Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Impudent Rabbi

A few months ago on the eve of Pesach, I was compelled to register a protest against the besmirching of a Talmid Chacham by a couple of Rabbanim.

The two were officials at the rabbinical councils in their respective communities. They questioned the Hashgacha of Rav Moshe Soloveichik on Streit’s products for Pesach. By questioning Rav Moshe they questioned his father, Rav Ahron Soloveichik as well. It was Rav Moshe who was his father’s emissary -Shaliach for many years – taking care of all Kashrus issues for Streit’s who was under Rav Ahron’s Hashgacha for decades.

Of course they never dared to question it while he was alive. But last year they questioned it. They called in to serious question standards of supervision of Rav Moshe and called for a removal of all Streit’s products from the shelves just days before Yom Tov! Of course this was all done in a clever way. They simply said that all private Hechsherim cannot be trusted. While that is true it was obvious that this move was aimed at Streit’s and Rav Moshe.

That caused a big stir in the world of Kashrus. And I’m sure it hurt Streit’s financially. Their accusation was baseless and ignorant. It was no doubt an attempt to prove how Frum their Vaad was. It was underhanded and disgusting in the extreme. They had absolutely no basis despite their quoted speculations about possible problems or that Rav Moshe didn’t ‘swim in Kashrus waters’!

I said at the time and I will repeat it here. Rav Moshe Soloveichik is as Ehlrich as they come. All of Rav Ahron’s children and grandchildren are. They define the word. To accuse Rav Ahron’s oldest son – the one he trusted to carry out his Hashgachos for many years prior to his death - is an insult in the extreme to both Rav Moshe and his illustrious father!

It was because of that outrage that I said that they ought to be put into Cherem. As far as I know they have never retracted their irresponsible comments and actions.

In today’s Jewish Star it was reported that Streit’s has made a business decision to add the Kof-K - a national Kashrus organization’s Hechsher to that of Rav Moshe’s for next Pesach. I understand their decision and don’t blame them. But it’s too bad it had to come to this. Because it casts doubt on Rav Moshe’s Hashgacha which I am certain is superior to that of the Kof-K - a fine and trustworthy organization that I - among others - rely upon. The response by those two Rabbanim is as follows:

Rabbi Yosef Eisen, rabbinic coordinator of the Vaad of the Five Towns, pronounced the news about the Kof-K and Streit’s to be “wonderful.” Would he expect any problems next Pesach about allowing stores in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway to stock Streit’s matzo?“ Absolutely not,” he said.

Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld, who heads the Queens Vaad and led the way on the initial Streit’s ban, was more cautious. Obviously, we’re very delighted that they’re taking a national hashgacha,” he said, but “we’ll have to see how they proceed. That’s something that’s going to have to be left to our kashruth committee.”

Rabbi Eisen gave a somewhat predictable response by saying that he thinks it’s wonderful. Burt as I pointred out it still leaves the impression that if left to Rav Moshe- it wouldn’t be so wonderful and would still be removed from the shelves next Pesach.

That is far from a mea culpa from him. He and Rabbi Schoenfeld are after all the ones responsible for the terrible Motzie Shem Ra on Rav Moshe in the first place.

But it is Rabbi Schoenfeld who has my greatest contempt. He still doesn’t like Streits. The Kof- K apparently is not good enough for him – if Rav Moshe is still involved.

“we’ll have to see how they proceed ?! He has never questioned any of the Kof-K Pesach products before or since. But for some inexplicable reason he still wants to wait and see how they proceed. This is a not so subtle threat to keep Streit’s off the shelves if they don’t proceed along the lines he wants. What exactly is he looking for? Rav Moshe’s resignation?!

I cannot believe this man is involved in any rabbinic position of authority. I defy him to produce any evidence that Rav Moshe’s Hashgacha is anything but superior. He has as of yet not done that. There is absolutely no testimony by anyone of any wrongdoing or miss-step by Rav Moshe. I know the measure of the man. If there is any problem is ever brought to his attention, Rav Moshe does not cover it up or deny it. He investigates it and if there is a problem he corrects it immediately.

Rabbi Schoenfeld remains unrepentant! If I were a resident of Queens I would call for his immediate resignation from the Vaad for the continued besmirching the name of an Ehrliche Talmid Chacham and - by inference – one of the Gedolei HaDor of the last generation - his father Rav Ahron Soloveichik.