A co-worker expressed his disgust with Mehadrin (highly stringent) hechsherim (kosher certification) today.
"I just hate it that there are all these different hechshers," he said. "I can't stand it!"
Hmmm.... I'm always up for a good beef. Especially if it's kosher. (Groan!)
"Why does it bother you if people choose to eat other hechsherim?" I asked.
He told me it's divisive. It creates a holier-than-thou attitude. It belittles those who choose to eat other hechsherim, not recognized as valid by their more stringent counterparts.
It's always so interesting to me that it's the people who are less stringent who are so bothered by the people who are more stringent. Why do they care so much? Why is stringency a thorn in their side? And it only seems to happen in religious matters. If I'm enjoying a hot-fudge sundae and I see a woman stringently and ascetically ordering a fruit salad, do I fume? Does it bother me? Isn't she insulting me, calling my less-nutritious food choice lowly and base? Uh, not really. How about if I'm the type who lets my kids cross the street by themselves. Do I beef about those crazy parents who make their kids cross only with an adult?
Maybe the beef is about conscience. Maybe the beef is actually a defensive front for a tiny, prickling whisper, raising uncomfortable thoughts of...maybe....maybe....maybe I should do this too?
And maybe not. What do you think?
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.