Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mi La-Shem...La-Tzohar

The Rabbis of Tzohar have announced the creation of an alternative kashrut framework, in the wake of the impossible situation set up by the present denizens of the Rabbanut and their handlers.

I unequivocally applaud the initiative by Tzohar.

1) No one has ever said that one MUST use the Heter Mekhira. If one wishes to use Otzar Bes Din or buy Arab produce, that is his right. Indeed, I strongly encourage anyone seeking a higher level of observance (though, on principle, I refuse to subject Jews to bankruptcy buying from Palestinians - whose money funds the murder of other Jews. My late, beloved friend, Rabbi Dr. David Ha-Levi Applebaum, HT'D, did not rely on the Heter Mekhira, and bought all of his vegetables from areas outside the area held by Olei Bavel. After Zman ha-Bi'ur he told me with a smile that he can live without tomatoes. Buying from Sonei Yisroel, however, was out of the question).

However, as Reb Yisroel Salanter once said, no one has a right to do mitzvos 'oyf yenems playtzes.' The Haredim have no right to impose their view on the entire Jewish population, and try to bring the Israeli economy to its knees. Never mind the outrageous and incalculably horrible Hillul HaShem that the rabbinate and its Haredi handlers are causing; just as the rest of the Jews in this country want to be more Jewish. The Heter Mekhira, especially the way it is presently implemented, is absolutely valid. [Though, once the majority of the Jewish People live here (in a decade or less), all bets will be off.] Therefore, הנח להם לישראל. אם אינם נביאים בני נביאים הם

2) The RZ rabbanim of Tzohar are, overwhelmingly, Rashe Yeshiva and Rabbanim with impeccable credentials in learning, psak and (more importantly) Yiras Shamayim. The canard that they are somehow not up to snuff reminds me of the same type of idiocy that was directed at RY at RIETS. (Indeed, a very prominent member of the Rabbanut recently offered that it is absolutely impossible that there are Gedole Torah in America. When the name of mori ve-rabbi Rav Schechter was raised he begrudgingly was willing to give him a 'maybe.')

Et La-Asot La_shem, Qiyyemu at Toratekha...

(The above is an edited version of a comment posted at Hirhurim.)

10 comments:

Menachem Butler said...

It seems to me, at least, that these efforts of the Tzohar rabbis seek to undermine the authority and credibility of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. In the long run -- far after this shemitta cycle is over -- that's what will remain. What else have these Tzohar rabbis PRACTICALLY accomplished in their relatively nascent existence??

mycroft said...

Menachem Butler said...
It seems to me, at least, that these efforts of the Tzohar rabbis seek to undermine the authority and credibility of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

The Chief Rabbinate should be abolished-when it was controlled by RZ-Chareidi wouldn't follow it-now when Chareidi control it-RZ/MO won't follow it. Judaism does not follow what the political contrrol ofthe moment is.

Yaeli said...

Wow do you really think that the majority of the Jewish people will live here in less than 10 years? That would be amazing if so! Something to look forward to :) Shana tova and chag sameach --and thanks for your ever-informative posts!

Ben Bayit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Bayit said...

I have to agree with Mr. Butler - some of these Rabbis have an agenda.

Setting up private kashrut organizations that will supervise products that do not have rabbanut supervision is illegal in the State of Israel. I fail to see why some of the rabbanim involved in this venture (certainly some of the loudest as far as media presence goes) were dead-set against civil disobedience when it came to the disengagement, sought to prevent the undermining of state organs such as the police and the army and were always consistent in publicizing the limited role they saw for Rabbis in what they deemed as "political" issues, yet here they are willingly advocating breaking the law and undermining a duly appointed/elected organ of the State. why is this different?

I want to stress that I agree with this initiative for teh simple reason that the next time some of these Rabbis shout the mantra of "go back to your cave" or "do not get involved in politics" and other such fig-leafs for what is really their own left-leaning position, we can always take out this example of civil disobedience. Also, hopefully rabbanim involved with this such as Rav Lior - who have been consistent - will be able to show their more "mamlachti" counterparts how the ENTIRE state apparatus is corrupt and that they can't pick and choose when to be "mamlachti" and when not.

I want to add that the issue of the majority of the Jews is not so simple at all. I have heard RHS of YU say that khal yisrael does not mean the body constituted by halchically defined Jewish person (and certainly not some WJC population survey) but rather the body constituted by halachically defined Jews who maaminim bikarei emunah. if that is the case it could very well be that the majority of khal yisrael is already residing in Eretz Yisrael thus rendering the heter mechira moot already. all the more so if Tzohar is out there re-judaizing the entire population as you claim they are. what will they do with the heter mechira if they are even more successful beyond their wildest dreams?
point to ponder.

Ezra Butler said...

R' Dr. Appelbaum, zt"l, hy"d, followed something that is righteous for an individual, but is impossible to ask an entire nation to follow.

If we remember the origins of shmitta, we can remember that it wasn't meant to bankrupt people, rather it was meant to enable everyone to partake in the produce uniformly.

If now, the economy has changed, and fictions are being created (i.e. heter mechira or otzar beit din), both that are resulting in higher prices to the end consumer, I must ask, is this what shmitta is supposed to be?

In a country where there is an ongoing battle to get the poor to eat healthy, how can they possibly do it, when tomatoes cost more than avocados!

I agree that a solution must be found, but it cannot be a solution that simply follows the letter of the law to the upteenth degree, just so we can all check off that we are keeping another mitzva.

Yet, I remember now, we are not positive-historical Jews. We are Orthodox. The spirit of the law means nothing, the law is just a barrier that we have to come up with great lomdus to get around.

Perhaps, I dare to say, that a truly halakhic Shmitta is something that in today's Israel that כל העם לא יכול לעמוד בה.

(Yes, I know that I am am taking the line out of context.)

Moreover, I can say personally that shmitta is actually driving people apart instead of bringing people together. People are refusing to eat meals with other people, or in restaurants that they may in other instances dine at.

I am cognizant that the nascent Tzohar won't change anything for the social fabric of the right-wing of society, but hopefully at least some economic and social good will come out of it.

And Prof., I seem to remember a kashrut agency (a few years back) giving hashgahot to Tel Aviv eateries open on Shabbat, but only on the food (not to the establishment, per se). Do you have any knowledge about that -- as I recall they were also "yirei shamayim" et al...

Moadim L'Simcha.

ADDeRabbi said...

i am very skeptical of the intestinal fortitude of the majority of tzohar rabbanim. they have always been afraid to transform their critique of the rabbanut into full-fledged austritt. this will not be any different. they are using the threat in order to get the rabbanut to back down. i don't know if they have a 'nachshon be aminadav' who is willing to get arrested for the cause.

bar_kochba132 said...

Ben Bayit makes an excellent point that some people are "mamlachti" when it suits them, but not in other conditions. However, I think the step is a good one. The official state Rabbinate has become a political football. At one time, the leaders of the state had some Jewish/Zionist identity and felt the religious community should be mobilized for Zionist goals, thus they wanted a Rabbinate that would provide some sort of spiritual leadership in that direction (I am not saying that it necessarily lived up to this, but the fact that Ben-Gurion wanted someone of the stature of Rav Soloveitchik as Chief Rabbi shows that he did respect the institution's potential capacity for spiritual leadership and influence). Today's secular leaders have no such interest and view the Rabbinate as simply a plum to be handed over to those that can help them at the moment politically.
I think it is healthy and democratic for various independent Rabbinical bodies to exist and compete with each other. I think it is good for the BADATZ of Eida Haredit to provide services for people who want them, including those who don't want to rely on the Heter Mechira, similarly, a pro-Zionist INDEPENDENT Rabbinate, more in tuned with a "national" agenda (e.g. by supporting the Heter Mechira and those restaurants that want to use it) and more open to communication with the secular community can also serve an important bridge between the secular and the (at least national) religious community.
I think ADDeRabbi is wrong in viewing this as an "austritt" move, that caused a real cleavage in Am Israel and led to a perception by the "separators" (i.e. pro-austritt) people that the other camp was lost to the Jewish people for good, leading to really poisoned relations between the camps for decades. The fact is that the split between the RZ and Haredi camps has already existed for years, in addition to the fact that the Haredim view their taking over the state Rabbinate as a "pragmatic" move, rather than an ideological one, would prevent the creation of a new, separate RZ Rabbinate from turning into another, new intra-Orthodox war. We can always pray.

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Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I'm curious...do you know why did Dr. David Applebaum H'YD prefer produce from outside of EY, than home grown Israeli produce supplied via Otzar Beit Din?