What’s Wrong with a Veggie Burger?


veggie-burgerBy S. Friedman, Matzav.com

Someone pointed out to me a cute cartoon published in one of the frum magazines.  The cartoon portrayed a child being told that he could have a veggie burger during the Nine Days, and listen to Acapella music as well.  The child then asks if there is a way to go swimming in a kosher for Nine Days pool.

A humorous episode based on the absurdity and innocence of a childish perspective.  However, therein lays a very mature message that we are sending ourselves and our families during this time.  Chazal tell us that whoever mourns over the Beis Hamikdash will be zoche to see it’s rebuilding.  The aveilus over the Beis Hamikdash is what keeps it relevant for us millennia later. 

We go about our lives blissfully protected by our comfortable golus while the Shechina Hakedosha does not have a home.  When “Im Eshkocheich” is played by a Chassunah, it becomes another part of the grandiose production- not a somber reminder that even in our happiest moments we can never truly be content without the Beis Hamikdash to serve Hash-m.  The Chasam Sofer once observed one of the talmidim of his Yeshiva not crying when reciting Tikkun Chatzos (series of prayers recited at midnight, mourning the loss of the Beis Hamikdash).  The Chasam Sofer commented that the bochur’s yichus is questionable; being that he did not properly feel the pain of the Shechina’s golus.

I am not one to comment on living one’s life, all year round, with the pain of the Churbon Habyis constantly tugging at our hearts.  But what is our community making out of the Nine Days?  If people can have a barbeque with soy franks and veggie burgers and the latest doo-wop group singing in the background, within a week of the greatest tragedies to befall our nation, what does that say about our sense of longing for Moshiach?  The heteirim abound as so many of us try to insulate and protect ourselves from the inconveniences of the Nine Days, and try not to change our pleasant summer routine.

Napoleon once was passing through a town during his conquests of Europe when he passed by a shul.  He noticed the lights were off, and all of the people were sitting on the ground and crying.  He asked what this was all about, to which he was told about the Temple that the Jews used to serve Hash-m, and how it was destroyed on this day.  He then asked when this destruction took place, to which he was answered, 2000 years ago.  Napoleon surmised that a people that can still mourn over something dear and precious to them thousands of years later are a people with a spirit that cannot be conquered.

If we cannot bring ourselves to turn our attentions to the Beis Hamikdash for even these Nine Days, it is indicative of our becoming more and more assimilated in our current golus.  Some people use Tisha Ba’av to reflect on other tragedies, such as the Holocaust, as well, which our rabbonim have told us is certainly appropriate to do.  Tisha Ba’av is the day when reflect upon and shed tears over all the tzarros, both personal and communal that have befallen us. 

What’s important to keep in mind is that all of the tzarros that we and our forefathers have experienced are a result of the golus, which all began and continues, unfortunately, with the departure of the Shechina from the Beis Hamikdash.  Let us try to make an effort to expose ourselves to the Shechina’s suffering, and as result, we should be zoche to share in the joy of the geula.


  1. The idea behind the article is nice.

    However, Veggies burgers have no shaychus to the real stuff, other than the shape. You’re taking a totally different ingredient and eating it in the same plain ‘n practical form.

    A BBQ is recreational, so I would refrain from the BBQ much as I would refrain from a trip to the zoo in the 9 days — but nothing to do with eating veggie patties (see, change the name and it’s the same food) out of the toaster oven.

    But otherwise no complaints on the article… may we be zoche to greet Mashiach quickly!!!

  2. He’s right. People look to circumvent the restrictions. I got a fundraising thing from the bais horah, and it showed the call volume and it’s highest in the 3 weeks!
    It’s like the guy complaining to me on a fast day- “boy am I hungry!” Yeah- it’s supposed to be uncomfortable and innconvieniant.

  3. In todays day and age, the only way to remember Yerusholayim is by making a siyum.
    All get together and say ‘oh a siyum in the nine days’ and thats how they think of the Yerushalayim. Otherwise they are busy with all kinds of ‘shtusim’ and yerushalayim does not cross thier mind.
    Let’s not think negative in these days (and in all the days of the year as well).

  4. That’s because of all the people who call and find out about fasting in medical situations, pregnancy and post-partum — not necessarily just “9-days-heter-shopping” as you assume.

  5. To “be real”
    His point is to change the way people percieve the 9 days- that they should truly realize the magnitude of the churbon bayis.
    Pretty sad if you want to settle for the siyum thing. Have higher standards.

  6. this article is all true. We live in a time of gratification, pleasures and desires to have. We have lost our sense of connection. If it doesn’t bring a smile or it isn’t instant then I want nothing of it.

    HKB”H gives us so a chance to take 9 days out of our year and make small changes to our lifestyles as a way of connecting to him and reminding us that while we have our homes – he is homeless. We will give $1 to the poor, we will help a friend in foreclosure, we will make sure the electric stays on in the home where a shut off notice has been sent, yet, we forget that our father has no home, has no electric, has no lights – he is wandering the streets. Do we feel it? Do we understand it? Or do we need to have fleishigs, have our music and have all the other pleasures? Are we sharing in our dear fathers pain or are we concerned with our personal pleasures and happiness?

    For goodness sake there is even someone now advertising the Avel-chair to make us comfy on Tisha B’av – with all the “chumros” with a hechsher and all. Why? Because if we have no choice and need to bend our knees and sit low at least let me turn it into as comfortable a seat as i can. Why should I suffer any pain or discomfort just because my father is homeless!

    ……and then we use the same mouth which disses the 9 days to wonder why Moshiach is not here? Did you ever stop and think that maybe to the almighty above we cannot fool? He KNOWS the truth.

  7. Perhaps for some people, a veggie burger takes away from the aveilos, and to them I would say – don’t eat it!

    However, I think the vast majority of normal human beings don’t correlate the consumtion of veggie burgers with a lack of aveilos. I therefore think the premise of this article is a bit silly.

    (Fyi- some of the veggie burgers I have had are a churban unto themselves,and are most appropriate for the 9 days)

  8. According to this logic, siyumim that are made specifically for people to eat meat during the nine days should be banned.

  9. The vast majority of people would consider fish a far higher quality food than veggie burgers. (When was the last time you saw veggie burgers as an appetizer at a simcha.) Would you like to ban fish for the 9 days as well? We have always been allowed to eat expensive salmon or even Chilen sea bass during the 9 days. Do you really think there is more simcha in a soy hot dog? Please, allow our Gedolim to decide what is inappropriate, and don’t just badmouth something because it doesn’t feel right to you.

  10. i agree with comment #2. the heading of your piece is not only not your point but it mi sleads ppl from gettig your very good point. its about not only getting out of galus but getting galus out of us! thats a great point you make. however, veggie burgers is not the culprit nor is 50 kinds of ice cream, or flavors of coffe or cuts of meat. its all in our attitude. realizing to mourn feel it and at same time enjoy cereals, coffee etc. so many times gedolim say its the internet, the bun galow, the bowling alley, the cell phones its sad how they miss the boat and all the while are losing the battle. one is not better if one doesnt go to hotels or has kosher cell phone or doesnt eat veggie burgers. one is better if one realizes his purpose no matter what he is doing being aware. what happens when they address it is it becomes another label and causes division among yidden and increase in passing judgement! do we want hashem to act with us that way? great point u make but be careful to gett it across properly

  11. Just had 4 veggie burgers no buns still hungry for meat ,but won’t have meat cuz I’m misable al yerushalayim.maybe the writer has an issue within himself on this subject that’s why he is speaking about it.also if the blogosphere is kosher for hashkafa n musser then veggie burgers and akapella is kosher for the nine days

  12. This holier than thou attitude is so prevalent today Mr. S. Freidman

    Yidden are bombarded from all sides, realizing this dark galus; stress from work, kolel, kiddies, tuition, seminary, camp, mandatory family summer vacation to keep the family sane and productive all year, even the cost of esrogim, etc. All for HK”BH.
    This generation feels galus my friend.

    The Bais Horoh, B’H, is blasted with questions from caring brothers and sisters who want to do the right thing, per halacha, and you question.

    Summer schedule is on, and Kolel is on break. These last couple of days before Tish B’Av possibly there is an elite, special forces unit that can make the sweetest hour of Chatzot into a private seder and mourn the Mikdash,K’halacha

    Maybe for us all, al Naaros Bavel before bentching(weekdays)
    Actions are what count.
    We’re war-torn but not broken.

  13. These foods when lactose free are a viable option for the lactose-intolerance, especially busy people who’d like prepared food. They’re not exclusively eaten by people who just can’t manage for a week+ without their hotdogs or burgers.

    But I get the point.

  14. Very well said. I agree. I almost feel guilty eating even a good parve or dairy meal in the nine days. If we’re in mourning we should be uncomfortable. When the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed, people were starving, groveling in the earth to find some straw to boil. A woman even ate her son. We should probably be minimizing what we eat and feel the pain the Yidden felt during the churban.

  15. Although I agree about the music, I’ve never had a veggie burger that tastes at all like meat – it’s just another parve food.

  16. #11 – true! Look up the Halacha. Making a Siyum is not brought down as a way around the Issur of eating meat. When one makes a Siyum it is considered a Yom Tov for him (Teshuvas Chasam Sofer says the person doesn’t say tachanun on the day he makes a Siyum since for him it is a Yom Tov)thats why he can eat meat.

    also, if you attend a Siyum made by someone you don’t know who under regular circumstances would not invite you to a Siyum he is making then you cannot eat meat even if you heard the Siyum according to many Poskim.

    Is it really so hard to not eat meat for 9 days?

  17. Beautifully written article.

    Please, all of you who are focusing on the veggie burger thing – it is clear that that’s not the main thrust of the article. It’s just a mashal for the ways in which we try to get around the stringencies of the Nine Days, and a take-off point for the, unfortunately, very real truth that we have such difficulty feeling for the Churban in this generation.

  18. So many of these comments are caught up with veggie burgers. The writer’s point is about FEELING the churbon- not just trying to get by the nine days.
    Some comments here did get his point, the veggie burger thins seems just to be some sort of snappy title.

  19. The fact of the matter is that most of our practices for the three weeks and nine days are minhagim and chumros.

    According to the Talmud, one may eat meat and drink wine even on Erev Tisha B’Av. Only at the se’udah hamafsekes are those foods prohibited.

    Our practice to do otherwise is a later custom. Of course, the custom should be kept, but I see no reason to be stricter than necessary with it.

    In another context, the Talmud says “holchin acher divrei hameikel be’evel”–we follow the lenient opinion in matters of mourning. To me, this reflects the view that happiness and joy are positive forces in life, while sadness is mostly negative.

    If we must be sad at this time of year, we should view it as a potent medicine with dangerous side effects. We should therefore take the medicine only in the minimum quantity needed.

  20. #12

    With all due respect, couldn’t you at least spell chilean sea bass correctly?

    The chili was awesome btw :p

  21. I think the point of the article is on target but the title was way off target. The author could have picked on Pareve Chulent instead.

  22. Indeed the point of the article is to encourage us all to reflect upon the relevance of past calamities and the minhagim enacted to promote our reflection and, hopefully, subsequent character improvements and meaningful prayers. However, observations of the sort that inspired this article must be cautioned.

    There is nothing wrong with eating a veggie burger during the nine days. Nor is there a problem with listening to Acapella. Perhaps there is a correlation between the author’s observed actions and societies failure to internalize the message. However, too often people fail to differentiate between minhagim and halakhot, chumrot and straight, normative halakha.

    Rav Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal, defines the term chassidut in his monumental sefer Mesilat Yisharim. To paraphrase, one who truly loves the Creator will do more than simply fulfill the mitzvot that are incumbent on all of the Jews. Rather, like a son who loves his father, when his father reveals his desires even partially the child will understand and expound, running to fulfill his father’s desire (even that which was not stated but tacitly understood).

    Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ZT”L, expressed his ambivalence towards imitation Pesach cakes. Nonetheless he did not forbid their consumption of Pesach. Perhaps, and this is mere conjecture, due to an inability to quantify his ambivalence in halakhic terms.

    The aforementioned sources deal with halakha, Torah mi’Sinai, not customs enacted later by the Sages. Would Rav Shlomo, ZT”L, have exhibited the same ambivalence towards veggie burgers? Would the Ramchal approve of refraining from veggie burgers in the spirit of chassidut?

    These days of mourning the Temple’s destruction are also days where we should work on strengthening achdus amongst Clal Yisrael. Recognizing the difference between minhagim and mitzvoth will foster this achdus, as all too often we look down upon those who we view as being weak in their Torah observance.

  23. Why are there so many posters here that dont realize that to find a Halachically kosher way to circumvent the letter of the law we are doing the same albeit not Halachcally acceptable, to the spirit. Sure veggie burgers are in no way equvalent to the real thing, but they are called burgers for a reason. If they would be called veggie round things or something similar,they would not sell. Be truthfull with yourself. Doesn’t listening to some of today’s acapella music (some of it is so good, it actually sounds as if there is music) put you in a Simchadika mood. Isn’t that what we are trying to avoid? Doesn’t the amout of Tzar over the we feel over the Churban represent how much we miss the Bais HaMikdash? Truth be told, it is indeed hard, but that doesn’t change the fact that that is what is required. That we can’t uphold all of it does not lessen the requiremnt.

  24. Once again, we see that there are many ways to be a torah, frum, orthodox, etc. (you insert the adjective) Jew. We represent a wise range of practice, education, backgrounds, communities and personalities. One person looks at a vegiburger and sees a hamburger, another sees a nine days leniency, while another sees chopped vegetables shaped into a circle. The author implies that cooking soy dogs on a grill diminishes the importance of this time of year, and is some sort of leniency designed to insulate us. As if eating a soy dog puts one into the category of one who does not care. Or care enough. Or care the right way.

    I’m not sure how the author justifies this leap. I share many of his feelings, and conduct myself differently during these days. But my practices may not work for other people. To say that one way of life or one approach is the right way is narrow minded. Though the intent is pure, the tactics are condescending, melodramatic, underhanded and manipulative. It’s ironic that during the nine days, the author chose to demean people’s practices, and guilt people into changing how they behave during the nine days.

  25. I have heard that the prohibition of meat and wine is related to the fact that we no longer have the mikdash to offer korbanos and nesachim. Other pleasurable foods are not prohibited. Since a veggie burger was never offered as a korban there should be no reason to abstain. One’s kavanah when eating it should be that he must eat a veggie burger rather than a real burger in remembrance of the fact that we can no longer eat korbanos.