Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Kosher food in a "kosher environment"?

"Jewish Atheist said...
It's not just that they criticise each other, but that they overstep their bounds. In Israel, one of the major kashrut organization refused certification to Pepsi because they had billboards with a woman in a bathing suit. (I guess your blog won't be getting certified kosher either.)"

This is another pet peeve of mine and I am glad our Atheist friend brought it up. The mission statement of the Kof-K, similar to that of many other supervisions is that, "Only those products and services meeting the strictest standards of Kosher law are permitted to display the symbol, which is protected under Federal law against unauthorized use. When consumers see the KOF-K on a product, they know they are buying food that meet the highest levels of Kashrus (Kosher law)."

So, you would think that there is not much room for alternative interpratations...WRONG! What does KOSHER SERVICE mean to you? Well, it seems if your food is kosher but neigborhood boys and girls want to eat pizza together on a Motsei Shabbos then the "kosher service" is not to standard...and will not get or would lose supervision.

I don't think I need to go into depth why this is a complete abuse of authority, only breeding contempt in the Jewish community.

More on hats...if you are not sick of it yet...

Found an interesting article on the hat subject....I more or less agree with his main points...


Cut-Throat Business - and I don't mean Shechita!

I once saw a neo-nazi website that said we were unethical business people (Never heard that one before!) and said that there are kosher symbols on many consumer products that don't even need it....like toilet cleaner.

Now, my knowledge base of kashrus is pretty limited to edible food items, but what I do know now is that there is incredible naivety in the Jewish world about kosher supervision.

I used to think that kosher supervision organizations were...not for profit institutions for the advancement of kosher products in the market place. Ok, laugh at me...

The truth is, the supervision world is just as cut-throat as any other company vying for marketshare. What does this mean for our average G-d fearing Jew...a zillion supervision companies that say their competitor supervision companies are UNRELIABLE. This is where the holy mixes with the mundane and much like milk and meat, they don't belong together.

If I eat food from the Massachusets Vaad - fondly called KVH - then some people will project opinions about my level observance...why? Because the kosher world is so confused about legitimate kosher observance.

This leads to the recurring theme in my posts...people project a level of observance by the supervision used. It may be justified to some extent if there is a kosher symbol that is universally not accepted with clear and actual proofs - not just "I know a rabbi, who knows a rabbi...blah blah blah..." But because there are corporate agendas behind all these opinions...it is next to impossible to get an objective opinion on kashrus.

Can we start a site dedicated to kashrus, and become the CNET reviews for the kosher world? That way we can have an independant site to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each kosher company. Just an idea...

You have any thoughts?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's just clothing, dammit!

I am not saying black hats are stupid or misplaced in the Orthodox world...but to put things in context, I actually wear a black hat...but I am not being hypocritical. I grew up in a community where black hats etc. were the culture - but that doesn't mean that I believe hats are a holiness barometer.

If I placed any real value in hats, jackets or the "color coordinated" black and white, then I would be compelled to stop wearing my hat etc. My hat is no more appropriate than the sephardic Shabbos robes...

This brings me to my next pet peeve...STATEMENT YARMULKAS!

Whenever I see someone with the "Ani Ohev es Kol Hayehudi" ("I love all Jews") half suade, half s'ruga yarmulka, I want to stab them with bobby pins...

If the person is trying to say that no emphasis should be placed on the yarmulka, then maybe a statement yarmulka brings too much attention to it - Kinda counter-productive.

I think it is similar to my views on some NAACP activities. The black community wants to be treated the same, no emphasis on the color of skin...but it always seem that they muscle there way into the spotlight and try to standout as seperate but equal. If you want equality, then don't put emphasis on the skin color, and try to find ways to be truly equal.

My wife, when she was in nursing school, had an African American classmate who failed a class. What did she do? She had the NAACP send the school administration a warning letter. The school passed her and now if you ever end up in a hospital some day, you might be fortunate enough to get this "high caliber" nurse.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Executive Jew - Hats off!

I was learning some Mishna Berurah last night with my friend, and we started Hilchos Shabbos. It states, that one should honor Shabbos by eating special foods. He goes on to state that "special foods" change with time, and one should eat the foods considered special in our own era (ie. Meat, fish, wine etc.).

The Mishna Berurah elsewhere discusses the obligation to wear a hat during davening. "Just as one would wear a hat in front of an officer or king, one should wear a hat before Hashem." He continues that "eventhough NOWADAYS it's appropriate to take off your hat when an officer enters the room, one should only do so after they ask permission to take it off..."

Ok people, this is clearly reflective of the times. He says so himself. Nowadays was 100 years ago and he is sensitive to changing standards of dress. It is also understood that one must dress for davening, the same way you would greet royalty or government official.


Society loves to neatly box people's religious level, by the externals of dress etc. but I would like to argue that perhaps wearing a hat, or not doing so, is not a good barometer for religious observance. In fact, I see many yeshiva boys with their white shorts untucked and very disheveled...do you know why yeshiva boys tend to wear white and black? Because it is supposed to be the uniform of executive torah scholars. The objective is to look like professional talmudists!

I would like to change the baramoter...You can judge people by their dress...if they look disheveled and belong in the gutter...however, different streams of Judaism have different standards of fancy dress, and no one is holier than the other!

If I wore the traditional Shabbos attire of the Sephardic community in Tzfat, Israel back in my local shul, I would be kicked out for wearing pajamas! Clearly, there is no one proper dress code.

Bottom line, please look like you are doing G-d's work, and shave (or trim)!

What's that bad taste in my mouth?

It is my experience that frequent conversations around the Shabbos table in the typical Jewish/Orthodox home, has some element of "bitching" about why they hate the societal standards/customs in their local community.

I would therefore imagine that this would make good fodder on a blog as well...
This way you can focus your time around the table to your kids pictoral parshah questions (you know the ones where Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov look chassidish) and stop complaining about your neighbors or shul.

Black hats? White shirts? Machitzah height? School uniforms? Smoking/drinking/drugs, Yeshiva boys? Seminary girls? Yeshiva boys WITH seminary girls...and on and on and on...

Everyone and their bubby has an opinion, and the most irritating part is that no one ever wins the arguement de jour.

Shouldn't there be a right and wrong answer?!

There isn't always one right answer for all situations, but there are MANY wrong answers. But even the people with the very wrong answers think they share pearls of wisdom. Often done under the guise of qualified facts...they usually are anything BUT qualified facts.

This is your opporunity (aka. my opportunity) to give thought out reasonings for some of my pet peeves in the Orthodox community, and it is my hope that when you post, whether in agreeance or disagreeace, you think before you type...or else my #1 pet peeve will sound something like this:

Pet Peeve #1
Any arguement that contains this sentence..."But the [Insert European town] Rebbe says that if you respond hello to the opposite gender you are a heathen!"

Please have YOUR OWN OPINIONS. Not a Rabbi for Rabbi sake...that is unless you can QUOTE him and HIS REASONINGS.

Enjoy, because I know I will...

Mr. Reflux