Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Who Would You Trust More?

Checking for worms (Arutz Sheva)
Mudslinging is not one of my favorite tactics. I am not inclined therefore to listen to people or organizations that use it to further their agenda. Even when I might agree with them, or otherwise support them.

Apparently it is not, however, beneath the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to resort to such tactics in  furtherance of their goal. Which in this case is to retain control over all Kashrus matters in Israel. From Arutz Sheva:
The Tzohar Rabbinical organization is fast becoming like the Conservative movement," senior Rabbinate officials said, "and it would be good for the public to understand that the struggle for the kashrut system is not between the Rabbinate and Tzohar, but between the Rabbinate and the Conservative movement, which has taken over Tzohar. 
"Hashgacha Pratit is an organization whose leaders and management are self-declared Conservatives, and the organization is heavily funded by charities such as the Schusterman Foundation and the Leichtag Foundation, who perpetually fund Conservative and LGBT organizations. 
After trying to find such connections in an online search, I found no evidence of it. Instead I found this in a 2016 Jerusalem Post article:
Hashgacha Pratit was founded by religious Jerusalemites, including Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, also a member of the Jerusalem Municipal Council for the Yerushalmim party. The initiative arose out of a protest against what has frequently been alleged as bad practices inherent in the kashrut supervision service provided by the rabbinate, but the organization has faced concerted opposition from the Chief Rabbinate.
No mention about the Conservative Movement in any fashion. If one wants to see exactly what Hashgacha Pratit is about - watch the promotional video below. (It is in Hebrew with English subtitles.)

Any objective observer of this debate would have to see the calm rational response expressed by Tzohar founder, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein to be far more acceptable without any desire to hurt the Rabbinate.  Unlike the Chief Rabbinate that wants to destroy Tzohar - Tzohar does not have as its goal to destroy the Chief Rabbinate. Quite the contrary. By creating this non profit subsidiary - they want to create a competitive Kashrus environment that will incentivize the Chief Rabbinate to improve. Here is what Rabbi Feuerstein said:
"With a heavy heart, and after much deliberation, we decided to set out. I will reiterate once more: We are not warring against the Rabbinate, we are disciples of Rabbi Kook," said Rabbi Feuerstein, founder of the modern Rabbinate in Israel, "and we seek only to honor and glorify the Rabbinate.
"But we cannot remain silent in face of the prevailing desecration of G-d in how the public perceives kashrut. Therefore we made our decision in consultation with the Council of Tzohar Rabbis, most of whom supported the process of establishing a non-profit subsidiary of Tzohar which would provide halakhic supervision, subject to and within the framework of the Supreme Court's decision on the matter."
Rabbi Feuerstein explained that the goal is not to attack or to discredit state kashrut. "Our goal is to sanctify the name of G-d and endear Judaism throughout the nation. We want the Chief Rabbinate to be the regulator that directs the various kashrut providers…  "Our goal is to increase light and holiness, not strife and criticism. 
I have to ask, Which approach sanctifies God’s name and which doesn’t? I think the answer is obvious.

I am not an opponent of the Chief Rabbinate. I do not want to see it dismantled. I do not believe that they are insincere or that they simply want power for its own sake. I believe that their intentions are more noble than that. They want to insure that Kashrus standards remain high and see this new organization endangering that by enticing food purveyors away from the Rabbinate and into a Kashrus agency they probably believe has lower standards of Kashrus.

Furthermore, by allowing one agency to compete with the Rabbinate, it will open the floodgates to many more - making it nearly impossible to know which ones can be trusted. I think that is a legitimate fear.  It would have been a fair point to debate. Although I think they are clearly wrong about Tzohar’s Kashrus standards..

As I indicated in an earlier post, I can hear both sides of the argument. What I cannot hear is the mudslinging tactic used by the Chief Rabbinate. Let them make their case based on merit.

What they have succeeded in doing with their mudslinging is making themselves look desperate. It undermines credibility when one has noting substantial to say and resorts to something like that. Accusations that Tzohar is now controlled by the Conservative Movement – and are themselves becoming Conservative - is a low blow. One that should be beneath an organization that is supposed to represent the wisdom, ethics, and integrity of the Torah. 

Instead of fighting  Tzohar it would be far better if the Chief Rabbinate would face Tzohar’s challenge and improve Kasrhus  supervision so that more people will be able to observe it. Shouldn’t that be the goal of any Kashrus agency?