No Hekhsher, Not Tzedek

(The Jewish Observer, September, 2008/Elul 5768)

According to Chazal (Nedarim, 40a), ideas that on the surface seem entirely constructive can in truth be quite the opposite. A contemporary case in point is the effort calling itself “Hekhsher Tzedek,” or “Justice Certification.”

Conceived by the rabbi of a Conservative congregation, and now endorsed by that movement’s rabbinic arm, the “Hekhsher”’s promoters insist that it is not really a hekhsher, or kashrus certification, at all. It is, rather, an “enhancement” of such certification, an indication that a kosher product was also “made in compliance with a set of social justice criteria.”

Needless to say, a kashrus certifier certainly has a right, and in many cases a responsibility, to ensure that a food-producing company or food-service establishment seeking its certification hew not only to the laws of kashrus but to other requirements of halacha. Thus, a bakery that is open on Shabbos, a slaughterhouse that violates the dictates of tza’ar ba’alei chayim, or a restaurant where tzenius is lacking would all be rightfully subject to a machshir’s insistence that the business bring itself within the bounds of halacha.

And, of course, there are “social justice” issues, too, like the forbiddance of an employer to withhold workers’ wages, that are of no less concern to halacha. Tellingly, though, only that category of extra-kashrus concerns and animal welfare seem of interest to the purveyors of the planned “Hekshsher Tzedek.”

Brave New “Just And Sustainable World”

More telling still is that even in the realm of “social justice,” the advocates of the proposed non-heksher hekhsher seek less to ensure compliance with halacha than to supplant it with a broader social agenda of their own choosing.

Which explains why those advocates turned to a “social research” firm, KLS Research and Analytics – whose self-described mission is to effect “greater corporate accountability and, ultimately, a more just and sustainable world” – to create the document setting down the conditions for awarding the “Hekhsher Tzedek.”

The resulting seven pages lay down a “strict set of standards” relating to “Wages and Benefits; Employee Health and Safety/Relations/Training; Product Development; Corporate Transparency and Integrity; and Environmental Impact.” Evaluation of companies, it explains, will be based on data collected from, among other sources, “governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the media.”

“Non-governmental organizations” would conceivably include groups like “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” or PETA; and “the media” – well, we all know what sort of exemplars of responsibility that word encompasses .

Unintended Consequences and Mischief-Making

We American Jews are fortunate to live in a malchus that is not only one of chessed but of laws. And among those laws are more than a few that govern many of the areas into which the “Hekhsher Tzedek” seeks to insinuate itself. Federal and state labor regulations cover wages, safety, animal welfare, employees’ rights, and much else. There are, moreover, secular laws covering areas that halacha may not explicitly address. In those cases, the principle of dina de’malchusa dina requires Jews to respect the temporal law, and its violation perforce constitutes a violation of halacha.

Thus, laws, halachic and otherwise, are already in place to ensure proper treatment of animals, workers, consumers and the environment; and ignoring any of them renders a company subject to punitive action by federal and state agencies. To the extent that an envisioned new “badge of approval” simply reiterates those requirements, it is superfluous. And where it aims to go further, beyond halachic and/or governmental strictures, it overreaches, and can serve only to make mischief.

The proposed “ethical” certification, in fact, would require or favor (and, puzzlingly, only for producers of kosher food, not any other businesses) things that the law does not require, like an unspecified number of paid vacation days, pension plans, “positive relations with unions,” “proactive efforts to have a diverse workforce,” non-mandatory environmental management systems, and much else. However nice those things may sound, they have no place as the subjects of even a quasi-hechsher. What is more, their implementation – with companies paying not only for the new requirements but for the new certification itself – would raise already high prices for kosher food, driving some consumers away from kosher food and likely putting companies out of business (and their employees, of course, out of work – see opening paragraph).

The Plot Thickens

Finally, according to the document, “essential” for any company seeking to qualify for the “Hekhsher Tzedek” will be its “willingness to enter into dialogue with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), and their partners.”

Those, of course, would be the congregational and rabbinic groups, respectively, of the Jewish movement that has, through its creative “halachic process,” effectively erased entire pesukim from the Torah, and led the vast majority of its synagogues’ members – our precious Jewish brothers and sisters – to abandon entire portions of the Shulchan Aruch with “rabbinic approval.”

And that is the movement now presenting itself as the arbiter of a “higher standard” for companies producing or selling kosher food.

Here, of course, lies the key to the matter. Only a naïf could miss the real motivation for the Conservative movement’s recent front-burnering of its “Justice Certification.” It is a bald attempt to portray itself as something other than dwindling and desperate. The movement’s loss of members over past years and its embarrassing jettisoning of yet another passuk of late (this most recent one sacrificed to contemporary society’s increasing approval of “alternate lifestyles”) have left it with a well-deserved intensified identity crisis.

As Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of the New York Jewish Week, politely put it: “This is just the kind of moral issue that could inspire and reinvigorate Conservative Jewry, which has lost members and been divided internally for the last few years… .”

Whether the project has the ability, despite all else, to inspire and invigorate the Conservative movement is uncertain, to put it gently. What is clear, though, is that the movement sensed, and seized, a golden opportunity in the media’s relentless assault on Agriprocessors, the embattled kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacker based in Postville, Iowa.

Blood in the Water

The Conservative rabbi who conceived of the ethical “enhancement” of kashrus was inspired by a report in the Forward in 2006 that portrayed the Agriprocessors plant as rife with harassment, abuse and bribery. Although after his own visit to the plant the rabbi admitted to The New York Times that “We weren’t able to verify everything” that the Forward had reported, he insisted that he had discovered “indignities.” He cited lower wages than those offered by unionized meatpacking plants, safety training only in English, and a single option health-care plan for $50 a week per family.
Although the “abuse” seemed something less than truly abusive, the sharks, so to speak, smelled blood in the water. Before long, the Conservative rabbinic arm endorsed the “Justice Certification.”

Then, this past May, Agriprocessors was the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid during which hundreds of illegal immigrant workers were arrested. Some of those in custody leveled accusations of mistreatment of workers, and the Iowa Labor Commissioner charged that the company had violated child labor laws. Agriprocessors vociferously denied knowingly employing any minor, and pointed out that it had terminated four underage employees in 2007 who, it was determined, had submitted false documentation. And when the Iowa Labor Commissioner’s Office told the company that it knew of other underage workers at the plant, Agriprocessors requested that the workers be identified so that their employment could be terminated, but the Commissioner’s Office refused to do so.

Coming, though, after Agriprocessors was accused by PETA in 2004 of cruelty to animals (a post-shechita practice that was discontinued after objections to it were raised) and the Forward story, the raid set the media – and interested others – to salivating. In mere weeks, the “strict set of standards” document was publicly issued.

The Bottom Line

At least to the degree to which it might stimulate the Conservative laity to focus on actual kashrus, we might take some heart in all the publicity the “Hekhsher Tzedek” has garnered. Few consumers already dedicated to kashrus, though, will be impressed with the proposed seal of Conservative “Justice Certification” approval; they will recognize it as neither a certification nor just. They know that halacha standards are already of concern to kashrus certifiers, and that any “enhancement” of kashrus – in particular at the hands of a Jewish movement that has shown little respect for even clear and established halacha itself – represents not a raising of Jewish standards, but rather a reaching for some semblance of a Jewish high ground, a cynical attempt to stake a claim in a realm until now uncharted by its new intrepid explorers. It is not unconceivable that the “Heckhsher Tzedek” seal, should it ever come to appear on a product, might even serve to repel consumers – at least those who recognize it for what it isn’t, and what it is.

You may also like...

28 Responses

  1. Doniel says:

    How do those who have attacked Morris Allen and the Modern Orthodox group Uri L’Tzedek respond to the fact that now both R’ Breuer and the RCA support the idea of considering ethics in kashrus?

  2. The Contarian says:

    Rabbi Oberstein,

    The Asoocaited Press beat your son to the news. In an article entitled “Kosher Cises, Sandals Not New” on 8/11/2008 the AP writes

    JUSTICE: Concern about the ethics of kosher production is not new. Around 1949, Rabbi Yosef Breuer argued in an essay that being kosher also requires “strict application of the tenets of justice and righteousness,” including honesty in business and concern for the welfare of others.

    Here is the link to the article in USA Today
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-11-4267566677_x.htm

  3. LOberstein says:

    I want to correct a possible misundestanding of my post # 24. Heaven forbidk I am not saying that the current genertion of young German Jews are lax in honestly. I am making the point that the “breitkeit” the “weltaunshaung”, the sophisticated blending of bein adam lechaveiro and bein adam lamokom that is epitomized by Rabbi Breur’s demand that we follow tzedek in how we treat people, not just in how we kill cows, is somhow how no longer seen as the mark of a Torah Im Derech Jew. There were other countries in Europe that were very corrupt and therefore cheating and stealing were a way of life, smuggling, etc. were common . I don’t think German society was that corrupt,they just killed us in gas chambers, but they didn’t cheat on their taxes.

  4. The Contarian says:

    I beleive the acid test comes tomorrow and Sunday.

    That is when the job fair sponsored by another meatpacker to raid Agriprocesrs takes place in Pottsville.

    Rubashkin’s workers get to vote with their feet.

    If they are relatively satisfied, they will stay. If not, they will walk.

    The American economic system, collapsing at the top, still works its wonders

  5. LOberstein says:

    One of my sons recently came across a book in honor of RabbiBreuer which included some of his sermons. He told me that Rabbi Breuer wrote that kashrus is more than how one slaughters the animal, it requires one to act fairly towards employees, to show kindness and consideration, to faithfully uphold the law of the land. My son’s words were that if the Hechsher Tzedek people got ahold of Rabbi Breur’s sermon, they would win their case. He also asked me why these ideals were so at variance with contemporary German Jewish orthodoxy. I told him that the great grandchildren of the ones who heard that sermon are all learning in Lakewood and that they have been told that Rabbi Hirsch’s beliefs was only a temporary ad hoc way to deal with his geneneration. Basicly I told him that Hirsch has been deligitimized and made irrelevant. My son wonders if today’s young Germans even know what Rabbi Breur held on these issues or is he completely forgotten.

  6. Natan Slifkin says:

    (Whoops, I meant to write mitzvos d’Oraisa, not mitzvos asei)

  7. Natan Slifkin says:

    “As to Rabbi Carmell’s comment about tzaar baalei chaim, I don’t believe that our gedolim agree whatsoever.” – YM

    Rabbi Menken, I would be fascinated to learn of your basis for that statement. Have you discussed it with them? You know, when the Gedolims’ verdict on concerts and suchlike were sought, people made sure that they were informed with clips of recordings, pictures, etc. Do you think that anyone has ever gone to the Gedolim with pictures of what goes on in the mass-farming industry and has sought their opinion on whether this conforms with the spirit and letter of the nineteen mitzvos asei which relate to sensitivity to animals?

  8. Chaim Wolfson says:

    I think I found a typo in one of the comments here. Presumably, the comment by David (#18), “FOR THE RECORD, giving a heckscher to food sold at a strip club would be less of a chilul Hashem than giving one to a place that abuses workers” should read, “IN MY OPINION (humble or otherwise), giving a hechsher to food sold at a strip club would be less of a chilul Hashem than giving one to a place that abuses workers.”

  9. Ari says:

    R. Shafran suggests that mashgichim already monitor the zeitgeist and moral practices of the establishments they certify. In practice, do they, really?

    Also, isn’t a hechsher tzedeck not unlike any chumra shouldered by someone in the yeshivish or chareidi community? It’s not 100% necessary, but if someone wants to take it on, what harm is there?

    I’m just surprised that the Orthodox community, to which I belong, would care so much about marginalizing a chumra in which the Conservatives seem to earnestly believe.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    The typical kosher consumer is very far from his manufacturing sources of supply. If he wants guidance about the behavior, as distinct from kashrus, of a given food producer with respect to halacha, where can he find accurate information? Can someone whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly on the producer make a fair assessment?

  11. David says:

    “aren’t you (unfairly) suggesting that the OU’s job, in addition to certifying kashrus standards, is to assume the role of OSHA as well?”

    No, OU is not responsible for technical violations of OSHA regulations of which it has no reason to be aware– but then, nobody said they should. What people are arguing is that the OU should not lend its imprimatur to a business that (even if it is producing kosher products) is being run in a shoddy, unethical and, in all probability, criminal manner.

    Do you think for a moment that the OU would give a heckscher to a strip club that wanted to sell kosher snacks? Of course not– because they do look at more than just the food being sold. For the record, giving a heckscher to food sold at a strip club would be less of a chilul Hashem than giving one to a place that abuses workers.

  12. Glatt some questions says:

    I share the opinions of Poster #6. I’m much more interested in what R. Shafran feels about Uri l’Tzedek, an Orthodox organization trying to make changes in the area of ethics and social justice. They initially obtained the signatures of thousands of Orthodox Jews supporting their efforts. Does Rabbi Shafran agree or disagree with their efforts? If not, why?

  13. Baruch Pelta says:

    re R’ Slifkin’s comment —
    R’ Pinchos Lipschutz recently wrote as follows:
    When its [YU’s] rabbinic faculty sits on the sidelines and does not act vociferously and publicly to project and protect Torah values, are they not reinforcing the moral decline which is eating away at the fabric of the Am Kadosh?

    So it’s fair to be medayik from this that according to R’ Lipschutz, those who don’t act vociferously and publicly to project and protect Torah values in their own community enforce klal yisrael’s moral decline.

  14. Jacob Haller says:

    Josh,

    I don’t mean to “pile on” the criticism, but aren’t you (unfairly) suggesting that the OU’s job, in addition to certifying kashrus standards, is to assume the role of OSHA as well?

  15. norm says:

    Steve,
    I think you’re right that the OU’s reason is probably Chilul Hashem. I also think that they should disclose this as being the reason. The kosher consumer should have the right to know, to some extent, why a hashgacha was, or will be, pulled. Relying on the OU to enforce kashrus guidelines shouldn’t obligate me to agree to their determination of what is or isn’t a Chilul Hashem.

  16. YM says:

    I would not call the OU’s response ‘inept’; Agriprocessors hired an independent compliance officer as a result of the initial investigation and now the OU has told Agriprocessors that they have to hire new management in order to keep its Kashurus certification.

    I would prefer if the OU and other agencies use halachic evaluations to determine the kashurs status of food products. In the case of Agriprocessors, it is possible that they have lost their neh-eman-is as a result of the indictment, similar to why a Jewish owned resturaunt cannot be open on Shabbes and still be certified as Kosher. As to Rabbi Carmell’s comment about tzaar baalei chaim, I don’t believe that our gedolim agree whatsoever.

  17. Micha says:

    The OU should have acted YEARS ago. Waiting until ICE brought Agri to national attention was waiting until after the chillul Hashem. Anyone following their OSHA and Iowa OSHA record, not to mention their employees’ medical records, could have realized something was up before PETA started yelling about animals, and before the union stepped in.

    Hechsher Tzedek won’t work because you can’t inspect interpersonal violations using the same mechanism as for kashrus. (R’ Aaron Levine recently analyzed this in The Jewish Press.) Where there are two parties, it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of the story without judicial authority, the ability to obtain a writ of habeus corpus, etc..

    It also won’t work because the Conservative Movement, by nature, has little division between the agenda of their segment of American Culture and their religious values. Thus, if the organizer is pro-union, they will interpret their notion of “mandatory Jewish law” so as to be pro-union.

    The funniest thing about it is that Hechsher Tzedek can get all this attention without actually having done anything. Two years ago, they surveyed Agri. Came out with complaints. Didn’t delist the company or recommend anything to the CLJS or the movements’ masses. Didn’t do a study on anyone else. They’re a claim to aspiring for moral rectitude that isn’t followed through in practice.

    All that said, I think the OU’s policy is correct; even if I disagree with how they implemented it in this case. Only the gov’t has the authority necessary to be able to determine how the staff are treated. A hekhsher shouldn’t be certifying a company whose gov’t record shows violations of halakhah (as that hekhsher determines the halakhah to be). And this should be implemented at least with respect to any item for which the observant community’s business can make or break the survival of the firm.

    -micha

  18. Natan Slifkin says:

    I don’t get it. Nobody reading the Jewish Observer is likely to be at risk of joining the Conservative movement. So why write an article for the JO bashing them and their alleged motivations? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to be looking at where the Orthodox world needs to improve with its hechsherim? A fine place to start would be to consider whether indeed there are violations of tzaar baalei chaim. As Rav Aryeh Carmell z”l wrote, “It seems doubtful… whether the Torah would sanction ‘factory farming,’ which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts.” People are incredibly careful to minimize any possible risk of a chance of a d’Rabbanan kashrus violation, but is there any significant concern about tzaar baalei chaim, which (according to most Rishonim) is d’Oraisa? Instead of triumphantly preaching to the converted about the wrongs of others, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to examine where our own community is lacking in this area?

  19. Ori says:

    LOberstein is right (or I’m also wrong). Conservative Judaism is about finding a way for Judaism to be relevant to people who are not going to observe Halacha. Taking the concept of Kashrut and updating it for modern ideals would be right up Conservative Judaism’s alley. That’s the reason those standards were selected by a social research firm with modern knowledge, not a team of Halachic experts.

    But I’m afraid our(1) leaders are going about it the wrong way. Most of us are not looking for a political agenda to back. If we were, we wouldn’t go to our synagogue to find it. The political activism market is pretty saturated, and an organization that isn’t restricted to a small minority group, such as Jews, is more likely to be effective.

    We need to answer the question “why bother to be Jewish”, not say “because you’re Jewish, you should bother with backing this, that, and the other thing which we think are really important”.

    (1) I’m a member of a Conservative synagogue, and teach in the religious school there.

  20. Harry Maryles says:

    Only a naïf could miss the real motivation for the Conservative movement’s recent front-burnering of its “Justice Certification.”

    I am the last one to defend the Conservative movement. They reject the requirement of some of the fundamentals of belief – such as Torah MiSinai which many in the Conservative Movement do not take literally and instead permit allegorizing. And – as you put it they have… through its creative “halachic process,” effectively erased entire pesukim from the Torah, and led the vast majority of its synagogues’ members – our precious Jewish brothers and sisters – to abandon entire portions of the Shulchan Aruch with “rabbinic approval.”

    But I must take exception to your attributing to them ulterior motives and calling them cynical. Yes, their need to resuscitate their movement is quite obvious. But I doubt that is their primary motive here.

    Social justice has always been a big item on their agenda. They consider this Tikun Olam – and who is to say it isn’t? We may not agree with the particulars but do we not agree in the general concept of social justice? As you pointed out – some of these issues are mentioned in the Torah itself.

    We are required to live even with idolaters B’Darcei Shalom – in peaceful relations. Darkei Shalom was the reason Chazal abrogated some of their own rabbinic enactments (Mishnah in Gittin 59 a-b).

    Aside from that is it unreasonable to require the highest standards of behavior of our purveyors of food toward their employees? I don’t think so. It is a Chilul HaShem if we don’t require high standards and a Kiddush HaShem if we do.

    We may not agree with their exact social agenda, but we must be fair when we are being critical and not impute ulterior motives when there is no evidence of any.

    Why – you ask – this business and not others? Perhaps it is because they Agriprocessors has been the source of a lot of negative publicity and they probably want to assert that as an association of rabbis they note what has been reported, suspect improper treatment of God’s creations made in His image- as well as animals, and they want to do something about it.

    I do not think for a moment that their impetus for creating the Heksher Tzedek was for any other reason than to promote social justice. That they hope this will regenerate interest in their movement – while I’m sure it’s welcome – is probably secondary.

  21. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I too believe that the Hechsher Tzedek is a very bad idea, for much the same reasons articulated by R. Shafran. Additionally it seems that Hechsher Tzedek comes to a company from the vantage point of “guilty until proven innocent” and then looks for proof of the persumed guilt. with the exception of the IRS, that’s not the American way. It certainly is not the Jewish way.

    I’m concerned however that all our protestations against Hechsher Tzedek play into the hands of its proponents. It’s almost as if we dread the scrutiny they purport to place upon businesses. I think (hope?) that by and large Orthodox owned companies have nothing to hide vis-a-vis areas of Hechsher Tzedek’s concern. But by fighting them in a war of words, it appears that we do. To quote the bard: “Me thinks the lady protesteth too much.”

  22. mycroft says:

    “Josh-WADR, the OU had stated that it would merely wait and see what would be forthcoming in the way of any criminal charges. Assuming that not all 9,000 instances of underage employees can be proven, the fact alone that such an indictment was filed and is being sought IMO was an instance of Chillul HaShem as defined by the Rambam in Hilcos Yesodei HaTorah that could led the OU to react in the manner that it did earlier this week”

    Steve:
    In substance I suspect the OU, you and I have agreed on this matter-with the only difference that I felt no public statements whould have been made one way orthe other when the charges came out-other than one we will evaluate the info when matters come clearer.
    BTW-I believe and Steve will be able to correct me if I am wrong-that an indictment would mean that majority of a grand jury believed there was probable cause to indict. That IMHO might be enough by itself to take away hashgacha. Conviction of a criminal charge which requires unanimous beyond a reasonable doubt shouild not be the criteria to keep kashrut,

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    Josh-WADR, the OU had stated that it would merely wait and see what would be forthcoming in the way of any criminal charges. Assuming that not all 9,000 instances of underage employees can be proven, the fact alone that such an indictment was filed and is being sought IMO was an instance of Chillul HaShem as defined by the Rambam in Hilcos Yesodei HaTorah that could led the OU to react in the manner that it did earlier this week.

  24. LOberstein says:

    The nephew of the rabbi who thought up hechsher tzedek is a Kollel Yungerman who told me that his uncle is very sincere and that he was very disturbed by what he saw when he visited Postville. His intent is sincere. The problem is that he is not a Talmudic scholar, how does he determine which aspects contribute to Hechsher Tzedek and how does he enforce it? Are the standards arbitrary, based on political correctness, or are they grounded in a Torah saturated understanding of the entire process?
    Like the Obam campaign, the Conservative Movement needs to get its groove back, they need to find something to get their base enthused and to make themselves relevant. I guess some of them think this will help.

  25. lacosta says:

    the chareidi community as well as the rest of o jews must realize that if we don’t self-police , others will do it for us. v’asita hatov vehayashar be’einei….

    it is disconcerting to read in the jewish week that a prominent chassidic charedi health practitioner was bullied off a commission to try and alleviate the charedi on charedi sexual abuse issue .

    one can’t have it both ways. either we clean up our act , or PETAs and District Attorney’s of the world will do it for us— in public creating an even bigger chillul hashem….

    and i can’t help but thinking the hechsherim don’t mind worker abuse etc, but chas vshalom mixed dancing will be involved, then they will pull the teudah….

  26. Josh says:

    I certainly agree with the broader point about Hekhsher Tzedek being a bad idea but after the OU’s inept response to the Agriprocessors issue, it’s is not “needless to say” that a kosher certifier will enforce other requirements of halacha.

    While the OU finally got around to strongly censuring Agriprocessors this week, it took them four months to react the way they should have within weeks (or even days).

    The entire Agriprocessors episode has been a massive chilul Hashem, and one that was made much worse by the OU’s glacial reaction. The Heksher Tzedek nonsense has gained steam as a direct result of the OU’s lack of response.

  27. Charlie Hall says:

    It should be pointed out that there are many, many non-Jewish owned bakeries with reliable kashrut certification that are open on Shabat.

    That minor point made, I see a lot of appeal for an Orthodox hechsher tzedek but question the practicality. Chosen Mishpat is just as important as Yorah Deah even though a violation of the former may not pasul kashrut, and we should certainly encourage Jewish owned businesses to adhere to all normative halachah (and non-Jewish owned businesses to adhere to Noachide laws). Dina malchutcha dina is also important. And there is a long tradition of rabbis requiring business to go beyond the strict law of kashrut to receive certification. For example, in my neighborhood, the local Vaad requires kosher stores to accept food stamps, even though that has nothing to do with kashrut. And I can’t imagine any rabbi certifying the food at a shomer Shabat strip club!

    But today we don’t even have enough well trained mashgichim for kashrut. How and where are we going to find mashgichim who know not just kashrut but all the Jewish and secular laws related to employee relations, environmental protection, taxation, financial relationships between businesses and their suppliers, businesses and their customers, and so forth. Will we need to audit the tax returns of the restaurant owners? And how will we decide what are the standards used in determining whether to pull a hechsher? In many cases hiring illegal immigrants isn’t even a criminal offense, “just” a civil violation. Ditto for failing to honor collective bargaining rights.

    I just don’t see how this can work.

  28. The Contarian says:

    Rabbi Shafran,

    One may agree with your argument that Kashrus should not be encumbered with the added stringincies of yosher. Secondly, Hechser Tsedek may be a Conservatice gimmick used for all kinds of purposes other that yosher.

    However, you have made strategic and tactical errors in choosing to fight your battle agaisnt the concept around Agriprocessors.

    Tactically, the visit by the 25 “New York Yankees”(not my phrase) of Rabbis to Pottsville was conterproductive. If you think about it, the trip was an attempt to our Hechsher Tsedek” the Consevatives by giving Agriproccesors an Orthodox clean bill of health in those areas that have nothing to do with Kashrus per se. Secondly, the trip’s details made people doubt the vercity of the Rabiinical Team’s findings.

    Now the roof is falling in and around Agriprocessors and all the past statements about innocence until proven guilty and such are proving hollow. Dr. Temple Grandin, the slaughther house expert that was quoted to defend Agriprocceesors, is now proposing that cameras be installed to make sure that the company is following standards becuase she has lost all faith in its management. Yesterday, she rated it in the bottom 10% of meatpackers. The OU is threatening to pull its hasgacha and Iowa State has charged the owner and his som amonth other with 9000 misdemeanors of the child labor law. ICE and other agencies of the Federal government are not far behind.

    Boy have you picked the wrong horse.