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Ore and let davven.™

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stam Cholov Yisroel

LabRab (or is it the LabRab?) posted some pertinent responsa by R' Môshe Feinstein zetza"l, concerning the supervision of milk.

I'm not keben shivvem, but at least till today, I never understood part of these tshuves, to wit the Baal nefesh aspect. Please, dear commenters, enlighten me!

I'll start with (the) LabRab's concluding words:

In the final analysis, the law is what it is, and the practice is how the practice is, and may there be peace over Israel.

Please correct me, if you meant that differently, but I take it you mean:

- The law is: Milk that is supervised by the FDA is allowed. It is not an emergency-case leniency. If you only use milk that is partly supervised by Jews, then it's a chumre.

- The practice is: Milk that is supervised by the FDA is used by most Tôre-true Jews. A minority exclusively use milk that is partly supervised by Jews, though more today than when R' Môshe Feinstein wrote הרוב בנ"א שומרי תורה וגם הרבה רבנים.

Several times in these tshuves, RMF states that it fits a Baal nefesh to be machmer and use only milk supervised by Jews, explicitly adding that there's nothing wrong or not kosher at all with FDA-supervised milk.

So, what is a Baal nefesh? Someone who is "scrupulous with his soul"? What does that mean? That the majority of frum yidden including rabbonem (his words) aren't scrupulous with their souls, or at the least not behaving as they should? And this isn't considered yuhre (arrogance)?!

Or does it mean they have weak souls, and are more in danger of going off the derech? Makes sense, but I can't imagine this is what RMF meant. Apart from that he uses the expression Ben tôre as well.

He zetza"l gives some hints to the reasons:

הוא מעניני חינוך ולמוד שידעו שכדאי וראוי לבני תורה להחמיר אף כשיש רק חשש איסור

So, what's that? There is a choshesh isser? How can he allow it then? Did he trust the FDA in connection with law inforcement, or didn't he? Wait, he said very strongly he did:
וזה שאם יערבו יענשו ויצטרכו לסגור העסק שלהם שהוא הרוחה של כמה אלפים והממשלה משגחת אליהם הוא ודאי ידיעה ברורה שהיא כראיה שלא היה בכלל איסורם. וזה הוא גם לכו"ע דאין טעם לחלוק בזה

No isser at all, no reason whatsoever to doubt. No difference between supervision by the FDA and by Jews. His descendents even state RMF considered this cholov yisroel.

And a maase shehoyo to close: Some years ago, there was a conference of European rabbis in Poland. Some of the participants didn't trust Polish supermarket milk and being somewhere on the countryside, they simply went to a farm and bought the milk straight from the peasant. They supervised him milk the cow, of course. Towards the end of the conference, they proudly told the peasant that Jewish law had made them avoid the industrial supermarket milk, and so they came to benefit from this wonderful, mellow straight-from-the-cow milk. He thanked them for the compliment, and told that's because he greases his vats with lard, and the mass producers of milk don't take the trouble.

I was told this by one of the rabbis who went and shômered. With all reservations about generalising single incidents, I think there is something to learn from it. The more industrialised, the more standardised.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Medines Raisen

The press reports:

A 19-year-old Russian man was sentenced to five days in jail yesterday for an attack on a synagogue in the southern city of Rostov-[na]-Don[u], the second such incident in Russia in the past week.

So, a little quiz:

What is most frightening about this incident?

A. A young man in Moscow attacks people in a shul with a knife, and another young man in Rostov sees this in TV and thinks "Yo, fun, I'll do the same."

B. He gets only five days in jail for what is actually attempted multiple murder.

C. Five days in a Russian jail might easily correspond to US capital punishment,

D. ... though maybe not for a patriotic Jewhater.

E. He was sentenced the morning after the incident.

Answer: E.