Of Worms and Rabbinic Authority
Yesterday, a new ban against fish containing anisakis worms was published (reproduced below). This one has Rav Elyashiv and Rav Wosner signed on to it.
I posted about this topic last year on three occasions. In my first post, I argued that although Chazal permitted such fish based on a misunderstanding regarding how these worms are generated, their ruling is nevertheless binding. In my second post, I analyzed Rav Belsky's responsum permitting such fish, and I argued that those rabbonim who prohibit it are effectively undermining Chazal due to their acceptance of science - which is odd, because that is exactly what they condemned me for doing! Finally, I posted a (fake) kashrus alert about honey not being kosher, which illustrated the logical corollary of prohibiting fish containing anisakis worms.
But whether one thinks that anisakis worms are permitted or prohibited, this latest giluy da'as is notable for perfectly illustrating the innovative charedi approach to rabbinic authority. Traditionally, halachic verdicts were given in the form of responsa - detailed explanations of how the verdicts were reached. But today we have verdicts with no explanations. Furthermore, traditionally, different places, and certainly different countries, each followed the decisions of their own halachic authorities. Yet here, the signatures of Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Feivel Cohen and Rav Aharon Schechter appear under a letter in which their prohibition is apparently based upon their endorsement of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Wosner as being the senior Gedolim of our era, instead of as a result of they themselves having researched the topic and concluding that this fish is prohibited. This is a novel and disturbing approach, and one can only hope that the OU will maintain the courage and integrity to stay with the traditional approach to halachic authority.
(Note: Due to this topic being immediately relevant, I removed the post "Dealing with Crises of Faith" that I put up earlier, which will appear tomorrow instead.)