Vayelech Shuva 5778

RABBI BENZION MORGENSTERN

ומצאהו רעות רבות וצרות ואמר ביום ההוא הלא על כי אין אלקי בקרבי מצאוני הרעות האלה (דברים לא:יז)

Many evils and distresses will encounter him. He will say on that day, “It is because
Hashem is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me” (Devarim 31:17)

The Pasuk begins with רעות רבות וצרות, many evils and distresses, but ends with the recipient saying, “It is because Hashem is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me.” Why are the צרות, distresses, omitted?
Rav Elazar Shach explains that רעות means something that is intrinsically bad; therefore, it is called רע, bad, evil. צרות denotes things that are bothersome to the person. Onkelos translates צרות as עקן, agonies or miseries. A person can be in a situation that he feels helpless, the world is closing in on him, his spirit is shattered. This is aside from his physical suffering.
This state of his mind is directly traced to his lack of Emunah and Bitachon; for someone who believes in Hashem and Divine Providence, the distresses don’t drag down his spirits. He realizes they are all from Hashem.”לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי”, “I will not fear evil for You are with me,” writes David Hamelech (Tehillim 23:4). Evils there are, but there is also strength and courage to face them. There is no additional fear because David felt Hashem with him.
Therefore, once the person comes to the realization that his suffering is because Hashem is not in his midst, he has already realized that his suffering is orchestrated by Hashem. He has only רעות, but no longer perceives them as צרות.
The Midrash (Yalkut Eichah 1018) states that Hashem informs Bnei Yisrael that our sufferings in Galus will be comparable to Iyov’s sufferings. Just as Hashem repaid Iyov double for his suffering – he merited fourteen children in place of the seven he lost – so, too, we will receive a double reward on account of our suffering.
Ramban (Iyov 42) clarifies that having fourteen children is not twice the amount that was lost. One who suffered the misfortune of losing seven children still has that loss, even if he had fourteen new children. The new children do not replace or rectify his loss.
Rather, Iyov in truth never lost his seven children; he was only led to believe that he had lost them. The messenger informed Iyov that they were in a place of certain death and how he had miraculously escaped, but in truth he never actually saw them die. Iyov thought he had lost his children when in reality they were alive, hidden by the Satan to orchestrate Hashem’s test for Iyov.
Hashem eventually returned Iyov’s seven children from the Satan’s captivity. Iyov merited an additional seven children, totaling fourteen, for his suffering in thinking that he lost his children.
Rabbi Shalom Schwadron explains the above-mentioned Midrash based on this Ramban. When Moshiach comes, we will realize that some of our צרות were akin to Iyov’s. We thought bad things were happening, when in truth we did not know the whole story. Yet, Hashem will still pay back double the amount we perceived as our suffering in the course of Galus.


RABBI AVROHOM MILLER

Last week we discussed how Rabbi Tuvia Geffen of Atlanta discovered that Coca-Cola contained glycerin in a ratio of 1 to 1000, but was not nullified due to its being intentionally mixed into the product. This was contrary to the Noda B’Yehuda, who sided with the Rishonim who did consider this nullified.
This explains the change in Rabbi Shmuel Aharon Pardes of Chicago’s wording from “worthy of being served at the table of Rabbis” to “kosher to drink according to Halacha.” It is clear from his letters to Rabbi Geffen that he was previously unaware of the existence of glycerin in the production. Once he believed Rabbi Geffen that it did indeed exist, he disagreed with Rabbi Geffen’s conclusion and felt that the Noda B’Yehuda (and others, as we will see) was sufficient to rely on. At this point, it became “kosher to drink according to Halacha.”
Was Rabbi Geffen right? Was it necessary to be strict and insist on a change in ingredients? As in most matters in Halacha, there are many gray areas. Some contemporary Poskim, including Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin and Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, advise following the strict opinion of the Rashba not to rely on bitul beshishim.
Even those who follow the lenient opinion of the Noda B’Yehuda agree that the psak will depend on the intent of the producer. If the manufacturer is aware of the kosher market and increases production to accommodate the projected increase in sales, even the Noda B’Yehuda would not permit a Jew to buy the product. Although the primary intent is for the non-Jewish majority, since the Jewish minority does affect production, it is as if he is nullifying the prohibited substance on their behalf.
If, on the other hand, the minor kosher demand would not cause an increase in production, then the bitul is considered incidental, and it would be permitted for all to purchase the product.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is quoted as saying that even if such a product is 100% kosher, it isמכוער הדבר, utterly disgraceful to grant Hashgacha relying on the bitul of a non-Jew. (See Igros Moshe Y.D. 2,41 where he uses this expression in a related topic.)
All of these factors can create a paradox where a product is more kosher without a Hechsher than with one. In the United States, the kosher consuming market is very large, and when a company desires a kosher status, it is to attract the kosher market and increase production. Therefore, no nullification can be relied upon.
In other countries, there are companies who seek certification, often to export to the United States and Israel. However, there are also companies who consider the kosher market insignificant. They will permit their products to be checked, but they do not expect an increase in sales. In such cases, the kashrus agency will publish a list of endorsed products, although not certified. Some of these products might be kosher based on nullification, but would be just as kosher as certified products, based on the opinion of the Noda B’Yehuda. Such lists do appear in Australia, South Africa and England.
Thus there is a situation where a non-certified product will be more kosher than if it would attempt to receive certification!
Consider the following scenario. A product labeled dairy was mistakenly used as a coating for fried chicken in a local kosher establishment. The kashrus agency certifying the product informed the local kashrus organization that in reality, the amount of milk was batel in the total product. They certainly wouldn’t certify the product as Pareve based on nullification – hence the dairy designation. The local organization would also not certify the chicken as kosher based on nullification. It would not, however, require kashering of any equipment, since in reality everything was kosher.
Returning to the kosher status of Coca-Cola, there is still more to the story. In 1957, it was discovered that due to changes in technology, a more efficient continuous flow system had been instituted at Proctor and Gamble. Now the vegetable-based glycerin passed through the same pipes as meat-based products. (It is not clear how long this was in place before being discovered.)
Rabbi Eliezer Silver, head of the Agudath Harabbonim, issued a proclamation stating that Proctor and Gamble had agreed to change its production methods, but until this change was implemented, Coca-Cola was not kosher. At a cost of $30,000, the modifications were made, ensuring Coke’s continued kashrus.
Due to the complexities of this topic, the only practical Halacha that should be applied is that it is permissible to drink Coca-Cola today.