Monday, June 22, 2009

Star-K Program For Mashgichot (Jewish Press)

Unfortunately, I can't find it online, but the Friday, June 19, 2009 Jewish Press article states that this fall, after the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays), Baltimore's Star-K kashrut supervision agency is holding a seminar specifically for mashgichot (kashrut supervisors who are female). "Featured topics will include: determining acceptability of products; understanding the dynamics of kashrus in America; setting up a kosher kitchen; shul kitchen guidelines; effective vegetable checking for infestation; and challenges in the workplace--including establishing authority in the kitchen." (Bold added.)

So, Rabbi Gil Student, you think that women aren't allowed to be shochtot (kosher slaughterers who are female) because a woman is not allowed to hold an appointed communal position? (Notice the preponderance of male names among the commenters.) What's more of an appointed communal position than supervising kashrut? Would you insult your hosts by refusing to eat at a wedding if it turned out that the mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) were female? Humph!

For the record, my understanding is that the Rambam/Maimonides, on whose ruling Rabbi Student relies, lived at a time when it wasn't considered respectable for women to leave the house, except perhaps, to visit their parents. If that's the case, then obviously, he couldn't have imagined women in roles involving communal authority. Nu, isn't there any Orthodox rabbi with a more modern perspective on what women are and are not allowed to do, according to halachah/Jewish religious law?


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Here's the article.

Mon Jun 22, 10:37:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for the link. This comment to the article takes the prize for chutzpah, if nothing else--how often does anyone have the nerve to debunk an ancient text as a fraud:


OK, here’s the answer: the supposed author of the sefer quoted by the Rishonim as Hilchos Alef Yud is ELDAD HADANI. There’s nothing to indicate what Alef Yud is supposed to have stood for: “Eretz Yisroel” is merely the guess of some bochur hazetzer.

Eldad himself, if there ever was such a person, was widely regarded as a charlatan, even at the time, when nobody could be absolutely certain that his story couldn’t be true. Now, of course, we KNOW that there is no River Sambatyon, and his story is a complete fiction. The only question is whether Eldad himself ever existed, or the entire report about him, including his stories and his alleged sefer on hilchos shechitah, is one big work of fiction. The Kara’im may have been involved in producing it, to fool the Rabbanim.

And THAT is the ONLY source for the minhag that women don’t shecht. It’s why EVERY rishon who mentions it REJECTS it, and paskens that women can shecht. The Mechaber does not even mention it. But the Ramo does bring it, and so it’s an established minhag, at least among Ashkenazim. Its origins may be very dubious, but lepo’el it is the custom. We keep kitniyos without knowing why either; the Ramo says so, and that’s enough for us. But in an emergency it’s kedai to know that the minhag has no valid basis, and may therefore be dispensed with.

Comment by Milhouse — May 8, 2009 @ 3:05 pm"

Tue Jun 23, 11:00:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Here's a comment to Rabbi Student's post:

"This entire discussion seems to be predicated on a post hoc rationalization for an observed social phenomenon. Women are allowed to be shochtim. However, we observe that they are not shochtim. Therefore it seems to be necessary to retrofit some halachic justification to account for the discrepancy between allowed and observed, instead of just chalking it up to the social/cultural situation. The problem is that when the social/cultural situation changes, the post-hoc halachic rationalization is now ensconsed and is resistant to change.

As mentioned above, the basis for the halachic position is the Rambam. If we are going to hold this Rambam sacrosant, we should also follow his other views regarding women, such as they are not allowed to leave the house more than once or twice a month. And perhaps we should also adopt his views of the spheres(first book of the Yad). I doubt that the Rambam would have wanted us to be so rigid in clinging to outdated science and social science, since he himself rejected inaccurate science from previous generations.

It is very interesting to follow the discussion of the psak [binding legal ruling] of RMF regarding women mashgichot. If it was really assur [forbidden] for a woman to be a mashgiach, he would have assured [prohibited] it. I doubt he would have allowed someone to take a job where they had to eat treif, or violate Shabbat just because they had financial difficulties. Obviously the case against women mashgichot must have been seen as being incredibly weak so that he allowed it at all.
Noam | 06.21.09 - 11:27 am | #"

Wed Jun 24, 09:03:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Gil Student said...

The Star-K is a private company and working for it is not a communal position. Similarly, most schools are private as well which is why R. Moshe Feinstein allowed converts to be principals.

Fri Jul 03, 07:08:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"The Star-K is a private company . . ." To the best of my knowledge, so is every slaughterhouse in the U.S., which means that the position of shochet/slaughterer is also a private, not a communal, position.

Sun Jul 05, 01:51:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Gil Student said...

But that was not the case when the Shulchan Arukh was written, which is the source of the rule we are addressing.

Sun Jul 05, 10:05:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My objection stands, nevertheless: Must every decision about what a woman is or is not permitted to do be based on the opinions of a rabbi who lived in an era when women were scarcely permitted to be seen in public? How did we end up in a situation in which a woman can be the president or prime minister of an entire country, but is still forbidden to be the president of her own synagogue? When did Judaism stop living in the real world?

Mon Jul 06, 01:41:00 PM 2009  

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