17 May 2006

On Business Ethics and Halakhah... (b'kitzur)

While getting acquainted with the blog experience, I have realized that I need to shorten some of my rants if I want people to actually read them. This is a shortened, improved version of an earlier blog. I got into a tangent about FFB vs. BT/gerim, which I will save for another time. In addition, I will also spare my readers the infighting between kipa s'ruga and charedi.

One of my disillusions about becoming frum started when I realized that there are those that feel ritual observance of the mitzvot takes precedence over ethical mitzvot. However, we only have to go to Chazal who tell us that the religiously devout need to be particularly scruplous with the laws of damages. One destroys other property (or by extension, their livelihood) as acted with the same disregard as someone who is chillul Shabbat or chillul kashrut.

In this community, there is a “businessman” who used to operate a “kosher” food establishment. We had a friend who worked for him. Our friend, who is a ger, took it upon himself to be extremely knowledgeable about kashrut. He noticed that the business owner was violating kashrut standards in the restaurant with food he was selling as kosher. Since the business owner is perceived to be a “frum yid”, he does not need a mashgiach t’midi (according to the rules of our va’ad). When our friend talked to one of the rabbanim on his five minute visit, the rabbi seemed to shake it off. A few days later, our friend was suddenly fired for “stealing” money. He was urged to not go to the local beit din (for owner's inability to pay his workers) since the rosh was the rav of the restaurant owner and would decide favorably for the owner. (By the way, in addition to kashrut violations and questionable business ethics, he was cited by the health department, an "achievement" that was noted on the news several times.) BTW, he never paid the friend his back wages (which exceeded the alleged stolen amount).

There was a similar incident with another restaurant here years ago. The va'ad ordered the restaurant owner (a kipa sruga) to have mashgiach t'midi and he complied. Eventually, he sold to a charedi and the va'ad decided that there wasn't a need for a t'midi and allowed him to get away with daily 5 minute visits by one of the rabbanim. The charedi ended up being shut down when it was discovered AFTER SOME TIME that the order sheets from the meat suppliers did not match the physical inventory. Traife meat was eventually discovered in the restaurant and the man left town.

Finally, there's a place that had to change hashgacha because the new owner is not shomer Shabbat. The new rav ha-makhshir (not connected to the va'ad ha-kashrut) made it a condition that he have a mashgiach t'midi, so the place is completely kosher. What does the va'ad do? They sent out the standard notice saying that they are no longer certifying the place. Of course, this got twisted around into saying that the place was now traife. Basically, there are people who have said that they can't trust the place now because "he has a key and can go in on Shabbat to 'traif' it up." Where are we that we are becoming so paranoid of everyone who is not frum but ignore the "frummies" who clearly commit chillul Hashem with their behavior?

There is a call to patronize frum-owned businesses in order to help our fellow Jew. Al yad sheni, if we know that person does not practice favorable business ethics, then we are equally bound to not give them our business. Stand up for Torah principles now and boycott those businesses that you know give their workers the short end of the stick in favor of profits. This is a particular issue with our kosher food establishments. Think about it this way, if they find lying about their practices so easy, what is not stopping them from committing chillul kashrut as well?


  1. Anonymous19/5/06 10:32

    As a friendly suggestion, you may want to enlargen your font...this will also help blog readership!

  2. Will do...thanks. CYP thought that readership was low b/c people don't like to scroll.

  3. Anonymous24/4/07 23:56

    Keep up the good work »


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