Hypocrisies, Imagined and Real

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14 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I would love to ask these people who have such righteous indignation whether they apply these same standards to everything else they buy-namely, products from China, for example, where the conditions there make the worst allegations against Rubashkin seem like a vacation in Hawaii by comparison.

  2. Benjamin E. says:

    Is there a link to the article so we can judge it for ourselves and have a discussion, by any chance, or is it only in print? It is hard to determine the extent of the spin you claim was present in the article without seeing it.

  3. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Leaving aside the irrelevancies about companies “only minimum wage” and vacation standards (Is that really what Rubashkin was repeatedly fined for doing?), the point remains that kashrus organizations have consistently been far more willing to use hashgacha to enforce appropriate ambiance than appropriate employment practices, even when the lines and laws are perfectly clear. It’s hard not too see that as some sort of prioritization.

  4. Chaim Fisher says:

    Avi is 100% right.

    But I’m sure he agrees that if he had just added a line to that YU speech about how for sure there is always a minimum ethical conduct that the Rabbis have to keep in mind, it would surely have flown better.

  5. Natan Slifkin says:

    I don’t know who’s right. What I do know is that the perception of this writer is understandable. How many Kol koreis and other public mecha’os have we seen over the last few years for mitzvos bein adam lechavero, and how many have we seen for mitzvos bein adam leMakom?

    This is true with all mitzvos of social/ethical concern. I used to give shiurim pointing out the nonsensical (and sometimes worse) attitudes of PETA. But then it occurred to me that it’s all too easy to ridicule them; instead, we should be looking at our own shortcomings. The bottom line is that they are concerned for cruelty to animals, and we in the frum community (myself included) are not adequately concerned about violations of tzaar baalei chaim to actually do anything about it. Would the recent takanos about regulating kapparos have occurred without PETA making a demonstration? Why is it always up to outsiders to point out our shortcomings in such areas and force us to do something?

    The bottom line is that any honest observer would have to conclude that the frum community does not give anywhere remotely near the same level of concern to mitzvos bein adam lechavero as it does to mitzvos bein adam leMakom. This isn’t some chiddush of mine; if I recall correctly, it’s even been pointed out in The Jewish Observer.

  6. Miriam Shear says:

    Once again, we are missing the most important point.

    Of course, the ambience of an establishment does not physiologically change the status of ingredients from kosher to non-kosher and vice-versa.

    What can and has happened, however, is that Chillul Hashem is bred and fostered by illicit activities in establishments that purport to be kosher because they have recognizied kosher certification.

    Is there any greater sin than Chillul Hashem?

  7. dovid says:

    “the point remains that kashrus organizations have consistently been far more willing to use hashgacha to enforce appropriate ambiance than appropriate employment practices, even when the lines and laws are perfectly clear.”

    Why do you find this problematic? It is a sensible and clear division of labor. We pay taxes so that the law enforcement agencies take care of our upholding the law. Food processing firms and restaurants, catering halls, etc. pay a fee to have kashrus organizations uphold halacha, ambiance, waitresses with short sleeves and short skirts included. Cops are not rabbis. Rabbis are not cops.

  8. YM says:

    Since the Torah really has no minimum age for working, the idea that Kashuruth agencies should enforce a minimum age as a condition for certification does not make sense to me. I think that Kashuruth agencies should stick to those issues that pertain to the “Heskes Kashurus”; is the owner trustworthy in the issue of making sure that only Kosher meat gets sold as Kosher?

  9. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Why do you find this problematic?

    Because it reinforces (internally and externally) the widely-held impression that the Torah-observant world doesn’t take mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro as seriously as mitzvos bein adam lamakom.

  10. dovid says:

    taking “mitzvos bein adam lechaveiro as seriously as mitzvos bein adam lamakom”

    You are right, that’s an objective that we need to keep constantly in mind. Still, I think comments #6 (Mrs. Miriam Shear) and #8 (YM) address the issue correctly and to the point. Some issues are within the purview of Halacha (kashrus, tzinus), others are the territory of the law enforcement agencies.

  11. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Some issues are within the purview of Halacha (kashrus, tzinus), others are the territory of the law enforcement agencies.

    I’m certain you didn’t mean it this way, but your bifurcation makes my point – we have somehow developed the attitude that communal tznius is more within the purview of halacha than are employment practices.

  12. dovid says:

    “we have somehow developed the attitude that communal tznius is more within the purview of halacha than are employment practices.”

    If you refer to stringencies in one area but not in others, that’s should be ok. If you are referring to halachos, I don’t agree with you. The attitude you are refering to reflects individual choices and not those made by communities. It’s a lifetime job and challenge for each of us to become knowledgeable in the halachos and apply them consistently. Many of these halachos relate directly to kinnah, taavah, and kavod. A weakness in any of these areas may result in being charitable with ourselves and taking liberties by flouting the Shulchan Aruch. For example, someone driven by taavos, may cut corners with regard to the requirements of tzinus or kashrus. He may also be dishonest in business to pay for his taavos. I haven’t found a community that would cherry pick halachos and uphold one set of halachos over others.

    I would like to point out that many of those who protested alleged improprieties with regard to “employment practices” at the Iowa facility even before Shalom Rubashkin had his day in court, were motivated by their animus against the Orthodox community. It had little to do with their desire to improve the lot of the illegal workers found at the facility. What happened to these workers after the raid? After all, they risked life and limb to come to America to work. Some were deported, others are in hiding, none of them is working. However little they made, it was more than what they could make in the home country.

  13. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Dovid –

    I must confess that I don’t understand your first paragraph. If you contend that kashrus organizations are responsible for halachic concerns aside from the ingredient list, then I can’t see why employment practices should be excluded. The “attitude I am referring to” is one that doesn’t consider employment practices to be under the purview of halacha.

    I would like to point out that many of those who protested alleged improprieties with regard to “employment practices” at the Iowa facility even before Shalom Rubashkin had his day in court, were motivated by their animus against the Orthodox community.

    How can you possibly know this? And why does it matter?

  14. dovid says:

    Suspicions with regards to violations of employment-related halachos typically affect neither the food, nor the ambiance of the hall where the food is served. I think one can eat in a place where he suspects that violations of such halachos may take place. Breaches in labor contracts or any contract should certainly be addressed, preferably through arbitration (Din Torah), or rabbinical tribunal (Beis Din). If the employer is proven as a dishonest, unreliable person during such procedures, that could become a kashrus concern, over and above the halachos that he breached in those other areas. In kashrus, it’s not enough to have a knowledgeable, reliable supervisor. The owner of the establishment must be trustworthy. No matter how good the mashgiach is, if the owner wants to beat the system, he will. Rabbi Gornish, a recognized authority in kashrus, goes as far as advising consumers to enquire where the owner’s children learn and ascertain the degree of tznius of the owner’s wife and daughters. If there are no halachos regarding minimum age for hiring a worker, but America does have such laws, then the laws of the land prevail (with no effect on the kashrus of the food).

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