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A Letter To A Genuine Questioner

April 8, 2019


I quote from the rules of our Pesach Kashrut Forum:

“This forum is intended for those who consider Rabbi Yonatan Halevy their rabbi, or that don’t have a rabbi to whom they can ask Halachic questions of. If you adhere to the rulings of another rabbi, or will use the rulings of this forum to cause strife with your rabbi, you do not have our blessing.”

If your rabbi is someone other then myself, please direct your questions to them. 

But since I believe you wish to understand why our rulings on various products may be different my response is: 

Here at Shiviti, we follow Halachah (and Halachah alone) to determine whether or not something is Kasher. The for-profit Kashrut agencies do not, and they have no shame to state so publicly (one agency boasts that they do not “rely on Bittul” in direct contradiction of Halachah) and/or they follow policies and protocols which they have created themselves and which are not obedient to Halachah (such as labeling things dairy equipment when they are Halachically Pareve). 

Our stance is that deviation from Halachah – in either direction – is a deviation from Halachah, and therefore that is our only calculation when ruling Halachah. 

Unlike many others, we don’t believe that Ashkenazim and Sepharadim follow the same methodology when ruling Halachah. We are not just Jews with a different Hebrew pronunciation or text of the Siddur – we are a distinct and unique Jewish philosophy with an intact legal methodology which is worlds apart from many of our fellow Jews. The endless doubts, unreasonable suspicions, worries and tendencies which border on the neurotic – were abhorred by our Chachamim – and relished by many (but not all, Chalilah!) that are not ours. 

As such, it should not surprise you that we do not view the whole world as evil, or not-Kasher, or Chametz, or prohibited. In the words of Ribbi Yosef Messas, “we follow in the way of the King. We permit only what is permitted, prohibit only what is prohibited, and we are stringent only in when absolutely necessary. It is beneath us to engage in such embarrassing methodology”. 

Additionally, when asking me – an independent rabbi, why they – an organization which makes its money from certifying food as Kosher (and every business has the need to be indispensable, we don’t blame them for acting as a business), is similar to you asking an independent mechanic why he doesn’t recommend a used salesman’s car. Or asking a used car salesman why someone else’s car isn’t good. If kosher organizations would permit thousands of products to be consumed without a Hechsher, they would be forced to go out of business. Baruch Hashem, we don’t have that issue here. 

For those that will be upset at what I just wrote – please refer to the first paragraph and click the “leave group” option. 

Wishing you a wonderful day!

Yonatan Halevy

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(Recorded 4/8/2019 at the West Coast Torah Center)