Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tinfoil Treife: Kosher Guy

Lids and covers, foils and tins, wraps and towels. There is not a tired old trick that hasn't been tried and it's high time to move on. The basics are simple enough. As most readers of this blog will know, our variety of Judaism - sorry, I must interrupt myself to apologise to those readers hopping mad that I dare impute different versions to our faith - but our particular version of Judaism has of late been preoccupied by the weighty issue of the kosherness or otherwise of lids of tinfoil containers.

For the purpose of this post I need not trouble you with anything more because if you are one of those genuinely troubled by this burning question and desperately seeking a resolution then I am afraid you have hit on the wrong site and you should contact your local TAG volunteer to attend urgently to your filter.

One characteristic of our Jewish strain very much connected to the shale of the day is an addiction to anything disposable. I'm not talking about disposable nappies which in Israel they often recycle as missiles in the event that a murder suspect is picked up by the police. Missiles, incidentally, to be launched at the police not at the suspect who is innocent until proven not to be frum in which case he is guilty until he starts reciting perek shira which exculpates him by association.

In this case I'm talking of disposable tableware. Chazal tell us that the arrival of the portion of manna was an indicator of one's piety. The righteous had it delivered to their door while the common folk had to go searching further afield for their daily crust. 'twas ever thus, appears to be the message in that. Another pointer to one's holy standing was the packaging of the heavenly bread. While the frummies had it delivered on a paper plate with plastic cutlery wrapped in a crumpled polythene bag that had previously shielded their hats from a downpour, to Guardian readers, assuming there were any amongst the Chosen, it arrived in a canvas tote emblazoned, No calves were worshipped in the production of this tortilla.

There is even some archaeological evidence that Moses handed out plastic cups after striking the rock, though some experts are convinced they were polystyrene.  Of course, never did we suffer anything like the devastation of Pompei because in our case we had the seichel to wrap everything in silver foil which stopped the lava in its tracks even before Shomrim managed to reach the scene in their Chrysler Grand Voyagers and Volvo XC90s. Which neatly brings us to the source of our minhag to cover anything from dining room chairs to tombstones in polythene because this is the clingfilm within which our forefather wrapped their bread of affliction in the Land of Mitzraim.

It'll soon be Pesach when our demand for disposables reaches its peak for anything from the most capacious dustbin liners to the longest tablecloths. While plastic is the greatest contributor to our landfill fest silver foil and tin foil also make a respectable contribution. Pesach is of course also the time when we don't stop fretting over what you can and cannot eat, drink, touch, smell and even God would find it a challenge to guess what else. Years ago it was the question of machine matzos and before that it was the pre-Pesach chometz trade. Even earlier that was the banning of legumes since when the definition of a legume keeps on widening by those who could barely tell apart a soya bean from a haricot.

In more recent times, having banned sunflower, rapeseed and cottonseed oils, the rabbis have found it necessary to supervise drinking water and almost ban that other commodity which sustains our people. Yes, paper plates need a hechsher too and it was thus only a matter of time before their attention turned to the humble tinfoil lid. Like taxes to The Beatles bans are to them: if you tie a string we'll ban your street/if you dare to sing we'll ban your tweet. It is all in a good cause, however, and we should bless our good fortune that we live in an age when the rabbis needn't join the dole queue for having run out of things to ban.

Yet we cannot deny the rights of those who choose to squeeze glass in the hope of extracting a sand particle to confuse it with a grain of wheat and thus find something new to ban. To paraphrase him whom we shouldn't mention on a nice Jewish blog, I disapprove of what you ban but I will defend to death your right to ban it. If some people wish to dissect a humble lid I will defend their right to act in accordance with their principles as vehemently and trenchantly as they would deny me to act according to mine.

But let's have a look where this principled debate, so integral to the future of our moral and spiritual well-being, is taking place. Where have the rabbis been engaging their brains, sharpening their pens and expounding their reasons? If they have been doing so at all they have been very good at covering their tracks since nothing in writing has appeared from anyone other than a notice from the distributor and a line in the KLBD list.

Aha, you say, this must belong to the oral rather than the written law. Up and down Dunsmure and Cazenove Roads scholars are no doubt tugging at their beards and curling their peios in deep contemplation on the origins of the foil cover, while from the windows of the shuls extended to the very edge of the pavement emanate the lab results of the lowly lid. Or perhaps our fearless press, always primed for a screeching headline on the smallest transgression of one of them and a howling protest on another perceived slight to one of us, have taken up the cudgels to explain to their readers the opposing sides of the great lid debate.

But I'm afraid you'd be wrong. This debate, for what it is, has hardly taken place at all. The warring sides did not spar at Yeshivas Horomoh and there was no disputation at Rabinow koilel. Yiddish was not enriched by the vocabulary of scientific test results and the pulpits of the Shabbos Hagodol droshos are unlikely to resound to the crinkle of tinfoil. Sforim shelves are unlikely to be burdened by volumes of responsa on this topic, the Jewish Tribune has not as much as mentioned it while the Hamodia has dedicated not a column inch in its multi sections to the great issue of the day.

Which leads us to the uncomfortable conclusion that we are no longer capable of holding a civilised and reasoned debate in any form or manner. We can cloak ourselves in mourning one week on the passing of some great unknown and then whip ourselves into a frenzy the week after over the engagement of the son of the hairy to the great niece of the scary. We can holler in unison over planning by-laws and rant over a bus lane and it goes without saying that there must be a uniform view and opinion on the size of blouses and the length of wigs.

But when a difference emerges amongst our own on matters that concern no one but us it'll be either violence and intimidation or we fall into a stunned silence. The shtiebel that will host Rabbi Scharf and his bans will not offer a platform to the LBD even if represented by a Rabbi Padwa. The koilel that will debate the starchiness of lids will not countenance an opinion that the starch may well be a Kosher le'Pesach red herring. The obsessive followers of hechsheirim have no interest in being shown their folly and the scholars who have multiplied the size of an olive to the equivalent of a cantaloupe will ignore the sources when it does not suit their prohibitionist mindset.

And so we come to a situation where the only venue that will host both sides to this debate in a civil manner is an English language shiur for balei batim, in a not quite solidly chareidi shul, often inviting speakers with more than a whiff of kiruv to them. Only there will it not be below the banners to present their arguments, insofar as one can call them that, and only there will the same platform be afforded to the opposing view without the host being accused of selling out.

This should tell you all you need to know about contemporary chareidi society and a lot more.

Welcome to the Shul of Frum.

26 comments:

Matthew said...

That we always get differing halachic opinions whenever a new question arises is not condemnatory to the halachists.
It is the nature of any system of law that there can be more than one approach to a problem.
Every rabbi who has given a psak about kitchen disposables will be able to defend it from accepted sources and with logical explanation.
Unless you are a learned halachist you ought not poke fun of the rabbis .If you accept that the tiniest amount of chametz is forbidden on Pessach,you must leave it to the Rabbonim to explain how we define the prohibition,and understand that it is reasonable to have
more than one psak.
If you cannot accept the concern of our sages for the minutiae of Halacha ,it is because you have not tried to understand or don't want to understand what Halacha is all about.
There are many broad minded and educated Jews,including many members of the top echelons of academia who understand and accept Halacha,without any problem with what the ignorant call 'nit -picking' or 'hair splitting'.
Our hair splitting sages have preserved Yiddishkeit throughout the ages.
The descendants of those who alowed the edges of Halacha to be nibbled away and become frayed have not retained their Jewish identity.

Joe Blogs said...

Do dogs eat foil lids? If you offer one to a dog as food will it eat it willingly? If yes, then the lids are ossur. Otherwise there is no sensible objection to their being used.

If your kashrus authority has banned them, you need to think about finding a kashrus authortiy that understands your specific problems over the pesach period.

And by "you" I mean the lady running the household over the holiday, not the man learning about how it should be done in theory, with 8 kids and in-laws coming etc.

This is called "halocho lema'aseh" (known in charedi circles as not following the daas torah/heresy/putting one's husband in conflict with his rebbe etc) or as simply "practical common sense".

Bravo said...

Bravo Mr Tickle, back to your raison d'etre, writing witty clever articles on the issues of the day.

Letzones Achas said...

Tickle...
Boy do we laugh!!!

Yep
Az der na'ar volt nisht geveyn ayne, volt ich mitgelacht

Geronimo said...

Joe Blogs

Common sense?
The trouble is that it is not that common.
Quite rare in fact.
Shame you haven't any,as evidenced by your stupid comments.

Oihave Yisroel said...

Please Mr Tickle
Can't you find a better issue for blogging.
Lets talk about having more ahavas chinom,chessed,and unity in our community,and intelligent suggestions how we can do our bit to achieve it.
The frummers and the moderne are all brothers and must learn how important brotherly love is.
Just as we mustn't condone blatant frummy hypocrisy ,we ought to realise that the slack observance of the "moderne" is either through ignorance,or a fear of being labelled as frum,because of some negative traits wrongly ascribed to the frummers.
Which section of society hasn't got its rotten eggs?
I would like to suggest that we visit each others shuls occasionally .
The chassidim would be heartened to meet some lovely people in the large UN synagogues,people with similar values as their own,the most noticeable difference being external dress appearance.
We must build bridges to create more unity.
G-d loves all his children ,and if we are his children then we are all brothers and sisters.If we don't accept this we can't expect G-d to be as a father to us.

Joe Blogs said...

@Geronimo -

I think your response must be the kind of thing Mr. Tickle was referring to when he said the charedim can't engage in rational debate (or words to this effect). Thanks for proving his point.

Mark said...

Oihave Yisroel

Bravo!
I'm sure Tickle won't be able to resist such a noble appeal.
Yes, let's have a blog without insults and acrimony.
Let us have a blog which will unite,not divide.

Anonymous said...

OIHEV YISROEL WRONG.

We have to keep away from UN people. So as not to learn from their ways. G-d loves goyim as well, well maybe some of them, but that's no reason to mix with them. As far as we are concerned Jewish people who are lax in observance have the same din. Eisav is also called our brother does that mean you have to have contact with him. What weird nonsense some people write under the guise of oihaiv yisroel.

A M Ho'oretz said...

Dear Oihave Yisroel,

Although your arguments are without flaw and your intentions undoubtedly are the very best, please for once and for all recognise Reb Tickle's blog for what it is meant to be:

Namely a humorous, rather irreverant take on the Charedishe Oilom, nothing more, nothing less.

Your expectations of this blog are misplaced and if you object so heartfeltly to its content, I can only suggest that you exercise your Bechiro Chofshis not to read it.

To Reb Tickle, I applaud yet another brilliant posting.

I have long ago opined to my nearest and dearest that Pesach presents a serious terrorist threat to the chareidi velt. It was around the time of the furore of the paper plates for Pesach (AKA Plate-gate).

No, I do not refer to islamic fundamentalists taking the opportunity of a Yiddishe festival with bigger shul attendances to launch a violent attack or bombing chas ve-cholent. No, they would simply need to circulate a leaflet in various local moisdos (or put an ad in the Tribune, Hamodia et al) to the effect that there was a planned intent on the part of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea to send a few low flying pesticide spraying planes across North and North West London over the Festival of Pesach, which on this occasion would be armed not with pesticides, but with fine chometz particles. It would threaten that all Yidden would thereby be at serious risk of inhaling these chometz particles with every breath.

Can you imagine the scene - Pandemonium as every last chareidi would be seen desperately running around in the days leading up to Pesach, neglecting their Pesach cleaning and Charoset maching in favour of hunting down Gas Masks with special Kedassia approved anti-chometz filters in order to avoid this terrible risk - Rachmono Nitzlon.

Boruch Hashem on that occasion my fears were somewhat assuaged and my faith in the common sense of some of our Rabbonim restored by R Feldman of Munks standing at the pulpit and just being really clear. "If it is not Ro'uy L'achilas Kelev, it's not chametz and dogs do not eat paper plates"

It is probably worth noting that they do not eat perfume, deodorant, soap, or even toothpaste - but I digress.

Please one and all - work hard, prepare well for Pesach and have a Chag Kosher Ve'Someiach, but whatever you do - try not to give leave of your senses.....

kedassia man said...

Very entertaining both the article and the comments but, with respect, you have all missed the main point.

Other than the Eida Chareidit Kedassia is the only hechsher in the world that announces publicly that a product hechshered by another authority is not kosher (or in this case chometz). I.E. The other machshir is bemayzid being machshil the tzibbur in an issur. I have many times heard a machshir say "It is not under our supervision" but to claim that another hechsher is not kosher raises lots of questions. and all intelligent people will know the answer.

Realist said...

You raise an excellent point about differing Rabbinical opinions and who we choose to follow. This is the way I see it.
In the old times, before the advent of the telephone, then the fax and lately the internet, we relied very much on the yea or nay of our very local Rabbi and that was more or less it. We belonged. We followed. Things were pretty simple back then.
Another thing which was pretty simple back then was the populace. We were mostly ignoramuses and Torah scholars were the exception rather than the rule. Today however, thanks to the huge increase in Torah learning, we have all become lamdanim. Am haratzim have to be told what to do, but we can decide for ourselves! And now that a word spoken on another continent is across the globe in an instant, the opinion of a Rabbi from the other side of the world or even for that matter the other side of town, can trounce that of our local Rabbi Who Knows Only A Little Bit More Than I, in an instant.
This has led to a situation where many people are treating halachic issues a little like the pick and mix section in their local shop. Just as we decide which sweets to add to our little bag, many people today want to "taste" the halachic decision they are being asked to follow, they want to know what they are getting. They want the rational to be explained to them so that they can decide for themselves whether they agree with that train of thought. If not, they will choose to follow the ruling of the other authority who has no issue with that issue.
True, discussions about these issues should be held in the public eye, but no publication will ever enter into the territory which is claimed by two warring factions out of fear of driving away supporters of either group. But when the party is an outsider whose followers dont read the publication in question, all bets are off, as is evidenced by the differences between the Yid and the Blat or as Mr Tickle chooses to mention, an issue over a new bus lane.
There is also the problem that allowing discussion among the general populace and giving them explanations is breaking our age old traditions, and many people among our kehilla mistakenly think (or are lead to believe) that any change, no matter how minute equals apikorsus, i.e. that Yiddishkeit demands that our life be nothing less than an exact replay of the way we think we have done things for generations. When they are pricked, they scream as if their world is coming to an end and with a their highly fragile version of Yiddishkeit, can you blame them?
It is true that Rabbonim and halachic authorities shouldn't have to explain themselves to their flock, but that is the way society has become and clocks can't be unticked. Listening to the shiur on paperware and chometz given by Rabbi Assarf of Kedassia (available on the Torah Way website), I cringed when I heard him explicitly deride the KLBD who have given their Kosher for Pesach seal on certain foil lids. He obviously still thinks his audience are held captive by the kehilla and hasn't quite yet cottoned onto the fact that especially without an eruv binding them together, the term kehilla has become a very loose one.
In my humble opinion, in today's world, Rabbonim would achieve far more by sweeping people along with their reasoned arguments the Torah way instead of sweeping them away with derogatory dismissiveness which seems to be the Kedassia way.
And that is why that Start Your Day the Torah Way in GG is the only shiur which hosts these varied speakers, because they know that the clock is ticking and they know that Yiddishkeit does allow for societal changes which are not anti Torah. And as they move along, they remain truly frum while we remain forever krum.

zz said...

Lets get some basics straightened out;

1. The 'dog' test is only relevant if the 'man' test fails. Dogs will not eat pizza or whiskey, but both are chometz as they pass the 'man' test.

2. The question is not over the paper plates per se. The question is over the starch that is extracted from the lids when they come into contact with cold or especially hot liquid.

3. The machmirim say that the starch is edible, as by definition, inedible substances would not be permitted to be used in the lids. The starch is not fould tasting, as otherwise you would taste it.

4. The question is not over whether dogs would eat the paper plates, the question is over the starch that comes out of the plates/lids. I have put this point to those who are meikel on these ground alone and have not received a satisfactory response. There are of course other grounds to be meikel.

5. Internet research has shown me that worldwide all kashrus organisations 'reccomend that paper plates for Passover be obtained with Rabbinical supervision'. It is not a Keddasia invention.

6. It is customary on Pesach to be as stringent as possible in these matters. Nobody has the right to have a go at those that are machmir, the same way as nobody has the right to have a go at those who are meikel.

7. Silver foil works much better. The lids get soggy, leak and make a mess in the fridge or on the hotplate.

Good shabbos all.

Geronimo said...

Joe Blogs

Another dig against Charedim.
I haven't noticed that rationality is one of your strog points to say the least.

Geronimo said...

Anonymous said Ohaive Yisroel wrong.

This is utter crap.
No normal Charedi would agree with your filthy remarks.

Kedassia Lady said...

Realist -

You asserted that Start Your Day (in GG) hosts varied speakers, the chevrah realising that "Yiddishkeit does allow for societal changes which are not anti Torah".

I would argue that this is a very slippery slope because we all quantify "anti Torah" in a different way. For some of us it means following our rov/rebbe and disloyalty here is fundamentally anti Torah; for others it means thinking like a reformist; and for others it means respecting tradition and learning etc but applying your own little touches here and there. (I very much doubt that Mrs. Blogs thinks of herself as anything other than a frum housewife even though some would say she is anti Torah). I must therefore ask you for examples as to who these 'varied speakers' are?? I suspect they are varied in the sense that they all have different names and daven in different shteiblech, but if they are all men, for example, then the discussion is always going to be somewhat limited and unrepresentative.

I would be interested to know what any other ladies feel about this?

BLBH supporter said...

Just seen yet another American cookbook with 350 non-gebrokts recipes.

If anyone has seen one with only gebrokts recipes, please let me know.

kedassia man said...

zz

Do you have any grounds for suspecting that the highly experienced and learned Rabbonim of LBD are not aware of your halachik points?

As for No. 7, LBD are not forcing you to use the lids.

Good Shabbos

Anonymous said...

My dog will happily eat as much pizza as she can get.
Although unsure about whiskey, she is particularly partial to a saucer of lager!

Davidovich said...

Kedassia Man to zz

Halachic opinions do not have to agree ,differing opinions can all be valid.
If you knew anything at all about Halacha,you would have known this.
************************************************
The LBD in some instances might be willing to impose stringencies on their followers.
The Kedassia on the other hand impose stringencies.it was set up to cater for a section of the public who want to be stricter in their observance,otherwise why not stick with the LBD?

Anonymous said...

About what Kedassia man responded to zz;
If you had read comment number1(Matthew) on this blog,we would have been spared your silly comment.

Borehamwood Chess said...

Rock 'n Roll, Mr Tickle.

In 1950's London, KLP labels were glue pasted onto jars of Strawberry Jam. Now, they want to ban tap water.

So many detractors with an internet heter. Does it apply during chol hamoed?

kedassia man said...

All of you who honored me by responding to my post. Thank you.
You obviously haven't read my post of some time ago.
after all is said and done, kashrut in your home is yours, and yours alone, responsibility. You decide which hechsher is suitable for you.
AND Kedassia is the only hechsher (and Eda Chareidit!) that describes other hechsherim as not kosher which is not the same as "not under our supervision". I.E. Ours is kosher, everybody else's is treife.

AND unlike LBD who just (for a fee, obviously)provide shochtim and licence butchers etc. Kedassia is actually the seller, distributor and hechsher granter etc. of its own chickens. You might like to look at the last mishna in Masechte Kidushin and the various commentries there.

J. said...

Zz - if you would have listened to Rav Padwa you would know that the plates the LBD are certifying do not have chometz starch in them at all and that the LBD will only give a hechsher to such plates. There is no halachic dispute here at all, only that Mr Asharaf claimed that the LBD were lying, when in fact, he was. Also, you don't seem to realise that we are talking about chometz nuksheh with no achsheveih, so it's not 'chometz'. And, speaking of other hechsherim, Rav belsky spoke on the OU podcast a couple of years back (the video is online) and said he sees no reason to be machmir, but, as both you and Rav Padwa said, the hechsherim are there for those who want to be machmir nonetheless, as is the tradition on Pesach.

The Jewish News said...

http://www.totallyjewish.com/news/national/?content_id=19521

kedassia man said...

J. Sorry for delay. Been busy preparing, to the best of my ability, for Pesach! It's all gotta be paid for!

Rabbi Scharf (you spelt Asaraf wrong)is not the Rav Hamachshir. Rabbi Padwa and his Beis Din are that. Anything Rabbi Scharf does is with, and under, their full authority and approval. UOHC (Kedassia) give the hechsher, not Rabbi Scharf. Look at the Kedassia label i.e. sticker. It does not mention anywhere Rabbi Scharf's name.
Were he to publicly make any statement that was directly in conflict with any of the Rabbinate's rulings, especially affecting kashrut, he would be instantly dismissed. And justly so.

Kedassia employees have been fired, without any notice or compensation etc., for far less heinous crimes.

Good Moed.