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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Defining Kosher as Ethical

Hat tip: AJG

The addition of secular ethics to the laws of kashrut (what makes a food kosher by Jewish Law) has been in the news in Israel for a few years already.  Now the OU has adopted certain principles to its kosher requirements.  Actually, it's very "MO," Modern Orthodox to synthesize Halacha and contemporary values and standards.  Isn't that what being "MO" is all about?

The Israeli Tav Chevrati doesn't require kosher food, just their concept of social ethics.  By ignoring Halacha, Jewish Law, they're literally "playing with fire."  That brings me ironically to my previous post concerning, King Saul's great sin, Aaron and the sin of the Golden Calf and the punishing death of Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu for their אש זרה, aish zara, strange fire.

The Bema'aglei Tzedek would be on safer grounds if they built on Halacha rather than "editing" it to suit their trendy philosophy. 

A very careful reading of halacha could be the source of secular ethics, and I am disappointed that the OU hasn't made this clear either.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what you want from the OU. Have you read their original JPEG Guidelines document? Is the intro not what you're looking for?

Further, was Rabbeinu Gershom "Modern" Orthodox, because he adapted non-Jewish contemporary values and banned polygyny? Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Modern Orthodoxy per se but I don't see adhering to current standards in Derech Eretz, Kavod Ha'briyot, etc., as being in the court of one Torah observant camp more than another.

Anonymous said...

sg, i am far from convinced that rabbeinu gershom was acting [solely or predominantly] in response to contemporary values. you must respect the internaly dynamics of the halakhic system.
also, i think it is a shame that oftentimes interpersonal, or ethical, issues are not taken up by religious organizations and are left to the secular ones. surely being a mentch is a value for a religious person? perhaps if a religious organization would give credit to these secular organizations, and piggy-back on them...

Anonymous said...


1. Again, get yourself a moniker (no, that's not the same as a Lewinsky). Try it - you'll like it!

2. So, what made Rabbenu Gershom tick? Please quote him, by all means. The christian world at the time was already promoting a more respectful status to woman. The Jews of Ashkenaz, who lived among the christians, were expected to formally conform to such norms. As it was by that time, it was very rare for a Jewish European husband to have more than one wife. Takanat R' Gershom was more of a formality for European Jewry than anything else.

3. Being a mentsch is a prerequisite to almost everything else. Agree!

Anonymous said...

okay, try this on: at this time jewish men had begun earning a living far from home, which meant travelling distances and being away from their wives for extended periods of time. while away, they could just marry another woman and not return to wife #1.
the husband could also free himself of #1 by divorcing her against her will. thus we have r gershoms second takana, that you must obtain a womans consent before you divorce her.
this is at least as plausible as just saying he was copying the goyim, and far more elegant.

Anonymous said...

If a man runs off and marries another women without either living with and caring for the 1st one, or divorcing her, he is already in severe violation of Torah law, and would be subject to excommunication without R' Gershom's decrees.

Anonymous said...

say he even supports her. this development is not conducive to jewish life.

Anonymous said...

A husband is obligated to his wife regarding her conjugal rights as well. So supporting her monetarily is not sufficient.

There are lots of ways to be a "menavel bireshut ha'Torah" (a despicable scoundrel working within the framework of Torah law), even after all of R' Gershom's decrees and more.

What is conducive to being a Jew is behaving like one should. And that is life's test every day and every moment, isn't it?

Batya said...

I'll leave you guys to hammer this out.

Shy, if there hadn't been pressure from the secular American press govt etc the ou wouldn't have made changes.

Anonymous said...

Then, Batya, why your gripe only with the OU and not every other hechsher on the globe?

At least the OU is one of the first to recognize this issue and issue practical guidelines.

Seen anything similar yet by any other kashrut agency?

Batya said...

OK, Shy, true