Bayit Yehudi Faction Establishes Report on a Mashgiach Hotline

(Thursday, August 22nd, 2013)

kosherThe non religious faction in Bayit Yehudi known as בית משותף has decided to begin addressing the many complaints against mashgichim who simply are no-shows or absent themselves from restaurants for long periods of time.

These individuals have decided to establish a hotline number to permit consumers to report mashgichim who they feel are not doing their job. While the organizers promise all the complaints received will be turned over to the Ministry of Religious Services to address, they feel a need to act in light of the growing number of complaints, many addressing the expense surrounding the salary of a mashgiach. For some reason, many feel a mashgiach is not entitled to earn a livelihood. Whatever the case, the phone number is 052-873-6395.

While the concept has the potential of yielding positive results, the organizers do not appear to be motivated to improve kashrus, but rather to act as advocates for store owners against the state kashrus system.

The organizers speak of the mashgichim who try to compel a restaurant owner to pay them off the books to avoid taxes and other unpleasant businesses practices that should be stopped. Regarding unscrupulous mashgichim, all of the local rabbinates agree such practices should and must be halted. However, the Bayit Yehudi faction does not genuinely appear interested in improving kashrus, and this may result in a boomerang effect for the kosher consumer.

(Jerusalem Kosher News for YWN, Jerusalem)

7 Comments

  1. akuperma says:

    “State” kashrus, by definition, means that the mashgich’s first loyalty is to the “state”. Frum kashrus requires that the mashgich’s first loyalty be a a Beis Din or Rav. If the “state” were one in which Bnei Torah controlled the government (e.g. everyone involved with the political system was frum and Bnei Torah controlled all aspects of the government, and Das Torah was the law of the land), then having kashrus supervised by civil servants might possibly work. But having a secular state supervise kashrus is inherently problematic, which is why few Bnei Torah will accept “rabbinut” (meaning government rabbinut) kashrus unless there is an additional level of supervision from someone whose first loyalty is Torah rather than the Medinah, or at least unless they know the local rabbinut and have reason to assume it to be trustworthy (which is subject to change, as a government rav is a political position, chosen by a political process). Imagine the status of kashrus in the USA if we had people like Barack Obama and Mike Bloomberg hiring the mashgichim?

  2. anIsraeliYid says:

    Is this a news article or an opinion piece? JKN seems to have an ax to grind here about an initiative that they should be supporting – ensuring the presence and ethical behavior of Mashgichim. Isn’t ensuring the recular presence of Mashgichim part of what JKN has always pushed for? Why the attempt to twist this campaign into something negative???

    an Israeli Yid

  3. anIsraeliYid says:

    #1 akuperma – the Rabbanut is who is in charge of Kashrus, not the overall “government”. Bibi can not decide to give a Te’uda to a restaurant if he wants to; he needs the ultimate approval of Rav Lau and Rav Yosef – whom I hope you view as Shomrei Torah uMiztvos – to have it certified.

    As to the level of Kashrus – the main (non-political) reason most individuals who are Makpid on high-level Kashrus do not rely on regular Rabbanut is not because they’re not believed – it’s because the Rabbanut is somech on certain Kulos that such individuals do not want to rely upon. As one of my old-time Yerushalmi Chareidi relatives told me, it’s not that Rabbanut is not Kosher – it’s that we want to be Makpid on a higher level of Kashrus. The practical difference in “not reliable” and “want to be more Machmir” is with respect to Kelim – if one acknowledges that Rabbanut is baseline Kosher, Kelim that were used for Rabbanut can be used without an issue for one who is makpid on Mehadrin, since it’s Na”t bar Na”t d’Heteira.

    As to why the Rabbanut gives a Hechsher that is somech on Kulos – the main reason is for the average traditional Israeli, who is not very learned, but will keep Kosher if it’s easily available and not too expensive. If all that’s available is higer priced Mehadrin, this traditional Israeli will not necessarily be willing to pay the price, and will instead buy cheaper Treif product. Rather than having this Jew eat real Treif, isn’t it better to have him eat something that’s at least Kosher, even if it’s based on Kulos?

    an Israeli Yid

  4. Yagel Libi says:

    An excellent initiative. Yishar koach!

  5. onlylettuce says:

    “the Bayit Yehudi faction does not genuinely appear interested in improving kashrus, and this may result in a boomerang effect for the kosher consumer.”

    It doesn’t matter a fig whether they’re genuinely interested or not. The point is that mashgichim should be above suspicion 24/7 and if there are unscrupulous ones then they must be dealt with.
    That there were complaints cannot be denied. In the interests of kashrut and kiddush Hashem, every mashgiach should be above suspicion.That’s how important in the eyes of people this job is.
    No problem with a hotline number and I don’t know what a “boomerang effect” is,but if it means better supervision then kol hakavod.

  6. akuperma says:

    #3 – The rabbinut is a government agency, like the IDF, like the police, like the postal service.Never in our history have we relied on a government agency to maked halachic determinations. If BIBI is nice enough to let someone frum run the rabbinate, that is good. If the nextg coalition wants someone else, someone who holds that the prohibition of milk and meat only refers to when the animal is being cooked in its own mothers’ milk – well tough on us fanatics.

    As we see from the many yeshivos who depended on state funding, anything dependent on the government is effemeral – government change. That’s why we rely on Daas Torah and Halacha, not whatever the Kenesset or the Parliament or the Congress or the King or whatever.

    In America, gedolim run kashrus. If you don’t respect an agency, you choose a different one. At least one agency even issues multiple hecksherim so people can choose based on what their personal posek decides.

  7. anIsraeliYid says:

    #6 – You are being disingenuous. Yes, the Rabbanut is funded by the government and has a government role, but it is now and always has been run by Shomrei Torah uMitzvos who have had a basis in Halacha (though not necessarily one that you or I would want to rely upon) for their Kashrus decisions. If the government were to decide to follow Conservative or Reform “Halacha”, and to put someone from one of those groups in charge, then of course it would not be reliable any more – but what does that have to do with anything? When you are relying on any hechsher, whether funded by the government or some other mechanism, you are relying on the Rav HaMachshir then in charge, not the one who was in charge twenty years ago, or the one who will be in charge five years from now. This is no different than in the US – if any of the major US Kashrus agencies were to decide to change their standards to one that you don’t agree with, they’d also no longer be acceptable to you after that point – but that wouldn’t change their status today.

    As to your comparison to government funding of Yeshivos – there’s really not any analogy. The government has changed its funding policies, but as of now, it has not changed the Rabbanut’s authority on Kahsrus. And btw, the word is ephemeral.

    an Israeli Yid

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