May 3, 2011
Agudath Israel Statement
Regarding “Magen Tzedek”
Upon consultation with its rabbinic leaders and in accordance with their direction, Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement:
A new seal for kosher products and establishments being promoted by the Conservative movement is reportedly about to appear alongside those of Orthodox kashrus agencies. The “Magen Tzedek” certification is intended to signify adherence to certain standards regarding labor, treatment of animals, safety, environmental concerns and corporate integrity.
Such issues are worthy ones but they are well covered by governmental regulations and other areas of halacha, as determined by recognized Torah authorities. They have nothing to do with kashrut.
The goal of “Magen Tzedek,” however, is nothing less than to redefine kashrut. Magen Tzedek is the symbol of an entity called the “Hekhsher Tzedek Commission.” Its exclusive purview is food. In its own literature, it calls itself the “gold standard of kashrut”; prominently claims to offer “kashrut for the 21st century”; and states its objective: to “improve our consciousness, understanding and practice of kashrut by extending the definition beyond ritual to reflect ethical, environmental and social concerns.”
There is no such thing as “ritual.” There is only halacha – the holiness we are enjoined by our Creator to embrace. To in any way change halacha is to corrupt the essence of the concept of mitzvah, Divine commandment.
The brazen effort of Magen Tzedek to change the Jewish mesorah, or religious tradition, should come as no surprise, considering its source. The Conservative movement has repeatedly shown that it harbors no respect for the very concept of halacha as it has been carefully preserved with great sacrifice by observant Jews through the ages. For a movement that does not subscribe to halacha to suddenly inject itself into a complex halachic realm like kashrut – with the avowed purpose of “extending the definition” of kashrut – should strike any informed Jews as unmitigated chutzpah.
We Jews have a responsibility to not only ethics but to the entirety of the Torah. All of us who recognize the Divine nature of halacha, along with our established kashrut organizations, should regard the new seal for what it is, a falsification of the Jewish religious heritage, and treat it accordingly.