Below is Shmuly’s latest — and the last I’ll post. I encourage all those interested to continue the debate in the Comments section.
Dear Rabbi Shafran,
Thank you for your letter.
I am confused. You wrote “Our constituents, though, would indeed avoid a product were some kashrut problem be rumored about it, and certainly if there were some good reason to imagine that the product’s kashrut had been compromised.”
Would you write an op-ed in the JPost ensuring that your “constituents” don’t change their purchasing plans based on “rumors?” Why is it that when it is merely rumors you wouldn’t speak out but when there are substantive facts of injustices you do speak out for patience/passivity?
If there were ultra-orthodox Jews in your Agudah constituency would you speak out against them as you do against the progressive Orthodox? Why is it that when it comes to ritual kashrut you wouldn’t be against your constituents speaking out, but in a serious matter of ethical kashrut you condemn the prophetic voice?
The mitzvah to issue tochecha (rebuke) to a sinner that will respond is very clear in the Talmud (Yevamot 65b, Shabbat 55a). How is it justified to lead so passively and wait for secular legal certainty on all accounts when the dignity of hundreds of human beings is at stake? Do not our Torah’s halakhic requirements demand more in cases of chashash for an issur d’oreita of oshek (serious concern of the Torah law against worker oppression)?
You wrote that you were opposed to a “campaign that effectively pronounced and proclaimed guilt in the absence of compelling evidence.” I am also opposed to such a campaign but this is clearly not the case here. Uri L’Tzedek has worked to partner with the Rubashkin family and company to rebuild consumer faith in their practices and products. Thus far, the company has not fulfilled the requirements that its leadership committed to: to produce a document “within 48 hours” with their commitments to US and Jewish law for all workers.