Is it kosher now?: Answering to a higher authority

Voices within the Jewish community are calling for an evolution in kashrus. “From Kosher to Eco-Kosher to Righteously Kosher, Jews are amplifying the notion of the sacredness of food to include care for workers and the environment,” states a recent article at Religion Dispatches. In the wake of various scandals involving the kosher food industry, and particularly the Agriprocessors fiasco, many Jews are asking whether or not kashrus needs a moral and ethical overhaul.

According to the article’s author, Rabbi Benjamin Weiner:

If rabbinic supervision as it is currently constituted…is concerned only with ascertaining the purity of meat according to the letter of the law, and does not provide the moral foundation to militate against flagrant social abuses, then a revaluation of the concept of kashrut itself is in order.

We are called to be holy and to partner with HaShem in infusing the world with holiness. A kosher diet is a “diet for the soul,” and brings holiness to the otherwise mundane process of eating. As such, higher standards should be placed on the food that passes our lips. If the meat is shecht (ritually slaughtered) properly – but employees are mistreated, animals are treated inhumanely, and unethical business practices are employed – then the slaughter, processing, purchase, and consumption of that meat has failed to impart holiness into the world.

New standards are needed. Proposals include:
  • promoting eco-kosher standards and the humane treatment of animals
  • an additional heksher (kosher certification symbol) denoting a company’s commitment to righteous business practices, and
  • more transparent kashrus procedures
As Jews who care about Torah, and the mitzvah of ve’ahavta lera’eicha kamocha – of loving our neighbor as ourselves, we must speak out in support of such changes. There is an expression that “we are what we eat.” Let’s make sure that when we do eat, that we can be assured that all aspects of holiness and integrity are involved.

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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1 Response to Is it kosher now?: Answering to a higher authority

  1. Jeff says:

    Don't know how I remembered that you wrote this blog, but when I saw this article, it made me think of it.

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