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New York - Blowing The Cover Of Reporter Nathaniel Popper In The Rubashkin Case

Published on: February 13, 2009 09:34 AM
By: Rabbi Avi Shafran - Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America
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Nathaniel Popper, inset, reported on the working conditions at Agriprocessors, the country's largest kosher meat packing plant. (Credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo, File)New York - Anyone who raised an eyebrow at charges that the “Hekhsher Tzedek” kosher-certification initiative recasts the very concept of kashrus might want to aim an eye at the February 6 Wall Street Journal.

At a column, that is, entitled “A Quarrel Over What Is Kosher,’ by the Forward’s Nathaniel Popper – the reporter who, in 2006, first shone a harsh light on the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse.  His reportage of alleged abuse of workers there was followed, in 2008, by a federal raid on the plant, the deportation of hundreds of illegal alien workers and the filing of criminal charges against its owners and others.

In his “Houses of Worship” guest column, Mr. Popper reveals some personal cards, of the sort usually held behind the fictional screen of journalist objectivity.  Like his comparison of “bearded Orthodox rabbis” who “buzzed around the Agriprocessors plant” making sure kashrus laws, but not ethical norms, were being observed with the “progressive, socially engaged and mostly clean-shaven rabbis” who rode in, so to speak, on white horses to rescue Agriprocessors from itself.

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Popper also characterizes efforts to persuade a judge to grant bail to a Rubashkin official – imprisoned before his trial for months despite offering to surrender his passport, wear an electronic bracelet to track his movements and post an exorbitant bond – as a campaign “to spring Mr. Rubashkin from jail” because of “an ancient Jewish religious obligation to free Jews from gentile captivity.”  No mention of the fact that Sholom Rubashkin’s Jewishness (as it made him eligible for automatic citizenship in Israel) was among the factors cited in denying him bail.  (The bail denial was in fact reversed by another judge – although Mr. Popper might consider the ruling tainted, based as it was partly on the testimony of bearded rabbis.)

Mr. Popper’s personal perspective is further on display when he extols “a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” – as if a spiritual bond to a religious community somehow implies criminal unconcern for others.

The essential point of Popper’s piece, though, is both true and important.  He characterizes the respective positions of the Hekhsher Tzedek’s proponents and opponents as a dispute over “the proper way to interpret religious law and values.”  Should we, he asks, “read our ancient texts literally or adapt them to a changing world?”

Popper doesn’t mean “literally” literally, of course; presumably he realizes that the Torah’s laws are determined not by literal readings but by the intricate teachings of the mesorah.  He is accurate, though, to ascribe to the non-Orthodox rabbinates a willingness to jettison elements of halacha that discomfit them.

By contrast, Orthodox rabbis are, he writes (with, one suspects, less than reverence), the “Antonin Scalias of the Jewish world.”  One such rabbi even told him (you might want to sit down here) that he keeps kosher not out of social consciousness but “because G-d said so.”

When, in the fall, Agudath Israel of America characterized Hekhsher Tzedek as an attempt to redefine kashrus, that judgment was pooh-poohed by some.  It is, though, precisely the Popperian paradigm.

And its trumpeting in the venerable Wall Street Journal will likely deeply disturb the main proponents of the Hekhsher Tzedek, who have in recent weeks sought to unbake the cake and recast their initiative as not really a “hekhsher” at all but rather a non-kashrus-related endorsement (oddly, though, only for food), renaming it “Magen Tzedek.”  “Oy,” some progressively clean-shaven clergymen are probably thinking, “Popper’s blown our cover.”

Indeed he has, and with admirable honesty about both his own bias-baggage and the Whatever Tzedek.  He doesn’t bother to disguise his feelings for Jews who believe that the Torah is G-d’s will and that its laws, whether fathomable or not, are sacrosanct; and he exposes the now-it’s-a-hekhsher-now-it’s-not initiative as an attempt to “evolve” kashrus into a plank of the social liberal platform.

What Mr. Popper seems to not fully appreciate, though, is the trenchant fact that the very same set of Divine laws that Orthodox Jews believe mandate kashrus and other ritual requirements and prohibitions mandate no less interpersonal ethics (including proper treatment of workers) and respect for the laws of the land.

Whether any particular Orthodox Jew honors or fails to honor those mandates is beside the point (although the Torah’s ethical system does forbid reaching negative judgments about accused people before a trial).  But Orthodox Judaism is entirely as strict about the Torah’s ethics as about its rituals.  So the issue is not “adapt[ing] Torah to a changing world,” but rather applying Torah to that world.

And so Mr. Popper has the dichotomy only half right.  Yes, there is a perspective – his own and the non-Orthodox movements’ – that regards the Torah’s laws as entirely mutable.  But the Orthodox
perspective does not, as he seems to believe, sacrifice ethics to ritual.  It, rather, elevates both to the plane of Divine will.

Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.



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Read Comments (47)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 13, 2009 at 08:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Coming from a 'spinmeister' like Avi Shafran, I would not be suprised. To quote Dan Rather, "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck andquacks like a duck, it must be a duck".

There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences.......

2

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:04 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Coming from a 'spinmeister' like Avi Shafran, I would not be suprised. To quote Dan Rather, "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck andquacks like a duck, it must be a duck".

There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences.......

You just blew your own cover.
I don't really see much in here in the way of 'defending' agri, as exposing the hecsher tzedek for what it really is.
I think you are saying a lot by quoting dan rather - some one who said anything - true or not - to further their agenda.

3

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:02 AM Anonymous Says:

This is what Golus Erev Rav is all about. All properly Torah observant people must stop infighting and loshen Hora as we have a much bigger ememy with a more powerful destructive voice.

4

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:01 AM frank Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Coming from a 'spinmeister' like Avi Shafran, I would not be suprised. To quote Dan Rather, "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck andquacks like a duck, it must be a duck".

There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences.......

You and Dan Bladder belong in the same pond.

5

 Feb 13, 2009 at 08:59 AM Mordy Neuman Says:

Assimilated Jews perbaps have always done more harm to the Jewish people than gentiles. At least the Agudah has a good PR department, this is a good counter measure.
Another point, just like there are no tzedokim left there will be no conservitive jewish movement in our lifetime as their kids become full fledged goyim. The bitter ramnents of their movement realize that and therefor spit every last drop of vhenom in the direvtion of Orthodox Jews.
You are witnessing a dying bull giving a last kick. Unfortunately for us, the kick hurts. Unfortunately for them, the world knows they are a joke.
May the Almighty be them choinen daas and they should find beauty in the heritage they have fosaken.

6

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:12 AM Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

As usual Rabbi Shafran is right on target; says what needs to be said. Wish we had more like him.

7

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:26 AM Anonymous Says:

avi spinng his wheels once again. i think its time for him to retire once and for all. we need some young blood and some straight thinkers for a change

8

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:43 AM Anonymous Says:

Rav Schafran, and Agudah are engaging in their traditional stategy of "shoot the messenger" if you cannot rebut the message. Popper is obvously coming at the issue from the perspective of modern orthodox and is not a chasid or frumme; However, the issues he raises regarding the broader mandate of hashgacha (e.g. as in the current peanut scandal and OU) and the responsibility of food processing plants to treat their employees with the same midos as yidden is how most of today's younger generation thinks. Finally, the notion that there is not equal value in the life of goyim and yidden, which may be implicit in this article, is the most morally corupt view I have heard from Agudah and should be disowned (Hopefully, I am misreading the intent of his words).

9

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:10 AM Anonymous Says:

While OU doesn't have to oversee how employees are being hired or treated as in AGRI. But the peanut story is different, if there were bugs in the food that tainted the peanut butter or whatever, that is USSER. That is what they should also be looking out for in a HECHSHER.

10

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Well written. It is unfortunate that Popper and Peta and the the political left (yes -- deliberately put in one group) view their agendas over the actual truth. Had a non-Jew written as popper did -- he surely would have been labeled an anti-Semite. This has nothing to do with shooting the messenger -- it has to do with self hating Jews.

11

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:58 AM AQ Says:

Yes; isn't it sad that it took a non-frum Yid with an agenda to point out the crazy situation at Agri.

Maybe next time, inzerer will fix things first, before the abuses of Torah get out of hand.

12

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:55 AM Thank You Aguda! Says:

Thank you Aguda for standing up for our rights. The time has come to call the Quasi-Orthodox movement one that is aligned with the Socialist Movement. Sadly, it seems that the Socialist Movement is sweeping into the Jewish Community again. We see the Obama administration packed with Jewish Socialists who are trying to erode our Constitutional rights. Freedom of speech will be limited and with that an attempt to limit Kashrus lefi halacha, bah. We must fight the Socialists with all our might.

13

 Feb 13, 2009 at 09:55 AM Anonymous Says:

Mr. Popper is very obviously our typical self-hating Jew. We now know the personal agenda of his cronies, including the very outspoken Conservative rabbi who was involved in spearheading this whole tragedy. Do they explain why they focus only on kosher food rather on the ethical treatment of laborers in countries which have no worker protection? Will they put their magen tzedek on clothing and toys and electronics? This is obviously a personal vendetta and we must all boycott any food which carries either the hechsher tzeded or the magen tzeded. We must not support them in any way.

14

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:44 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

You just blew your own cover.
I don't really see much in here in the way of 'defending' agri, as exposing the hecsher tzedek for what it really is.
I think you are saying a lot by quoting dan rather - some one who said anything - true or not - to further their agenda.

What cover? What 'defense?' This is what I wrote -

"There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences......."

What part did you not understand? That Agri did not correct their problems and instead hired publicists to spin them away? Don't be a soneh yisroel and hate the messenger and not the message.

15

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Just because someone has an agenda, it does not mean that they automatically cannot be trusted, only that one has to to aware of their bias and wonder whether they are telling us the whole story.

For instance, Rabbi Shafran is paid to be a spokesperson for Agudah and paid to explain things in a way that makes Agudah look as good as possible. Does that mean that we should discount everything he writes?

16

 Feb 13, 2009 at 11:04 AM Babishka Says:

"The Forward" at the very beginning chose as their objective the destruction of the entire kosher food industry, starting with Rubashkins.

17

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

Mr. Popper is very obviously our typical self-hating Jew. We now know the personal agenda of his cronies, including the very outspoken Conservative rabbi who was involved in spearheading this whole tragedy. Do they explain why they focus only on kosher food rather on the ethical treatment of laborers in countries which have no worker protection? Will they put their magen tzedek on clothing and toys and electronics? This is obviously a personal vendetta and we must all boycott any food which carries either the hechsher tzeded or the magen tzeded. We must not support them in any way.

Some of you must have the term "self-hating" jew embossed on our word processor since its become the standard response to any yidden that criticize a right-wing/Agudah/ultra-orthodox perspective. Kol Hakovod to Popper for an enlighted view of the issue and taking a more expansive and contemporary view of the role of hashgacha and certifying organizations.

18

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:35 AM Halocho Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Rav Schafran, and Agudah are engaging in their traditional stategy of "shoot the messenger" if you cannot rebut the message. Popper is obvously coming at the issue from the perspective of modern orthodox and is not a chasid or frumme; However, the issues he raises regarding the broader mandate of hashgacha (e.g. as in the current peanut scandal and OU) and the responsibility of food processing plants to treat their employees with the same midos as yidden is how most of today's younger generation thinks. Finally, the notion that there is not equal value in the life of goyim and yidden, which may be implicit in this article, is the most morally corupt view I have heard from Agudah and should be disowned (Hopefully, I am misreading the intent of his words).

Your last four line show that you nothing about hilchos "pkuach Nefesh on Shabbos", "Hashovas Aviedo L'einoi Yehudi", "Toas Akim". etc. etc.
Think of a situation where it will not cause any Chillul Hashem or Kiddush Hashem.
Note, a child born to a nonfrum jewish mother and will never keep Shabos is a yehudi. By the way, the halocho is not like the Me'eiri.

19

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM Anonymous Says:

In Germany in the 1920's and 30's there were many "progressive, enlightened and uplifted" assimilated Jews just like Popper and his elk who tried to distance themselves from their backward thinking and primitive "bearded" brethren. Unfortunately, the "proper and ethical Germans" couldn't distinguish between the bearded and progressive...

20

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:29 AM Ben Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Rav Schafran, and Agudah are engaging in their traditional stategy of "shoot the messenger" if you cannot rebut the message. Popper is obvously coming at the issue from the perspective of modern orthodox and is not a chasid or frumme; However, the issues he raises regarding the broader mandate of hashgacha (e.g. as in the current peanut scandal and OU) and the responsibility of food processing plants to treat their employees with the same midos as yidden is how most of today's younger generation thinks. Finally, the notion that there is not equal value in the life of goyim and yidden, which may be implicit in this article, is the most morally corupt view I have heard from Agudah and should be disowned (Hopefully, I am misreading the intent of his words).

yes! you are misreading his words.
"Mr. Popper’s personal perspective is further on display when he extols “a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” – as if a spiritual bond to a religious community somehow implies criminal unconcern for others. "
Rabbi Shafran is saying that Mr.Popper is trying to tarnish all religious Jews by IMPLYING that because we are a certain regious community, we are in effect prejudiced towards other people! R.Shafrin is not in any way nor the Agudah for that matter predicating such a notion. Rabbi Shafran is probably one of the best and eloquent spokesmen for Orthodox Judaism along with Jonathan Rosenbloom and you must have a high level of english to understand all their nuances and points completely.
It would be great if these authors would give writing lessons to all our Yeshivos to make each of us an educated and coherent spokesman for the community in which we live....

21

 Feb 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Coming from a 'spinmeister' like Avi Shafran, I would not be suprised. To quote Dan Rather, "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck andquacks like a duck, it must be a duck".

There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences.......

We have a choice of spinmeisters. One who strives to destroy our heritage and another who is sworn to defend it.
I'll take Avi, thank you.

22

 Feb 13, 2009 at 12:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

We have a choice of spinmeisters. One who strives to destroy our heritage and another who is sworn to defend it.
I'll take Avi, thank you.

Our "heritage" does not include cruelty to workers, cruelty to animals, health code violations, safety violations, EPA violations, identity theft, immigration violations, underage workers, unkosher food labelled as kosher, bank fraud and a never ending chillul hashem. To defend the indefensible because the perpetrator wears a beard and hat is inexcusable and only fuels the chillul hashem. Let the accused have his day in court and let's move on. Enough already.

23

 Feb 13, 2009 at 12:17 PM Anonymous Says:

I dont really care what he says - what bothers me is how poorly written this piece is.

24

 Feb 13, 2009 at 12:08 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

What cover? What 'defense?' This is what I wrote -

"There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences......."

What part did you not understand? That Agri did not correct their problems and instead hired publicists to spin them away? Don't be a soneh yisroel and hate the messenger and not the message.

The cover of someone who claims to be writing about one thing but is fixated on something else, and I read exactly what you wrote about Agri, and I was just pointing out that you are commenting out of context because this discussion is not about them.
But then again, there seems to be a high chance that you are a paid troll that has to write something negative about Agri wherever there is close enough of a stretch to involve them.
If you are not, please use your brains and actually realize that you have a fixated hatred.

25

 Feb 13, 2009 at 12:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Ben Says:

yes! you are misreading his words.
"Mr. Popper’s personal perspective is further on display when he extols “a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” – as if a spiritual bond to a religious community somehow implies criminal unconcern for others. "
Rabbi Shafran is saying that Mr.Popper is trying to tarnish all religious Jews by IMPLYING that because we are a certain regious community, we are in effect prejudiced towards other people! R.Shafrin is not in any way nor the Agudah for that matter predicating such a notion. Rabbi Shafran is probably one of the best and eloquent spokesmen for Orthodox Judaism along with Jonathan Rosenbloom and you must have a high level of english to understand all their nuances and points completely.
It would be great if these authors would give writing lessons to all our Yeshivos to make each of us an educated and coherent spokesman for the community in which we live....

Thank you for the helpful clarification and more importantly, doing it in a civil manner. Shabbot shalom

26

 Feb 13, 2009 at 01:19 PM Mkarpas Says:

Rabbi Shafran is right on the mark. The only issue I have is that he is preaching to the choir.

In that sense, the good Rabbi is a talmid muvhak of Rashi. Which audience does the first Rashi in the Torah address? Most agree is that Rabbi Yitzchak is not talking to outside world but to us.

So too, Rabbi Shafran's career has been defvoted to telling us how right we are and how wrong they are. Yashir Koach.

27

 Feb 13, 2009 at 02:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Our "heritage" does not include cruelty to workers, cruelty to animals, health code violations, safety violations, EPA violations, identity theft, immigration violations, underage workers, unkosher food labelled as kosher, bank fraud and a never ending chillul hashem. To defend the indefensible because the perpetrator wears a beard and hat is inexcusable and only fuels the chillul hashem. Let the accused have his day in court and let's move on. Enough already.

We don't justify or even condone their deeds, but we are obligated to HELP every Jew, even those that are not as perfect as you and I are.
Whatever Rubashkin did wrong, he does not deserve to be treated like Charles Manson.
To help him is even more imperative when his most vocal distractors are passionately opposed to anything and everything that smells of Yiddishkeit.

28

 Feb 13, 2009 at 02:27 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

Hey POPPER, you are so big and powerful!! Look how much power you have!!!OMG!
You got hundreds of non Jews put in jail, hundreds ran back to their homes in other countries, Jews with beards got arrested and jailed, a town lost a lot of its tax money, people became aware of new reasons to distrust Jews, many found why they should hate Jews and all because you are such an honest, straight guy. Wow!
Ain't you just so strong and big and great? Too bad you'll have to lead an extremely careful life because there are so many waiting at the doors of ten or twenty tabloids just to be the first to POP in when they get what they have already heard about on you. BTW, could there be a psychological motive for the need to show that you are big and powerful. Perhaps you aren't big but you need to overcompensate with a big show. Now all the non Jews can see that one Jew is the Judas against the other Jew just like they thought all along.
Bye bye POPPER.

29

 Feb 13, 2009 at 03:05 PM Dave Says:

How is what Popper wrote about "a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” inaccurate.

There were hundreds arrested at Agriprocessors. But there has been no call in the observant community to raise funds, pay attorneys, or otherwise help out the Guatemalan workers.

While it does not surprise me that Rabbi Shafran wants to downplay (at least in the public media) that observant Jews consider it a religious requirement to free all Jews from prison (regardless of guilt), but have no such concerns for non-Jews, that doesn't make Mr. Popper's statement in any way inaccurate. It may just make it embarassing for Agudah.

30

 Feb 13, 2009 at 03:37 PM Babishka Says:

Reply to #29  
Dave Says:

How is what Popper wrote about "a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” inaccurate.

There were hundreds arrested at Agriprocessors. But there has been no call in the observant community to raise funds, pay attorneys, or otherwise help out the Guatemalan workers.

While it does not surprise me that Rabbi Shafran wants to downplay (at least in the public media) that observant Jews consider it a religious requirement to free all Jews from prison (regardless of guilt), but have no such concerns for non-Jews, that doesn't make Mr. Popper's statement in any way inaccurate. It may just make it embarassing for Agudah.

Dave, what is "The Forward" doing to raise funds, pay attorneys or otherwise help out the Guatemalans? After all they are the ones who cause these people to lose their jobs and become destitute and they are SO PROUD of themselves for "social justice."

31

 Feb 13, 2009 at 03:35 PM Babishka Says:

Whatever Rubashkin's did, does not excuse the disgusting celebration and self-congratulation of "The Forward" as if they were the ones responsible for hunting and capturing Osama Bin Laden. "The Forward" wants to relive its glory days of 100 years ago, while in the meantime has an advice columnist giving suggestions to people on how to use Judaism as a "fashion accessory" and how to deal with crisis such as your kid coming home from Hebrew school and wants to do extreme stuff like "say brochos"

32

 Feb 13, 2009 at 03:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #29  
Dave Says:

How is what Popper wrote about "a more explicitly universal vision of mankind, in which a Guatemalan Catholic has the same weight as a Brooklyn Jew” inaccurate.

There were hundreds arrested at Agriprocessors. But there has been no call in the observant community to raise funds, pay attorneys, or otherwise help out the Guatemalan workers.

While it does not surprise me that Rabbi Shafran wants to downplay (at least in the public media) that observant Jews consider it a religious requirement to free all Jews from prison (regardless of guilt), but have no such concerns for non-Jews, that doesn't make Mr. Popper's statement in any way inaccurate. It may just make it embarassing for Agudah.

Where does it say that frumme yidden must work to "free all jews from prison, regardless of guilt". This is total nareshkeit. There are yiddeshe thieves, murderers, sex abusers etc. sitting in prison for good reasons and you are saying we should be working to get them out of jail because they are yidden. I've read some really stupid arugments on VIN but this has to be one of the all time winners.

33

 Feb 14, 2009 at 06:09 PM Dave Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

Where does it say that frumme yidden must work to "free all jews from prison, regardless of guilt". This is total nareshkeit. There are yiddeshe thieves, murderers, sex abusers etc. sitting in prison for good reasons and you are saying we should be working to get them out of jail because they are yidden. I've read some really stupid arugments on VIN but this has to be one of the all time winners.

I would love to be wrong on this. But I have lost track of the number of times earnest frum yidden have explained to me that Pidyon Shvuyim is requirement regardless of guilt or innocence of the imprisoned.

Trust me, it would delight me if Rabbi Shafran and Agudah would declare that Pidyon Shvuyim does not apply to those who have been convicted of crimes in fair trails in the United States. It would surprise me, but it would delight me.

34

 Feb 14, 2009 at 06:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Rather than lable all non-frum "progressive-rabbis" as clean-shaven, let's create for them a name.

How about "Madoff-like"......

35

 Feb 14, 2009 at 07:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #33  
Dave Says:

I would love to be wrong on this. But I have lost track of the number of times earnest frum yidden have explained to me that Pidyon Shvuyim is requirement regardless of guilt or innocence of the imprisoned.

Trust me, it would delight me if Rabbi Shafran and Agudah would declare that Pidyon Shvuyim does not apply to those who have been convicted of crimes in fair trails in the United States. It would surprise me, but it would delight me.

Come on, let's put things into prespective. Them system isn't exactly fair. A significant portion of companies and private people commit the "crime" the Rubashkins allegedly commited. I wonder if that Popper guy has a maid, is she on the books? Social security tax? which Union is she part of? What about you? Youre that holy? Ever drive a coupla miles over the limit? Perhaps the law can provide a way for Mr. Rubashkin to become treasury secretary and put Geithner away. The rubashkin issue was a vendetta created by the unions. Dont play the "holier than thou" game it usually turns on you.

36

 Feb 14, 2009 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

While OU doesn't have to oversee how employees are being hired or treated as in AGRI. But the peanut story is different, if there were bugs in the food that tainted the peanut butter or whatever, that is USSER. That is what they should also be looking out for in a HECHSHER.

it is not the responsibility of a hashgocho to check for salmanella. Nor is it their responsibility to be involved in employee issues, unless the abuse is glaring and extreme. I do hashgacha, and have neveer seen 11 year olds at work, nor have i seen employees being flooged.

37

 Feb 14, 2009 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Coming from a 'spinmeister' like Avi Shafran, I would not be suprised. To quote Dan Rather, "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck andquacks like a duck, it must be a duck".

There were definite problems with Agri, and I would rather have Agri correct them, themselves. But they didn't. And look at the consequences.......

"bearded orthodox rabbis" sounds demeaning. This is the culture of ends justifies the means. If you are on mission to preserve employee rights it doesnt matter whom you take down. Popper doesnt sound like a typical stereotyper who presents himself as an elitist defending humanity.

38

 Feb 14, 2009 at 11:47 PM modern-orthodox jew Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

Some of you must have the term "self-hating" jew embossed on our word processor since its become the standard response to any yidden that criticize a right-wing/Agudah/ultra-orthodox perspective. Kol Hakovod to Popper for an enlighted view of the issue and taking a more expansive and contemporary view of the role of hashgacha and certifying organizations.

I do not have 'self-hating jews' anywhere pre-programmed but yes, I do agree that many of you are just that !
This Popper is a non-orthodox who seems to hate the religious jews with a passion. (who needs antisemites when we got him and the likes?).

In his eyes a religious Jew cannot do right and a Non-jew or irreligious Jew cannot be wrong or evil.

I have decided to increase my purchases of Rubashkin products and urge all others to do likewise. Let those Poppers and similar eat their Perdue chickens (they're cheaper & kosher enough for them) or some Boarshead brand; their Lady Rabbi (or Gay Rabbi) will sanctify it for them.
Us religious jews have been around before their leaders invented their religion and we will once again be around when they become history. 'chazak ve'ematz'.

39

 Feb 15, 2009 at 12:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

Where does it say that frumme yidden must work to "free all jews from prison, regardless of guilt". This is total nareshkeit. There are yiddeshe thieves, murderers, sex abusers etc. sitting in prison for good reasons and you are saying we should be working to get them out of jail because they are yidden. I've read some really stupid arugments on VIN but this has to be one of the all time winners.

I understand that when the punishment is greater than the sin committed then pidyon shvuyim comes into play. I don't think drug dealing, murderers or sex abusers can be punished enough, thereby making pidyon shvvum irrelevant for them.

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 Feb 15, 2009 at 05:21 AM mo Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

avi spinng his wheels once again. i think its time for him to retire once and for all. we need some young blood and some straight thinkers for a change

Just spare us your own blood please.

41

 Feb 15, 2009 at 04:20 AM Aussie Says:

I am not a gr8 fan of Avi Shafran and his politically correct articles for frummies, but this time he is 100% right. There is no need to worry about the newest 'Hechsher', the congregants of these so called rabbis prefer to use Martha Sterward's or Opra's hashgocho.

42

 Feb 15, 2009 at 01:53 AM maven Says:

Reply to #6  
Askipeh Hanidreses Says:

As usual Rabbi Shafran is right on target; says what needs to be said. Wish we had more like him.

We should all fight untill our last breath against this anti-semitic BLOOD LIBEL against the Rubashkins and whole klal yisroel

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 Feb 15, 2009 at 01:48 AM surprised Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Our "heritage" does not include cruelty to workers, cruelty to animals, health code violations, safety violations, EPA violations, identity theft, immigration violations, underage workers, unkosher food labelled as kosher, bank fraud and a never ending chillul hashem. To defend the indefensible because the perpetrator wears a beard and hat is inexcusable and only fuels the chillul hashem. Let the accused have his day in court and let's move on. Enough already.

I am surprised by what you took from this article. The author, in no way defended the actions that the Rubashkin's are accused of, he only points out the shortcomings of the way "Due Process" was handled; such as the issue of bail. Additionally the author was responding to an article and criticizing a columnist who preferred to blatantly attack the way an entire segment of the Jewish population chooses to practice its faith as opposed to relying on critical evidence of the way an individual company chose to operate their facility.
I don't know about you but I don't look into the operations of every meat, chicken, produce, and prepared foods company that I buy products from; needless to say if "dole" was caught in some impropriety, I would react the same way as I did with Rubashkin (though this will probably never happen since many of their products come from overseas were exploited workers are an accepted practice for increasing a company's bottom line and the workers are happier for it since they have an otherwise unattainable income stream).
Either way, it is inappropriate for a columnist to show such an obvious bias, as opposed to reporting the facts, I beleive most people would have made a choice to oppose Rubashkins actions whether the columnist from the forward added his "colorful" language or not.

44

 Feb 15, 2009 at 10:57 AM Avrohom Abba Says:

Reply to #31  
Babishka Says:

Whatever Rubashkin's did, does not excuse the disgusting celebration and self-congratulation of "The Forward" as if they were the ones responsible for hunting and capturing Osama Bin Laden. "The Forward" wants to relive its glory days of 100 years ago, while in the meantime has an advice columnist giving suggestions to people on how to use Judaism as a "fashion accessory" and how to deal with crisis such as your kid coming home from Hebrew school and wants to do extreme stuff like "say brochos"

Babishka, you are so right! They think they have solved the crime of the century. Forward is backward if they think the public is really going to fall for their super reporting to be what brought about the great capture of religious Jews, thus exposing them as criminals and showing the world how these jewboys just can't be trusted. Three jeers for the Forward! heroes! They showed the Orthodox Jews to be thieves and fakers. What a great accomplishment. The only question is, "In their quest for truth and honesty in reporting, did they beat The New York Crimes?"

45

 Feb 15, 2009 at 05:11 PM Thank you R Shafran Says:

You have the courage to stand up and say the truth.

Some of you might wonder: why does it take courage? Because he is taking on 'the machine'. 'The machine' will try to tear down anyone who stands in its way, or points out the obvious truths.

46

 Feb 16, 2009 at 09:51 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #31  
Babishka Says:

Whatever Rubashkin's did, does not excuse the disgusting celebration and self-congratulation of "The Forward" as if they were the ones responsible for hunting and capturing Osama Bin Laden. "The Forward" wants to relive its glory days of 100 years ago, while in the meantime has an advice columnist giving suggestions to people on how to use Judaism as a "fashion accessory" and how to deal with crisis such as your kid coming home from Hebrew school and wants to do extreme stuff like "say brochos"

Who will tell Rubashkin that their behavior is unacceptable? You? Chabad? How many recalls must there be (and there wee 2 already) before we find out that something is amiss in Iowa? How much Chillul Hashem must we tolerate before you wake up and realize that the goyim hate Jews because the Jews start it by thinking that they are elitists??

47

 Feb 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Rav Schafran, and Agudah are engaging in their traditional stategy of "shoot the messenger" if you cannot rebut the message. Popper is obvously coming at the issue from the perspective of modern orthodox and is not a chasid or frumme; However, the issues he raises regarding the broader mandate of hashgacha (e.g. as in the current peanut scandal and OU) and the responsibility of food processing plants to treat their employees with the same midos as yidden is how most of today's younger generation thinks. Finally, the notion that there is not equal value in the life of goyim and yidden, which may be implicit in this article, is the most morally corupt view I have heard from Agudah and should be disowned (Hopefully, I am misreading the intent of his words).

very well said

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