The current enthusiasm for reinventing all forms of regulatory oversight on the model of kosher supervision, while promising new levels of consumer-driven justice-advocacy never before attained, unfortunately has led to a number of serious abuses and violations of the Tikkun Olam-oriented, non-narrowly ritualistic aspects of the Torah. The question arises: Who, exactly, is overseeing the overseers?
We therefore propose the long-overdue, even though not yet thought-of, HECHSHER TAMIM. As Rabbi Morris Allen has so eloquently stated, “If we don’t connect [kashrut] to the world and the values we hold, then we fail to take kashrut at its core level.” Therefore the Hechsher Tamim proposes to broaden and extend kashrut supervision to the critical area of kashrut-expansion-advocacy itself.
Henceforth, any committee formulating standards, any seminar, any partnership-building session, any press-conference concerning the development of the social justice aspect of kashrut observance should be required to display its HECHSHER TAMIM CERTIFICATION CERTIFICATE before proceeding with its laudable activities.
To qualify as a certified individual, organization, or other entity in good standing, the applicant for supervision must undergo a rigorous inspection regime which focuses on the following six areas:
1. Violation of Ethical Mitzvot such as the prohibitions of motzi shem ra, rechilut, and hasagat g’vul: Has the applicant encouraged an atmosphere in which warmed-up allegations about a certain meat-packing facility are being served up with reckless abandon?
2. Vagueness: All applicants for the Hechsher Tamim certification certificate shall be examined to make sure that no vague and undefined references to the ethical mitzvot of the Torah have been made. Statements such as “I would think you would be interested in promoting important mitzvot such as having just weights and measures” or questions such as “Don’t you care about Choshen Mishpat?” will result in the immediate disqualification of the applicant. Applicants must show that the *specific* standards promoted have a Torah-basis and address the question of *specific* methods of implementation.
3. Neo-Kara’ism: The following sort of statement will immediately disqualify the applicant: “I would suggest to you that the Torah says little about glatt kosher meat; says little about halav Yisroel, says little about the time we are to wait between fleishiks and milchiks to name just a few.”
4. Trend-chasing: Statements such as “the relationship between religion and food is changing, and not just in Judaism” will immediately disqualify the applicant.
5. Sanctimony: The inspection will search for problematic elements such as spurious claims to broadmindedness, and the cultivation of an accusatory tone that equates all criticism and skepticism over the certification scheme with lack of concern for working conditions and other social justice matters.
6. Inanity: Statements such as “All religions, Jewish and non-Jewish, are increasingly narrow in their focus” will immediately disqualify the applicant.
Tamim tiheyeh im Hashem Elokecha! (Devarim 18:13)
And remember, if you don’t think this is a good idea, you must not really care about the ethical dimension of the Torah.