Letters to the Editor for 9/25

Letters to the Editor for 9/25

Heksher Tzedek nothing new

It is with much dismay that I have read about the abuses that the Iowa-based Agriprocessors have been charged with.
I am amused, however, at the idea that we need a revision in how we think about kashrut. In particular, the Hekhsher Tzedek proposal released by the Conservative movement leadership may be getting a lot more play than it deserves.
While the codification of Heksher Tzedek — whereby products will be evaluated by considering employees’ wages and benefits, employee health and safety, product development, corporate transparency and environmental impact — might have some merit, it should be pointed out there is absolutely nothing novel or new in the idea that one may only buy kosher food from a trustworthy individual.
The Shulchan Aruch (the manual of Jewish law codified by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 16th century) makes the following clear statement:
“Food or utensils should be acquired only from a person who is known to observe the dietary laws; a person who is suspected of not observing them should not be trusted about the permissibility of food. … A person who is known to be an idolater or to violate the Sabbath publicly or to disbelieve in the words of the sages must not be trusted about anything.”
A letter to the editor is not the place for a prolonged discussion about Hekhsher Tzedek, but it should be clear to all that Jewish tradition on this matter is relatively straightforward. If charges of abuse against any kosher business, including Agriprocessors, are valid, our longstanding Jewish tradition clearly indicates that such a vendor is not to be trusted as a purveyor of kosher food.
Hekhsher Tzedek is not a significant change in the definition of kashrut, but it may lead to better enforcement of the entire concept, and not simply rote performance of ritual slaughter.

Dr. Evan B. Dreyer
Upper St. Clair

So much hot air

Your two stories on Thomas Friedman and the Bahraini Jewish ambassador sound the typical, wrongheaded internationalist alarm that, of course, the United States and Israel are to blame for the world’s problems.
Friedman remains a talented writer and thinker, yet we can trace his liberal roots back to Brandeis University, Class of 1975. Friedman and the other Chicken Littles insist that Global Warming is going to Kill Us All! Whether global warming exists, which is highly doubtful, there is no conclusive evidence that it is being caused by anything, except maybe the sun. Global Warming is just the latest canard used by the socialist Left to try and exert power by force of diktat. Yes, a harebrained idea: Let’s turn the keys to the store over to the likes of Al Gore, the chief illusionist in the Global Warming hoax.
In the second piece, Arab-American John Zogby, president of Zogby International, boo-hoos that the world hates us because of George W. Bush. Maybe they hate us for our prosperity. Maybe they just hate us. This must be a horrible country with so many hundreds of thousands of people willing to risk their lives to come here. I don’t see many people sneaking into North Korea.
And then the story’s Middle East “experts” aver the same dopey conclusion: We have to get the Israel-Palestinian issue resolved, which basically means if Israel were to surrender everything would be fine. Granted, Israel has its faults, specifically misguided political leadership, bereft of Torah, not to mention even Zionism, but what recourse does Israel really have when it faces an enemy that embraces both a cult of death and terrorism sponsored by Iran, which openly calls for Israel’s destruction?
What the world needs, as always, is a strong America based on fiscal sanity, personal freedom, and individual responsibility. The rest is just hot air.

Dan Wiseman
Squirrel Hill