Rav Moshe Shternbuch: A Woman Mashgiach?

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rav-moshe-shternbuchThe world of hashgachos today is an all-man’s world. Yet, when it comes to the home, it is the woman of the house who is the rav hamachshir. Is a woman halachically qualified to be a mashgiach in a commercial operation? This question was asked to Rav Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:426), Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Hachareidis.Rav Shternbuch says that whether the issur is min haTorah or Midirabbonon is not the issue. The issue is, first, how difficult the task is, and second, whether there is certainly an issur that must be dealt with or only a safek whether there is any issur in the first place.

Rav Shternbuch distinguishes between being a mashgiach in an establishment where the owner is a mechallel Shabbos and is capable of trying to outsmart the mashgiach. In this case, a woman should not be directly responsible for the kashrus, but can work under a man. However, in a shomer Shabbos establishment, where only minimal hashgacha is needed, it would be okay to have a woman mashgiach and she is trusted just like she is in her own home.

Despite all this, says Rav Shternbuch, if there is a choice between a male mashgiach who is not so medakdek in mitzvos or taking a woman is more ehrlich and is shrewd, then the woman is preferable. Nevertheless, he says it is better to try to find a man, because the woman’s place is in the home.

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  1. Hashgocho in a commercial kitchen is by nature a boring occupation.
    I constantly see men mashgichim slacking off in their duties, dozing or playing with their computers.
    I am positive women would do a better job in what is by tradition their home turf.

  2. Nevertheless, he says it is better to try to find a man, because the woman’s place is in the home.

    Obviously what Hagoen HaRav Shternbuch said is common sense. Is there a lack of men available for these positions?

  3. Comment #4 : Perhaps not a lack of men, but perhaps it’s a case of quality over quantity

    Perhaps like in so many other facets of life, Religious Jewish women have significantly more ‘practical’ experience than their husbands and will do a better job.

    Unfortunately it seems we have created a generation of relegious Jewish men who are great with the theory ‘from the books’ and it is the women who have all the practical experience of life as they tend to the finances of the home, the running of the home, the upkeep of the children in real and practical ways

  4. “Nevertheless, he says it is better to try to find a man, because the woman’s place is in the home.”

    Does the Rav also include women of Kollel husbands who work outside the home?

  5. #7 – Yes. But just because a woman’s place is in the home, doesn’t necessarily mean it is always practical for the woman to be at home. (Just that is the ideal.)

  6. Many years ago I was offerred a position as a mashgiach at a nursing home whoose owner was a mechallel shabbos.

    I was mesupak about taking the position. I called Rav Moshe Feinstein ztk’l and spoke with him personally and he convinced me to take the position.

    I was a married woman in my thirties and the only training that I had was my Bais Yaakov education, the kashrus in my home and that I knew to ask a shylah from a responsible Rav if any came up.

  7. Definitely most women would do a good job. However, one requirement would be is to find out who runs their kitchen at home while they are minding such a responsibility.

  8. As someone who dabbled in the world of hashgachah. And have a personal connection with the poskim of quite a few hashgachous (OU, Vadd of Flatbush and Kehila Kashrus to name a few). I know of one story where the woman mashgeach found that an establishment that was checked by many very repeatable male mashgechim, who certified it as kosher, was really was not kosher at all. The establishment had a lock door the male mashgechim never asks to see what was behind it. Had they look into the room they would have found the non-kosher meat and supplies the owner was hiding there. They did not even see the door because it was in the lady’s room.


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