Yad L’Achim Faces Off Against Tnuva

14 Sivan 5770
May 27, 2010

yad-lachim1While JKN does not regularly carry such politically charged articles, this case is an exception since this story is getting around, and I feel it is important to present both sides, Yad L’Achim and Tnuva in an effort to permit readers to arrive at their own decision.

Tnuva, Israel’s largest dairy cooperative, which produces a sizable mehadrin line, insists the allegations are baseless but Yad L’Achim’s Rabbi Sholom Dov Lifshitz insists his organization’s information has been confirmed.

This story begins in Kibbutz Harduf in the Lower Galil, a community located in the Jezreel Valley Region. The community, which was founded about 30 years ago boasts a profitable organic industry, but Yad L’Achim explains things are not as innocent as they appear, reporting the community follows Anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, which R’ Lifshitz explains is avoda zara (idol worship) by every Torah definition of the word. So what’s the connection to the largest dairy, mehadrin consumers and Israel’s dairy industry?

According to the weekly Sha’ah Tovah Magazine, Tnuva operates a production line in the community, producing its ‘gevina shel pa’am’ (old fashion cheese) line which bears a Tnuva mehadrin kashrut.

Rabbi Lifshitz explains that consumers buying the products, including frum mehadrin-seeking shoppers, are directly funding avoda zara and in this case, community efforts to increase their numbers, outreach programs targeting Jewish children. He explains the community has an educational system inculcating children with its philosophy, and is quite active in promoting its agenda.

The report further adds that the word “kosher” does not appear on these products for a simple reason, such a claim would by state law compel a kashrut supervision by the local rabbinate as well. This would demand listing the place of origin and other facts that Tnuva does not wish to advertise. Therefore, the products only bear a ‘vaad mehadrin Tnuva’ claim, omitting the word “kosher”. Yad L’Achim insists this is to circumvent the need to tell consumers the mehadrin products originate in the idol worshipping kibbutz.

There is a code used for these products, which appears in the form of English letters, making it even less intelligible to many shoppers to whom English is foreign, or even the English speakers, who remain clueless as to the code.

Tnuva rejects Yad L’Achim’s allegations, insisting that the production line is not rented from the community, but owned outright by Tnuva and therefore, there is no connection to the community and its lifestyle. Furthermore, anything pertaining to kashrut is in line with the regulations of the Vaad Mehadrin and Rav Whitman, Tnuva’s rav, the firm’s officials explain.

The company does not deny that the place of manufacture of the product line does not appear on the finished product, but for an entirely different reason. They explain Kibbutz Harduf is known for its organic products and putting the community’s name on non-organic products would have an adverse impact on its image. Products exhibit the “Vaad Mehadrin Tnuva” which is an appointed body by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, thereby satisfying the law and the word “kosher” is superfluous since it says “Vaad Mehadrin” which must obviously be kosher too.

Rav Lifshitz is adamant, insisting Yad L’Achim gathered the facts and it can prove the case. He further adds that Yad L’Achim approached the Eida Chareidit, which was approached by the kibbutz to give a hechsher on its organic products. Lifshitz admits that halachically they are okay by-and-large, however, after explaining the situation the Eida complied with the Yad L’Achim request and rejected the kibbutz as a potential client, realizing by doing so, the religious community would be supporting a community that supports and promotes idol worship.

Additional relevant information will be passed along to readers if and when it becomes available.

7 Comments

  • Eliyahu Skoczylas
    May 27, 2010 - 11:59 | Permalink

    I would just add that I have personally investigated Anthroposophy, as a friend’s brother is involved in it, and I concur with Rav Lifshitz’ assessment. While on the face of it they seem a progressive, moral group, they are in reality committing avoda zara, as was explained to me by several rebbeim when I detailed what I had learned about the group’s beliefs and practices. And they are proselytizing here in Eretz Yisrael.

    Anything done to deprive them of parnossa is a good thing. This is wickedness, and if Tnuva is playing games by sheltering the group with trickery over ownership of the production line, then Tnuva should be punished, as well.

    I, for one, will no longer buy Tnuva’s “Shel Pa`am” products. (Since I generally avoid Tnuva, anyway, that is little hardship, although I will admit that the Shamenet Shel Pa`am is the tastiest and closest to American Sour Cream that I’ve found. Still, I’d rather give up the flavor than support those wicked people, even by proxy.)

  • Moshe Becker
    May 27, 2010 - 23:27 | Permalink

    What makes Anthroposophy avoda zara?

  • chello
    May 28, 2010 - 00:26 | Permalink

    rabbi Skoczyla,

    what do yo suggest i should eat with my shamenet shel pa’am (do you think blintzes is a good choice or you some other ideas?)

  • Milo
    May 30, 2010 - 11:42 | Permalink

    I don’t know whether the particular form of anthrosophy as practised by this kibbutz is or is not avoda zara. I’d be interested in knowing exactly who checked this out as it appears that some forms of anthrosophy are and others are not.

    In any event, if all Tenuva are doing is renting space off them, then it would seem this is not a halachic kashrus issue but a hashkafic ‘do I want my money to go there’ issue.

    People may have the same hashkafic issue with the eida chareidis!

  • Simon
    May 30, 2010 - 16:41 | Permalink

    If the product is not legally (i.e Rabbanut) kosher, then surely they won’t stock it in the major supermarkets?

  • Eliyahu Skoczylas
    May 30, 2010 - 23:35 | Permalink

    I will quote one section from the full Wikipedia article, which mentions one of my Rav’s “hot buttons” in saying that Anthroposophy is `Avod`a Zar`a. From [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy#Christ_between_Lucifer_and_Ahriman] :

    “Christ between Lucifer and Ahriman

    “Lucifer and his counterpart Ahriman figure in anthroposophy as two polar, generally evil influences on world and human evolution. Steiner described both positive and negative aspects of both figures, however: Lucifer as the light spirit which “plays on human pride and offers the delusion of divinity”, but also motivates creativity and spirituality; Ahriman as the dark spirit which tempts human beings to “deny [their] link with divinity and to live entirely on the material plane”, but also stimulates intellectuality and technology. Both figures exert a negative effect on humanity when their influence becomes misplaced or one-sided, yet their influences are necessary for human freedom to unfold.

    “According to anthroposophy, each human being has the task to find a balance between these opposing influences, and each is helped in this task by the mediation of the Representative of Humanity, also known as the Christ being, a spiritual entity who stands between and harmonizes the two extremes.”

    And if you don’t think that believing in two evil elilim and one Yeshka-derived good one representing humanity against them, and having to “find a balance between them,” noch, is problematic, then you probably don’t even qualify as a Reform Jew!

    This is about as far from monotheism, and the Jewish task of tikun `olam, as you can get. This is not even Zoroastrianism, or other dualist, manichaeistic beliefs, where there are forces of light and darkness, and humans are supposed to support the light. This is saying that the world is a bone fought over by two big, bad dogs, and an anthroposophist should focus on the Yeshka image to keep a balance between them, so neither dog wins.

    You need to talk to an Anthro for some time to get at this stuff. They try to deny it at first blush, but Yeshka keeps coming up. When you tell them that belief in Yeshka is X-tianity they argue with you, and say that the Jew-boy on a stick represents a “universal truth.” Then tell them that Jews absolutely don’t believe in Yeshka, and therefor this “universal truth” is neither universal nor true, and they will tell you that Yiddin are the force of darkness, or come up with some epikorsus like the Torah is true, but Chazal perverted it to “the Dark Side.”

    I’m telling you, these people are bad news and two rebbeim I asked both told me they were AKUM.

  • Velvet Rudicil
    June 1, 2010 - 17:54 | Permalink

    Very good blog! I like it! Thanks!

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