Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Positive Side of the Monsey Catastrophe

I just came back from a wonderful Shabbos in Monsey. My hosts used paper plates and plastic silverware (oxymoron, I know), did not use many of their pots and pans, and constantly came up with more shailos to ask the rav over the course of their Shabbos.

Why? Because someone had been selling treif chickens as kosher ones. Enough has been said, I think, about the awfulness of the situation, the tircha that everyone now has to go through, the dishwashers and china that can't be kashered and therefore the money that is being spent...

But seeing it, for me, being a part of it - just for one Shabbos - just showed me how amazing my people are. The Jews of Monsey found out that there was a problem. It wasn't a sanitary problem, there was no dirt on the chickens (at least not visible), and to an outsider, it had to look pretty strange. I was reading a copy of the NY Times over someone's shoulder on the subway that showed a picture of a bunch of Chasidim waiting on a line to do hagala (one kind of ritual cleansing), and really wondered what the guy holding the paper thought about it...

I'll tell you what I thought about it: I thought, Hashem, Your people love you. They'll do anything for you. וכל מאודך indeed. When push came to shove, the people that I saw in Monsey rushed to remove this purely spiritual taint from their lives. No, there was no physical ramifications that one could see from the use of treif chicken on their plates. But the spiritual ramifications are so important to Your people that they will do anything, no matter what the cost, to remove them.

מי כעמך ישראל

Edit: I just heard (via Stx, who would know) that all the rabbis in Monsey got together and put out a statement that everyone should kasher according to what their specific rabbi tells them - and no person is allowed to make judgement on other people's kashrus. If you did what your rabbi told you to do, you're fine. If someone else's rabbi told them something else and they did it, then REGARDLESS of what the rabbi told them to do, you have to assume that their kitchen is kosher. It's all about שבעים פנים לתורה and אמונת חכמים.


kasamba said...

You are so right!
This Rosh Hashana, the Monsey people can stand in front of the Almighty and show what they've done for Him!!!

My parents also used paper this weekend and my friend has to throw out $10,000 worth of Herend dishes!

Scraps said...

That is a positive side to the situation, indeed.

defen said...

The cynical, antimaterialistic side of me is thinking, "That'll teach them to buy thousands of dollars worth of china, anyway." But TRW is right. You have presented a thoroughly beautiful perspective. As usual.

Sara with NO H said...

I read a story where a woman, very poor went to her rabbi because she had this chicken, and he told her she couldn't eat it. He looked at it very quickly barely giving it a glance and told her that there was something wrong with it and treiff. She was so upset that he barely looked and now she couldn't give it to her children that she went to a different rabbi. The second rabbi fully examined it and looked very carefully and told her that it wasn't treiff. She was so excited and ran home to prepare it for shabbos. As far as I remember from the story, her soup with chicken spilled out and the chicken in the oven caught on fire. Both were not edible. She later was heard crying that she lost this beautiful meal for her family. She told her husband that she had to go two places before she was told it was kosher. Her husband told her then it was treiff and Hashem didn't let us have it for a reason. Always listen to your own Rabbi. And never tyry to go to a different source to get an answer that suits you better.

Very nice post.