Catriel Lev's Blog: VeHaShalom VeHaEmmet

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Catriel Lev
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Jul 18, 2010

A Small Step Against Sinat Chinum Achieved During Bein HaMetzarim

A group of concerned citizens in Israel has recently been promoting a boycott of products which have the Eidah Chareidit Kashrut Hechsher. Now, during Bein HaMetzarim [the time between the fasts of the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha BeAv, when we are particularly exhorted to work against Sinat Chinum and for Ahavat Yisrael], some progress against Sinat Chinam has been achieved by that boycott.

Though public figures like Nachum Barnea in Yediot Acharonot have written explicitly about the disgusting actions employed by Eidah Chareidit "activists", I have heard even more disgusting examples of Eidah Chareidit "activists" promoting violence and intimidation against other Jews (including Chareidi Jews) from Chareidi Jews themselves. Therefore, let no one be confused by any "smoke screen" the Eidah Chareidit or its supporters may attempt to create; the boycott of the Eidah Chareidit is a result of the Eidah Chareidit's actions which promote Sinat Chinam among Jews, and is, therefore, a very positive step which will support Ahavat Yisrael and true Achdut.

While I dislike the Eidah Chareidit's anti-Zionism, I would not encourage a boycott of products with their Hechsher simply because of their offensive philosophy; but since they sustain this philosophy (as well as many other things on their agenda) through the actions of their "extremists" who promote the utilization of violence and intimidation against those who oppose them, we can all be certain that the Torah requires us to do what we can to stop this utilization of violence and intimidation, supposedly for "Torah purposes", which is actually simply creating an enormous Chillul HaShem!

Though the Osem company (marketers of Nestle ice cream in Israel) had initially declared that all Nestle ice cream would have the Eidah Chareidit Kashrut Hechsher, now that the boycott has been active for several weeks, Osem has announced that a new Nestle ice cream which it is producing will not have the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher!

All supporters of Ahavat Yisrael and Achdut within our people can only hope that more and more Nestle products will be produced without the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher until all Nestle products will be free of that Hechsher, and that other manufacturers will follow suit, and that most or all will choose to replace the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher on their products with other Hechshers.

As is well known among those who follow Kashrut supervision, the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher, as good as their Kashrut supervision is, is not the best Hechsher as far as Kashrut supervision goes; and it is certainly not the best Hechsher as far as the Ruchniut (spirituality) of the supervisors goes.

There are many Mehadrin Hechshers other than the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher, and at least a few of them are known as having a higher level of Kashrut than the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher. I certainly advise all manufacturers who want a Mehadrin Hechsher to find one which is not Eidah Chareidit.

The website (in Hebrew) of the boycott against the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher is:


  1. I find it very unfortunate that you call this Ahavas Yisrael.

    It is not surprising that you are instigating Jews against Jews at this time of year. I know that you feel that you are waging a worthy and just holy war but that is exactly what BarKmatza also thought.

    We have lots of problems in all the streams of Torha Jewdism. Whatever problems we have we need to sort out with a Win-Win approach and not with spreading hate.

  2. Shalom Gidon,

    Unfortunately, you do not seem to understand what is going on here, if you feel you have to respond in such a manner.

    The boycott is a very legitimate non-violent way to protest the abuse of the Torah, and the use of Torah as an ax to grind with for the personal glory of some very misguided (to put it mildly) extremists. This is not instigating against other Jews; this is trying to protect Jews who have been instigated against for very many years now, and trying to STOP the instigation against other Jews being practiced by extremists who fit every description I have ever heard for Reshaim.

    The boycott does not spread hate, but combats the Sinat Chinum utilized by the extremists, and demands that our society find more spiritual sources for the Hechshers on its food, rather than that of an organization which is known for its oppression of other Jews.

    Until we stop these people from waging what they consider a holy war against almost all other Jews (and it is that in their attitude, the war they wage against almost all other Jews, including many Chareidim, which proves that it is not at all holy), and face the Sinat Chinum and not try to compromise with it, we will never achieve the kind of unity in Am Yisarel necessary for the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.

    You can misinterpret the ideas expressed on my blog however you wish, I am not responsible for someone else's interpretations. However, I can be absolutely certain (as people who know me will vouch for) that my blog is based upon true Ahavat Yisrael, as well as striving for the truth (as the name HaEmmet VeHashalom indicates).

    Sometimes the truth is unpleasant to face, and we avoid "looking it straight in the face"; but the truth remains the truth, and someday it will "stare us in the face".

    As long as extremist groups are allowed to dominate Chareidi society, the true Torah value of Chareidi society will never be able to blossom. The abuses of these extremist groups are well documented by many Chareidim, and if you guarantee anonymity to one of the informed Chareidim in your area, he will probably be willing to tell you the truth about extremist groups like the one the present boycott is directed against.

    We indeed have lots of problems in all the streams of Torah, but a Win-Win solution can only work when the extremists are willing to adopt such an approach also, and in all my 34 years in Israel I have yet to see anyone who approached these extremists in an attempt to find a Win-Win solution (and have lots of experience in this vein) get a response that in any way indicated a willingness to deal with the problem and to work out something that would allow a Win-Win situation.

    Unfortunately, when Reshaim try to oppress people, the good people must respond in some manner that can prevent the Reshaim from dominating and crushing the Kedushah. None of us likes the situation to deteriorate to such a level, but it has probably done so because in previous years the good people just kept quiet about this type of thing.

    All that is necessary for Rish'ut to conquer is for the good people to do nothing. So now some good people have gotten together to take some steps in a positive direction and to prevent the oppression of Jews by Reshaim.

    That certainly fulfills every criteria which I have ever heard for Ahavat Yisrael, and for promoting Kedushah; so I will stick to my description of these actions as promoting Ahavat Yisrael and combating Sinat Chinum.

  3. Most Chareidim who use the Eida Chareidit Hechsher do not support Eida Chareidit political views. After all, most of them vote in national elections (although one should easily be able to understand an opposing view, even by non-Chareidim). So you are not only causing unjustified damage to your fellow Jews, who may even share your views to some extent, but you are also preaching slander and rechilut against many huge Talmidei Chochomim. I'm sure that most of us would not be a Torah match stick for the Dayanim you are speaking about. So how can you risk attacking their Torah viewpoint. If you knew what they do, you may think differently too. You are entitled to follow your Rabbis, and I hope you will ask them, but the Eida Chareidi have their own Gedolim. Am Israel did not mourn for Moshe as they did for Aharon - it's not easy to lead, and people may not like you so much. We have to respect Am Yisrael's components - after all there were 12 tribes, with their different approaches, Minhagim, etc. To call Talmidei Chochomim Rashaim risks one's share in the next World. Anyone who takes this risk should ask a few Godelim before continuing this approach. There is more to lose than to gain. Do you think that the Chofetz Chaim would advocate taking a chance? I imagine he would venture a word of extreme caution! Try to find a single Chareidi Gedol who will support your approach. You may have to resort to Rabbi's from another group - and if so, I suggest that you reconsider. Make sure that you do not have something bothering you that causes such a strong feeling to create friction. I don't mean to preach, but consider the following. No one is perfect and we need to accept this. I think that you can put your possible frustrations and energies into something that really helps. Perhaps speak to someone like Chananya Pollack of Ezer MiTzion. As a Chareidi Jew with an excellent repoire with all types of Jews, he was asked why he does not promote the Chareidi approach to improve our image. He responded that he is too busy saving people's lives to have time for politics. I suggest that we can all devote Machloket time on all levels, which is of dubious help to Am Yisrael, to better things that are certain to help.
    This would be a good investment approach and I hope you will take my comments in a positive light, as that is how they were intended. I'm sure that you will reap ample rewards.

  4. Shalom to Yechiel,

    I tried finding an Email address to inform you that I had posted your comments and my response, but since I could not, I will just respond here and hope that you will look here and read this carefully.

    Since you state that you mean your comments in a positive light, I will take some time to explain your misperceptions to you.

    You seem to have confused the political views of the Eidah Chareidit with its actions. As I indicated in my blog, I do not support any action against anyone because of their political views, however offensive they may be. Incorrect political views are combated by debating them and showing that they are incorrect, and if your views are more correct they will eventually convince more people than the other views (at least usually, I hope).

    However, allowing and encouraging intimidation of others to force them into accepting your view and into behaving according to it, is simply a despicable way to behave - forbidden by Torah as well as by basic decency. Since this is what is being combated by positive non-violent actions such as the boycott of products with the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher, these actions are clearly combating Sinat Chinum and promoting Ahavat Yisrael.

    Promoting non-violent actions to encourage Ahavat Yisrael and prevent Sinat Chinum is certainly NOT "causing unjustified damage to your fellow Jews", since we are not doing ANYTHING against our fellow Jews, be they Chareidi or not, who do not support the extremists outlook of violence and intimidation. Not very many Chareidim eat only products with the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher, and in Chareidi society it is widely accepted that several other Mehadrin Hechshers are at least as good (and many people state unequivocally that they are better) than the Eidah Chareidit Hechsher; so boycotting this particular Hechsher is in no way an act against any of our fellow Jews (except, perhaps, those Reshaim, whom we hope will be Chozer BiTeshuvah Sheleimah, who are at present promoting an agenda of Sinat Chinam and intimidation against their fellow Jews; in any case, since we are performing our actions with the hope that the Reshaim will be Chozer BiTeshuvah Sheleimah, we are actually not even acting against those people, per se, only against their evil deeds).

    As far as Rechilut and slander, though that is what the extremists often utilize and is what I am combating, I do not participate in such things, as all who know me well will be able to verify. I am not attacking a "Torah viewpoint" (how did you get to there from my opposition to violence and intimidation? Violence and intimidation are NEVER a Torah viewpoint!), I am promoting Ahavat Yisrael, and working to prevent those who propagate Sinat Chinum from doing so.


  5. Shalom again, Yechiel, [This is the Continuation from my Previous Comment]

    As I mentioned in an answer to a previous comment: In all my 34 years in Israel I have yet to see anyone who approached these extremists in an attempt to find a Win-Win solution (and I have lots of experience in this vein) get a response that in any way indicated a willingness to deal with the problem and to work out something that would allow a Win-Win situation.

    In the Eidah Chareidit there are certainly Talmidei Chachamim, they are the people, like some with whom I have spoken, who, because they are "spoon fed" information by Askanim, refuse to acknowledge what is going on, and thus never know the truth about the severe problems among the group of people they "lead". I have spoken to Rabbis from the Eidah who when I mentioned the need to stop the violence and intimidation replied, "There was a small problem, but the trouble-makers were told to stop that stuff, and they did so!" Those Rabbis are the ones who hardly ever leave their own areas (and when they do, they are "accompanied" by Askanim who make sure that they don't see anything which contradicts their preconceived notions), and all of whose information comes to them through the filter of Askanim with a very specific agenda (and, of course, very specific fears lest any of the great Rabbis gets an inkling of what is really going on and actually demands that it stop since it is such a big Chillul HaShem).

    Working like this to prevent Sinat Chinum and Chillul HaShem is a great Mitzvah, even though one is often attacked by apologists for the Reshaim, or misguided individuals who do not recognize what is actually happening in our society, and of course Gedolei Torah have sanctioned the actions which I perform. I am, however, quite certain that no Gedolei Torah have sanctioned the actions by Eidah Chareidit extremist activists which are causing such a great Chillul HaShem, and are preventing the true Torah value of Chareidi society from being able to blossom! It is toward those people that you should be directing your comments, since they are the ones refusing to accept that other Jews have their own Gedolim and should be accepted as such.

    As you mentioned that Chananya Pollack of Ezer MiTzion stated, I am also too busy doing positive work to have time for politics. That is why I do not sugar-coat the important messages which I must convey. We must stop making compromises with Sinat Chinum and develop a truly good investment approach that will keep people from mistakenly supporting those who use Torah as "an ax to grind with" (as mentioned in Pirkei Avot) for their own personal glory!

    Once we work out practical programs to do that, we will certainly reap the ample rewards to which you refer, including creating an atmosphere in Am Yisrael which will enable Mashiach's coming and the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.

    Please Yechiel, I entreat you most earnestly, investigate this situation with sincere, knowledgeable Chareidim who can discreetly inform you of the actions of the Askanim of the Eidah Chareidit, and stop misinterpreting the intentions of those who are truly and sincerely working for Achdut (not of sameness, but of loving-kindness) and Ahavah within Am Yisrael.