I had an entirely different topic on which to post today, but I am so annoyed with the end of the Forward’s latest Agriprocess piece and this morning’s “Dark Meat” editorial in the New York Times that I’ve got to say something here.
[1:40 PM Just saw Gil Student's post here on the topic. Glad to say we agree.]
Important Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Agriprocessors. Personally, I am uncomfortable buying their products at this time. I have explicitly told congregants that if the allegations turn out to be true, then hashgachah should be removed until conditions change.
But there’s a world of difference between my own stance and contacting the Forward and publishing a New York Times Op-Ed piece to tell the world that you personally feel the OU and RCA are being too prudent. Frankly, that smacks of ugly grandstanding and opportunistic self-aggrandizement - and all on the backs of innocent people.
In both articles the author blasts the RCA and OU for relying on the results of a federal investigation. Instead, the author wants to have the OU launch an independent rabbinic investigation of the plant.
What, exactly, is the OU going to find, in terms of worker and animal treatment, that the federal government is going to miss? This is patently absurd. On the one hand, you have specially trained, experienced personnel. On the other hand, you have a group of well-intentioned rabbis. Where is the logic?
I think the author knows there is no logic in his position. I also think the author knows that putting this position into The Forward and the New York Times is not going to inspire the OU to do it. [needless ad hominem deleted here, on re-read.]
To me, the right thing to do in the wake of Agriprocessors is to work to correct the problem. This means suggesting specific standards for factories, marshalling halachic sources, getting a committee together to develop a good standard. This publicity stunt did nothing of the kind.
R’ Zecharyah ben Avkulus was wrong for holding his tongue when Bar Kamtza was evicted from the party; he contributed to the public humiliation of Bar Kamtza. (Yes, this was his real sin; see Eichah Rabbah, as well as Maharam Shif and Maharatz Chayes to Gittin 56-57.)
How much worse it would have been if R’ Zecharyah ben Avkulus would have stood up at the party and bashed all of the sages, instead of correcting the host! He would have been guilty of humiliating innocent people, of rechilus, etc – and he would have accomplished nothing.
This person who called the Forward and wrote the New York Times piece is guilty of exactly that – humiliation of good people, without lifting a finger to correct the problem.
(And a side note on the NYT piece: Refraining from meat before Tisha b’Av, in all of the original sources which discuss the practice, is not a way to “limit ourselves so that we can better focus on the spiritual.” Rather, it’s an act of mourning for the Beit haMikdash and its korbanot.)