Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Besmirching an Ehlriche Talmid Chacham

I can’t believe I have to write these words on Erev Pesach. But I have no choice. It is with great sadness that I must report that one of the most Ehrliche names in Kashrus has been besmirched by certain Rabbanim. When it comes to Kashrus - Rav Ahron Soloveichik is a name that was synonymous with the name Streit’s. When it comes to the quality of supervision in matters of Kashrus there was no individual one could trust more than Rav Ahron. Any product that bore his name was supervised at a Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin level. There was no one more Ehrlich than he was – about anything. He dedicated his life to Emes and Yiddishkeit.

Not that Streit’s was always considered the best Hechsher by certain people even then. But for those of us who knew Rav Ahron - that was laughable. The problems involved with major Kashrus organizations are far greater than the stupidity of the claims made by certain ignorant people who questioned Rav Ahron’s Hechsher.

Now it is happening again. Rav Ahron’s son, Rav Moshe Soloveichik has been attacked about the quality of his supervision. From an article in the Jewish Star by Meyer Fertig:

“We’re not saying, chas v’shalom, that it’s not kosher,” said Rabbi Yosef Eisen of the Five Towns Vaad. “We’re just saying that there are certain concerns about the level of oversight.”

“Streit’s matzos were held in very high esteem while they were under the hashgacha of Rav Ahron Soloveichik,” …“When the hashgacha went to his son the perception was that the same standards were not maintained.”

“Because it was Rav Ahron Soloveichik’s hechsher –– no one wants to mess with the Soloveichiks in general,” he explained. “There’s a feeling of reverence [for] the family.”

This is called ‘damning with faint praise’. They are concerned about the level of oversight? To accuse Rav Moshe as not having the same standards as his father is an insult to a great Talmid Chacham who learned his Torah and Ehrlichkeit at his father’s feet. Rav Ahron was a man whose entire persona was imbued with Ehrlichkeit. Saying they do not want to hurt the Soloveichik family now is like a Mafia ‘hitman’ saying that he didn’t want to hurt the family a moment after he murdered his victim.

So what’s their problem? Here is their explanation:

The problem with Streit’s lack of a national hashgacha is that “we don’t know enough about Rav Moshe Soloveichik,” Rabbi Schonfeld claimed. “He just doesn’t swim in the kashrus world … we’re not saying he’s bad; not at all. We just don’t know.”

They don’t know?!!! So they condemn because he just doesn’t swim in the kashrus world?!!!

The sum and substance of their charges is that they ‘just don’t know this guy (i.e. Rav Moshe)’. Really?! How well do they know the Kashrus administrators of the national Hechsher organizations? Do they know all the Mashgichim? Every single one? - You know - the ones that are hands on?

Are they as Ehrlich as Rav Moshe? What’s that you say? They know the administrators and that’s enough for them? That’s nice. If I were to decide which product to trust most it would be the one with the name Soloveichik on it, not the one with a national symbol with no name on it.

Please do not misunderstand. I do not wish to cast any aspersions on any of the national Kashrus organization. OU, Chaf-K, OK… all good. I use their products all year and on Pesach. Not because I know the Rabbis and Mashgchim that are responsible for the Kashrus. But because I trust them.

But I trust Streit’s more. I know the Rav HaMachsir. And I will match his Ehrlichkeit against anyone at any of the national Hechsher organizations.

Unfortunately this is not news to me. I have known about this canard against Streit’s and Rav Moshe for a while now and was going to make a Macha’ah - a public protest - much earlier. But I spoke to some of the people who are intimately involved and was told that the whole thing was just a nasty rumor and that I should just let ‘sleeping dogs lie’. I agreed.

I was also assured by the CRC that they had not removed Streit’s from their list of recommended products. It should be noted that the CRC has the highest standards of Kashrus in the industry.

The Chaf-K had inspected the Streit’s facilties and found it to be in keeping with their standards. The Chaf-K certified Striet’s last year and was there this year before Streit’s decided not to pay for their certification. They realized that the fee for adding another certification in addition to Rav Moshe’s was not cost effective.

It is my understanding that the OU policy this year was to not recognize any private Hechsherim – no matter how reliable. And they would not certify any vendor who carried a private Hechsher. That of course included even good ones like Streit’s. That is certainly a good policy. One never knows how good a private Hechsher is. There are many out there that are indeed questionable. But in no way were they saying Streit’s was not to be trusted. I was told that privately - when asked - they had nothing but praise for Rav Moshe.

But I guess the five towns Rabbis are just too Frum for that. They decided that the quality of the Hechsher is just not good enough for their refined sense of 21st century Kashrus. I guess they are card carrying members of the Chumra club. Except that this is a Chumra based on a lie. Days before Pesach they have attacked Rav Moshe because he ‘doesn’t swim in their Kashrus waters’. You can’t be too careful you know – certainly on Pesach!

I would at this point urge anyone that wants to be sure that they are using the best product for their Chiuv Achilas Matzah that they find out where Streit’s Shumra Matza is being sold and buy it.

And if it were in my power I would put those rabbis responsible for besmirching one of the finest and most trustworthy names in the Torah world – into Cherem!

Chag Kosher V'Sameach!