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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kashrut’

Chag Kasher v. Sa’meach

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through}

I am neither a cook nor a chef.

While I love to eat, my wife prohibits me from doing any food preparation for fear -not without reason or history- that should I venture into her holy sanctuary, the entire room – no, the house itself! – would become un-kosher.

Over time, my place has become confined to the kitchen table. It is there that I must sit and wait for my meals, not unlike our dog (which she prefers on most days) who waits before his bowl. Remarkably, I am afforded more table scraps than him. Score one for me.

This is not to say that I cannot approach the sink. My share of the household bargain falls on cleaning up after meals. My wife considers the dishwasher and garbage pail safe terrain, as I can usually deduce whether I just consumed a dairy or meat meal.

That all ends on Passover.

When I think of my wife on Passover, I am reminded of the final scene from the movie Gallipoli where manic soldiers charge an Ottoman trench, knowing of their certain death. A fury fills her eyes as the holiday approaches and I know that no cleaning I do could ever satisfy her Kashrut Compulsive Disorder (commonly referred to by Jewish psychiatrists as KCD). This non-silent killer has taken more husbands than latkes on Hanukah.

My wife, let’s call her “Pharaoh” to protect her identity from the teachers in school who think of her as a sweet, mild-mannered parent, despises Passover. Her venom is matched by her vigilance as she tries to square the invisible shmura matzah of Passover kashrut stringencies with her own KCD.

The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt had it easier than my modern Pharaoh. The ancient kings had teams of advisers and thousands of slaves to execute their commands. Today’s Pharaoh is left with a spouse who only gets to clean in the kitchen during most of the year because we have two dishwashers. More warriors are clearly needed for the task.

New York has an outsourced cleaning industry which features companies with jolly names like “Molly Maids” and “PIG” which stands for “Partners in Grime”. When these companies drop the non-kosher acronyms and become armed with blowtorches, perhaps Pharaoh will “let these people come.”

Well, in truth, they do come.  They come a few times in succession to make sure that one team picked up where the first team may have been sloppy. At $400 a pop, the twelve cleaning tours of duty make a not so subtle reminder that we could have gone to a Passover program in the sun somewhere.

The cleaning troupes do not absolve me of cleaning (nor the sin of making Passover at home). My tasks are to lift and move large objects around the house in case a morsel of bread was carried there by a microscopic antisemitic mouse.  Dishwashers are pulled from their moorings. Refrigerators are yanked from the walls.  I am ordered to lift the island in the kitchen, until my rabbi steps in on my behalf (only because he thought I was too weak). My dog snickers at my misery.  He and I are back to break-even.

After eighteen gallons of bleach have been pored over every inch of the kitchen, and the flees on my dog would no longer consider smelling (let alone eating) anything in the house, my next task is assigned. Foiling.

Foiling on Pesach has nothing to do with fencing.  It involves rolling out aluminum foil over counter top. For the hardcore, the foiling of tables, chairs, cushions is warranted.  Our family is so famous for our foiling, that we get Happy Passover cards from Alcoa.

As the first seder arrives, Pharaoh starts to resemble my former wife again. The house is indeed clean enough that even Eliyahu would be impressed.  Family and friends gather around the table to recount the timeless story… of how no one in the shtetls had more than one pot and somehow made Passover.

As has become our tradition, before I recite the Kiddush to start the seder, my wife inverts the very order of the seder. She sings out in a loud, yet exhausted, teary voice “Hashana ha’ba’a b’Yerushayim” – Next year in Jerusalem. Everyone joins in.

 

Kosher l’Besach

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The Arabic language doesn’t have the consonant ‘P’, which makes it difficult for many Arabs to pronounce words that aren’t part of their native language, such as the words “Palestine”, “Pesach” and “Passover”.

Instead Arabs replace the “P” with a “B“.

Apparently not being able to pronounce it, also means not being able to hear it correctly either.

A sharp-eyed Israeli inspector captured this shipment of eggs that Balestinians from the B.A. were trying to illegally smuggle into Little Israel.

The stamp on the egg says “Kosher Besach” instead of “Kosher Pesach”.

Oops. Foiled Again.

Hagala

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

A man makes his cooking pots kosher for Passover by dipping them into boiling water, in a process called Hagala.

Son of R. Ovadia Yosef, zt’l, Faces Probe in Holon

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Holon Chief Rabbi Avraham Yosef, son of the late Shas spiritual leader and former Israel Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is under investigation.

The Tel Aviv district attorney’s office informed the rabbi that he may be charged with corruption, subject to a hearing, in connection with suspicions of breach of trust and fraud.

The rabbi is suspected of discriminating against various kashrut supervision authorities that oversee processing for ‘mehadrin’ or strictly kosher meat products in Holon and Or Yehuda, in favor of the Badatz Beit Yosef, which is owned by the Yosef family.

The move would be considered abuse of his position as a chief rabbi of the city, and a conflict of interest.

Israeli Chief Rabbinate Working to Lower Kashrut Costs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is hoping to lower the cost of kashrut by approving more foreign kashrut certification organizations. The initiative comes in context of a general move by the Finance Ministry to lower the cost of living in the Jewish State.

In addition, it was announced Tuesday that the Chief Rabbinate will create a committee to explore new ways to supervise the kashrut and quality foreign dairies. The agency said itis hoping to use enhanced technology to reduce the price of dairy imports while improving competition in the field.

Data presented at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday indicated a wide disparity between the price of imported dairy products and those produced in Israel.

Chief Rabbinate Tests Female Kashrut Supervisors

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel today (Wednesday) administered the first official certification exam for women who wish to become kashrut supervisors (mashgichot).

The test, which took place at the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’Uma) in Jerusalem, was administered only to those who had first passed a special course approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

In the Gush Etzion city of Efrat, located barely ten minutes away from Jerusalem, female kashrut supervisors have already been employed in some establishments for some time.

The women taking the test on Wednesday have studied materials and undergone a training program that was designed to meet the standards of supervision by the Chief Rabbinate.

Israel Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Landau said at the time the course was designed that he saw no reason why women could not serve as kashrut supervisors.

Those women who pass the test on Wednesday will be awarded a certificate enabling them to seek employment as kashrut supervisors.

The Rationale For The Dietary Laws

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The Torah in this week’s parshah mandates that for animals to be kosher they must possess two characteristics – they must have cloven hooves and chew the cud (Leviticus 11:3).

In contemporary times there is much ado about the impact of food on physical health. My doctors keep telling me, for example, to keep the fat and cholesterol down. Is it possible that food could similarly impact on one’s spiritual well being? This in fact is the position of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his explanation of kashrut.

The characteristics of kosher animals point to their being more passive in nature. In Hirsch’s words: “If we look at the signs for clean animals they appear plant-like. As they chew the cud, the food consumed passes through two stomachs, is driven up the gullet again and chewed for the second time. Thus, these animals spend a great deal of time in the absorption of food. The cloven hooves of the permitted animals also seem to have been created more for the mere purpose of standing than for being used as weapons or tools.”

The same is true concerning fish. To be kosher, fish must have fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9). Not coincidentally, fish that have these characteristics are by and large more peaceful in nature. The more aggressive fish fall into the category of the prohibited. Moreover, birds of prey are by and large enjoined. The rule holds fast. The more aggressive animals and fowl are prohibited. The more passive are permitted.

Of course, not everyone who consumes kosher food leads a life of inner peace. There are troubled people who eat kosher, just as there are fine people who do not eat kosher. Nonetheless, the ritual of kashrut may help us become more conscious of our responsibilities to live ethical lives.

The balance between outer action and inner feelings is especially discernible in the laws of forbidden and permitted animals. Note that chewing the cud is an internal characteristic as it deals with the inner digestive system. In contrast, cloven hooves are an external characteristic. One merely has to look at an animal’s foot to detect whether this criterion has been met. Perhaps this teaches that to be kosher, one’s behavior must not only be outwardly correct but inwardly pure.

Whether these rationales are satisfactory or not, the prohibited foods teach us discipline. They remind us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong. Notwithstanding, the kashrut laws carry powerful ethical lessons that can help ennoble and sanctify our lives.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-rationale-for-the-dietary-laws/2014/03/20/

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