Following the Letter and Spirit of Kosher
Reading Jonah Lowenfeld’s “Can We Afford Kosher Lettuce?” (Jan. 27) was a déjà vu moment for my wife and me. We, too, bought the special worry-free, super-kosher romaine lettuce with the rabbinical seal of approval for our Pesach seder — and immediately came face to face with an enormous slug.
According to the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), that’s not a problem, because “that’s not the bug we’re worried about.” Well, I have news for the RCC: That very much is the kind of vermin consumers don’t want to find in their pricey, rabbinically supervised, guaranteed-kosher vegetables. Our family is not bothering with RCC-certified lettuce again, unless the RCC somehow wins back its credibility — especially after the article indicates that our own vegetable washing can be more effective.
Thanks to Jonah Lowenfeld for a very interesting article on kosher salad. Jews should keep kosher in observance of the Torah mitzvot, but not to the exclusion of other mitzvot, such as to not waste (Deuteronomy 20:19–20). How many thousands of gallons of water go down the drain washing off those insects in arid Los Angeles, where most of our water is taken from the Owens Valley, the Sacramento River Delta and the Colorado River? Which of God’s creatures suffers as a result of our letting the faucet run endlessly?
And what about the mitzvah of the Torah to not leave the land beyond reclaim, because God is the one who owns the land (Leviticus 25:23)? Does the amount of pesticides applied to kosher lettuce exceed the proportional amount applied to non-kosher lettuce? Is it possible that application of excessive pesticides to eliminate every last insect on the lettuce is inconsistent with this mitzvah? What happens to those pesticides after they are applied? How do they affect the rest of the ecosystem, including ourselves and our children? Is that really kosher?
Let’s keep kosher, but let’s be “eco-kosher,” too, for the sake of protecting and respecting all of God’s creation.
I was appalled by the comparison of eating a bug to [eating] a Big Mac. Eating a salad with a few bugs is a rabbinic violation, whereas eating a Big Mac is a violation of a Torah prohibition. Additionally, if we must use anything other than the naked eye, like a microscope, then even water would be prohibited. The Avnei Nezer said halachah is based upon what the eye can see.
Rashi said one must wash vegetables, which would remove all of the prohibited insects. Rashba said one must wash vegetables and inspect them for anything that was immediately evident and all other insects that were not prohibited. This was also the position of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, unquestionably the greatest halachic authority.
According to Pitchei Teshuvah, anyone who is strict about something not found in the Talmud is to be thought of as an apikores (heretic). Why should being strict make a person a heretic? It’s because you say you know more than God. The Torah has the exact number of prohibitions and obligations, and we may not change it.
Rabbi David Rue
Don’t Underestimate Threat of Missionaries
It is painfully irresponsible of Dennis Prager to trivialize the loss of Jews to missionaries, saying that our fear “is out of all proportion to reality” (“Time to Rethink How We Relate to Christians,” Jan. 27). Tell that to the heartbroken families of thousands of children converted to Christianity by deceptive missionaries.
Our sages say the loss of a single Jew equals an entire world. Today, there are 250,000 messianic Jews, and according to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, “More than 500,000 adults who had a Jewish mother follow another religion, overwhelmingly some form of Christianity.”
Shifting the blame to secularism and apathy is like saying, “Don’t worry about pancreatic cancer because heart disease kills more people.” This ignores the multimillion-dollar crusades that deliberately misquote our Bible, fabricate rabbinic statements and promote a hybrid Christianity that masquerades as “kosher pork.” Millions of Evangelicals have adopted this deceptive ploy to entice Jews into their midst.
Unlike secularism and apathy, missionaries intentionally target Jews, infiltrating Jewish neighborhoods, distributing DVDs and flooding the Internet and airwaves with propaganda. This March they will descend on Los Angeles and replicate a crusade that sent shockwaves through New York’s Jewish community.
To dismiss these realities turns a blind eye to the truth and increases our vulnerability.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz
Founder, Jews for Judaism
Children’s Art or Propaganda?
With his article “Who’s Afraid of Children’s Art?” (Jan. 27), Jonathan Maseng legitimizes the propaganda of the totalitarian Islamo-Nazis of Hamas and the efforts of “peace activists,” who are either enemy agents or useful idiots. I especially liked the phrases “art is an incredibly important tool for peace” (too bad the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto didn’t melt the hearts of the SS with children’s drawings), and the reference to a participant in this farce as being “all about the children.” The next time Islamist rockets are fired into Israel, perhaps the rockets will see the art of Jewish children and say to themselves, “It’s about the children and peace,” and will change direction and fall harmlessly into the sea.
Tossing a Kosher Salad
I didn’t realize that by eating lettuce I might become less Jewish (”Can We Afford Kosher Lettuce?” Jan. 27). Are our learned rabbis now studying and debating how small an insect might be to render our fruits and/or vegetable treif? Is this problem so significant that our rabbinical councils must figure out how kosher is kosher? I wonder if the same attention is given to illegally downloading music, videos or even “sharing” software.
Your article leaves out one important “ingredient,” Jewish holiness. Not only do secular Jews not understand the “bug” issue, they don’t understand the “holiness” issue. Kashrut is not a health code; it is a holiness code. When a Jew eats treif, he damages the soul, not the body. The essence of Torah Judaism is holiness, which emphasizes food (kashrut), marital intimacy (mikveh) and time (Shabbat). Elevating and sanctifying these aspects of Jewish life connects the Jewish soul with God.
Screenwriter Roth and ‘Munich’
In the penultimate paragraph of the article “Writers Guild to Honor ‘Extremely’ Talented Screenwriter Eric Roth” (Jan. 27), Naomi Pfefferman quotes Eric Roth’s attempt to justify the morally senseless treatment of Israel in the film “Munich.” Roth reported that in some way he was sympathetic to the operation targeting the terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre but, “then the next day the Israelis had bulldozed some house with people [in it]. … “
Roth and Pfefferman might believe that Israel bulldozes houses with people in them or that it, at least, did so while he was working on the “Munich” script. Roth and Pfefferman might believe that. They might know that. But, they are wrong. The assertion is a lie, a falsification, a slander. Such a slander is altogether in keeping with the casual defamation of Israel found in many recent Journal articles, but it is profoundly objectionable to any decent person.
Can Christians, Jews Be Friends?
Several ideas spring to mind why we should give pause to cozying up to our nouveau friends the Christians (“Time to Rethink How We Relate to Christians,” Jan. 27):
1) The idea that Jews are Christ killers will always be present in a segment of the Christian population despite repeated repudiations from the Christian world against that belief. These groups will always, therefore, pose some threat toward us Jews.
2) In a country where free speech and democracy flourish, anybody or any movement can rise up to a level of prominence to become a negative force. Couple this with groups that read the New Testament literally and the potential for harm against Jews will always be present.
3) Mainstream Christianity believes that Jews are all damned to hell. Some in Christendom may use this belief as an excuse to perpetrate evil upon us.
4) The proselytizing nature of Christianity can give rise to zealous behavior that may adversely affect our people.
Our friends the Christians come to our doors with some heavy negative baggage, and, while they certainly aren’t the threat at the moment that other groups appear to be, let’s not make our pragmatisms the decider over our principles. As a people, we are better than that.
Pros, Cons of Nuclear Attack on Iran
In my mind, The Jewish Journal has not presented a fair assessment of the pros and cons of an attack on Iran (“Why We Should Attack Iran” and “Why We Should Not,” Jan. 20). M.J. Rosenberg’s arguments that we should seek to use negotiations and diplomacy are unconvincing, although I believe the efforts should continue. I believe a more effective argument is that an attack would: (1) not halt, but only slow down Iranian pursuit of atomic weapons and (2) most definitely solidify Iranians’ support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an attack would validate his assertions that the West is out to control Iran. Hence, an attack on Iran would further reduce the probability of regime change, the essential element to control Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and, in effect, hinder achievement of a key objective of the United States. There is no good approach to the problem, so we’ll continue playing “chicken” until someone gives in. Unfortunately, the most likely result is going to be a military confrontation and still further weakening of U.S. influence over Iran.
I have read several stories about Iran and its nuclear program. I think I am in the minority when I say we not only should not be concerned about Iran getting the bomb, but we should be helping them. I say this with the idea that the United States and the other countries in the nuclear club issue a warning to Iran and any other country that gets the bomb: If you use the bomb, you lose your country.
The nuclear club, with the United States in the lead, should warn Iran that if they use the bomb or if terrorists use one of the their bombs, it is the end of Iran. If any country, like Iran or Pakistan or Israel, is the origin of a nuclear bomb that is exploded anywhere, the nuclear club nations use nuclear bombs to wipe out the entire country where the bomb originated. A warning such as national extinction has a powerful deterrence on using a nuclear bomb.
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