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On Orthodox Regard for Non-observant Jews (Thoughts on Kashruth Certification Policies), and on Sociology Leading to Polemicism in Halakhah (on German Neo-Orthodox Responses to Reform and Haredi Responses to Modernity)

On Orthodox Regard for Non-observant Jews (Thoughts on Kashruth Certification Policies), and on Sociology Leading to Polemicism in Halakhah (on German Neo-Orthodox Responses to Reform and Haredi Responses to Modernity)

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Published by Michael Makovi
How Orthodox Judaism should relate to non-observant Jews, as exemplified in a specific case of kashrut certification for non-Shabbat-observing Jewish restaurants.

Also, how sociology affects halakhah, as shown in German Neo-Orthodoxy, Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi Judaism of the Hazon Ish and Bnei Brak, and Sephardi Judaism.

Also, the legitimacy of the concept of Da'at ("Daas") Torah.
How Orthodox Judaism should relate to non-observant Jews, as exemplified in a specific case of kashrut certification for non-Shabbat-observing Jewish restaurants.

Also, how sociology affects halakhah, as shown in German Neo-Orthodoxy, Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi Judaism of the Hazon Ish and Bnei Brak, and Sephardi Judaism.

Also, the legitimacy of the concept of Da'at ("Daas") Torah.

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Published by: Michael Makovi on Aug 14, 2009
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On Orthodox Regard for Non-observant Jews (Thoughts on Kashruth Certification Policies), andon Sociology Leading to Polemicism in Halakhah (on German Neo-Orthodox Responses toReform and Haredi Responses to Modernity)Michael MakoviPart One - On Orthodox Regard for Non-observant Jews: Thoughts on Kashruth CertificationPoliciesA portion of this essay was already published as “Thoughts on Kashruth Certification Policies”,
The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
, http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/thoughts-kashruth-certification-policies.I.In my naivete, I have only recently become aware that the Israeli
 Rabbanut 
offers
hashgahat kashrut 
(kosher certification) only for those establishments which are closed onShabbat. Any establishment which is open for Shabbat will be denied supervision, no matter howkosher their food may in fact be.This policy is based on the
halakha
that one may not benefit from forbidden labor thatwas performed on Shabbat. Therefore, the Rabbanut denies kosher supervision to establishmentsopen on Shabbat, since any food cooked on Shabbat is forbidden according to
hilkhot shabbat 
(although not
hilkhot kashrut 
). Additionally, a
hekhsher 
, if present, is assumed to condone theShabbat violation.(My friend Moshe Gluck pointed out that actually, some
do
consider the cooking of aShabbat violator to be
bishul aku”m
, the cooking of a gentile, whose cooking is forbidden under 
hilkhot kashrut 
, in fact, forbidden
all week long 
! However, here, I don't think we have any rightwhatsoever to be strict on such matters; Rabbi Jacob Reischer justified great leniency in the lawsof 
treifot 
, saying, "It is fitting that all the Jewish people be unified in the matter of eating anddrinking so as not to cause in their own midst a rift like that which separates them from the others[the Gentiles]; we should not multiply separate groups." (
Yore Deah
58, quoted by Professor Menachem Friedman in “Life Tradition and Book Tradition” and “The Market Model andReligious Radicalism.”) Moreover, we see the
 Rabbinut 
is not being strict on this opinion (viz.that the cooking of a Shabbat violator is forbidden to be eaten
all week long 
as
bishul aku”m
)anyway: even if the restaurant per se (qua restaurant) starts keeping Shabbat, in which case the
 
 Rabbinut 
in fact
will 
proffer 
hashgaha
, nevertheless the employees will all still drive cars, smokecigarettes, call on their phones, watch TV, turn on lights in their own personal homes, etc. That is,even if the restaurant per se qua restaurant is
 shomer 
 
 shabbat 
and receives
hashgahat 
 
kashrut 
from the
 Rabbinut 
, nevertheless, the individual employees are still violating Shabbat. But if they're violating Shabbat, then their cooking, according to the strict opinion, is
bishul aku”m
on
any day of the week 
, even if the restaurant closes on Shabbat and receives
hashgaha
. Since the
 Rabbinut 
will in fact proffer 
hashgahat 
 
kashrut 
once the restaurant per se qua restaurant keepsShabbat, irrespective of its individual employees' Shabbat observance, we see the
 Rabbinut 
is notconcerned with this opinion that the cooking of a Shabbat violator is
bishul aku”m
.)Such a policy is, I believe, unconscionable. First, who is forcing the Orthodox Jews to eatat the establishment on Shabbat? If the food cooked is forbidden on Shabbat due to
hilkhot  shabbat 
, so let the Orthodox Jews avoid the establishment on Shabbat, and dine there only onweekdays!But moreover, this policy unfortunately begrudges the non-observant populace of whatever 
mitzvot 
they may consider doing. If supervision is denied, then the establishment willlikely reason that if they are not kosher anyway, they may as well serve truly non-kosher food. Onthe other hand, if they are offered supervision, then they may strongly consider becoming trulykosher, even if only for the decidedly not
lishma
reason of increasing business. But a
mitzvah
is a
mitzvah,
and we should not deny non-observant Jews an incentive to become more observant inany way they may, even if the motive be ulterior.When I discussed this issue with a friend, he said that the
hechsher 
on restaurants is notdone for the good of the non-observant restaurateurs but rather, for the good for the observantclientèle; therefore, there is no sense - according to him - in our seeking to encourage
kashrut 
observance of non-observant restaurateurs, for the
hechsher 
is not done for their benefit in thefirst place. This view, I cannot understand. If a non-Jew wished to get his restaurant or productcertified as kosher, then we
might 
say this, but we cannot possibly say this of a Jewish – albeitnon-observant – restaurateur. Rather, we should seek to encourage
kashrut 
supervision of evennon-observant restaurateurs' venues. Whether we shall encourage by appealing to Jewish traditionand spirituality, or by appealing to the business they will gain, either way, it is our duty to soencourage. And if they will remain open on Shabbat, so be it; keeping one
mitzvah
and notanother is better than keeping neither 
mitzvot 
. (I am especially puzzled by this friend's view - his parochial concern for the observant - as he has also criticized Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch for lack of concern for the nonobservant. Even if this accusation is accurate, I do not understand theapparent double-standard. Moreover, we shall later see that this accusation against Rav Hirsch is
 
entirely baseless.)In his
 Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel 
,Rabbi Marc Angel recounts that Rabbi Uziel, following his giving a speech in promotion of Shabbat observance, prepared to board a taxicab. In those days, gas rationing meant that everytaxi driver had his own particular day off, with each driver's particular day marked on hiswindow. This particular cab which Rabbi Uziel was boarding had a particular 
week 
day – maybeMonday or Wednesday or some such - marked on his cab as his day off, meaning that he
did 
driveon Shabbat. Rabbi Uziel was questioned: he had just promoted Shabbat observance, and now hewould take a Shabbat-violator's taxi??!! Rabbi Uziel replied, “I don't boycott any Jew and deprivehim of his livelihood just because he violates Shabbat”. Rabbi Uziel would take any driver's taxi,regardless of his personal Shabbat observance. We love every Jew, and so we wish for them all to be Shabbat observers; but on the other hand, we love every Jew, and do not wish to deny themlivelihood nor cause them embarrassment, even if some of them violate Shabbat. In the case of 
kashrut 
supervision, there is the further consideration that granting supervision, irrespective of Shabbat violation, will serve as an incentive for Shabbat violators to at least keep one
mitzvah,
namely
kashrut.
Many have been perplexed by the statement from the Gemara which we read beforeevery chapter of 
 Pirkei Avot 
, “Kol yisrael yesh lahem helek l'olam haba”, “Every Jew has a portion in the World-to-Come...”. Do not “the righteous of all nations have a portion in the World-to-Come”? What, then, is the
hiddush
(novelty) in saying that all Jews (with the exception of certain heretics and sinners) have such a portion, when righteous gentiles as well (with similar exceptions) have such a portion? This difficulty is beautifully solved by Rabbi Samson RaphaelHirsch's in his commentary on this passage: he says that “Kol yisrael”, “All of Israel” is said
not 
in contradistinction to non-Jews, but rather, in contradistinction to those Jews who reject their Jewishness, and spurn the title of “Jew”. In other words, gentiles are beyond the purview of thisstatement; obviously, gentiles
do
have a portion in the World-to-Come like and alongside Jews, but our present concern is not with Jews versus gentiles, but rather with self-identifying Jewsversus non-identifying Jew. I seem to recall that Rev. Abraham Cohen's
 Everyman's Talmud 
interprets similarly. According to this, there is tremendous value in identifying as a Jew; even if one is not observant; anything he does to retain his identity as a proud and consciously JewishJew is something to be valued. Can we possibly begrudge any Jew any extra
mitzvah
, even onedone for materialistic motives? How can we deny kosher certification to Shabbat-violatingrestaurants?

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