The following is a statement from Morris Allen’s Magen Tzedek initiative in response to Agudas Yisroel’s timely statement (see here) regarding the Conservative movement’s planned rollout this summer of its seal of “ethical kosher production,” which will rate kosher food manufacturers according to prescribed standards of ethical behavior.
The Magen Tzedek initiative and the efforts of the likes of Morris Allen played an integral role in the eventual downfall of Agriprocessors and the lies spread about the kosher meat plant in Postville and its operators. The effort, without question, is aimed at the power of Orthodox Yiddishkeit in kashrus supervision.
Magen Tzedek continues to try to paint itself as being “lesheim Shomayim,” camouflaging its true intent.
The following is the statement from Magen Tzedek:
The misleading statement by Agudath Israel concerning Magen Tzedek is a misrepresentation of a very important development in kosher food production in America. Magen Tzedek is based on our assertion that Biblical and Rabbinic law mandate fair treatment of workers (לא תלין), humane treatment of animals ((צער בעלי חיים, and care of the earth (בל תשחית and שמירת הארץ) which can be translated into measurable standards applicable to commercial food production. These standards were developed in collaboration with SAAS, an organization acknowledged worldwide for its expertise in ethical certification programs.
We are appalled that Agudah Israel sees in ethical certification for kosher food an effort that “corrupts Halakhah.” All Jews recognize that Judaism is a religion built upon ethical precepts. The ultimate purpose of Jewish observance is to make us more decent and moral people, more capable of carrying out God’s vision of a just world.
We flatly reject Agudath Israel’s false accusations that we “harbor no respect for the very concept of halakhah.” We have always maintained that the Magen Tzedek would only be awarded to products already bearing kosher certification. Magen Tzedek maintains that Mitzvot bein Adam L’makom (commandments between humanity and God) do not take precedence over Mitzvot bein Adam l’havero (commandments between one person and another).
Maimonides stated said that in fulfillment of Jewish life “one must be strict in their behavior and still go beyond the letter of the law- lifnim mshurat hadin. We see our role as ensuring that such is the case in the production of kosher food. Just as we would never delegate to the government to determine what constitutes proper kashrut certification, neither should we leave to the government enforcement of Jewish norms regarding ethical behavior. Instead of dismissing the work of one another, we call on all Jews to work together to ensure that our actions are truly a Kiddush Hashem–a sanctification of God’s name.
Magen Tzedek affirms the eternal wisdom of Torah by bringing the moral values of Jewish religious tradition to bear on the daily operations of industrial food production, bringing more Jews to value the beauty of kashrut and Jewish observance assuring that we feel truly fulfilled when we sit down around our tables for a meal.
Rabbi Michael Siegal
Magen Tzedek Co-Chair
Magen Tzedek Co-Chair
Rabbi Morris Allen
May Hashem protect Klal Yisroel from those who distort the Torah and reformers in our midst.