Friday, March 23, 2007

Rabbis condemn Pesach price gouging and excessive chumrot

Well, it is that time of year again, so I refer to last year's post on the subject:

It is not necessary to spend your life savings for Pesach. We eat a lot of fresh fish and fresh vegetables; our only major increased expense is for the matzah. (Wheat-allergic folks: there is now a hand made shemurah oat matzah that should be available in kosher stores. We got ours at Riverdale Kosher Market.)

What I found fascinating about the position paper that I hadn't considered in previous readings was this quote:

"Rabbi Rafael G. Grossman, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, called on the public, the manufacturers of kosher products, wholesales and retailers to adhere to ethical practices. He urged those who grant Kashruth endorsements to include compliance with all halachic norms as part of the qualifications for certification and called for removal of such certification for proven violations."

The issue of whether kashrut agencies should be concerned about the ethical practices of the businesses it supervises has generated quite a bit of internet discussion over the past few months. While not taking a position on whether the unethical practices of a businessman makes his food treif, the Rabbinical Council of America would seem to answer "yes" to the question of whether kashrut agencies should concern themselves with matters not directly related to kashrut.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Purim and hiddenness

Much of the world is being treated to an extraordinary event this Purim: A total lunar eclipse, in which the moon is in the shadow of the earth:

It turns out that the lunar eclipse starts within a few minutes of sunset in the New York area (subtract five hours from the universal time on the site above to get US Eastern Time) and the totality will end about the time that most congregations will begin their first Megillah reading. I can't think of a better natural event to emphasize the idea of hiddenness that is so important to Purim. Please do yourself a favor and take a walk outside if you are in an area where the eclipse is visible and appreciate HaShem's miracles.