Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Kosher Exchange

Kosher Wars

Andy Kastner’s approach to kosher food is endearing on its face, but some goals of the larger movement to revise the meaning of what is kosher actually work at cross purposes with Jewish law (Oct. 12).

Take for instance the movement’s opposition to even well-studied pesticides that are safe when used as approved. This increases the chance one will eat bugs — a serious violation. Products that have not undergone basic and safe steps to avoid infestation (which can be missed by inspection and basic washing) should not be deemed more kosher; they should be considered not kosher.

Further, even the most modern methods of organic farming are inefficient compared with modern agriculture. Organic farming requires the use of more land and resources to produce the same amount of food at a higher cost. This violates both the law of baal tashchit (against waste) and the very notion of sustainability.

These approaches, if adopted, will make food less kosher, no healthier, more expensive and worse for the environment. The movement should be seen for what it is — a distorted “green” ideology cloaked as adherence to Jewish law.

Associate Director
American Council on Science and Health
New York

I was surprised that neither Samantha M. Shapiro nor some of the Orthodox experts she interviewed mentioned the fact that tzaar baalei hayyim, causing pain to animals, is a violation of Jewish law. In fact, the Talmud states clearly (Baba Metzia 31a-32b) that this is a biblical ordinance — not just the innovation of humans.

The National Council of Synagogues
Needham, Mass.

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