How We Should Relate to Kashrut Supervision

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayigash 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]


Question: If I maintain a certain degree of Kashrut standards, and am invited to eat with a family that does not use the Kashrut supervisions that I find suitable, what should I do? I know that they will be insulted if I don't eat.

Answer: The main rule is this: All of the Rabbinical supervisions are kosher! No Rabbi would give a certificate for non-Kosher food. Our Sages said, "No Torah scholar would allow anything imperfect to emerge under his auspices” (Eruvin 32a).

It is impossible to suspect a Torah scholar of writing “kosher” on non-Kosher food.  True, anything can happen, but you need proof to believe it. Thus, food with a Kashrut certificate may be presumed kosher until proven otherwise. Obviously, some supervisions are more stringent and some are less, but stringencies are for the confines of your own home.

One needn’t be strict at the cost of insulting others. As the Jerusalem Talmud states, a basic precondition to saintliness is not humiliating others who do not conduct themselves on the same level as you (Berachot Chapter 2). Therefore, since all the Rabbinic supervisions are Kosher, and refraining from eating will humiliate others, one should eat what one is offered.

Here are two stories in this regard about the illustrious Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, both taken from the book Ve-Aleihu Lo Yibol (p. 10):

1. “In response to my question about female seminary students from abroad who go as guests to various families, and how they should conduct themselves Kashrut-wise, he decisively responded: ‘Tell them that any Rabbinical Kashrut supervision is good,’ although certainly anyone may undertake personal strictures.”

2. “After I got married, I came to Ha-Rav Auerbach and asked him: In my parents’ home and my in-laws’ home they eat foods with various Israeli Rabbinical supervisions which I do not eat from in my own home. How should I conduct myself when I eat with them?’  Rav Auerbach responded: Two witnesses attended a Brit Milah of a Sefardic family and Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld, who was present, ate the meat that had undergone Sefardic ritual slaughter. When you are the guest of family members or other G-d- fearing people, you must eat everything they serve you. It’s not a matter of anyone serving you non-Kosher food! According to the essence of the law, all Rabbinical supervisions are valid (the issue was certifications by well-known Rabbinical bodies in Israel). Some supervisions are more strict on certain matters that do not touch on the essence of the law.

I somewhat audaciously asked Rav Auerbach: Does Rav Auerbach conduct himself that way? and he responded: Certainly! When I am at a wedding, I eat chicken prepared with Rabbinical supervisions that I would not rely on in my own home."