Kosher Questions — Fate Of Vaads Questioned with Cindy’s Corners
As a food blogger, I am asked many questions and receive information from many outlets. I am not your rabbi, I will not give answers, but I will “stir the pot” to engage our community in discussion and possibly solve some of the puzzles and frustrations kosher consumers have. Let’s spread Shalom Bayis and not Loshon Hora together.
Hot Topic: Vegan, Plant-Based Products—Are They Kosher?
I heard about an amazing salad dressing from my followers in Beverly Hills. They have multiple kosher followers and customers as well. These dressings taste delicious. When I inquired about the products, I was told that they are made in a facility with no meats, mills, cheese and anything that might be questionable to a kosher palate. The only thing missing was a rabbinical supervision. The owner is not Jewish.
Lemonette is the country’s first exclusively lemon-based dressing & marinade line – for the first time made with no vinegar.
Lemonette Dressings Have:
No artificial colors or preservatives
No sugar or sweeteners of any kind
Non-GMO Project Verified
The facility is fully certified and permitted by the FDA (or equivalent
regulatory agency) against biohazards.
Mediterranean Herb (this is our newest flavor)
Here is the question—Do these dressings, like many other products, meet the standards of kashrut?
Hot Topic: Should The Vaads Control Store Hours?
A certain “controversy” erupted regarding the Vaad of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway and their recent decision to have food stores close until 1pm on Tisha B’Av’s fast day.
Elan Kornblum, of Great Kosher Restaurants International shared details of the controversy.
Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz outlined the laws clearly and succinctly. These laws are the basis for this decision of the 5 Towns and universally all supervision regarding this matter.
To summarize, the Halacha on this matter is very clear and the reasoning makes perfect sense. If Tisha B’Av is the day of national mourning for the Jewish people, we should be incorporating customs which are conducive to the somber and reflective climate of the day, and so the custom developed seemingly from Tosefta (a compilation of statements by Tannaim dating back to the era of the Mishnah) implying that this custom was actually present at least since the destruction of the second Temple which the early Tannaim lived to witness. While it is abundantly clear that the custom regarding the duration of this prohibition varied since the middle ages (as visible in the Halachic works of the Rishonim the Rosh and the Rashba) whether it should be the entirety of the day or only until midday like some of the other restrictions, what remains unchanging and consistent throughout the past millennium of Rabbinic works is that there was an ancient and serious custom to not perform any “time consuming” Malacha work or prepare food at least until midday. The concept of “time-consuming Malacha” means things which will be a distraction from the gravity and tone of the day, but simple things such as turning on lights and tying knots would not be a problem at all even in the morning.
While we cannot speak for everyone, and I am far from being a rabbinical scholar, as far as we know the mourning is split into two parts, the “morning” mourning which is a severe sense of mourning which for most include the same practices as the night before including not sitting in regular chairs or wearing leather shoes, and the period after midday when these restrictions are relaxed slightly, which is the crux of the policy.
While it has been noted that the closure of grocery stores until midday was not officially the policy of the Vaad of Five Towns until recently, that is not due to a change in the Halachic status of the matter, but rather they say it was brought to their attention by local residents themselves that the OU and most supervision nationwide adopts this policy. The rabbis met last year and decided to implement it. Problem was it was a few weeks before Tisha B’av and one supermarket had already received numerous orders and felt it was too close to the day to make this decision. The Vaad understood and allowed the stores to be open. However, with more advanced notice, they contacted the stores much earlier this year and made them aware of the new policy. I believe the Vaad felt that there were numerous ways one can get kosher food if it was an emergency (and perhaps if there was only one kosher store in town things would change) and they felt that this was a necessary policy based on the learnings.
However, it was pointed out that next year Tisha B’Av falls on Thursday which may make it more difficult for owners and customers to shop for Shabbos, so based on the opinion of certain ps’ak, there is some leniency to open before 1pm on a Thursday. So we shall see what happens next year.
Bottomline, the issue of food preparation on the morning of Tisha B’Av is unanimous among the Halachic sources and there is no reason that they should be brought into question in our communities if the rabbis we trust to make halachic decision regarding the business they supervise have made this decision. That is their role and their job. To not only supervise the food but to make sure the stores are held to the laws of our sages.
Some people might have personal issues with the Vaad, and while we should all be evaluating our grudges during this time of the Jewish year when an abundance of contempt did so much damage to us as a nation, those should not devolve into name-calling and degrading of legitimate Halachic institutions which exist to make our lives as Torah-abiding, God-fearing, Orthodox Jews easier.
So, as pointed out, do you have personal issues with the Vaads in your community? Any suggestions on improvements or any positive feedback would be greatly appreciated.
The kosher world has a great international opportunity to increase its leverage in the multiple business arenas they overlap in. My goal here is to see how we could get it done, especially while many want to boycott Jewish and Israeli owned businesses.
Cindy Grosz can be reached at email@example.com