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Inbox: Issue 930

“When the owner is not a yerei Shamayim, an honest mashgiach is faced with a consistent catch-22, which leads to a negative effect on the kashrus”


A Blessing, Not a Punishment [Simchas’s Torah / Issue 928]

Thank you, Mishpacha, for the beautiful article celebrating Simcha’le Leizerovitch and his family. The Leizerovitch family’s journey, and their attitudes and actions in raising Simcha and his integration into their community, culminating in his very “special” wedding, is an invaluable lesson to be shared with the world at large.

Both secular and Jewish society have come so far in awareness and recognition that having a family member with special needs is not something to be hidden. The concept of having a “special” child is hopefully no longer a stigma for the family. The fear that it will impact a family’s standing in the community or affect shidduchim for their other children has greatly diminished or even been eradicated.

Sharing the story of the support they received from the Pnei Menachem through his words of chizuk and brachah is critically important. Indeed, the Novominsker Rebbe, himself a parent of a child with special needs, as well as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who suggested using the term “special” almost half a century ago, and Rav Moshe Shapira, all advised that families and society should view a child who may be special in any number of ways not as a “punishment,,” but, to the contrary, ultimately as a source of brachah for their families and for Klal Yisrael.

Thank you, Mishpacha, for continuing to be the conduit for positive attitudes that can only serve to enrich our community and make us more worthy of the ultimate Redemption.

Ahava Ehrenpreis

Brooklyn, New York


The Missing Pieces [Royal Welcome / Issue 928]

I read with interest the article “Royal Welcome” about Ari and Ari’s visit to the Jews of Scotland. It was an entertaining read, but it failed to give any mention to Rabbi Chaim and Rebbetzin Soro Jacobs and their son Rabbi Mendel Jacobs.

Rabbi Chaim and Rebbetzin Soro have been wonderful emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe for some 53 years in Scotland. Assisted by their son Mendel, they have immeasurably enhanced the lives of Jewish people on this side of the pond. With their boundless energy, they continually invent and reinvent ways of bringing the community together and enhancing Yiddishkeit.

From their amazing Burns Suppers held each year in January in memory of that great bard “Rabbi Burns” (Robert Burns, the Scottish poet), to their magnificent Purim parties, and their Shabbat weekends, Glasgow in particular would be a much poorer place without them.

Rabbi Mendel, for his part, designed the Jewish tartan (or plaid) that is exported around the world. Both Mendel and his parents cater to Jews who live in remote parts of Scotland, and at Pesach, Chanukah, and Rosh Hashanah, parcels leave Glasgow for parts of Scotland that few of us in Glasgow have even visited. I also know that they quietly tend to those members of the community who have fallen on hard times.

My husband and I owe them a massive debt of gratitude. In the early months of the spread of Covid, we both found ourselves ill with the virus. Every other day they would leave packages of food on our doorstep to tempt us to eat. I am sure that this generosity was extended to other members of the community.

I think that Ari and Ari should revisit Scotland so that they get a fuller picture of life as a Jew here — a week is not enough!

Wishing all your readers a sweet New Year and well over the fast,

Debra Clapham, Glasgow, Scotland


Saddening Conclusion [Inbox / Issue 928]

As a young kollel wife who also lives just blocks away from the street signs pictured weekly on the opening pages of Growth Curve, I felt I had to speak up and disagree with Mrs. S.’s assertion that the reason Gitty isn’t feeling sipuk in her kollel lifestyle is because she doesn’t have the “Shabbos seudos, the singing, the feeling a part of and seeing firsthand what her husband is accomplishing.”

This letter fed right into the common misconception in the world today that the Bennys of the world are the real heroes, and the people like Gitty’s husband — the serious bnei Torah who are “just” sitting and learning — are doing something nice, but not actually making a difference to Klal Yisrael.

In fact, the amount of positive hashpa’ah that results from one person sitting and learning, although he is not leading rousing kumzitzes or inspiring jaded bochurim, is immeasurable.

This is not a question of whether Tziporah’s husband or Gitty’s husband is “better” — everyone has to carry out their role in life with their given kochos — but to dismiss a serious ben Torah’s learning as creating a “challenge” for his wife’s ruchniyus is simply untrue.

I also found it so saddening to read the letter writer’s conclusion that because Gitty’s husband might spend time learning on Shabbos and does not lead hours-long seudos, she is going to feel challenged to connect to his learning and the lifestyle they chose.

Firstly, as anyone with a husband seriously committed to learning can attest, when a person is actually doing kollel life correctly, it is impossible for that not to filter into the home and bring joy and menuchas hanefesh with it. It might not translate into tables full of singing bochurim, but when both husband and wife are committed to a life devoted to limud haTorah, there is joy and emotional connection. Lots of it. It’s not the exclusive lot of those outwardly on the front lines of kiruv or chinuch.

Perhaps Gitty’s husband is not fully present for his new wife, who has been thrust into an unfamiliar culture thousands of miles from her parents and childhood friends, and maybe he has to learn a little bit more about how to balance his learning and his responsibilities to her.

But by Gitty’s own admission, she thought kollel life in Eretz Yisrael meant “laughing and lunching” on Paran on Friday afternoons. So maybe the real reason she is struggling to feel emotional connection to her husband’s learning is not because she hasn’t had the zechus of hosting eight guys soulfully singing “Tatty my King” long into the night, but because she hasn’t fully internalized what the lifestyle she signed up for really entails.

Here’s to hoping that she finds the true happiness that exists not at the tables outside of Sam’s Bagels, but that can exist inside her own four walls.

Another kollel wife in Yerushalayim


Disconnect Owners from Salary [The Kashrus Triangle / Issue 928]

A point made in passing toward the end of the article about the recent kashrus scandal summarizes what I believe is the single most pressing problem with kashrus today.

Kashrus has become a parnassah.

Since the owners of the establishment are the ones ultimately paying the bills, they are in full control of how a mashgiach is treated. When the owner is not a yerei Shamayim, an honest mashgiach is faced with a consistent catch-22, which leads to a negative effect on the kashrus.

Consider these two points:

  1. The average mashgiach is paid via 1099 by the hechsher or by the establishment. Few mashgichim, even those who work 50 to 60 hours a week at the same establishment, are paid via a W2.
  2. The average mashgiach’s salary is tied to the hechsher’s income.

As a result of these two realities, most mashgichim do not enjoy paid Yamim Tovim, paid vacation days, or raises. Even if the establishment gives a raise to the hechsher, it is not always passed down to the mashgiach.

Worse, most mashgichim don’t have job security. The same mashgichim doing “the dirty work” in enforcing unpopular policy or halachah are immediately let go as soon as the establishment complains or threatens the hechsher.

The best solution to this dilemma is actually brought down by Panim Meiros (Choshen Mishpat 13, Pischei Teshuvah 3) in the context of dayanim. A communal fund should be established and managed by independent rabbanim and askanim, to provide financial support to mashgichim. This fund would be jointly funded by all establishments. Those Yidden blessed with wealth could contribute as well.

With the removal of the business side of kashrus from the hechsher and the establishment of such a fund, individual mashgichim could perform their duties in accordance with the individual daas Torah of their hechsher with full menuchas nefesh, ultimately raising the standards of kashrus for all.

Rabbi Motti Wein
Yechi Reuven Kosher Supervision — ServSafe trained


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 930)

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