; hence the public statements etc. No one, AFAIK, is defending Merkin; his honors and positions of leadership were taken away; he is now an outsider. What more do you want the MO community to do?

    BTW, I read the judge’s sentencing decision on Rubashkin. While I agree that his sentence was vastly excessive and i hope it will be significantly reduced on appeal, his crimes were more than false and misleading statements on bank loans.

  200. “WADR, an anti Torah statement , especially one that goes to the core of how the Torah views humans and animals IMO is anti Semitic.”

    Oh, you’re starting to expand your hole with dynamite now 🙂

  201. STEVE:

    “Emma & Abba-PETA is well known . . .”

    stop it already. who cares about PETA? i asked about concern for animals and all you can do is ramble on about PETA? has magen tzedek made an alliance with peta?
    similar for workers rights. do people have the right to get paid on time, a safe working environment, etc. and all you can do is ramble on about detroit and unions? has magen tzedek made an alliance with UAW?

    i’m bowing out. have a good shabbos.

  202. “WADR, an anti Torah statement , especially one that goes to the core of how the Torah views humans and animals IMO is anti Semitic. ”

    There are millions of people in the world who worship idolatry and/or are polytheistic. That contradicts the core of the Torah worldview. Does that make all those people anti-semitic? Bear in mind that most of them have probably never heard of Jews.

  203. Lawrence Kaplan

    I agree with my brother’s 3:24 pm post. Perhaps I over-generalized from my upsetting experience of hearing Merkin layn the megillah.

  204. MiMedinat HaYam

    “I don’t know if there are LWMO orgs that promote CM, but might be due to their reliance on dina d’malchusah dina”

    i dont know what the objection is. when i decry the fact that ppl dont follow batei din psakim, i am derided by the crowd / other commenters here. LW and RW.

    but when you want ppl to follow specific CM issues, everyone rings a bell.

    2. i recall coming into a certain synagogue in livingston , nj a few years ago, when they changed the sha”tz for maariv because the esteemed “k” came in. (all right, he was an avel at the time. well before his son married …) should we throw him out, like some want to throw out mr m? (note — it is doubtful he would lose a din torah. after all, he dealt with a respectable chairman of the stock exchange, etc. and did he makes specific promises of certain returns? (of course, he supposedly represented that he was not investing yu funds with the other mr m.))

    3. if mr m has a “chazakah” of reading the megillah, you would be very hard pressed to reject him. per SA on sha”tz for slichot, etc.

  205. Joseph Kaplan

    “an anti Torah statement , especially one that goes to the core of how the Torah views humans and animals IMO is anti Semitic. Viewing animals as identical to humans and denying the fact that only mankind as declared in the Torah was created Btzelem Elokim cannot be rationalized as not anti Semitic in nature.”

    If Steve’s definition is, indeed, an accurate definition of anti-Semitic, then Steve is right; PETA is anti-Semitic. Of course, I doubt that anyone other than Steve agrees with that definition.

  206. Emma wrote:

    “In other words, what actions can the avg MO person who has never seen and will never see Merkin in the flesh (and thus has no chance to deny him kibbudim, etc) do?”

    At the outset, we need far more Halacha LMaaseh, seforim and English Halachic works in the MO and Charedi worlds on CM. Drashos, Mussar Shmuezzen and Daf Yomi in Seder Nezikin without any comprehension of how Seder Nezikin operates on a LMaaseh basis IMO don’t help.

    The MO world is a small world. Most of us have friends, acquaintances or contacts, who are leaders or board members of the organizations in question, who you can ask why a person who does not , in your opinion, seem to be recognized as a Gvir, not be worthy of that title, if you have credible information to that effect. You can prioritize your Tzedaka to those Mosdos that you and your Rabbanim trust.

    FWIW, I regard the Agunah situation as comparable, in a sense of communal ethics. There are safeguards and remedies-of which I consider the RCA PNA and demonstrating against anyone with a known record of refusing to give a get the best. If a potential chasan refuses to sign a PNA, then feel free to tell your daughter and kallah-“no tickee, no washee”-No PNA, no chasunah. It is the strongest way of saying that you subscribe to and believe in the efficacy of a PNA.

  207. What I am left wondering, is how much of this conversation about Magen Tzedek with all its bizarre digressions reflects the values and thinking of RWMO/Centrist/Yeshivish Judaism.

  208. Joseph Kaplan-Merely being uncomfortable with Ezra Merkin as a Baal Koreh for Megilas Esther is IMO akin to Devarim Btoch HaLev Ainam Devarim. The real test of one’s lack of comfort in such a scenario would be whether one would protest, either quietly or organize another minyan. As far as Chazakah is concerned, is there not another Halacha of being Mrutzah LKhal?

    Emma-A idol worshipper or polytheist may very well be denying Malchus HaShem. I would suggest that you read the new bio or reviews of a new bio of Gandhi. He was hardly an Ohev Yisrael, whether with respect his views and suggested course of action to the victims of the Holocaust or Zionism.

  209. MeMedinat HaYam wrote:

    “i recall coming into a certain synagogue in livingston , nj a few years ago, when they changed the sha”tz for maariv because the esteemed “k” came in. (all right, he was an avel at the time. well before his son married …) should we throw him out, like some want to throw out mr m? (note — it is doubtful he would lose a din torah. after all, he dealt with a respectable chairman of the stock exchange, etc. and did he makes specific promises of certain returns”

    I think that the conduct in question was not just related to financial issues. Hamevin Yavin.

  210. MiMedinat HaYam

    -”no tickee, no washee”-

    even the greatest rabbonim-advocates for the pna admit they will still do a chuppa ve’kiddushin without one, if proper consent.

  211. >I am not sure that places him in the same league as a terrorist, spy or racketeer.

    Well, gosh, most criminals aren’t terrorists, spies or racketeers. And you say you’re not an apologist.

  212. IH-take a look at the Wikipedia and related sites re Ingrid Newkirk-who denies that man has a right to any benefit, including food and medical knowledge-from animals. Newkirk’s radicalism is hidden from the person who has no prior knowledge of her background with PETA.

  213. Joseph Kaplan

    “Merely being uncomfortable with Ezra Merkin as a Baal Koreh for Megilas Esther is IMO akin to Devarim Btoch HaLev Ainam Devarim”

    I’m not a member of his shul; I don’t know what I would have done had I been a member and been there. (Had I been a guest I certain ly wouldn’t have formed a brak-away minyan.) And I don’t know the inner workings of that shul. But if his reading the megillah is the ONLY situation where Ezra Merkin has, since the madoof scandal broke, had any public role in MO Jewish life, then, considering his role before that scandal, I would say that the MO community is reacting properly to his misdeeds.

  214. Here is a list of Newkirk’s quotes”

    “There’s no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all animals.

    “There’s no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They’re all animals.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Washingtonian magazine, Aug 1986

    “Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, in the April 8, 2002 issue of US News & World Report , Apr 2002

    “The bottom line is that people don’t have the right to manipulate or to breed dogs and cats… If people want toys, they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship, they should seek it with their own kind.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Animals, May 1993

    “More power to SHAC if they can get someone’s attention.”
    — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president & co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, in The Boston Herald, August 25, 2002

    “Humans have grown like a cancer. We’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Washingtonian magazine, Feb 1990

    “Would I rather the research lab that tests animals is reduced to a bunch of cinders? Yes.”
    — ngrid Newkirk, New York Daily News, Dec 1997

    “I wish we all would get up and go into the labs and take the animals out or burn them down.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, “National Animal Rights Convention”, Jun 1997

    “I am not a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don’t have any reverence for life, only for the entities themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am. This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I wouldn’t be harming anything.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The Washington Post, Nov 1983

    “In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Newsday, Feb 1988

    “Six million people died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses. [emphasis added]”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The Washington Post, Nov 1983

    “I plan to send my liver somewhere in France, to protest foie gras (liver pate) … I plan to have handbags made from my skin … and an umbrella stand made from my seat.”
    — PETA President Ingrid Newkirk speaking to onMilwaukee.com, Feb 2005

    “One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild … they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening and pet them and then sit there and watch TV.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The Chicago Daily Herald, Mar 1990

    “We are complete press sluts.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, in The New Yorker, Apr 2003

    “I openly hope that it [hoof-and-mouth disease] comes here. It will bring economic harm only for those who profit from giving people heart attacks and giving animals a concentration camp-like existence. It would be good for animals, good for human health and good for the environment.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, ABC News interview, Apr 2001

    “Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Harper’s, Aug 1988

    “Eating meat is primitive, barbaric, and arrogant.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, Washington City Paper, Dec 1985

    “Probably everything we do is a publicity stunt … we are not here to gather members, to please, to placate, to make friends. We’re here to hold the radical line.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, USA Today, Sep 1991

    “Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time in their lousy careers. I find it small wonder that the laboratories aren’t all burning to the ground. If I had more guts, I’d light a match.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 1999

    “I will be the last person to condemn ALF [the Animal Liberation Front].”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The New York Daily News, Dec 1997

    “I don’t use the word ‘pet.’ I think it’s speciesist language. I prefer ‘companion animal.’ For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship – enjoyment at a distance.”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, The Harper’s Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p.223

    “There is no hidden agenda. If anybody wonders about — what’s this with all these reforms — you can hear us clearly. Our goal is total animal liberation. [emphasis added]”
    — Ingrid Newkirk, “Animal Rights 2002” convention, Jun 2002

    “Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.”
    — PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, in the September 1989 issue of Vogue,

    I have no doubt that these quotes, many of them in mainstream media, were not posted on the PETA website, because their extremist nature would scare away donors, etc.

  215. Steve, that makes her an antisemite? That’s unfair (and just a little bit crazy). You have no right to expect the entire world to agree with, much less like the Torah – or else they are antisemites. That’s unreasonable, not to mention makes you the Jewish equivalent of an antisemite toward basically people of every single other religion and philosophy.

  216. Steve — the most damning thing I could find there was: “She was criticized in 2003 when she wrote to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to protest the use of a donkey as a suicide bomber, triggering the criticism that she was prioritizing animal over human life. ‘We are named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” she told Specter. “There are plenty of other groups that worry about the humans.'” which hardly seems to make your case.

  217. Past the lack of evidence in Wikipedia, I saw the first quote in your list earlier on the PETA site. Only thing is that your quotation chops out the beginning of the sentence, which reads in its entirely:

    PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”

    (ref: http://www.peta2.com/takecharge/t-whyAR.asp)

    Once again I note that you are guilty of the selective quoting of which you often accuse those to your left.

  218. Denying that man has a Tzelem Elokim and that he has dominion over and should conquer the animal kingdom , as well as denying any reverence for life, strikes me as a a POV that is intolerant of my religious values. Viewing animals in slaughterhouses as worse than death camp inmates similarly strikes me as only capable from someone who denies that humans are different than animals. Viewing animals as beyond man’s ability to use for scientific information similarly views man as inable to cure disease, a view that cannot be rationalized with the commandment of Vrapo Yerapeh.

  219. I think the absurdity of theSteve’s position is demonstrating itself nicely, so will leave it alone. But back to the original point, as Abba asks, what does hating on PETA have to do with, say, whether a consumer should knowingly support a meat producer that uses shackle-and-hoist slaughter, or flaunts wage-and-hour laws, or fails to pay promised wages? (I am speaking of a hypothetical producer here, to take the Rubashkin distractions off the table too.)

  220. Another strawman. Hey ho…

  221. IH-the quote that you were so kind to supplement merely proves that Ms. Newkirk, in that quote, as well as all of the others, sees no ethical differences between man and animals, and has no reverence for life. How ironic in the link that you cited, that PETA quoted Peter Singer-another philosopher whose views of the physically challenged are controversial.

  222. Clearly none of us will convince Steve (or Rafael and MMhY); but, is his a da’at yachid(im) or representative of a sizeable demographic in (non-Charedi) American Orthodoxy?

  223. I don’t think anybody else thinks that all atheists (or really just those who don’t keep the Torah) are anti-Semites.

  224. Steve — you really need to develop better critical reading skills. There is nothing anti-Torah about “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear”. But, maybe you never had pets when you were young.

    As far as I’m concerned, you have amptly demonstrated you read what you want to believe a text says — both secular and religious. Your use of buzzwords and name-dropping of sefarim/Rabbis nonewithstanding.

  225. I’m not sure that a religion that commands you to bind dead cows to your arm and hang them by the door has much in common with PETA. I would say they conflict with Jewish values.

  226. No one in this discussion is a PETA member or aligned with their point of view (as far as I can tell). This discussion is not if PETA views animals as Judaism (or basically most of the rest of the world besides for PETA and related groups) does.

  227. Lawrence Kaplan

    It was I who heard Ezra Merkin read the Megillah, not my brother. I was visiting there and only found out he was the baal koreh afterwards. Since I was a guest, I did not feel it was proper of me to protest. Had I read an announcement beforehand “The distinguished philanthropist, art collector, and Baal Koreh Ezra Merkin will be reading the Megillah,” I would not have gone. As my brother says, if this is the only unfortunate exception to his general exclusion (which I hope was not repeated this past Purim), the MO community is not doing that badly.

  228. “Joseph Kaplan-Merely being uncomfortable with Ezra Merkin as a Baal Koreh for Megilas Esther is IMO akin to Devarim Btoch HaLev Ainam Devarim. The real test of one’s lack of comfort in such a scenario would be whether one would protest, either quietly or organize another minyan. As far as Chazakah is concerned, is there not another Halacha of being Mrutzah LKhal?”

    Unlike Rubashkin and the Chareidi community the MO community is not organizing community affairs on behalf of Merken. They are not treatingMerken as a Zaddik.

  229. “BTW, I read the judge’s sentencing decision on Rubashkin. While I agree that his sentence was vastly excessive and i hope it will be significantly reduced on appeal, his crimes were more than false and misleading statements on bank loans”

    I had also read the judges sentencing decision and tried the experiment that I assumed for sentencing that the judge had accepted Lewins sentencing memorandum and applied those facts to the sentencing guidelines I would have found a sentence of low 20 years but not a different range of magnitude of the final decision-suggest those who despise the sentence at least read the memorandum for the facts.

  230. Mycroft: Did you also read the letter from the former Attorneys General? It was really a legal memorandum and I found it very convincing for a sentence in a much lower range of magnitude.

  231. “Joseph Kaplan on May 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm
    Mycroft: Did you also read the letter from the former Attorneys General? It was really a legal memorandum and I found it very convincing for a sentence in a much lower range of magnitude”

    I believe at one time they were engaged to be attorneys for the Rubashkin appeal. Obviously, compared to what was generally the law before sentencing guidelines Rubashkin got a very harsh result-but of interest the Intermountain Jewish News had an item
    http://www.ijn.com/ijn-news/local/1328-zaler-gets-a-long-15-year-sentence-
    about another sentence of kosher meat purveyor-who clearly is not Chassiidic who received double of what an apparent plea deal recommendation-clearly Federal judges do not take kindly to fraud.
    Clearly Rubashkin has been the intended beneficiary of protests etc almost nobody has heard of Zaler-I first found out from an editorial in the IJN saying how harsh Rubashkins sentence was that Zaler received 15 years-Rubashkin 27-it would appear on the surface that for the charges convicted and Zaler pled guilty Zaler gotthe worst deal-of course, by picture Zaler is not Chareidi and Rubashkin is. Chareidi call their imprisoned people saints other Jews disassocaite from their convicts.

  232. I just want to make it clear that I believe that Rubashkin received a sentence on the harsh side. Many receive harsh sentences in US jurisprudence especially if they go to trial-it is easy to find additional counts to indict on almost anything.

  233. Joseph Kaplan

    Zaler was also a second time offender and, perhaps, the community disassociated itself from him because it seems from your link he stole from them. In any event, it’s hard to compare cases 1 to 1; a more broad range is needed. As far as the former attorneys general, all 8 of them were hired to be his attorney on appeal?!? I didn’t see anything about that and it strikes me as a bit odd. but whether yes or no, their legal memo was a fine piece of legal work which was completely ignored by the judge. I’m not a big supporter of Rubashkin by any means and I think the “sanctification” of him by his supporters is wrong on many levels. But I’m convinced that the sentence was seriously excessive.

  234. Rafael Araujo

    “Clearly none of us will convince Steve (or Rafael and MMhY); but, is his a da’at yachid(im) or representative of a sizeable demographic in (non-Charedi) American Orthodoxy”

    IH – I will be blunt. You are certainly not representative of Orthodoxy, since it is apparent you are a Conservative Jew posting here as an Orthodox Jew. You comments, taken at face value, show that there isn’t a liberal Jewish iniative or Conservative movement project you don’t embrace. Is there anything that Conservative Judaism that you reject? Also, would you agree with the following statement: Chareidi Judaism is less authentic than Reform Judaism? This statement was once posted on the Seforim blog a few years ago. I await you response.

  235. Rafael Araujo

    IH – further to my above-posted comment, is there anything that you like or appreciate about the right flank of Orthodoxy?

  236. IH – On its website, PETA quotes from Peter Singer. Here is the link:
    http://www.peta.org/about/why-peta/why-animal-rights.aspx. I quote from that page:

    “In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer states that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration.”

    Do you believe that halochoh requires equal consideration of animals and humans rights? If you do, than your viewpoint is distinctly unjewish and based on nothing more than radical liberal values.

  237. “I’m not a big supporter of Rubashkin by any means and I think the “sanctification” of him by his supporters is wrong on many levels. But I’m convinced that the sentence was seriously excessive.”

    I would agree with one small change
    I’m not a big supporter of Rubashkin by any means and I think the “sanctification” of him by his supporters is wrong on many levels. But I’m convinced that the sentence was larger than most defendants would have received.

  238. “You comments, taken at face value, show that there isn’t a liberal Jewish iniative or Conservative movement project you don’t embrace.”

    I don’t really need to speak for IH, but I don’t know one (knowledgeable) Conservative Jew who doesn’t reject many of the projects that the Conservative movement initiates. C Jews love to be critical of their movement.

  239. Rafael — I appreciate Torah from every Jew and I abhor the willful misuse of Torah by any Jew. The texts are there for any Jew to study: זיל גמור.

    P.S. Please don’t ascribe to me your own identity issues.

  240. “had also read the judges sentencing decision and tried the experiment that I assumed for sentencing that the judge had accepted Lewins sentencing memorandum and applied those facts to the sentencing guidelines ”

    Joe

    Could you do the same experiment and am curious what sentence you would determine.

  241. In a recent thread, there was a small debate about whether Devorah ha’Neviah was part of the historical Rabbinate. Looking up something else, I noticed this may not be as far-fetched as some thought. See: Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:1 – 4:3 (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e104.htm)

    Is there any classical text that specifically excludes Devorah ha’Neviah from this mesorah? Just curious…

  242. IH wrote:

    “There is nothing anti-Torah about “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear”

    Really? Since when do we assume that animals have the same emotions , ethics and conscience as a man or woman? The Torah states Btzelem Elokim Brahah Es HaAdam-not the animal.

  243. FWIW, the Talmud assumes that we learn certain Midos from animals. However, I don’t think that the Talmud assumes that per se means that animals were created Btzelem Elokim.

  244. There you go again, Steve, reading what you want the text to say rather than what it says…

  245. The text, again, is:

    “PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”

    Find me “animals have the same emotions, ethics and conscience as a man or woman”.

    For the record, I am not a supporter of PETA. I just bothered to look up your strawman argument and noticed that even that was wrong (let alone how we got there).

  246. IH-I invite you to show me how a black and white verse in the Torah can be read any differently. Are you seriously implying orstating that there is no difference in the Torah between man and the animal kingdom?

  247. IH-let’s work with the complete Newkirk quote:

    “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife”

    That quote assumes equality of emotions between man and the animal kingdom, which the Torah emphatically rejects.

  248. So, you agree that it does not include “ethics and conscience”. Now does it include all emotions, or just a subset? And is the comparison to a mature human (“man or woman”)?

  249. IH-I do not agree that the verse in Breishis does not include or cannot be interpreted to mean ethics and conscience. I would agree that the terms man and woman might imply a mature man or woman, but I would assert that even a child has more of a conscience, and sense of ethics and acute awareness of right and wrong than any animal. FWIW, the NY Times Magazine published a highly critical article of Peter Singer’s ethics by a severely disabled person, in which IIRC, challenged Singer’s definition of human value and self worth.

  250. Steve — focus. We are talking about the quotation you found:

    “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife”

    Does it say anything about “ethics and conscience”.
    Does it include all emotions, or just a subset?
    And is the comparison to a mature human (“man or woman”)?

  251. I think that the quote is irrelevant to the discussion because it assumes that there is no difference between “the pain, love, joy, loneliness and fear” sustained by a human and an animal.

    Only man is commanded to be fruitful and multiply, subdue the animal kingdom., and to use it for his complete benefit. Only man must emulate God in all of his or her actions and train his children and work at his or her society emulating the attributes of God, and to concomitantlty reject the animal impulse within himself . One either accepts that Btzelem Eklokim Bara Es Hadam ( See Breishis 1:26) or one views humans in the manner as Newkirk-as no different than animals. The Torah, as explained by all of the Mfarshim assumes and the Talmud reinforces the fact that man is created in the Divine Image, and is directed to emulate the same. The failure to do so results in man acting like an animal. Again, even a child has an acute sense of right and wrong.

  252. Incredible. Well, thanks for demonstrating the point I’ve been making…

  253. [Re-asking on a different topic]:

    In a recent thread, there was a small debate (not involving me) about whether Devorah ha’Neviah was part of the historical Rabbinate. Looking up something else, I noticed this may not be as far-fetched as some thought. See: Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:1 – 4:3 (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e104.htm)

    Is there any classical text that specifically excludes Devorah ha’Neviah from this mesorah? Just curious…

  254. “One either accepts that Btzelem Eklokim Bara Es Hadam ( See Breishis 1:26) or one views humans in the manner as Newkirk-as no different than animals.”

    Right. Nothing in between.

  255. RICHARD (and IH):

    “Right. Nothing in between.”

    stop wasting your time. some people can only see things in black and white.

  256. Abba — you’re right, but I needed to establish for myself whether there is anything redeeming in Steve’s contributions beyond his inability to see anything beyond black and white. My conclusion is that his ideaology distorts even his ability to read simple English text, let alone anything more complicated. His pretensions of being a talmid of the Rav and RHS nonewithstanding.

  257. And Steve is on the masthead of this blog, so it matters. He is not just some “anonymous blogger” whose credibility is suspect ipso facto.

  258. “That quote assumes equality of emotions between man and the animal kingdom, which the Torah emphatically rejects”

    Where does the Torah talk about emotions regarding animals?
    The first thing that comes to mind in regard to emotions is to “love your neighbor” and to “love hashem”.. which reminds me of another thing…

    Doesn’t the mesorah tell us that every animal and blade of grass sings out to Hashem? (Perek Shira)

  259. I love animals (a few in particular), but let’s be honest here: Most of what we think of as “emotions” on their part are instinct.

    Then again, I feel much the same about humans. 🙂 Darwin takes much of the mystery out of life, I’m afraid.

  260. Rafael Araujo

    Rafael — I appreciate Torah from every Jew and I abhor the willful misuse of Torah by any Jew. The texts are there for any Jew to study: זיל גמור.

    P.S. Please don’t ascribe to me your own identity issues.

    Nice evasion there. I don’t have identity issues. I am chareidi, or feel part of that community.

    Since you joined this blog, all I have seen from you is support for positions that have already been accepted by the Conservative movement, whether its electricity on Shabbos, women and minyan, etc. You have always taken the left wing tack. If its anyone here who has an identity crisis, I would venture its you.

  261. Rafael Araujo on May 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm
    […] This comes from somebody who grew up in the Conservative movement here in Toronto, USY, etc. […]

    Rafael Araujo on May 9, 2011 at 9:27 am
    […] I am chareidi, or feel part of that community. […]

  262. Richard Kahn wrote in response:

    “One either accepts that Btzelem Eklokim Bara Es Hadam ( See Breishis 1:26) or one views humans in the manner as Newkirk-as no different than animals.”

    Right. Nothing in between”

    Ain haci Nami Bli Shum Safek.There is an amazing story involving RYK on a flight either to or from Israel, and he was sitting and talking to a prominent secular Zionist or American, who was amazed at the wonderful behavior of RYK’s grandchildren. RYK smiled and told the person at issue that when one raises children and grandchildren who believe that HaShem Yisborach created the wordld and specfically mankind in his image, children act in a respectful manner towards each other, their parents and grandparents and others who are older than them. OTOH, when raises children based on the views of Darwin, it should be no surprise that they lack a modicum of respect for each other , their peers , parents and grandparents.

  263. But for some RIETS RY, women are equivalent to monkeys. So there’s your torah source equating humans and animals. And so much for your RYK story – the secularist may have descended from monkeys, but was RYK’s wife a monkey? RHS might say so.

    (tongue in cheek)

    BTW, which RYK do you mean? R Yosef Kazen a”h? Rn Yetta Kiviat a”h? R Yaakov Kamenetsky – probably who you mean, but I hope you get my drift – the initials are useful, but if you don’t spell them out at least once in your posts, they will confuse people.

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