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  • in reply to: How Careful Must We Be When Eating Out With A Hechsher #1502111

    After asking Rabbi Kuber what he thought about continuing to eat from our SA Beth Din I received the following answer:-

    From: Mordechai Kuber <>
    Date: Sat, Mar 24, 2018 at 11:09 PM
    Subject: RE: SA food
    To: xxx

    Dear Mrs. X

    Thank you for your question.

    The discovery of non-kosher chickens at a kosher-certified caterer is certainly a serious matter. One incident does not prove that a kosher certifier is not reliable. Much depends on how and why it happened. Can we deduce from the known incident that the kashrus system has serious flaws, or is there an explanation how it happened despite the excellence of the system? The latter is possible.

    I understand that the Beis Din has begun a thorough investigation of the incident and its causes. As part of the investigation, the Chief Rabbi has committed to import two kashrus experts from the US to review fully the Beis Din’s kashrus system. These are positive steps, for which the Chief Rabbi and the Beis Din are to be commended. I pray that the Beis Din will grant full disclosure of the results of its investigation and the review to the community at large, or at least to its Rabbanim. If these are kept internal, they will rightfully fall short of reassuring the community.

    What should you do in the meantime? At the very least, I suggest that one should not eat in or from any facility whose mashgichim do not impress as G-d-fearing and competent. There is no reason to think that somehow magically the incompetent or unqualified have become fit with the wave of a wand. Although we cannot guess what the conclusions of the investigation and review will be, my brief interlude with SA kashrus leads me to suspect that the fitness of some mashgichim for their jobs could be an issue. So if you or others are not certain about a mashgiach, by all means don’t eat there.

    The Chief Rabbi and Beis Din seem committed to bringing the kashrus up to global standards, and to make any corrections necessary. It is critical to await the results of the investigation and review, and in the meantime to proceed with caution.

    Best Regards and Chag Sameach,

    Rabbi Kuber

    in reply to: How Careful Must We Be When Eating Out With A Hechsher #1493550

    As someone mentioned there has been this scandal here in South Africa with Stan and Pete – I personally have not bought cooked stuff since then – as I am waiting to see what will come out from these Beth Din checks.

    I have a feeling that Rabbi Kuber is actually refering to the scandal here in SA [even though I have not heard or confirmed this] as he was actually in SA a few years ago with a previous kashrut concern – he then wrote a very warm letter to the Beth Din – however someone forwarded me a letter a few months afterwords where he retracted from some of his praises. I have heard from some people that he is still involved a bit – and people ask him.

    This is the letter which he answered someone then –

    From: Mordechai Kuber []
    Sent: שבת 07 דצמבר 2013 22:11
    Subject: FW: Shechitah Update


    In response to your inquiry, I have recently been in contact with a few community Rabbanim to update them about the current status of the meat and chicken in Johannesburg, in coincidence with the conclusion of my involvement with this matter after the Yomim Tovim. I understand that you were particular about your source of meat and chicken before my visit, so I realize that it is important for you to have updated information.

    Before I begin, I would like to offer an apology, perhaps overdue, regarding how my letter of seven months ago affected you and other bnei Torah. I am fully aware that before my letter, many of you refrained from eating from some butcheries, out of concern over an issue that was never publicized (to this day). With my letter, I intended only to confirm that the issue had been resolved, but not that it should be misconstrued as evidence that the bnei Torah capriciously fomented discord within the greater community, chas v’shalom. Yes, my letter was quite complimentary of the Beit Din, because I was convinced of their resolve to raise the standards on an accelerated track. I was also impressed with the Yir’at Shamayim of both the Dayanim and those involved in the local meat/chicken production, and as I wrote in my letter, I was also impressed with the cleanliness of the lungs, which is a very important building block in the kashrus of beef. I felt that against such a backdrop, it was important for all in the community to close ranks, and for the Beit Din’s credibility to be firmly reestablished, even if in some measure my letter was a reflection of my faith in the Beit Din and not of accomplishments on the ground. All that said, I never imagined that my letter would be used in a negative way against the bnei Torah, as it was abundantly clear to me that they had good reason for being particular during the period in which they had been. Please accept my apology.

    Now, in response to your inquiry. As I mentioned, among other things, my letter was based upon my firm belief that many improving steps would be taken; not all of them have. It is the Beit Din’s belief that the remaining things left undone, or not yet done, or that were done differently than my recommendations, are either unnecessary, or represent merely hidurim that they are not currently able to enact. I do not share their view regarding a number of points that I feel are significant, but they certainly are entitled to their opinion. In addition, the Beit Din does not require my approval or input regarding future improvements to the system. It is my feeling that there will be further improvements, and I hope that one day all the improvements that I had hoped for will be realities. But I am not involved, and I cannot predict if and when they will come to fruition. Ultimately, it is the Beit Din that bears the responsibility for overseeing the kashrus in Johannesburg, and that is unquestionably the correct approach.

    I would also like to share that I feel that just as one should be particular to be m’hader, if possible, in the purchase of mezuzot and tephilin and arba minim, so should one be m’hader in the purchase and consumption of meat and chicken. At the moment, this means to purchase XXX shechitah, which is available from XXX’s, which is superior in its own right, and in comparison with the rest.


    Mordechai Kuber

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