For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


HALACHA-----loshon horah and kashrus rumors


KrNLVR Posted - 27 June 2000 12:16

Why do parents and Mechanchim of Jewish Teens feel compelled to ban certain places, without simply checking them out for themselves?

Why does society block places for absolutely no reason, other than hearing a "bad rumor" which most probably is untrue?

By categorizing certain places adults are teaching teens not to be Dan L'caph Zechut, and how easy it is to jeopardize a fellow Jews parnasa. Is this the message they intend to send to their students and children?

MODERATOR Posted - 27 June 2000 12:17

I assume you mean rumors about the Kashrus of an establishment.

It is true that we have to be very, very careful before we meddle with the parnassa of another Jew. And besides his Parnassa, we are playing with his reputation. People and their families can literally be ruined because of such things. And they have been.

Rav Yisroel Salanter once said: If you say that a chazan cannot learn or a rabbi cannot sing, that's loshon horah. But if you say that a rabbi cannot learn or a chazan cannot sing, that's murder.

And the same applies to saying a kosher food vendor sells non-kosher.

You have to be 100% certain of what you are saying before you say something that will hurt someone else, because it is 100% certain that he will be hurt.

As an example of how careful chazal were about this, take the Halachah called "ain onshin min hadin", which means, according to Meforshim, that although we (i.e. Chazal) use our logic to deduce Halachos, Issurim and Heterim according to the Torah's formula for making such deductions, we never PUNISH someone using such deductions, because we cannot be 100% sure that our logic is correct, and therefore cannot punish someone because of what we BELIEVE is correct.

This means that even Chazal recognized that anyone - even Chazal - can make a mistake in logic, and although we can derive Halachos through logic, we have no right to punish people based on our logic.

So the first thing is, before someone says something, he has to be 100% sure that it is true.

Worse, sometimes these rumors are started deliberately by unscrupulous competitors - either in the food or kashrus industry - designed specifically to hurt the business of the store. This is sick. The Satmar Rav ZT"L used to say derogatorily about these people "Asser bishvil shetishasher", (which really means "asser" - give Maaser - so that you can become rich), that they read "asser" - ban something - so that you can become rich.

Also a problem is when people ban an establishment because it doesn't meet their extra high standards of Kashrus, but they admit it is still technically Kosher. Every rabbi has a right to demand that his people maintain whatever standards he wants them to maintain, but in such a case he needs to be explicit and say that the establishment IS Kosher, it is permitted "al pi din" to eat there, but he wants his people to maintain even higher standards.

And even then, the rabbi must take into consideration the warnings of our poskim that it is counterproductive to demand extra high standards of Kashrus from commercial establishments, and if we insist on trying we will end up with totally non-kosher food instead of super-kosher. Anyone who wants the luxury of relying on a hechsher has no right to demand anything more than basic Kashrus standards.

Now there is another side to the coin:

I remember when, about 8 years ago, someone died in Chicago from taking a poisoned Tylenol pill. It seemed that some twisted worker poisoned the pill as a prank.

Suddenly, people all over the country stopped taking Tylenol. The stock plummeted, and the company had to spend lots and lots of money on a public relations campaign to convince people that the product was safe.

Now, only one out of zillions of Tylenol pills was poisoned. The chance of any individual swallowing a poisoned pill was one out of millions. But nobody took the pills, because being one out of a million doesn't help if you're the "one".

Kashrus is like poison for your Neshoma. In fact, kashrus is different than other prohibitions in the Torah in that non-kosher food poisons your soul, even if you ate it unwittingly, or if let's say you were a little kid too young to do Mitzvos - but if you eat non-Kosher, your soul suffers. Just as if you would eat real poison.

Now, if you heard a rumor that someone died from eating in restaurant XYZ because a crazy worker poisoned the food, could you blame your parents for not allowing you to eat there, at least until the rumor is cleared up?

That's what happens when there's a rumor about a store selling non-kosher. People get scared, and want to protect themselves.

So where does that leave you and me? Here's the bottom line:

(a) Before we hurt someone’s parnassa we need to make sure that whatever we are saying is 100% true. If you say, "This store is not kosher", or "This store has a rumor about it, that we will clarify. More information pending", or "This store is 100% kosher, but there is another store that uses higher standards", are not the same things. Whatever is being said needs to be (a) accurate and (b) clear.

(b) We need to understand that commercial establishments are meant to use bottom-line basic standards of Kashrus, and if we push for "the best" standards, we are likely to get less kosher rather than more, when the day is over.

(c) Someone who relies on any hechsher cannot expect anything higher than basic Kosher standards.

(d) If there is a rumor about an establishment, it should be investigated quickly and one way or another clarified, so as not to hurt either the Kosher consumer or the merchant.

(e) People who present rumors as fact are causing unjustified pain and damage, perhaps irreparable, to the merchant and their family. They are dangerous to society. People who purposely start such rumors are murderers.

(f) Where there is a real and legitimate suspicion of non-Kosher, it is proper to stay away until the problem is cleared up. Do not take chances with your soul.

Kashrus standards means navigating between protecting both the consumer and merchant from unjustified harm. It takes a lot of skill, wisdom, knowledge, honesty, and sechel.

artzanu Posted - 26 July 2000 13:33

Very impressive moderator.

This should be a lesson in life, not only regarding kashrut but all kinds of things.

recovered17 Posted - 20 October 2003 14:45

thank you very much,moderater.that really helped me with some questions that I had. I really think you explained it honestly and clearly and in a very righteous way. thank you.

No comments: