Rav Belsky on Anisakis Worms
I recently received Rav Yisroel Belsky's formal responsum on the anisakis worms that are found in fish (you can download it here). It is an excellent, powerful responsum in which he makes two main points:
There is no significant difference between the phenomenon of anisakis worms today and any other worms that have existed.
No halachic authorities, from Chazal through Shulchan Aruch, have ever given qualifiers on their permission to eat worms found in the flesh of fish.
Rav Belsky draws the clear (and to my mind, undisputable) conclusion that you either say that all worms have always been prohibited, or you say that all worms have always been, and still are, permitted.
Now, Rav Belsky's own conclusion is that Chazal were correct, and the heter is based on the fact that the worm completes its growth in the flesh of the fish, not that it spontaneously generated there. As I discussed in an earlier post, I think it's clear that Chazal did mistakenly believe in spontaneous generation. But, following Rav Herzog etc., I would say that Chazal's ruling is still valid and thus all worms found in the flesh of fish are kosher. In other words, I agree with Rav Belsky's conclusion, while disputing a component of the reasoning. I can also understand (although I dispute) those who take the approach of R. Lampronti and say that, since Chazal's science was in error, the heter was invalid from the outset.
But what all these three approaches (Rav Belsky, Rav Herzog, and Rav Lampronti) have in common is consistency. Either worms were always permitted, or they were always forbidden. The current group of rabbonim who seek to prohibit anisakis are trying to claim that these worms are forbidden, while the worms that Chazal permitted were indeed permissible. But Rav Belsky discusses all the reasons why some people claim that the anisakis worms found today are problematic, and shows how according to that reasoning, there would never be any worm that we could be certain was permissible. And Chazal said that not only some, but all worms found in the flesh are permissible, without drawing any distinctions.
The bottom line is that those rabbonim who prohibit these worms are effectively undermining Chazal due to their acceptance of science. Which is odd, because that is exactly what they condemned me for doing! But apparently, if a rav strenuously denies that he is disputing Chazal due to science (even if others prove him to be doing exactly that), it is socially acceptable in Charedi circles, since he has not undermined Chazal's authority. I think that this does actually make sense, strange as it may sound.
(I was intrigued by one part of Rav Belsky's responsum, regarding Rav Moshe Feinstein:
וכבר נתפרסם תגבתו של מרן רשכבה"ג הגאון האדיר רב משה פיינשטיין זצוקללה"ה בעת הגישם לעיני כבוד תורתו זצ"ל ענין הנ"ל ואמר, על דבר זה אין לענות בכתב כי פשוט ההיתר מדברי חז"ל והפוסקים ואין מה להוסיף עליו, ובזה הורה לנו מרן זצ"ל הוראה ברורה שכאן טובה השתיקה וכבוד אלקים הסתר דבר
What is the application here of "the glory of God is in the concealment of the matter"? Is it something to do with the distastefulness of the heter, or due to its casting doubts on the scientific knowledge and rulings of Chazal, or due to the fact that the very discussion of something to which Chazal gave blanket permission effectively undermines their authority?)