While the Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday 3 Menachem Av passed the new kashrus law backed by Shas, the battle for Aryeh Deri and his new kashrus law is far from over. In order to pass this hurdle Shas had to agree that after the bill is presented for its preliminary vote in Knesset, it will have to return to the ministerial committee and ultimately, it will have to have the approval of Finance Minister (Kulanu) Moshe Kahlon.
Spearheading opposition to the bill is coalition MK (Kulanu) Rachel Azaria, who explains she in no way opposes kashrus, but does oppose permitting the Chief Rabbinate’s ongoing monopoly over kashrus. She feels the new bill is unacceptable for it would not permit a business to advertise as kosher unless it has supervision from the local rabbinate, with the latter being a Chief Rabbinate affiliate. Azaria and her colleagues feel kosher consumers have the right to decide what level kosher they seek and if they will or will not eat in a particular eatery and which hashgachos they wish to trust. She feels the state-run Chief Rabbinate monopoly mustn’t be permitted to continue.
As a Jerusalem Councilwoman, Azaria worked hand-in-hand with Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, who launched the Hashgacha Pratit kashrus, which provides hashgacha for stores that do not wish to work with the Jerusalem Rabbinate. This hashgacha is premised on trust, a trust between Rabbi Leibowitz and store owners, even if the latter or not shomer Shabbos, Torah, and mitzvos. Responding to critics, Rabbi Leibowitz insists his hashgacha is in line with Shulchan Aruch, and provides hashgacha on line with regular Rabbanut non-mehadrin standards.
Making things worse for Shas is the fact that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein following the committee vote declared the bill is illegal, and one can be certain even if the bill is passed into law, the matter will be adjudicated by the Supreme Court, with the attorney general expressing opposition to the law.
Spokesman for Chief Rabbi Dovid Lau Shlita, Pinchas Tannenbaum explains that if the Chief Rabbinate’s hold on kashrus is removed, the marketplace will be hefker and the kosher consumer around Israel will suffer as a result.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)