Friday, May 18, 2007

Necessity trumps kashrut

I don’t know whether this idea originated with him, but a friend of mine from Ansche Chesed had (roughly) this to say about this: “No matter where the water source was or how polluted the water was, water was never declared treif (non-kosher) before, because it’s a necessity of life, and people would die without it. The only reason it’s being declared treif now (in New York City—see link immediately above) is that people can now afford to pay for clean water [bought in bottles or strained through specially-purchased-and-installed water filters].” Personally, I think he has a point. Comments, anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, who says that in the past (say Europe) they didn't try to filter their water to the best extend possible if bugs were present. Now, they probably dealt with bigger bugs as they didn't know about copepods, but that doesn't deflect from the fact that they did what they thought they had to do.

Personally, I think he's reactionary. On the most simplest level, the bugs are a problem. They are visible. Not very visible, but still visible if one knows how to look for them. This doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to jump through hoops to find a reason to permit bugs (again, water is basic need). However, if there's an easy solution (say an affordable filter, and ones are available for just a few dollars that last a long time if used only when one really needs filtered water) then the question is what's wrong with the basic halacha.

I filter my own water, as it's easy enough, but don't ask questions when I visit friends.

Tue May 22, 02:29:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ex-YU, in this case, perhaps "a reason to permit bugs" might be "v'chai bahem," which I think translates roughly "you should live by My laws, not die by them," a point on which we obviously agree. That said, it's possible that previous generations filtered water to the best of their ability, as you said. Maybe neither my buddy nor I has sufficient information.

Tue May 22, 11:14:00 AM 2007  
Blogger rivkayael said...

To use a New Testament reference, Jesus accused the P'rushim of "You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." (Matt 23:24). May have been a reference to the reality (straining out gnats) at that time.
[Though I agree with you that the madness of the kosher industry is probably due to people being willing and able to pay for it! Personally I think it's just easier to be machmir than it is to learn the relevant halachot. I once asked a (RIETS smicha) rabbi friend of mine if certain vegetables needed a hechsher and he asked "my gosh what do you want to do, shecht all the microscopic bugs"? So ok, I happily ate the vegetables without the hechsher.]

Mon May 28, 07:02:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Personally I think it's just easier to be machmir than it is to learn the relevant halachot." RivkaYael, I have seen bloggers complain that one reason for the Orthodox community's current tendency to interpret the laws in a more stringent manner (that is, to be machmir) than in the past is that, as you said, it's simply easier to declare something forbidden than to try to figure out whether it's permissible or not.

Tue May 29, 01:57:00 PM 2007  

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