Catriel Lev's Blog: VeHaShalom VeHaEmmet

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Catriel Lev
כתריאל לב

Feb 2, 2011

Kashrut and Spirituality

As far as Kashrut and spirituality, in food and in the other parts of our lives, goes, we (and especially certain Rabbis in Bet Shemesh) should keep in mind the following facts:

1. Almost all of food Kashrut relates to some Lavim (prohibitions) in the Torah which, while important, are NOT extremely serious Torah violations.

2. Almost all of the "Kashrut exposés" which have been publicized in certain Kashrut lectures and on the Email lists have related either to technical problems with a Kashrut certificate (while the people who provide the food being discussed are known to be people who would never, in any case, feed other Jews non-Kosher food), or accusations that a store may be putting up a letter from a Mehadrin Kashrut organization on their wall in order to deceive people into thinking they have a Mehadrin Hechsher when they ONLY have a Hechsher certifying that their food is Kosher.

3. Sexual offenses against children (or adults) involve several very serious transgressions upon Torah law, and, in many cases, may involve transgressions with a Karet (excision) penalty, or even a capital crime by Torah law.

4. Any suspicions of sexual offenses must be meticulously investigated by the proper authorities who know how to deal with serious crimes like these, and must never be brushed off with statements like, "The accused is above suspicion, and this must be a case of the accusers trying to damage his reputation and nothing more," which Chazal warned against with their warnings like, "Ein Apotropus LeArayot," because we all know that on sexual matters a good reputation in religious circles does not guarantee that there will be no misconduct. In fact, in Jewish society today it is generally accepted that you can trust the Kashrut of the food that a "Frum Jew" who is a sexual offender (or criminal of some other type) feeds you. Indeed, quite a few instances have come to light of people who kept Kashrut very meticulously, but cheated others in business (or slept with other people's wives, or perpetrated some other sexual offense).

5. The only way someone who is falsely accused can truly clear his/her name, without any suspicions of cover-up, is if a serious investigation is conducted by the proper authorities, and, after thorough investigation, the conclusion is reached that the person did not commit any sexual offense. In certain cases it may be discovered, after serious investigation, that the accusations were false; but it is much more likely that the accusations are true if someone is willing to embarrass himself (and we all know that it is embarrassing in religious society to bring up sexual conduct in any case) by bringing up sexual misconduct perpetrated against him/her.

6. Even if somehow a sexual offender can be investigated without reporting him to the Police, what reliable guarantee can be given that he will get the counseling which he needs, be kept away from tempting situations in the future, and that innocent victims (both those in the past, and those whom he might potentially victimize in the future) will be protected from him? In many cases where a sexual offender was identified, the religious community simply "covered up" for him and, perhaps, had him transferred to a different community where he wasn't known as a sexual offender, but where he DID have every opportunity to victimize new unsuspecting victims.

It is clear from the above that investigation of suspected sexual abuse should be a MUCH HIGHER PRIORITY in the religious community than investigation of Kashrut suspicions (though neither deception with regard to sexual prohibitions and violations of them, nor deception with regard to Kashrut laws and violations of them, should be accepted and "brushed under the rug").

It would be good for all Jewish community leaders, especially those in Ramat Bet Shemesh, to take note of the above and to exert their influence to put the stronger emphasis where it belongs, and not to waste so much effort trying to publicize who does not have a Mehadrin Hechsher even though he is Kosher (which, in any case, any alert consumer can find out for himself).

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