Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chicken Wars IV: Attack of the Clones

The Story Continues....

In Chicken Wars II: The Empire Strikes Back, I argued that a significant amount of the allegedly halachic opposition to the Braekel is because the Braekel Alliance is trying to bring down the entire poultry empire by claiming that the Braekel clones are the only kosher chickens and that everyone else's chickens are as treife as rats. And the empire is responding in kind, striking back with the claim that not only is the Braekel not the only kosher chicken - it isn't a kosher chicken at all.

In case anyone thinks that this is an overly cynical reading of the situation, take a look at this extract from an article in HaModia:
Informed sources told Hamodia that some supporters of the project were still hoping that a way could be found to accomplish the original goal of providing Klal Yisrael with a purer chicken. Though they declined to go into details, they said it was possible that by making some changes to their plans, they could gain the approval of those currently prohibiting the Braekel. Whether this proves to be feasible remains to be seen.

Now, if the opposition to Braekel is that the Braekel is a treife-as-rats bird, then how on earth could "making some changes to their plans" result in it being acceptable?! It's clear that the "changes to the plans" refers to walking back their claims that everyone else's chickens are treife-as-rats. What goes around, comes around.

The situation will be balanced, but in which way? Will calmer minds prevail? Or will there be an irreversible rift, with each group refusing to eat chickens (and perhaps any food) from the other side? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, all this has inspired me to add a new course to The Feast Of Exotic Curiosities - "Treife as Rats" chicken soup, made with all different kinds of allegedly "treife" chickens!


35 comments:

  1. You're not being pessimistic enough, Rabbi.

    What if people decide to go with the usual route when it comes to this sort of machloket? And by that I mean deciding to be יוצא לכל הדעות, and never eat chicken again.

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    1. I guess that's not impossible. I have seen the claim voiced that people should avoid chicken entirely and only eat... turkey! Oh, the irony!

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    2. When discussing this, I was told the Braekel was not kosher since there is no mesorah for it. My first response was what about turkey? The response: we have mesorah for turkey! ...with no explanation of how Noah sailed to the americas to pick up a bird and bring it back to the Middle East.

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    3. There are enough pranksters online to wonder whether that suggestion was just sarcasm.

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    4. Looks like I finally have a 'halachic' excuse to eat my favorite food... steak, medium rare.

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    5. Why is it impractical?
      Lubavitchers claim Moshe rabbenu sent messengers to Calabria to get etrogim in the midbar. (They didn't buy it the traditional way, from a shuk on midbar alley.)

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    6. "I have seen the claim voiced that people should avoid chicken entirely and only eat... turkey! Oh, the irony!"
      How is it ironic? Is it because some people claim that turkey is not kosher?

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  2. And my face settles slowly into my palm...

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  3. Is there any connection to Shlomo Helbrans / Lev Tahor? I remember that they guys also didn't eat chickens. According to this article, they would eat geese instead.

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.614154

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    1. Apparently karaites also do not eat chicken only pigeon.

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    2. I think that their reason for not eating chicken was along similar lines, i.e. that the chickens of today lack a mesorah connecting them to the chickens of yesteryear.

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    3. Mesorah and Karaite not oxymoronic?

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    4. The Ibn Ezra in Shemini on the duchifas says the Karaites say it is the chicken. He calls it a baseless claim.

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    5. Karaites historically would eat no bird besides pigeons and turtle doves, saying that even the other birds we know were eaten in the times of Tanakh could not be identified with certainty. However, for the past two hundred years or so, Egyptian Karaites have eaten chicken and turkey. I'm not sure what changed.

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    6. Pigeons and turtle doves have very little meat per animal. A lot of work for a little meat. (Geese doesn't have much more, but at least pretty tasty.)

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  4. This post displays a lack of faith in the overall Kashrut system. I find this disturbing.

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    1. There is no "overall kashrut system".

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    2. Snag - You're obviously not a Star Wars fan. My comment was 0% serious and 100% Star Wars.

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  5. You keep writing treife. Don't you mean Tameh?

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  6. Where can one purchase a Braekel? (your post suggests you will be serving it)

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    1. there's a sale on but they're not going cheep...

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    2. There's a "war" going on. Besides for the fact that both side claims the others is not kosher and theirs is the only kosher chicken, they will probably also keep lowering their prices to get more people to buy more and to subconsciously influence people to their side of the Machloket.

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  7. Does anyone know if there are any poskim on record siding with the "all chickens are just chickens" view?

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  8. ""Treife as Rats" chicken soup, made with all different kinds of allegedly "treife" chickens!" Does this mean that the Mashgiach of the dinner is not in either camp but rather from a reputable hashgacha organization that holds that "all chickens are just chickens" (Weaver's phrase) ? The Rabbanut Harashit? (I assume that is where you go since you don't like charedi poskim = Badatzim?)

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  9. As in politics, proponents of any given scheme need only fool or get on board a relatively few people to push something into place. (The populace at large, which is powerless to stop it, is then said to have "accepted" it.) In this case, the proponents need only pay off or pressure Oaf Yerushalayim and a few other large distributors or poultry wholesalers to force their product on the market. Perhaps with an initial loss leader price reduction, with the gouging to come later. I have no ties to this industry, but if anyone does, now is the time to speak up.

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  10. It's enough to want to make you become a non-poultritarian. Better yet, all factory farmed animals should be treif.

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  11. There are loads of wild jungle fowl in Honolulu, and they are all very colorful. They look exactly like chickens.
    Ira Pollack

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  12. If consumers knew how farmed chickens were raised, they might never eat their meat again
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/24/real-cost-of-roast-chicken-animal-welfare-farms

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  13. Normal roasters are treifa apart from also maybe being tomai. See the booklet from John Webster professor of Bristol University of the UK. The reason because they are overfed and the meat and fat grow but not the bones and limbs. It is like a nine year old on three year old limbs. That means the heart liver lungs stomach are all too small for it. That is the reason of the problem of tsumas hagidin. The Barred Rock is kosher. Also egg layers which are a different breed to roasters are kosher and you may eat eggs.

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    1. Alan - John Webster (long retired) has advocated against factory farming for decades and we may agree with him that it is not nice to the birds to raise them en masse. It is quite a stretch from there to say that therefore all birds are treif. Are you saying that all the rabbis that certify that they are kosher not do not know hilchos treifus or that they are liars?! In Israel the tzomes hagidin in fowl is checked post mortem. There has been an issue with the tendons in recent years, it turned out to be a virus that causes tenosynovitis and there is ongoing work to improve the vaccinations to prevent the problem.

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    2. The rabbis have no idea how old the chicken is when it is slaughtered for instance, that proves how little they know. The tsomes hagidin problem is because the body is too heavy for the feet. In egg layers they dont have this problem. According to John Webster the lung heart liver stomach and the other limbs all have defects. I consider that these defects are very likely traifo. I am not a vet or a rov. The fact is that no one is bodek all the limbs and it would likely be almost impossible. I have spoken to many rabbis and all are aware of what I wrote. I include the gaavad and raavad of the eida who both know me well. I dont know the answer how they can be mattir traifos and they dont reply when asked. I am talking about fifteen years ago when I first read John Webster's report. One rov of the eida R Blau zl answered me that he overdoes it and in israel they dont grow chickens like that. It is true they do taste differently in Israel than in the UK. I replied even if he half overdoes it, it is still treifa.
      Now R Sternbuch signed with the Gaavad some time ago they should like for new chickens. Now he says they are 100 per cent kosher because everyone eats them. It seems he has never learned horiyot.
      In my area many people have stopped eating chickens and gone on to turkeys. They dont trust people who change their minds.
      So the tsomes hagidin is not the siba but the siman that there are other things wrong with it which they do not and cannot check. The present R Bransdorfer when I told him they were treifa he replied what, you dont eat chicken on shabbos. As though the barburim are asai doche loi saase of traifus.
      The din is if they will die from traifus like if they ate glass, even though they were shechted straight away and the glass hadnt reached any vital organs they are considered traifo. Because if a bird will definitely die from traifus it is traifo already. That is why a discoloured lung is traifo because it will eventually get a hole.
      According to John Webster and I trust him more than any rov all these birds will die from one of the defects he mentions. I spoke to the London Kedassia rabbonim at the time and R Westheim of Manchester who then had a private shechita operation, I said look go to John Webster and have it out with him, Bristol is not that far.
      They were not interested.
      So I cant answer you about the rabbonim, I was very shocked at the time and still am. No one has ever replied not to me or others I sent to them.
      It seems that money is more important.
      Now as well the whole argument about the braekel is more about money than kashrut.
      As I wrote in the US a R Hillel Weinberger shechts the Barred Rock. It sounds to me to be kosher even as far as traifus are concerned because it is not yet commercially grown. But once the large shechita houses use it they will cut corners and start force feeding to increase and quicken production and become traifa.
      I also wrote a long article in the London Tribune, the kedassia replied that the same as incubated eggs which hatch chickens are kosher so are these. Apparently there were problems when they started incubating them they didnt have electricity and couldnt control it well and the chickens didnt come out too well. That is the way rabbonim pasken today, they think everything is the same. As it happens the problems then had nothing to do with the problems of today. The answer then was that as long as it looked normal and lived normal it was kosher. These chickens of today do not look normal they are much bigger and the body is bigger than the feet, nor do they live long according to John Webster. A much later tshuva said that incubating is even better than the mother.

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  14. Alan - I don't know if there is any point in responding as you seem quite convinced by yourself but I will respond briefly and conceptually. Webster's work is 15-20 years old. It aimed to show that factory farmed foods are unnatural and 'wrong'. A broiler that used to get to market weight in 6 months now does so in 6 weeks and on much less feed. As the breeding pushed the birds in that direction there were problems like heart failure and musculoskeletal issues. He pointed these out. But, hose problems were incompatible with successful farming and were worked out long ago. Had they not been, the industry would not have survived. It is true that the birds have been bred to be quite specialized and different then they were even a century ago. Today's layers are worthless as meat birds and vice versa. Today's turkey's have such large breasts they can't even breed naturally. However, modern poultry have been developed into healthy lines and are not sickly. A learned fellow such as yourself can buy a whole bird and dissect it to see that it is not full of treif organs. You can even do it a lot of times until you realize that they have the same chezkas kashrus as any other animal we eat.

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  15. I cant argue with you about what goes on today. But 15-20 years ago you will agree that they were very likely traifa. Still everyone ate them and no rabbi said they were traifa. Perhaps you can explain that. I would be grateful.

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  16. To Alan and Reginald:
    I've never examined a chicken, and I don't know the halachot well enough to do so. But I understand (secondhand report) that Rabbi Rappaport of Bar Ilan University refuses to eat any poultry for the reasons that alan described. I don't know if he ever examined any chickens (he says that he has asked to inspect birds in farms and slaughterhouses and has never been allowed to do so), but he claims that the modern breeds have been developed to the point where their rapid growth puts an enormous strain on their bodies, and they no longer have a חזקת כשרות. He also doesn't eat eggs for a related reason- according to him, modern egg production techniques tend to cause osteoporosis in the birds to the point where many have broken bones and still continue laying. (I vaguely recall a gemara that says that a טריפה won't lay eggs, though...) He also considers most dairy and most red meat to have kashrut issues.

    Interestingly, I saw similar points- having nothing to do with kashrut- being raised in a video put out by some animal welfare organization. They claimed that meat chickens are bred to grow extremely fast and as a result are often suffering from severe health issues by the time they are slaughtered.

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