Satmar Rebbe Speaks Out Against Ashkenazic Shechita Practice


Special to Yeshiva World News by Rabbi Tuvya Melonsky:

In an unprecedented speech, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, one of the two Grand Rabbis of Satmar, spoke out sharply against the standards of Kashrus in the Ashkenazic Jewish community.

Rabbi Teitelbaum harshly denounced the practical supervision standards involved when a shechita knife is found to be invalid. His complaints centered on the logistical issues of how both chickens and cows that were slaughtered by an invalid knife may still find their way to the market.

Rabbi Teitelbaum also spoke out against the lenient practice of Ashkenazic and Chassidish Shechita of allowing sirchos – a very controversial issue that has historically divided the Ashkenazic and Sephardic camps.  Rabbi Teitelbaum has now adopted the stringencies of the Sefardic authorities at the Satmar slaughterhouse in Texas that is controlled by his faction.

The speech was given on Saturday night, November 13th, at the Kiryas Yoel Mosdos Dinner.

Rabbi Teitelbaum introduced his words by saying that “there are hundreds of Chassidim who have no concept whatsoever as to what constitutes Kosher meat – neither in chickens nor in cows.”  Rabbi Teitelbaum then related how in the month of Elul a Shochet had approached him to speak honestly about Shechita practice.

The shochet related to the Satmar Rebbe a typical incident that occurred on the line in a kosher slaughterhouse where a question arose in the shochet’s mind about the sharpness of his own knife.  The shochet then showed the knife to a fellow shochet who also was unable to determine whether the knife was invalid due to his wet hands.

Rabbi Teitelbaum continued to relate that after a delay of one hour both shochtim finally found the knife examiner in charge, who ultimately determined that the knife was indeed invalid.

In the interim, hundreds and hundreds of chickens had been fully processed and were no longer able to be retrieved.  They had entered the marketplace and were completely non-kosher.

The Satmar Rebbe continued that, after speaking with this shochet, in his own estimation the logistics in most slaughterhouses were such that this type of incident can possibly occur several times a week or even several times each day.

Rabbi Teitelbaum then discussed the problem of Sirchos.  [In order to understand the underlying concepts involved, what follows is a brief overview:]

  1. The Talmud (Chulin 46b) tells us that Sirchos – lung adhesions render an animal non-kosher.  The cow lung has seven lobes or sections.  A sircha is a string-like fibrous tissue that connects one part of the lung to either another part of the lung or to the inner wall of the chest.  All true Sirchos make an animal non-kosher. 
  2. There is at least a Rabbinic obligation to examine the cow’s lungs for a sircha.  If there is reason to suspect that things might be amiss the obligation to examine the lung is biblical.
  3. However, there may also be something called a “reer.”  A reer can be described as a phony sircha.  According to Rosh (3:12) and Meiri, some of the Gaonim have ruled that if the adhesion falls off easily – it is not a real sircha.  Rather, it is just some gelatinous type of substance.
  4. There are different methods that some people use to determine whether the fiber in question is a reer or a sircha.  The Rosh rules that f you shake the lung and the fiber in question falls off – it is not a sircha.  Others rule that if you squeeze and feel it and it falls apart – then it was not a true sircha. A third method involves peeling the fiber in question.  If it peels off and the lung can be inflated and hold its air in an airtight seal – then the fiber in question is a reer not a sircha.
  5. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 39:10) and numerous Rishonim vigorously denounce these methods.  They write that whoever permits it – is as if he is feeding treifos to the nation of Israel.  The Ramah rules that one should be stringent but writes that the practice among Ashkenazim is to allow it.
  6. Most American Kashrus organizations that supervise Shechita allow the peeling method but only for smaller fibers, not the larger ones.
  7. Since Rabbi Yoseph Karo entirely forbade the practice, a shechita that disallows the sircha entirely is called “Bais Yoseph Shechita.”

[The reason why a sircha is considered a Treifa is a three way debate among the Rishonim.  Rashi is of the opinion that the sircha is indicative of a wound or puncture that the animal had received previously.  Tosfos and the Rashba are of the opinion that the sircha will eventually cause a wound and that is halachically considered as if it already exists.  The Raavad is of the opinion that in certain areas the sircha is indicative of a wound while in other areas it is not.  Exaiming whether there is a wound under the sircha would thus result in different halachos according to the various opinions of the Rishonim – see the introduction of the Pri Magadim to YD Siman 39.]

The Satmar Rebbe went on to explain that the Satmar Texas Shechita now fully adheres to the standards of the Bais Yoseph and does not allow the sirchos to be peeled.  He further mentioned that a representative from the Orthodox Union (OU) who had visited the Texas plant had asked him why he did not call the Satmar Shechita from Texas “Beis Yoseph Shechita.  Rabbi Tetelbaum explained that he wanted it to be his Kehillah’s standard and not just merely the Bais Yoseph form of Shechta.

The Rebbe explained that the reality of the situation is that Sephardim, even those with small Yarmulkes and who sport chups on their heads, do not eat any of the sirchos, while the majority of the non-sefardic world does eat meat filled with sirchos.

As a motivational tool the Rebbe explained that just like Klal Yisroel pays three hundred dollars, top dollar, for an esrog, even though there may be a kosher one available for one hundred dollars, we should also look to perform our other Mitzvos in the best manner possible.

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  1. Maybe he’s not aware that many Ashkenazim, if not most, buy the $100 or less Esrog. I’d like to hear the OU side of the story. Rav Belsky Shlit”a is no slouch.

  2. the title is misleading.
    He didn’t speak ‘against’ the “ashkenazi” way of shcita indeed said that the sefardic way is more a hiddur, but of course the ashkenazi shcita is kosher lemehadrin.
    Secondly, the reason he dosen’t want to call it ‘shecitas bies yosef” he said, is because it has never been called so pre WW2, its a modern world invention.

  3. I commend that he’s looking to improve shechita, but knocking what’s been our mesora for so many years is not correct either. This speech was meant for his people and not the general public.

  4. eating anything from a commercialized, mechanized, high speed shechita operation in inherently risky. Having seen the pita (yemach shemom) video at the Agri plant, with some stam employee coming after the shochet and ripping out the trachea with a hook, I have to ask how it was possible for them to properly check the lungs after that violent procedure?

    Twisted, a vegetarian for some good reasons.

  5. The refusal to recall items that were not processed properly and were of questionable kashruth has always ( and I do mean always) been a problem with Satmar hashgocho!
    Most other hashgochos will give notice of recalls. Just check the various kashrus websites and you’ll see that many hasgochos are constantly sending out bulletins about problems, but never Satmar!
    Also, anyone familiar with the inside of kashrus in the USA can tell you that commercial “glatt” has never been glatt!
    It is a term used to differentiate from the times when kosher meat just wasn’t kosher.

  6. Rabbi Teitelbaum has not spoken out against Ashkenasik Shechita. There is a Mesora that we have that he would not C”V dispute with. What he did say is that when Shechitos are done as a mass production it is extremely hard to be careful with Sirchos. He explained that the way to avoid this is by going with the Shita of the Bais Yosef.

  7. To Charliehall and Twisted: There’s also medical indications that a vegetarian diet can be healthier than a diet that includes meat, if planned properly, as well as potentially a good deal cheaper than a meat diet. Finally, we might assume that opinion in the kosher animal world leans toward a preference for a vegetarian diet for humans. (Even among dogs and cats, who are eaten in some Asian countries.)

  8. “Kosher meat has always been kosher.”

    Uh, maybe not. When Rov Soloveitchik z’tz’l arrived in Boston in the 1930s he found kashrut in a horribly corrupt state. Everybody was cheating. He tried to bring the standards up to a reasonable level. He even saw that the honest kashrut workers were risking their jobs if they tried to do anything, so he tried to help them form a union so that they would have protection from their dishonest employers. (I’m sure some of the right wing union bashers here will now side with the kashrut cheaters against The Rov.) The cheaters cheaters tried to run The Rav out of town with massive amounts of motzi shem ra and even lawsuits in secular court; it took years for The Rav to clear his name.

    “preference for a vegetarian diet”

    There have been some pretty big rabbis who were vegetarians. Among them are the following:

    Rabbi David Cohen “HaNazir” z’tz’l

    Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, son of the preceding and the current chief rabbi of Haifa.

    Rabbi Shlomo Goren z’tz’l, son-in-law of Rabbi David Cohen, chief rabbi of the IDF and of the State of Israel.

    Rabbi David Rosen, formerly a dayan in South Africa and former chief rabbi of Ireland.

    Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, current chief rabbi of the UK.

    I have read that Rav Goren became a vegetarian after a kashrut inspection of a slaughterhouse.

  9. Sephardim….do not eat any of the sirchos, while the majority of the non-sefardic world does eat meat filled with sirchos.”

    So in essence, I’m hearing the rebbe say, “switch to sfardi, and be more frum”

    With pleasure!