Mar 31, 2015

Narrow Focus or Broad when it comes to Kashrus

In a panel Q and A session, the question was asked: Why is a hechsher given to unhealthy food? Meaning, if we are supposed to take care of our health (and that's a mitzvah) why would a kosher stamp of approval be given to products that are unhealthy just because the ingredients are kosher?

The response didn't answer the question; rather it was about a person having the choice of what to eat and making good choices.

So what is the answer? Is it that it's not the hechsher's function to make decisions about the nutritional content of food and if a company seeks certification and complies with requirements, the hechsher can provide the certification? That was basically the answer that was given, though the emphasis was not on what a certifying agency's function is.

But is that proper? If the item in question is marketed to children, some kind of candy which consists solely of sugar, food coloring and chemicals, should there be a hechsher on it?

This question has come up in the past in connection with certifying restaurants that have objectionable entertainment.  It's not a simple question.  By giving the hechsher to the food, is the hechsher also sanctioning the entertainment? On the one hand, of course not, a hechsher is just on food, but by certifying the food as kosher, people who might otherwise not partake of unsuitable entertainment would not be there.  On the other hand, those who go there will eat kosher, and they might not otherwise do so. 


  1. Because a number of states in the US are passing laws to protect religious people from having to do business in a way that violates their religious beliefs, the question arises as to what frum establishments can accommodate regarding toeiva marriages. One MO rabbi that blogs said that such restaurants that accommodate such blatant violation of halacha should lose their hechsherim.

  2. There was the Hobby Lobby controversy in which this chain of craft stores run by corporations espousing religious principles, did not want to pay for insurance coverage for contraceptives for their female employees. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby's favor.