Gd is One
Gd creates everyone with differing fingerprints, voices, DNA and He also wants us to think differently from one another. Gd has a reason for making us all different from one another. It is part of His design and purpose. He wants us to be different. He does not want us to be clones.
The Gemara explains that just as our faces are different from one another, so too is our thinking different from one another. A wise person explained the parallel; just as we don't hate people because they look different than ourselves, in fact we celebrate that difference, so we ought not hate people because they think differently from and disagree with us.
It is not a shortcoming that the Gemara is replete with debates and disagreements on every single page. It is not an oversight that Gd did not give Moshe Rabbenu on Har Sinai, a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and thereby prevent so much debate and doubt.
Gd gave us a written Torah, about which there is no doubt regarding its content. It is however, indecipherable without the other component - the Oral Torah. And the Oral Torah is the Human Mind and its Gd given infinite power to analyse, argue and interpret.
The Oral Torah can not be committed to writing. Words once written, are paralysed, immovable and stifle interpretation. There is a similarity in the secular common law, where for this very reason, a legislated Bill of Human Rights is seen as a retrograde step. The rights are there in a broad form meaning they are very flexible and interpret-able; legislation provides precise definitions which invariably prove to be short-sighted and unworkable. Take for example the thief who robbed a drug-store [in the US of A] but did not escape without taking a slug fired into his shoulder, by the attendant behind the counter.
He was apprehended in hospital but positive ID could not be established and he could not be prosecuted, since extracting the bullet to match with a ballistics report, was ruled to be an invasion of his privacy.
It has long been noted that the law is an ass, a phrase welded into the English language and the psyche by Charles Dickens, who put it into print in Oliver Twist, 1838. Mr. Bumble, the unhappy spouse of a domineering wife, is told in court that "...the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction". He responds: "If the law supposes that," squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass - a idiot".
And so the Oral Torah being the accomplice of the Written Torah is there to ensure that the Law is not an ass. It will take sometimes a rousing and aggressive debate, even a fight, in order to knock sense into the minds of people. We all have our blind spots. And so our debates and divided opinions are the heart and soul of the Torah. They are the Divine Plan which is an essential, enduring and intrinsic part of creation. Rebbi Yochanan famously said "give me either a learning/debating partner who challenges me at every point, or ............. death."
These variations of opinion are the heart and soul not only of the Lomdus, the academic side of Jewish Life - Learning Torah, but of the practical rulings that guide communities, families and individuals.
We need to see diversity and variations not as a lack of cohesion and disagreement but as a most positive force that ensures that our life and commitment to Gd is a pulsating, living and not an artificial cosmetic artifice.
KASHRUS AGENCIES: AREN'T THEY ALL THE SAME?
Unless we know with clarity the official policies of the various Kosher agencies, we cannot know them and certainly not compare them. Every organisation has lapses and mess-ups. If they are not recorded and published how are we to evaluate performance?
Use of words such as "Mehadrin", "Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin", "Heimishe Hechsher", "Glatt" etc. are useless because they do not refer to any agreed standard. So what may be "Mehadrin" for one Posek may be barely acceptable for another Posek.
Reb J.B. Soloveitchik, for a brief time, provided Hashgacha for Shechitah and used, in the words of his famous Talmid, Rav H Schachter, "every available Kula" to get Kosher meat and hardly ever had Glatt Kosher. [Glatt refers to the lungs being smooth i.e. without adhesions. An adhesion is even a very thin stringy like thread between the lobes or from the lobes to the chest. They are an indication of trauma or damage and may render the beast Tereifa. Very small adhesions that can be readily brushed off are known as Rirrin - Glatt but not Glatt Beis Yosef. More troublesome adhesions may be peeled off and the lung inspected for damage by seeing if it leaks air - Kosher but not Glatt.] Yet another Heimishe Hashgacha in the same town as Rabbi Soloveitchik and utilising the same supplier for beasts never had a shortage of Glatt Kosher meat.
1) The most significant difference between Holy Kosher and both KAM and KAS [Kosher Australia Melbourne and Kashrut Authority Sydney] is that HK insists on full Hashgacha where a non-ShShabbos runs a food business that processes meat, fish, wine, hard cheese or Chalav Yisrael. KAM does not. See this notice which I published after consulting with Rabbanim and is in accordance with Halachic requirements.
Non-Kosher Meat and Fish is prohibited by Torah Law; accordingly it requires at least two seals to guarantee its integrity; Non-Kosher hard cheese and non-ChYisrael [for those who are strict in this matter] are prohibited by Rabbinic Law and as such require only one seal to guarantee its integrity.
This is why a Kosher meal provided by a non-Jewish steward [on an airline or at a non-Kosher function] or a Jewish steward who is not Shomer Shabbos, must [at least in theory] be presented with its seals intact.
All large scale manufacturing of Kosher foods [think Keloggs Cadbury Kraft etc] is performed without a Mashgiach on site. The plant, ingredients and manufacturing process is evaluated and a Kosher certification or approval is issued.
2) Further, The Holy Kosher Authority certifies products containing cochineal and gelatine. See this page for the Halachic considerations.
Product labelling displays these ingredients thus allowing those Kosher consumers who prefer, to maintain their custom.
3) The HKA adheres to the Halacha that only a Jew is banned from cooking with non-Kosher utensils even after the absorbed flavour is tainted. And only a Jew who has trampled upon this Takana of the Sages is penalised to not eat those cooked foods or feed them to others for whom he cooked it.
However, those foods are perfectly Kosher and may be eaten in the first instance by any other Jew.
Similarly, a non Jew may cook Kosher food for his Jewish neighbour, in his non-Kosher vessels once they have not been used for 24 hours. All absorbed flavour by that time is tainted and cannot render the food cooked in that pot non-Kosher. The only provision is that the foods are not cooked at the instruction of the Jew.
In practice this means that the non-Jewish factory producing Kosher to eat potato chips in non-Kosher machinery, cannot be subcontracted to make "Yankel's Kosher Potato Chips", because Yankel is instructing that those chips be made for Jews. In this case the machinery must be Kashered and if not, Yankel is penalised by a Takana which bans him and all those for whom the chops were produced, from eating them.
Kosher certifiers are constantly improving and promoting their standards and reputations. At first glance, this is a good thing and indeed it may be. However, since Kashrus certification is ultimately a business [which is precisely what Reb Moshe says it ought not be] there are inescapable pressures created by the system that produce all sorts of incentives. Thus rising Kashrus standards may be driven by a cocktail which includes the need to impress and improve or at least preserve "market share" by maintaining Holier standards and simultaneously suggesting that other certifiers are not as Holy. One must wonder if some Kashrus standards or "Industry Standards" as they are described by some of their leading rabbis, are actually in touch with Halacha.
Here is a good illustration: take the "classic" refrain - "most reliable Kosher authorities do not follow this practice or accept this ruling." Think of all the holes in that statement. Here are a few to start you off:
- A. they concede that there ARE some reliable authorities DO accept this ruling.
- B. Secondly, who is it that decides if this authority is reliable or not?
- C. it is a self fulfilling assessment, if they reject this ruling then they are reliable, if they don't then they aren't.
- D. even by these self fulfilling guidelines, they still cannot dismiss some Rabbis whose fame cannot be ignored and who Pasken against the trend of, "most reliable Kosher authorities".
Did they live happily ever after?