web analytics
August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Who’s Watching The Store? Self-Regulation In Kashrut

Front-Page-052413

To eat is to live – to keep our physical bodies alive. For without the body, there is nothing. No experience. No memory. No joy and no hardship.

But man, unlike animals, eats to live and to enjoy. So how should a Jew respond when he is challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not just ceremonies dedicated to the enjoyment of eating but even more to the limiting of what he can eat?

Of course, this is a false question. Understanding the rules of kashrut as a restriction is to miss the essential nature of creation and of our relationships with God and what it means to truly enjoy partaking of creation.

Jewish tradition holds that what gives meaning to food – no matter how beautiful the “presentation” – is the presence of God and Torah. Our rabbis teach that it is forbidden to enjoy anything of this world without a blessing. That is, to fail to engage the connection between the physical and the spiritual, the created to the Creator, is to reduce the experience of eating to mere consumption and to blur the distinction between man and animal.

We are more than physical beings. Our bodies are merely temporary shelters for our souls. That said, God, who created man “of the dust of the earth,” recognizes that man must eat to sustain his physical health. God created a biological being, one in need of physical nourishment. To make sure that the connection between the base need to eat and the holiness of our deeper natures is maintained, we observe the laws of kashrut.

The laws of kashrut are restrictions – but only in the sense that they are restrictions that enlarge us. Despite the weakness of our natures, despite our propensity for evil, there remains within us the possibility of redemption and renewal, of teshuvah. The laws of kashrut define God’s master plan of fusing body and soul within the reality of corporeal existence.

Eating is truly an expression of our essential natures – our physical nature and our spiritual nature. Only when we embrace both can eating be truly and completely ennobling.

The individual Jew observes the laws of kashrut as a spiritual act. But for his observance to be true he must place his trust not just in God but in the agencies that produce, regulate and attest to the food he eats. He must rely on the certification agencies that assure him the food he consumes and blesses is, in fact, kosher.

It wasn’t so very long ago that such trust was sadly misplaced. In his recently published book, Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (Harvard University Press), Dr. Timothy D. Lytton, professor of law at Albany Law School, notes that kosher certification was not always as reliable as today. At the beginning of the last century, the kosher food industry was rife with fraud. The New York City Department of Markets estimated in 1925 that 40 percent of the meat sold as kosher in the city was, in fact, not kosher. Consumer groups and industry associations thought that figure to be too low and placed it between 50 and 65 percent.

Kosher certification suffered from the same financial incentives to cut corners that characterize private food-safety auditing.

The decisions, efforts and actions that brought about the reforms that allowed independent kosher certification agencies to establish uniform industry standards represent the heart of Dr. Lytton’s observations about the strengths of kosher certification and why it might be a model for improving the even greater failings in the governmental food certification process.

* * * * *

The kosher food market is big business. Kosher foods generate more than $12 billion in annual sales. This market is comprised not only of observant Jews but also of health-conscious non-observant and non-Jewish consumers who like the idea that “kosher” certification speaks to our deep relationship with the food we eat.

Dr. Lytton suggests that the growing popularity of kosher food among non-observant Jews and non-Jews reflects a pervasive anxiety about the industrialization of the food supply. Not only does rabbinic supervision ensure a heightened degree of food purity, it also personalizes a vast, complex and globalized food production system.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Who’s Watching The Store? Self-Regulation In Kashrut”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Former Arkansas Governor and current presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in Jerusalem.
Official PA Media Calls Huckabee ‘Inane Creature’ and ‘Wicked Man’
Latest Indepth Stories
Ben Cohen

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

PA Chairman Abbas proudly celebrating with released terrorists.

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

New Israel Fund

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

Moshe Feiglin

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

In practical terms, the proclamation surely makes a compelling argument:

BDS activists are not shy about discriminating against Israelis simply because they are Israelis –

A Federal Ct Judge ordered the PA to post JUST $10 million due to interfering letter from State Dept

Osakwe, like many other students at the CAMERA conference, described an extremely hostile campus environment when it comes to the issue of Israel.

Many people view a letter or manuscript by a chassidic rebbe or the Chofetz Chaim as intrinsically holy.

Key Iran Lobby figures had been major donors to both Biden and Kerry when they were in the Senate,

Abbas’ resignation has now sparked speculation about who will fill his place if and ‎when he leaves

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Safran-071015-Main

“Your children, look up there at the top of the chimney. Do you see the smoke coming out?” She looked up, confused by his words. He laughed harshly. “That smoke. There are your children!”

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

What makes a man dedicated to what is best, stray? What makes a leader, a rabbi, lose his way?

Peace/Shalom/Wholeness: A gift conferred; earned and received by God’s grace; His blessing.

Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/whos-watching-the-store-self-regulation-in-kashrut/2013/05/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: