Dear Kosher Consumer
There are three pillars of observance that form the foundation of every Jewish home. They are the observance of the laws of Shabbat, the laws of Taharat HaMishpacha and of course the laws of Kashrut.
Of the three, Kashrut is the pillar that affects everyone of us, all the time . Shabbat is only one day of the week. True, the six working days are a preparation for Shabbat, but its practical observance is only on the “seventh day”. Similarly Taharat HaMishpacha , while being the sanctification of ones intimate family life to the service of Hashem, and the key to the sanctity and purity of the Jewish family, is also only limited to certain times during married life.
Kashrut however is all encompassing. It applies to every morsel of food or drink that we partake of and it applies everyday and in everyplace to every jew, male of female, married or single, young or old. Keeping kosher means that our source of energy and life, indeed our very existence, is regulated and sanctified by the laws of Hashem and His direction.
As such, I and my rabbinic colleagues on the Kashrut Authority, take the responsibility of ensuring the Kashrut standards of our community and the availability of Kashrut services to the community with the utmost seriousness. However the task is not always an easy one.
There is a prayer that was formulated by the Talmudic sages which was said upon entering the house of study. It reads “May it be your will Hashem that …. we do not make impure the pure nor pure the impure, and that we do not forbid that which is permitted nor permit that which is forbidden”. At first glance the prayer is strange. We can understand the prayer not to make pure or permitted that which is impure of forbidden – but why is there a prayer not to make forbidden that which is permitted? If we permit the forbidden, then the person who consumes that item will inadvertently transgress and we will have been responsible for that transgression. But if we mistakenly forbid that which is permitted, what loss is there? No one has transgressed!
There are two answers to this question. The first is very simple and, in my opinion, especially applicable in our times. If we forbid that which is permitted, we reduce the availability of kosher products. If we reduce the availability of kosher products then those on the periphery of observance may G-d forbid be tempted to turn to non-kosher products. Even those who observe may do so with a sense of resentment and without the full joy required to keep mitzvot. This is especially important now days when people are often tempted by the free and easy society in which we live – we must be diligent in providing them with as much kosher services as possible to encourage observance.
The second answer is more profound and finds it source in the esoteric teachings of the Torah. Every single creation has a divine purpose which requires fulfilment. Every physical object has within it a divine spark that needs elevation. An item which is muttar is untied , it is free to be consumed and elevated in the service of Hashem – indeed the only way it fulfils its purpose is by being consumed by a jew who makes a blessing before and afterward , and uses the energy in the service of Hashem “redeeming” the spark of G-dliness within that food. Conversely something which is assur is tied down; it can not be elevated – its purpose in creation is fulfilled by being pushed away and not being eaten.
If we incorrectly forbid a permitted food – we are in effect pushing away something that should be elevated. We are preventing the divine spark within the item from being redeemed and we are not allowing that item, through the service of a jew, to fulfil the purpose for which it was created and we prevent the jew from fulfilling his or her divine mission in elevating that food.
The first reason is a practical one – enabling a greater and more joyous observance of the commandments. The latter reason is profound – with cosmic spiritual implications that find their source in the very nature and purpose of creation and our interaction with Creation as Jews.
In light of the above one can understand the seriousness of the competing challenges in the halachic administration of Kashrut. On the one hand there is the need to maintain and adhere to the strictest of standards – that we do not make “permitted that which is forbidden”; at the same time we must ensure the greatest availability of kosher products and services in order that we do not “ make forbidden that which is permitted”.
This then is the prayer with which all of us at the Kashrut Authority beseech the Almighty – and is indeed the preface to both our website and our printed products directory - that we be granted the wisdom and insight , with the fear of Heaven, to know when and where to be strict and when to be lenient. To know when something should be permitted and to know when it should be forbidden and never to forbid that which should be permitted and never to permit that which should be forbidden.
I take this opportunity, on behalf of myself and the Rabbonim of the KA, to thank the President of the KA Mr Baron Revelman and all the lay members, the Senior Supervisors, the Supervisors and the office staff, as well as all our licensees , for their sincerity and efforts in ensuring that Kashrut services in NSW are of the highest standard both in terms of Halacha and also in terms of taste, quality and availability. Without all of you Kashrut would not be where it is today, and I look forward to Kashrut growing in our community from strength to strength.
Rabbi Moshe D Gutnick