Wednesday, January 10, 2018

An Event In Poor Taste

Earlier this week, in San Francisco, a number of rabbis and Jewish scholars attended a special banquet with a unique menu.

Everything was treife.

(picture is for illustrative purposes and is not from this event)
I don't mean treife as in not having a Badatz hechsher. I don't mean treife like Braekel chicken or Cornish Rock. I don't mean treife like desert locusts, which no kashrus agency approves but which are certainly kosher. And I don't mean treife like peacocks, which virtually no Orthodox rabbi eats but which is undoubtedly a kosher bird. I mean straight-out treife - rabbit, bacon, lobsters, meat-and-milk, and so on.

The "Trefa Banquet 2.0" memorialized the infamous 1883 "Trefa Banquet," held in honor of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College. At that meal, pork was not served (unlike in this week's event), but there was crab, shrimp, and frogs' legs. Along with the 1885 declaration of the Reform movement that kashrut is an "archaic practice," this led to a number of people leaving the Reform movement in disgust and creating the Conservative movement and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

An article about this week's event interviews Rabbi Camille Angel, whose father was ordained at Hebrew Union College, and who proudly identifies as a “second-generation lobster-eating rabbi.” She reports that “My mother loved sending me to school during Passover with a lunch of matzah with ham and cheese.” According to the interviewer, "this led to teasing from another Jewish classmate, who felt that this somehow diminished Angel’s Jewish cred." You don't say! At the risk of pointing out the obvious, I would like to note that while you might have two generations of lobster-eating rabbis, it is highly unlikely that further generations of proudly discarding Jewish law and tradition will produce any rabbis or even any Jews.

Rabbi Sydney Mintz of Reform Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco enjoyed eating the bacon, and declared, "I would rather eat food that’s humanely and ethically raised than kosher.” Now, it is indeed true that most kosher meat and chicken is not humanely or ethically raised (like all factory-farmed animals). And Rabbi Avi Shafran's recent disavowal of Kashrut agencies having any responsibility for this beyond government legislation is incorrect from a Torah perspective (not to mention that kashrus agencies are often particular about issues entirely unrelated to the actual kashrus of the food). And let's assume that Mintz's bacon was indeed ethically raised (although I do wonder if that was the case). But why on earth does she present it as a choice between the two? There are plenty of options available for eating food that is both humanely raised and kosher. Or, you can go vegetarian. What ethical principle is there that requires one to eat non-kosher food?

Event organizer Alix Wall "told the crowd that her mother was a child during the Holocaust, hidden with a family of Poles; she grew up eating what they ate, including plenty of pork. In this family, an essential 20th-century Jewish story of Holocaust survival is tied to pork. So for Wall, “keeping treyf” (if I may coin a phrase) connected her to her Jewish history, just as keeping kosher does for others." How bizarre. Following this logic, perhaps just as her mother was given away, she should give away her daughter to a non-Jewish family, to let her connect to Jewish history? Yes, there are people who were forced to survive the Holocaust by living as non-Jews, but living as a non-Jew is hardly a way to connect to Jewish history.

The journalist concludes his article by claiming that "Judaism — and history of the Reform movement in particular — is full of this: not a transgression of religion, but transgression as religion." Well, Reform Judaism may well be full of transgression as religion (and one wonders how, if that is the case, they expect full recognition in Israel), but it's hardly accurate to describe classical Judaism in that way.

Moshe Basson, Chef for the Biblical Museum of
Natural History's special events, with a plate of locusts
It should be noted that for people who are desperate to taste non-kosher food, the Talmud states that for every non-kosher food there are kosher equivalents. These featured as part of the Feast of Exotic Curiosities held last year at The Biblical Museum of Natural History. We served kosher bacon (made from a certain type of seaweed), kosher oysters (made from certain mushrooms along with real oystershell, which is kosher), food that replicates the taste of meat with milk (udders), and non-shrimpian invertebrates (locusts).

There is no nutritional or ethical need to eat non-kosher food. And there are very good reasons to be loyal to Jewish law and tradition, even for Jews who do not believe that the laws of kashrut are divinely mandated. If people wish to ignore those reasons, well, it's a free society. But to promote it as something that is actually in the spirit of Jewish tradition is incorrect, and in very poor taste indeed. 

100 comments:

  1. I wonder if someone who goes out of their way to hold an event like this can still be considered a Tinok Shenishbah.

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    1. It would be more like what is described in Tanya, Chapter 14: A person who willfully commits a sin is under the illusion/delusion that his/her behavior is still "Jewish"-- עודנו ביהדותו. It will probably extend to other forbidden things, such as gay marriage or intermarriage as well.

      But I assume that there will always be some point where even these people will have to draw the line and admit that this transgression is a denial of their Judaism, and they can't do it.
      --Yehudah P.

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    2. Tragically, it seems more likely that they meet the textbook definition of "mumar lehachis"; i.e., it seems the only reason they're so keen on eating treif foods is to glory in their "transgression as religion".

      And, I suppose, to raise "awareness" (or something?) of humane farming practices.

      But, as Rabbi Slifkin correctly points out, one need not resort to eating treif to eat ethically grown food. Given the obviousness of this point, I am inclined to think that these folks (like their forebears in 1883) are, sadly, more interested in flaunting their disdain for the "archaic practice" of Judaism than anything else.

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  2. I agree whole heartedly that the publicity of this event was in poor taste. Its disrespectful in my opinion, considering how our ancestors lived. I do not keep strict kosher myself but my personal limit has always been avoiding pig and milk and meat together out of respect for my ancestors. Just my opinion.

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  3. " leaving the Reform movement in disgust and creating the Conservative movement and the Jewish Theological Seminary."

    Minor point: The Conservative Movement was basically started in Germany decades earlier. And the Jewish Theological Seminary of America was orthodox in its early years; in its first class was Rabbi Dr. Joseph Hertz, who would later serve as the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom. (When JTS ceased to be orthodox is an interesting question; within my lifetime the two oldest orthodox synagogues in America had JTS graduates as their senior rabbis.)

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    1. I don't think you can say that JTS was "Orthodox." Orthopraxy in abundance, until very recently. But Orthodox? No.

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    2. So Rabbi Hertz did not have a valid semicha?

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  4. " Reform Judaism may well be full of transgression as religion"

    While this is true in general there is one thing for which the Reform do much better at halachic observance: Nobody talks during the services. May we emulate them in this!

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    1. By all means, keep the decorum. Keep young children out of your temple services...too noisy, too much trouble.

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    2. Christians manage to do it.

      Of course, Christian (and Reform) services are a lot shorter than Orthodox ones. But that's not something Orthodoxy can't fix.

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    3. Charlie Hall's comments are a stereotype at least thirty years out of date. I'm not sure what shul he attends, but in shuls comprised of yeshivah graduates, which is the only growing segment, there is very little talking in the halachically impermissible parts of davening and/or laining. The only orthodox shuls today where talking is still a problem are among the older members of older OU or Young Israel style shuls. Unfortunately, those shuls have much bigger problems to deal with talking during davening.

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    4. If my memory serves, the Young Israel of the Concourse (165th St.) had virtually no talking during t'filla and the doors were locked during kriat haTorah. This was back in the 1960s. Probably earlier and later too.

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    5. "there is very little talking in the halachically impermissible parts of davening and/or laining"

      That's quite a qualification.

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    6. in my old (huge) shul they used to say there was no talking during davening because the few people that came were so far away from each other they couldn't have a conversation with each other.

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    7. "Young Israel of the Concourse (165th St.)"
      @Dave Schwartz: Just to make sure: Are you referring to the synagogue in the Bronx, near Yankee Stadium? I understand that it was later converted into a museum, when there was no longer enough of a congregation.

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    8. "there is very little talking in the halachically impermissible parts of davening and/or laining"

      "That's quite a qualification."

      True, but it is on target vis a vis the original comment, that "While this is true in general there is one thing for which the Reform do much better at HALACHIC (emph. added) observance: Nobody talks during the services. May we emulate them in this!"

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    9. To my knowledge, though my non-Orthodox exposure comes primarily from television and hearing a Friday evening service on the radio (they must hold from early Shabbos), Christian and Reform services have more bits said communally or recited by the cantor (chazzanus, anyone?) at least in proportion to Orthodox services which have more mumbly bits, the presence of which creates more opportunity for conversation.

      Not that I am advocating a shift to that model, as saying all of Shabbos davening out loud would take an extra hour or two. Just making an observation.

      A second, unrelated distinction: perhaps, we have become TOO "familiar" with shul. Again, in my understanding from TV and books, Going To Church is akin to visiting Buckingham Palace and therefore comes with greater decorum. For us, going to shul is a very routine process and therefore does not elicit as much awe and trepidation. Of course, again I am not suggesting switching to a church model, davening with a minyan multiple times daily is part of Yahadus, but perhaps we need to better balance our Ahavah with our Yir'ah...

      [and I suppose I retract everything I said if someone has more experience in these other services and can point out that I am simply factually incorrect about Reform and/or Christianity]

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  5. 1. You were wrong in your previous article, as you are wrong today, about any obligation on the part of agencies to take "ethics" into consideration. They are to supervise the food, and nothing else. Anything else enmeshes them hopelessly in hashkafic debate incapable of resolution.

    2. You were right in your previous article, as you are right today, in implying that agencies have no business involving themselves in anything else [such as "tznius"] other than the food. They are there to supervise the food, and nothing else. Anything else enmeshes them hopelessly in hashkafic debate incapable of resolution.

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    1. What kashrut agency would certify the perfectly kosher kitchen at a shomer Shabbat strip club?

      Many agencies do care about other things like what kind of other businesses the owner runs. For example, if the restaurant is closed on Shabbat but the owner has other restaurants that aren't, or the the owner owns a non-kosher restaurant in addition the kosher one, many kashrut agencies will not certify no matter how strict the standards are for the food.

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    2. So what are you saying - that you're comfortable with kosher supervisors who refuse to certify places with televisions in them? Or that you were Ok with how things used to be in Lakewood, where they once refused to be machshir pizza places with chairs? Or the recent announcement that no hechser would be given to places near the Mir if they're open past 11pm?



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    3. Rav Kotler z'tz'l personally supervised a Jewish owned bakery that was open on Shabbat. Times have changed.

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    4. What is the basis of your claim, please? This seems very unlikely.

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  6. > I would like to note that while you might have two generations of lobster-eating rabbis, it is highly unlikely that further generations of proudly discarding Jewish law and tradition will produce any rabbis or even any Jews.


    People have been saying that for two hundred years, and yet Reform is still the largest Jewish denomination.

    find it odd, from a theological POV. If you don't think that kashrus is binding, and you happen to have non-kosher food at your banquet, sure, why not. It's not a "sin," because that implies that you shouldn't be doing it, and they don't hold that there's anything wrong with it. But this, as a celebration of transgression, implies that eating treif *is* a sin. So either they are implicitly invalidating their own theological system, or they don't think it's a sin, and are thumbing their noses at those who do, which is in bad taste.

    Or nobody put quite that much thought into it, and they just thought it would be cute to reenact a legendary meal.

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    1. Possibly it is a celebration of them freeing their shackles from the concept of transgression.

      Thus the banquet is making a statement: the only transgressions are those which are ethically wrong. All others can only be harmful. Thus it is correct to celebrate freeing oneself from transgressions, even if not transgressions per se.

      Not saying I agree (or disagree). Just suggesting what their philosophy might be.

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    2. Reform Judaism is a small fraction of what it was only a generation or two ago.

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    3. "People have been saying that for two hundred years, and yet Reform is still the largest Jewish denomination."

      Not true. 200 years ago, and 100 years ago, non-Jews didn't marry Jews. The continuity problems in Reform only became apparent 50 years ago, and they became too big to hide only 30 years ago. And indeed it didn't take too long till where we are today, where the Reform movement is in its death throes.
      As for claims that it is "the largest denomination", you are too intelligent a commenter not to know:
      a) You can't trust statistics, especially self-serving ones;
      b) The people claimed by Reform include enormous numbers, quite possibly the majority, of non-Jews; and
      c) to "be reform", which consists of maybe showing up one day a year in shul, is meaningless.

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    4. I think if you look carefully at the numbers, there are more Orthodox Jews in the world than there are Reform Jews. And that's not including all the traditional-but-not-fully-observant Israelis, who would most likely identify as Orthodox if given the choice. The Reform numbers are also skewed by the huge amount of (halachic) non-Jews who so identify.

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    5. I have no stake in Reform. But I think that when predicting its demise, it's prudent to remember that people have been saying that about Reform (and Orthodoxy!) since the 1800s.

      Yavoy, I like your interpretation. Though I think the most likely explanation is that someone thought it was cute.

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    6. Yavoy, they can also redefine "ethical" as it suits them, if that is the case- and indeed they do.

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    7. "Reform Judaism is a small fraction of what it was only a generation or two ago."

      The 1971 National Jewish Population Survey reported that 30% of 5,370,000 American Jews identified as Reform. (11% identified as Orthodox.)

      The 2013 Pew survey reported that 35% of 5,300,000 American Jews identified as Reform. (10% identified as Orthodox.)

      Reform has actually grown a little in the past generation and that is reflected both in its membership statistics and the number of Reform synagogues. Orthodoxy has not.

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    8. That's self-identification. Only 14% of American Jews are members of a Reform congregation, which is a very low bar to try set. (11% Conservative.) And neither movement really exists outside the US.

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    9. >"Reform is growing, orthodoxy has not"

      You're living in a fantasy land. The Reform just got kicked out of birthright. They have no clout anymore in Israel. Their shuls continue to merge and close, one by one. Their own leadership recognizes this, and you don't?

      As for orthodox being "10% of Jews - Rabbi Pruzansky gave an interesting lecture recently on the demise of Reform, and noted wryly how he distinctly recalls as a youth he saw statistics saying orthodox were 10%. I'm not as old as he is, but I myself recall seeing figures from 30 years ago saying the same thing. For those who naively believe in these Pew statistics, we reiterate the rabbi's question: How is remotely possible that today - with the explosive growth of orthodoxy, and the concurrent contraction and assimilation of reform - that the ratio should be the same?

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    10. Rabbi Pruzansky should be sitting shiva for all the lost Jews he ignored and doing teshuva for gloating over the modern day equivalent of the loss of the ten tribes. So should all American Rabbis who sat back on their tushes and built up the walls that kept jews away over the last 50 years. The blame foe the loss of so many american jews lies firmly at their door. Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh RIP

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  7. "And there are very good reasons to be loyal to Jewish law and tradition, even from the perspective of a Jew who does not believe that the laws of kashrut are divinely mandated."

    I certainly hope this is meant rhetorically, and not as a reference of your personal beliefs. I suggest you change the sentence structure to avoid possible misunderstanding

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    1. It's referring to the people who attended the event, is that not obvious?

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  8. How do you feel about people eating "kosher style"? For example, not eating pork, shellfish, or milk and meat, but still eating non-kosher flank steak or chicken. Will our future generations be non-Jewish as well?

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  9. "not a transgression of religion, but transgression as religion" Didn't Gershom Scholem once write about the Frankist roots of the Reform Movement?

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    1. To be fair, as Scholem's specialty was kabbalah and Shabtai Tzvi, it became a "to a hammer, everything's a nail" thing and Scholem saw Shabtai Tzvi behind all of modern Judaism.

      That doesn't mean he was *entirely* wrong.

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  10. I went to a non-Jewish secondary school with a 50% Jewish intake. On the years where Pesach and Easter didn't fall together, there was school as usual during Chol Hamoed. The School kindly gave the Jewish boys their own room to eat their Matzah sandwiches in. As Jewish Head Boy ( yes....we actually had one of those as well as a regular Head boy!), I stood at the door and made sure that there were no sneaky kids with Bacon Matzah sandwiches. There were always a few of them.
    One day, a kid even tried the excuse that because eating treif was less of an Aveira than eating Chametz at Pesach....he should therefore be allowed in. I was having none of this....and the heretic was sent off to sit and eat his packed lunch on the middle school common room balcony!

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    1. And why can't bacon be bought into the matsoh room?

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    2. Probably for the same reason that bread can't be brought into the Matzah room?

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    3. There are people in Israel, indeed, who eat pork and won't eat chametz. I've even met some in the US. The pork-selling store across the street from the shuq in Jerusalem even has a sign up a few days before Pesach declaring that it is chametz-free and not to bring bread in. I took a photo of it once.

      (Then a Russian friend of mine shared *her* picture from within the shop, of two chassidim buying ham. [She herself is one of those fire-breathing right-wing and completely secular Russians.] "Does this happen a lot, Maria?" I asked. "Every time I'm in there, Nachum," she responded.)

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    4. @David.
      Presumably the room was only for pesach, so they weren't worried about eating kosher food in the same room as bacon.
      So why on pesach are they?

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    5. @Nachum Then a Russian friend of mine shared *her* picture from within the shop, of two chassidim buying ham

      I don't believe this. Once a female member of our shul went into a non-kosher store to buy a calling card. When she left she realized the cashier mistakenly gave her extra change. So, she returned to the store and heard as someone on line was saying "Those payoty buy pork when their Rabbi does not see". Secular people have a tendency of spreading such lies.

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    6. Secular people what????
      Apologize now. You idiot.

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    7. @Yavoy: good point.

      Nevertheless, if the school set aside a room for specific religious observance, it would make sense not to let people make a joke of it and lose the accommodation. This presumes that the treif matzah sandwich was not a sincerely held belief.

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  11. Caption for the picture: "Rabbi, this place is so fancy, you see how they serve a baked apple!"

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  12. "Now, it is indeed true that most kosher meat and chicken is not humanely or ethically raised."

    You made this up - let's see a source for this ridiculous declaration.

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    1. http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2017/11/how-frum-is-your-food.html

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    2. Still no source for "most".
      Secondly, who says it's not ethical? There are teshuvos in the achronim about eating stuffed gease. The Torah decides ethics not the secular world.

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    3. Rav Moshe states that force feeding veal is wrong. He cites no source. You don't need a source to decide that an activity is not ethical.

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    4. Thoroughly agreed with commenter modern orthodox. First I'd like to see some actual definition to the meaningless words, "humanely and ethically." These words have different meaning to different people. Since the allegation is that "most" kosher food is produced unethically, it means that the industry standard itself is unethical. By what right does an individual have standing to say the whole industry is wrong?

      Assuming we even see a definition we can all agree to, I'd then like to see real, hard core proof - a link to someone's opinion is not proof - that most kosher chicken or meat is produced unethically by the standard we agree to. I can virtually guarantee both of these steps - definition plus proof - cannot be met.

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    5. Of course Mr. "All statistics are false" (DF) can guarantee that no proof to satisfy him will be cited. What a prediction!

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    6. It is only necessary Rubashkin and the PETA videos.

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    7. To Sholomo - if someone wants to claim the kosher industry is unethical, he has to a) define "unethical", and then b) prove it. עד כאן כולי עלמא לא פליגי. Now, there are different standards of proof. Yours might be lower than mine, or it might be higher. Or you might acknowledge that people are subconsciously inclined to assign different standards of proof to propositions they naturally accept or reject. Whatever the case, why argue about it now? Let's see the proof first, and then we can debate endlessly afterwards whether the proof is sufficient or not.

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    8. Is any meat today kosher?
      http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/is-any-meat-today-kosher/

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    9. Seems there are arguments among the agenda ridden world of "ethical meat"
      http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-david-rosen-not-all-kosher-meat-comes-from-cruel-factory-farms/

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    10. Modern_Orthodox, did you go so far as to actually read the article you linked to, or did you just like the title. The writer says "The Rabbi’s description of factory farming is disturbing, accurate, and astute. What Rabbi Rosen fails to do is present a path to resist the cruelty of factory farming while continuing to eat meat—and it is on this point that I wish to respectfully challenge him."

      And this
      "
      n his post the Rabbi correctly states that “Chickens in today’s factory farms grow three times as fast as they did fifty years ago as a result of selective breeding programs and the use of antibiotics” and that “This leads to crippling bone disorders and spinal defects causing acute pain and difficulty in moving.” This cruel and commonplace practice of breeding chickens and turkeys to grow at an abnormal rate is of great concern to us at JIFA and addressing this problem was our first priority when founding the organization a little over a year ago."

      The response to Rabbi Rosen is a marketing piece on behalf of JIFA and whilst I wish them success their view in no way says what you tried to present it as saying.

      In other words, you're a fraud.

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    11. Just read the comments on the articles. Countless posters disputing these basic "facts"

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  13. The idea of Reform rabbis promoting banquets like this is quite bothersome, even within the doctrines of Reform.

    As I understand it, the URJ does not preach non-observance, but teaches that one is supposed to study and learn about halacha, in order to come to a personal (and presumably well thought-out) opinion about which laws to obey and which to ignore. To an Orthodox Jew, this is nonsense, but it is an important fact to keep in mind when discussing Reform.

    Based on this, a Jew can keep all the mitzvot and be completely within the realm of Reform if he is keeping them out of a personal decision instead of out of a belief in a divine obligation.

    As such, Reform congregations and rabbis should not take actions that make it difficult or impossible for such a Jew to be a member. For this reason, the Reform congregations near where I live have rules about prohibiting pork and shellfish (and other blatantly treif) food from the synagogue. Apparently, this opinion is not universal.

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    1. But that doesn't explain why the *rabbis*, of all people, should do this. Conservative Jews are pretty unobservant, but their rabbis are.

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  14. It's not their fault if they never learned you are what your food eats!

    "Whether cattle, beasts, birds, or fish of the sea—among all of them appear right and left, Compassion and Judgment. Whatever comes from the side of the right, the side of Compassion, we are permitted to eat; and all those coming from the side of the left, the side of Judgment, we are forbidden to eat [i.e., predators, scavengers, and bottom feeders]" (Zohar 3:41b).

    https://thenutgarden.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/we-eat-anything-we-want-and-we-are-strong-and-healthy-and-our-limbs-are-fit/

    https://thenutgarden.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/yhwh-saves-both-man-and-beast/



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    1. Pigs aren't carnivores, you know.

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    2. Of course, every time something like this happens- or every time a group of JTS students sign an anti-Jerusalem letter, or USY allows mixed dating, or a Reform gay marriage takes place- a Reform or Conservative activist trying to get their movements recognized in Israel, who may actually agree with all of the above, smacks his head.

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    3. @Nachum pigs are scavengers, if I'm not wrong.

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  15. "And Rabbi Avi Shafran's recent disavowal of Kashrut agencies having any responsibility for this beyond government legislation is incorrect from a Torah perspective"


    Rabbi Shafran: while kosher food producers are required by halachah to act ethically in every way, any lapses on that score have no effect on the kashrus of the food they produce.

    Do you actually disagree with Rabbi Shafran's point? The prior post you linked to seems to agree with it.

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    1. It's technically true but completely misleading. He was arguing with someone who was claiming that the Orthodox community is neglecting its obligations. To point out that the food is technically kosher is beside the point.

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    2. No. The sole point of his article was that Rabbi Yankelowtiz misrepresented his claim. The quote I provided was the claim Rabbi Shafran alleges he made, which is contrast to what R Yankelowitz wrote.

      I know you have a personal beef with people associated with the Agudah, but this is just unfair. You should be better than this.

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    3. Rabbi Shafran does not work for a kashrut organization and his organization does not have to deal with issues like this.

      My own rabbi forbade me from eating at a kosher restaurant whose rav hamachshir pled guilty in federal court in a housing fraud scam. In fact, he forbade me as soon as the rav hamachshir was indicted. He insisted that Rav Soloveitchik z'tz'l believed that unethical people are not trustworthy in kashrut and it is a matter of historical record that Rav Soloveitchik spent a lot of time in Boston cleaning up both the ethics (in particular, mistreatment of workers) and ritual standards of kashrut there -- and was almost run out of town as a result.

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  16. The Jewish Bible [Tanach or O.T. = Only Testament]
    mentions the importance of eating kosher in:
    Daniel chapter 1, Ezekiel chapter 4 and Isaiah chapter 66.

    Daniel would not eat the food from the King, even though it was probably tastier and more expensive than what he normally ate -- because the King’s food was NOT kosher. (Bible, Book of Daniel, chapter 1)

    "G0D will make a feast for His servants, the righteous. All those who did NOT eat forbidden meats will be worthy to see it..." (Vayikra Rabbah 13:3)

    "In the future, G-d will make a special feast for Jews who did not eat non-kosher meats." (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Re-eh, chapter 6)

    "Why did G-d command the Jewish People the Laws of Forbidden Foods? So the Jews could earn a good reward by obeying those laws." (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Shmini, chapter 8).

    Eating non-kosher birds causes the consumer to absorb their cruelty. (Ramban commentary on Leviticus chapter 11 verse 13)

    When a Jew discovered that he unintentionally ate non-kosher food, his hair stood upright and he panicked greatly.
    SOURCE: Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Balak, chapter 15

    Rambam vs. Reform Judaism:
    https://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2017/11/rambam-vs-reform-judaism.html

    How a Reform Rabbi Became Orthodox (true story):
    http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-did-reform-rabbi-become-orthodox-jew.html

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    1. "Daniel would not eat the food from the King, even though it was probably tastier and more expensive than what he normally ate -- because the King’s food was NOT kosher. (Bible, Book of Daniel, chapter 1) "

      I credit my Epidemiology professor Dr. Leon Gordis z'l for pointing out to me that this was the first example of a clinical intervention study with a comparison group ever recorded. The next one would be in the 18th century.

      It is not clear that the vegetarian food Daniel and his friends ate had a hechsher though. ;)

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  17. “So long as you do not separate from forbidden foods, no answer in the world will help you, since your eyes are blinded from seeing things properly.” (Maimonides speaking to his student Rabbi Yehudah ibn Tibbon)

    Whoever is careful with these things increases the sanctity and purity of his life-force. (Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Foods, last chapter, last verse).

    If the cost of kosher food is many times that of non-kosher foods, a Jew must spend any amount of additional money rather than eat something forbidden. (Teshuvot Radbaz 1:145 & Pitchei Teshuvah 157:4)

    Daniel, Hananniah, Mishael and Azariah were saved from their crisis only because they had NOT eaten non-kosher food. (Zohar, Parshat Mishpatim, page 125B)

    “But many in Israel stood firm, and resolved in their hearts NOT to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than be defiled by [non-kosher] food” (1st Macabees, 1:60)

    Why did the Jews in the time of Esther deserve total destruction?
    Because they ate the cooked food of the King [of Persia, that was NOT kosher].
    SOURCE: Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Behar, chapter 4

    Reform Judaism vs. Real Judaism:
    http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/05/guest-post-real-judaism.html

    Sephardic Jews REJECT Reform Judaism:
    https://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2017/07/sephardim-reject-reform.html

    How Reform Jews CHEATED on the Pew survey:
    http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/06/reform-jews-cheated-pew-survey.html

    ReplyDelete
  18. Reform understand Jewish law and Jewish tradition differently than Orthodox, and Reform would claim it is the Reform who are who are also following Jewish law and tradition. They understand Judaism as an evolving religion.

    “What ethical principle is there that requires one to eat non-kosher food?”

    What ethical principle demands one eat only kosher food ?
    Arguably, it is unethical do demand people should refrain from eating foods they may enjoy or that may be beneficial to them.

    “Talmud states that for every non-kosher food there are kosher equivalents. “

    How would the Talmud know this ? Were the Rabbis visiting gentile food buffets ?

    Depends what ‘equivalent’ means. The chemical compounds, elements, vitamins, minerals, textures, tastes, odors, found in non kosher food sometimes overlap kosher foods but sometimes getting a match is probably impossible.

    “There is no nutritional or ethical need to eat non-kosher food.”

    I disagree about the ethics. Nutritionally - I tend to disagree as well.

    “And there are very good reasons to be loyal to Jewish law and tradition, even for Jews who do not believe that the laws of kashrut are divinely mandated.”

    Like what ? That kosher food is healthier ? For cultural reasons ? Kosher Slaughter being a very humane way of killing animals ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the issue is very few orthodox Jews have taken the time to actually understand reform philosophy / theology. Hence they go on tirades about this kind of thing.

      Delete
  19. Normally when I see someone eating treif, I would wish them "בתיאבון", better that they are in the category of "מומר לתיאבון" and not "מומר להכעיס", although it seems pretty clear that the people attending this banquet are doing it to make a statement (מומר להכעיס).

    It is very rare these days to see an avaira done להכעיס, so much so that it is difficult for many people to even understand the concept. I guess that we should thank these "Rabbis" for helping us to understand the difference between the 2 types of מומר.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The gemoro tells us that שביק התירא ואכיל איסורא is a מומר להכעיס

      Delete
  20. Natan, if pigs are not carnivorous, can you explain the gemara in pesachim about chuldahs and chazir eating nefel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pigs will eat anything, including dead bodies

      Delete
  21. Completely unsubstantiated that somehow factory farmed animals experience any sort of discomfort or pain that would label the practice inhumane or unethical.

    Writing a daily blog on the other hand "almost always" assures a level of inaccuracy in "facts" and unsubstantiated material.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Constant trolling however, assures that you merely annoy everybody.
      If you don't have anything useful to say, don't say anything.

      Delete
    2. Modern_Troll, here. Read this
      כתבה מעניינת באתר ynet:
      https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5069000,00.html

      Delete
  22. I don't disagree with anything you wrote just wondering that this is the kind of piece you would find in the Yated.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I would assume that the vast majority of non-kosher meat is also not "humanely and ethically raised".

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Rabbi Slifkin,

    I'm the author of the piece. I'm not going to respond to everything here (what an exercise in potentially fatal masochism that would be!), but I do have to inform you that your little aside assuming that the food was not ethically raised is off-base. I'm not sure what led you to make that assumption, but much of the food scene in the Bay Area is very conscientious about ethically raised meat. (Note, for example, my brief description of the restaurant Kitava.) Of course, I couldn't include every little detail of the event in the article, but one of the sponsors was a free-range farm in Northern California where the rabbit and pork at the event were raised.

    -damw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then it's great! I feel better now.

      Delete
    2. Your piece was well-written, and you captured the essence of Reform well. Despite your (odd) enthusiasm for the spectacle and acceptance of the organizer's (false) claims at face value, your job was simply to report on it, which you did, albeit while inserting your opinions, typical of media today. You weren't responsible for this massive embarrassment. You have no need to respond to anything.

      Delete
  25. This is really nothing. Reform Judaism has ceremonies to sanctify things that are not only forbidden to Jews, but forbidden to gentiles:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/140543/jewish-abortion-rituals
    https://www.pinterest.co.uk/engaygedwedding/jewish-gay-weddings/?lp=true


    The Reform movement is *much* worse than Sadduceanism, much worse than Christianity, much worse than Karaism, much worse than Sabbateanism. The only 'Jewish' movement that even comes close to rivalling it is Frankism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Abortion is not universally forbidden even among Orthodox Poskim.

      Delete
  26. Why have you ignored the latest scandal in your own MO community?? JTA and Forward have written this week about the 30 yr (!!) history of abuse inflicted by Stanley Rosenfeld, convicted felon, who started out at SAR, was passed to RAMAZ, was passed to Westchester JH and passed to various temples in RI to abuse kids. Below article discussed the passaround and how wide spread it was know.
    Start working on your own MO house, instead of throwing stones at haredim all the time.


    http://sol-reform.com/News/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/The-rabbi-in-the-bath-house-is-unsuited-by-definition-_-Jonathan-Javitt-_-The-Blogs-_-The-Times-of-Israel.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous: Unfortunately child sexual abuse and its cover-up is pervasive across all elements of society both Jewish and non-Jewish. It goes from USA Swimming all the way to Satmar.

      Delete
  27. OTOH Rav Kotler z'tz'l himself certified a bakery that was Jewish owned and open on Shabbat.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Know what would be great? If, for once in history, folks who wanted to come up with their own religion would do it without claiming to supplant or supersede my religion.

    Want to believe that some dude is the son of god and is also god? Gei gezunterheit (as my parents would say), but don't try to claim you're some kind "New Israel" with a "new covenant".

    Want to adhere to some kind of leftist pseudoreligion that not only permits but somehow glorifies "transgression as religion"? Fine, but maybe don't call it Judaism.

    It gets rather tiresome when every passing heterodox movement tries to co-opt Judaism's millenia of tradition and moral authority to sell their own adulterated product.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Imagine that the sadduccees probably said the same thing about the preushim.

      Delete
    2. @Just Curious Are you sure Judaism did not grow out of earlier religions ? FYI - Nobody came up with a new religion called Christianity. Rather, Christianity was an evolution of Judaism.

      Delete
    3. Both of you (fozziebear and Alter Cocker) seem to be misunderstanding me.

      I have no doubt that the Sadducees considered the Pharisees heterodox/heretical. The point is, the Pharisees won out, and became the foundation of the normative Rabbinic Judaism that we Jews have practiced for the last 2,000+ years.

      I have no illusions that the "normative Rabbinic Judaism" we continue to practice is not identical to "original", Mosaic Judaism. It does, however, undoubtedly reflect a continuous line of transmission of a tradition that has grown and evolved over the course of generations into its present form ("lo bashamayim hi", and all that).

      Alter Cocker, even if you want to posit that Judaism arose from other religions, my point remains the same: Judaism doesn't say "oh sure, we evolved from ancient Near Eastern cultic practices (or whatever), we've just perfected them". On the contrary, Judaism traditionally emphasizes its distinctiveness and diametrical opposition to those religions. Traditional Christianity, on the other hand, is entirely dependent upon its very evolution from Judaism (as you correctly point out) for legitimacy.

      All of which only makes my point: had some guy made up Christianity out of whole cloth, he likely would've been laughed at and forgotten (similarly, a belief system that involves "transgression as religion"), but Christianity glories in using its usurpation of Judaism as an imprimatur of its prestige/authority.

      What bothers me is not that other religions have evolved/spun off from Judaism, it is the fact that they continue to use their ever more tenuous connection to Judaism to justify their supposed abrogation of Judaism.

      Delete
  29. Your mentioning the peacock reminded me of this joke from Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto, chapter 7:

    ". . . . like that story of the peacock. A man had one presented to him, and as this is such rare diet, he went to the Rav to ask if it was kosher. The Rabbi said 'No,' and confiscated the peacock. Later on the man heard that the Rabbi had given a banquet, at which his peacock was the crowning dish. He went to the Rabbi, and reproached him. 'I may eat it,' replied the Rabbi, 'because my father considers it permitted, and we may always go by what some eminent Son of the Law decides. But you, unfortunately, came to me for an opinion, and the permissibility of peacock is a point on which I have always disagreed with my father.'"

    ReplyDelete
  30. Why does Dr Slifkin's blog attract so many out-spoken anti orthodox individuals?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not anti-orthodox at all. Just anti-lies.
      I assure you there is a difference.

      Delete

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