Kashrut and the Halachic Paradigm

Question:

I understand that all meat slaughtered by a Shochet who is Jewish and observes the Shabbath and Mitzvoth are kosher regardless of the "Official Kashruth Organization" which places their seal on it. By extension I presume that all Kashruth Organizations which are operated by Jews who hold as previously stated are acceptable irregardless of the color of their Kippot. Therefore I assume their products are acceptable unless I am informed otherwise by a reliable authority with first hand knowledge. Is this correct? I am basing my notion on various statements in the Rambam's MT Hilchot Ma'Achalot Assurot Chapter 8.


Answer:

  1. Any meat labelled "kosher" and certified by a recognized kashruth authority is to be regarded as such until proved otherwise. If the question is "Can I buy 'Rabanuth' chickens?", the answer is yes – unless you have valid and germane grounds to believe that a particular abattoir is problematic. The colour or style of kippa, ethnic background or political affilliation do not constitute such grounds.

  2. Can mistakes, or deliberate misrepresentation, occur? Yes, these things can and do occasionally happen, regardless of the hekhsher or organization in question. I know this from personal experience. Such things occurred in the time of Hazal as well; they therefore stated that if a person (or organization) is found to have deliberately misled people for financial gain, he (or it) may no longer be trusted. See Rambam’s MT Ma’akhaloth Asuroth 8:8 (or 8:9).

  3. Some people elect to abide by certain humroth, to which some respond by saying: "Fine. Whatever makes them happy." I disagree. Over the last three decades, the concept of kashruth has undergone a process of radicalization that is unwarranted and unhealthy. This is especially true of T'rephoth and Sh'hitta, in which areas the breakdown of the Halakhic system over the last several centuries is clearly evident. A glaring example is what the Aharonim themselves refer to as "Humroth of the Aharonim" in the area of T'rephoth which make it more and more difficult to pronounce an animal kosher. See Shulhan Arukh OH 498:8, Mishna B'rura 49. The 'problem' discussed there is that certain Pos'qim declared that it is asur to perform sh'hitta on Yom Tov due to the very high percentage of "T'rephoth" because of the "Humroth". (The heter to perform sh'hitta on Yom Tov is based on the fact that most animals are kosher.) There is, in fact, no problem. The 'problem' is the Halakhic approach of certain Pos'qim. If Sh'hitta, which is mutar on Yom Tov, becomes asur because of said approach, then clearly the Halakhic system, as understood and practised based on that approach, has broken down.

  4. The solution is to return to a more authentic, source-and-reality-based Halakhic paradigm as understood and taught by authentic Tora scholars, and lived by ‘Am Yisrael, from time immemorial. Rambam’s approach to Halakha is a good exemplar of such a system, as mentioned by Rav Kook in several places in his writings.

  5. The foregoing statement should not be construed to mean that our aim is to artificially and simplistically recreate an ancient reality. Living in the real world and Tora-based adjustment where deemed appropriate by true Tora sages are essential elements of the Halakhic system.

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

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