News

Just What Are Mehadrin Standards? Part VI

Logo for Chadash Newspaper
"Can I ever know which of the five areas listed (practical
concerns; Halachic concerns of doing it right; Halachic grey areas; minority
opinions; may lead to issurim
) are being addressed by any particular
hechsher?

O.K, I admit my ignorance. Now what do I do? "

Rabbosaiy, and Ladies: You pick a Doctor, and trust him or her, precisely because
you have not gone to medical school. And if you indeed
do not trust your Doctor, or think you know better, do yourself and the Dr. a favor–go
away, and find another Doctor. Because if you do not trust him, if you think he
is not knowledgeable enough, or that he has an agenda (such as money or kovod)–well,
as Moshe Rabeinu put it—"Ribbono shel Olom: This won't work ." Because you will
find 101 things to complain about, nothing he does will satisfy you, you will kvetch
and complain about how he treats you–because you are missing the basic element
of trust. You don't trust him.

Yes, maybe he has to earn your trust–that's ok. And yes, he should allow you
to ask questions, and he should answer your questions as best as he can, and explain
as much as he can. And yes –very important– part of trust is that you trust him
to admit when he doesn't know something, and will consult with a more expert doctor
and find out the answer for you. But certainly expect that at some point, he's going
to turn to you and say–Sir, Madam, I went to medical school, spent years and tears
(EDITOR—THIS IS NOT A TYPO!) studying and interning–trust me, or, find a Doctor
whom you will trust.

And when you find a Doctor whom you trust–you will trust him with all your medical
issues.You will ask him which is surgeons you can trust, which pharmacy you should
use—all your medical questions will go to him.He will answer you, or he will refer
you to someone who knows the answer.You are secure-you trust him. And if you don't—it
won't work, just go away. The foundation of the relationship must be one of trust.

And why have medical referral services sprouted?Because the world of medicine
has grown by leaps and bounds, there are specialists for just about every limb and
every illness imaginable ; we intuit that our doctor can't keep up with all that
knowledge, and the reality is also that trust between patient and Doctor has broken
down (thanks to the world of medical insurance), and most people have never had
the experience of a true 'family Doctor' who knows them, they know him, and they
simply trust him.

I cannot imagine anyone getting through life without a Rav. A Jew's
day is filled with Halachah and Hashkafah. How do you know what to do? How do you
know what the Torah wants, what HKBH expects? Did you study enough, are you qualified
enough, are you unbiased? (I truly am shocked when people casually inform me that
they have no Rav )

And you must find a Rav that you, above all, trust. One who
will answer your questions, one who will admit when he doesn't know the answer and
will send you on to someone or some source that does.

Yes, the world of kashrus and standards are bewildering to the layman–many times
they are bewildering to the Rav, as well. Yet the Rav, if he is to do properly what
is expected of him, will either know, or find out, or refer .

YOU must find a Rav whom you trust. Relatively few Rabbonim today have the expertise
or knowledge to be able to guide you, the layman, through the labyrinth of the myriad
halachos and pesakim there is to know. But what you can expect, and must trust
your Rav to do,
is to sift through all the noise that is at there and get you
the information you need or to refer you to a source that can.

And indeed, the age of specialization in halachah is upon us. This Rav knows
about shatnez, this one about different hechsherim, this one Choshen Mishpat. Kashrus
referral services are here to stay ( I know, I subscribe to most of them! One of
the finest and extremely informative is the source of last week’s conversation with
the shuk vendor—found at
www.jerusalemkoshenews.com) .

The fundamental principle is that the layman needs a Rav, and
the layman MUST trust that Rav, or find a different Rav whom he does trust ; the
Rav either knows or finds out or refers; and must be able to admit being wrong,
and to say he doesn't know when he doesn't(as Moshe Rabbeinu did in VaYikrah 10:20,
see Rashi there). And the job of sifting through all the information to make a
decision what to do is enough to keep one busy full-time.

And so, we come to the end of the series—and yes, the bottom line, if one has
that need to get a one-liner " bottom line", is two lines:

  1. In general, b'derech k'llal, Mehadrin standards are not "more
    kosher"
    –but they are much safer. There is yir'as shamayim to
    consider, as well as practicality
  2. Ask your Rav, that's what he's there for. And if you don't trust him, get
    one that you do. The Rav's responsibility is to know, or to find out, to be
    agenda-free, and to be able to admit he doesn't know and/or was mistaken .

And, I cannot stress strongly enough, and therefore I repeat :

  • Do NOT imply that the food others are eating is treif. That they are being
    mechallel Shabbos.They are not!
  • Do NOT imply that you are a better Jew than these others are .You do not
    know if you are or not!
  • Do NOT act condescendingly towards those who choose to use less-than-Mehadrin
    standards–it is permissible for them to!
  • Do NOT play one-upsmanship(my hashgachah is better than your hashgachah

If you practice the above, then you have the right to expect that YOUR standards
be respected, not mocked, or become a reason for dispute or machlokess.

Just What Are Mehadrin Standards? Part V

Logo for Chadash Newspaper A personal note of apology: Yes, this is my third attempt to write the final column on this topic; as you will soon see, I am again unsuccessful. This is NOT intentional. I congratulate members of BTYA who are able to smile and say, "I could'a told you this would happen!"

From last week's column:

BUT, how do I know which hashgachos have the standards that I, too, want to uphold? In fact, how do I know which standards I want to uphold? How do I know which hashgachos are themselves playing one-upsmanship, and are creating chumros which are not halachically sound? Can I ever know which of the five areas listed above [in part four] (practical concerns; halachic concerns of doing it correctly; halachic grey areas; minority opinions; may lead to issurim) are being addressed by any particular hechsher?

I have no magic solutions for you, dear Reader. Unless you are willing to invest hundreds and thousands of hours, and years and years of your life studying Shulchan Aruch, its commentators, hundreds upon hundreds of teshuvos sefarim, and acquiring a proper s'michah attesting to your ability to sift through all this information, and then make decisions; and then embark upon years of study of the practical world of food preparation and tztzzis preparation and Tefillin preparation and mikvah construction… And then research the files and records of various companies and hashgachos and form unbiased opinions – if you are not ready to do this, then you indeed really have no way of answering these vital questions.

Then what in the world is one to do, if one wants to enjoy the fruits of the modern world's food-manufacturing and distribution (‘let-no-desire-go-unfulfilled')?

Well, one can start with having the grace to admit one's ignorance. Here is a quote from a thoughtful letter I received:

That's where I think a lot of people get cynical about this whole thing – because they don't believe the mehadrin hechsherim are really any different, that it's all just about politics, lack of trust, power struggle between the knits and the velvets, etc.

To which I responded that I addressed that precise point in the article [in Part Four]: That it is pure know-nothing cynicism, (otherwise known as leitzanus), because that person has absolutely no idea of the complications upon complications, both halachically and practically, of the mass-production mass-demand every-desire-fulfilled modern food (and clothing – let's not forget the prohibition of shatnez) industry. And the mass-production, mass-demand of tashmishei kedushah, such as tefillin, or the "simple"shofar, or a mikvah.

Or, take this give-and-take between a shuk-vendor and a person extremely knowledgeable about kashrus matters (I will im yirtzeh Hashem give his name and what he does to be mezakeh the rabim next week, with his permission):

In this case, the [only] brand of insect-free greens that he sells is rated quite low, and I respectfully suggested that perhaps he sell a different brand, one of those appearing in the higher categories of the Rabbinate's latest report. He discarded the legitimacy of the report, adding [in an agitated tone] "It's all politics"and Rabbi ___ selects the companies he wants and pushes the others to the bottom, having his own reason…

After describing the actual method used to rate the bugginess of the greens, this kashrus-knowledgeable person concludes:

So in this case, the shuk vendor was just venting, perhaps a bit perturbed that I "insulted"his merchandise, or perhaps his profit margin with this particular firm is higher than with others. I cannot really say what motivated him to take such an oppositional position, but I can now say with confidence that his statements are not grounded in fact.

"Okay, I admit my ignorance. Now what do I do?"

We read in last week's portion-of-the-week, Parshas Beha'aloscha, how some members of Klal Yisroel complained bitterly (Bamidbar 11:1), yet the posuk does not mention what they were complaining about! The Torah goes on to detail a later complaint (11:4), a demand for meat, which actually made no sense – they had plenty of meat (see Rashi there)! Moshe Rabbeinu, our Rebbe, Guide, Teacher, and Leader, expresses himself bitterly, more so than anywhere else in the Torah, "Now how in the world can I possibly satisfy this Nation's complaints, I cannot handle this!"(pesukim 11-15, and 21-22). This is Moshe Rabbeinu who stood up for Israel when they worshipped a golden calf right after receiving the Torah; Moshe, who handled their demand for bread and for water (in Chumash Shemos); who will defend Klal Yisroel after the sin of the Spies – so what's so unbearable about a request, even complaint, about a mere quarter-pounder?

The key to understanding this lies in Rashi (11:1; 11:4; and 11:23). The real, underlying, issue here was a lack of trust. Moshe Rabbeinu felt he did not have the trust and confidence of Klal Yisroel – and that once you lose that, there is no end to the absurd complaints that the Nation can come up with. They had all the meat they wanted (Rashi 11:4); there would be no end, no satisfying their complaints (Rashi 11: 23); sometimes they didn't even know themselves what they were complaining about (Rashi 11:1), just fishing around for something, anything…

And when that occurs, Moshe Rabbeinu, who handled it all – the golden calf, the Spies, demands for water and bread, a terrified Nation at Yam Suf – turns to Hashem and says, "Ribbono Shel Olam – this is NOT gonna work. I can't handle this."

What is the outcome of this never-before-heard outburst of Moshe Rabbeinu?

What lessons can be derived, as everything in the Torah is there to teach us something?

Come back next week to find out…

Just What Are Mehadrin Standards? Part IV

In this article I will b’ezras Hashem summarize and encapsulate what we have learned, and I will suggest a derech in understanding the plethora of claims of being mehadrin.

Let me start by reiterating that mehadrin is about standards, not about kashrus per se; standards — both practical (how do I make a problem less likely to develop; how long will it take for a problem to develop; and how will I know if and when one does develop?) and halachic (how much care is taken to cover the shitos in this matter?).

Let me categorize five types of mehadrin standards (these categories are arbitrary, made up by me).

1) Higher standards borne of practical concerns: Things might be ok now, but after a while… How knowledgeable is the mashgiach? How meticulous? How often does he come? Does he have the keys to everything? How long will this shechita knife maintain its sharpness? How many chickens per minute are slaughtered, and supposedly checked for treifus? What kind of ink is being used to paint the retzu’os? Are there rules about keeping and storing the noodles? Is thought given about the workload of the mashgiach? Is it practical to expect him to…? What kind of sealant is used at the mikvah?

2) Higher standards borne of practical halachic concerns: It’s probably okay, but let’s do it more cautiously, to be sure we get it right. HOW are ma’asros and terumos taken? HOW do they check for bugs? HOW MUCH salt do they use to kasher the chicken? HOW do they rent the rshus of a non-Jew in order to make an eiruv? HOW do they make sure the Tefillin are made lishmah? HOW do they do mishlo’ach (deliveries) from a meat restaurant to your house? HOW carefully drafted is that heter iska? HOW does the water connect from the bor to the bor tevilah?

3) There are, inevitably, halachic grey areas. We can rely on the lenient approach, but let’s not. A mehadrin hechsher should mean that to some degree, a lackadaisical attitude is avoided. The way the Shabbos elevator functions. The way the shin is made on the outside of the Tefillin. What amount of seepage is tolerated in the mikvah? How does one achieve bishul Yisroel? When is that scab a chatzitzah? To what degree do we rely on the rule of majority, and when do we start checking to see for ourselves if a problem exists?

4) Sometimes, there are opinions which hold that something is completely ossur, forbidden, or truly necessary, and even if those opinions are not normative halachah; they have not been totally rejected. It is possible that a mehadrin approach would take those opinions into account. How cold is the water soaking the yet-unkashered chickens? Where is the southern border of Eretz Yisroel? What about worms in fish (the jury is still out on the anisakis worm, a worm found in many commonly eaten fish)? Is a plastic tube mkabel tumah, and thus cannot be used to transport water to a mikvah? Shall we forbid a fish-and-milk combination?

5) The concept that although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the present standards, there is a chance, a good chance, that it could lead to other problems. This brings us to the concept of mehadrin buses, which tries to avoid what is, after all is said and done, a severe aveirah, yet all-too-prevalent. Likewise mehadrin seating on airlines, which means a no-movie section. This is an expansion, of course, of the idea of mehadrin.

 In these categories, what will play a role is the middah we talked about in Part 3 of this series: yiras Shamayim, fear of Heaven; the middah that tells me not to nonchalantly dismiss such concerns (not specifically those mentioned, of course, but such types of concerns) as “crazy frumkeit.” The middah that means I should be as careful and cautious as if I’d been asked to lend someone’s business $500,000, and now I am looking into his records to see how stable the company is.

Am I saying that the non-mehadrin items are treif or possul? No, but just like fear keeps me away from an airline which takes its pilots right out of training school and buys the most inexpensive steel for its parts, and checks the plane only once every three flights… fear of Heaven certainly might keep me away from the non-mehadrin chicken!

A huge problem in the entire mehadrin enterprise is the lack of transparency. Trying to find out any particular hashgacha’s standards are, with exceptions, excruciatingly difficult, if not impossible. To some degree, I understand it, though I think the non-transparency is a bad idea — hashgachas are money-makers (unfortunately; they really should be a public service a la Rabbanut ), and I can see that they consider their standards inside information, not to be shared. Yet it clearly serves to undermine confidence in what they are doing. How do I know what their standards are? After all, I do not think that mehadrin is a registered trademark — so anyone can call themselves mehadrin, and buyer beware.

(Of course, even after one would be privy to their standards, one would have to be knowledgeable in the literally hundreds upon hundreds and thousands upon thousands of halachos in order to make an educated decision if one wants to buy into it. In general, the mehadrin hashgachos are head and shoulders above “regular” hashgachos in each of the five areas I’ve listed above. I never fail to be amused by laymen whose knowledge of halachah and reality in the world of kashrus is, to put it charitably, deficient (okay, let’s tell the truth: non-existent), yet they are able to unashamedly, arrogantly pontificate about “mehadrin.” It would be much more appropriate for them to advise General Motors about what kind of aluminum to buy, and give Bill Gates lessons on hiring personnel, and to set the standards for the fuel of space rockets.)

I would like to take this opportunity to explain that Rabbanut standards of hashgacha, while low, do serve to maintain a minimum standard of kashrus in much of the country, in the army, etc. And I think that’s a very good thing. Yet I don’t see why my cousin in Netanya (I do not have a cousin in Netanya, by the way) should insist or feel insulted if I do not want to keep to these low standards. Would my cousin insist that I use an airline that I consider unsafe just because he does? So why do I have to worry if I am not eating by a family wedding? If I do not want to use a certain Shabbos elevator, why should it make a family fight any more than if I were afraid to go in elevator that wasn’t checked for six years and uses low-quality parts?

The secret, my friends, is:

Do NOT imply that the food others are eating is treif, that they are being mechalel Shabbos.

Do NOT imply that you are a better Jew than these others.

Do NOT be condescending towards those who choose to use those standards — it is permissible for them to!

Do NOT play one-upsmanship (my hashgachah is better than your hashgachah, it checks the flour four times before using it!).

If you practice the above, then you have the right to expect that YOUR standards be respected, not mocked or become a reason for dispute and machlokes.

BUT how do I know which hashgachos have the standards that I, too, want to hold? In fact, how do I know what standards I want to hold? How do I know which hashgachos are themselves playing one-upsmanship, and are creating chumros which are not halachically sound? Can I ever know which of the five areas listed above are being addressed by any particular hechsher?

Answer — next week, im yirtzeh Hashem.

Torah


I ask the readers’ indulgence and mechilah; the final installment in the “Just What Are Mehadrin Standards ?” Series will appear be’ezras Hashem in the next issue. I think it more  essential just before Shavu’os  to write something specifically addressing the great Revelation at Har Sinai, at which K’lal Yisrael was given the Holy Torah.

What is the greatest mitzvah of all? Talmud Torah.

What was “created” before creation? The Torah.

What is the “blueprint” of creation? The Torah.

What is every male Jew enjoined to do with his (spare) time? Learn Torah.

What are women enjoined to enable and aid in; and, in recent generations, themselves do considerably? Learning Torah.

What is said to be “one” with Hakadosh Baruch Hu Himself (kivayachol) ? Torah.

What can make a person ineligible to marry into K’lal Yisrael more chashuv than a Kohen Gadol? Torah Learning.

What is the reason for the creation and continued existence of the world? Torah knowledge.

Had enough? I could go on and on and on with various statements of Chazal, Rishonim, Acharonim,  ba’alei mussar and hashkafah.

An entire segment of the frum population devotes itself to learning Torah, and the whole family is involved in the mesiras nefesh to make it happen. The respect we have for someone is (usually) based on their connection to learning Torah.

What is this Torah? Why is it the most important mitzvah I can do in this world? Why does it matter if I understand this Gemara, that Rashi, the Midrash, this commentary? Why is it something our lives should revolve around?

And to make things more incomprehensible, we are constantly told that the point is very much not only to learn what to do—a how- to manual, so-to-speak—but rather learning “lishmoh,”  for the pure joy which comes as a result of the act of learning Torah , and of Torah knowledge . If it’s not of any practical use, Rabbi, indeed, what good is it?

The Maharal in his introduction to his sefer on Pirkei Avos, Derech HaChaim, explains the posuk in Mishlei, “Because a mitzvah is the equivalent of a candle; but the Torah is Light itself”. Mitzvos ,the Maharal elaborates, are connected to the physical aspects of a person, for he does mitzvos with his body. As such, its light, like a candle’s, is temporary; but the Torah Itself is light, is the source of light, is something understood by a person’s intellect ,  which is conceptual and transcendent, and thus detached from this world.

To explain further, and thus to appreciate this gift we were given:

The purpose of creation is described as being so that G-dliness exist in this world. Hashem willed that there be for Him a “dwelling place” here.

But how? The world is a world of physicality, chomer, gashmiyus. How can Hashem “be” here?

In the Upper Spheres, the worlds of the angels and other spiritual beings, Hashem is a spiritual force, creating, and sustaining, and empowering everything’s existence. That energy is known as Light (yehi or—let there be Light). Just as in our world, we now know that all of life stems from light; we know that light creates the electro-magnetic forces, radio waves, gamma rays, microwaves… we know that light is converted to different forms of energy: heat, electricity, all are forms of light-energy. Plants receive light and convert it to food, eaten by animals and other organisms. And that becomes the source of food and oxygen for humans. (The sun  is our source of this physical light.) And the Law of Conservation of Energy says that no energy is ever lost.

So too, in the spiritual world,  the Maharal is telling us, Hashem, as it were, “wrapped Himself in Light “ (Psalms 104), meaning that He relates to his creation through the Torah, through that spiritual Light-force. And just as the “physical” light converts to all of life as we know it (see above), so, too, the spiritual, pure, conceptual Light of Hashem (which is the Torah) “converts” to mitzvos in this physical world of ours. The mitzvos are a candle, because they hold the light. This is what pure energy becomes in its various physical forms; we call them the 613 mitzvos. But the source of the world’s energy, indeed, the universe’s, is pure G-dliness, the pure Light—Torah. And there is a Law of Conservation of Torah, also known as one of the principles of faith; namely, that this Torah shall not be changed or altered even one iota forever and ever.

We learn Torah not just to know what to do (to light the candle with the light), but to uncover and reveal the light, to bring it down to this world through our understanding of it; for it is the energy of this world. People learning Torah are the theoretical physicists of the spiritual Universe. The Light—Torah in its pristine form—is G-d’s emanations to energize and give spiritual life, G-d Himself, kivayachol, to the world. Learning Torah turns on that Light of G-dliness in this world, where it transfers into the objects of this world, namely mitzvos. And the more you learn, and the deeper you understand, the more Light you are revealing. And the revelation of that Light is the purpose of the universe .

It is not for naught that in davening we talk about the sun and its energy, and then go on to talk about the Torah and learning Torah (the first two brachos of kri’as Shema ,morning and night; and Psalm 19, that we say on Shabbos in p’sukei d’zimrah).

And bringing these spiritual forces down to this world through our learning and supporting and enabling Torah transforms us, our families, our surroundings, and our world.

And that is the quintessential significance of learning Torah—bringing Hashem, as Light, into the bri’ah.

Gut Shabbos,Gut Yom Tov

Just What Are Mehadrin Standards? Part III

Let us pause for a moment from our talk of airlines and chickens, and before going on to eiruvin, tefillin, mikva’os, and buses, let us try to understand exactly what we are talking about.

A layman assumes that halacha, and halachic matters, are basically black and white. Something is either mutar or assur, treif or kosher, posul or kosher.

But that is not at all so! Something can be wrong to do initially, but may be acceptable after the fact or when there is a great loss involved. There are, many times, a plethora of opinions, and one could be lenient or strict. Many times something is technically okay, but is not a good idea because over time it will inevitably result in a breakdown — and you don’t want to be the one who is there when that happens! Something may be technically okay but may easily lead to something else which is not technically okay. Sometimes the physical reality is not totally clear; sometimes the halachah is not very clear in a particular case. Sometimes the reality is that there will be a problem one in 100 cases — to some, that is acceptable risk; to others, not.

The amount and kinds of foods that we demand; the mass-production that has become a norm; the sheer number of people demanding religious articles, items, and services is boruch Hashem overwhelming. And every process is made up of tens, and at times hundreds, of parts and procedures. And we live in a complex universe, both physical and spiritual, with choices every single step of the way.

Yeshaya Hanavi states (66:5 ),”Listen To G-d’s Word, you who fear His word!…” Can you guess what the Hebrew word for the phrase “you who fear” is? That’s right: CHAREIDIM!!! GASP!

Let us try to put aside the social element of belonging to this stereotypical grouping nowadays and its native habits (you know: no job, doesn’t pay taxes, hates other Jews…) and let’s try to understand what it means to be chareidi in the sense that Yeshaya Hanavi meant it.

The Mesilas Yesharim (in perek 4) starts his description of climbing the ladder of perfection with zehirus — caution. A person should examine the path he is taking in life, to see if he is dangerously close to various pitfalls. The trick is to avoid doing things by rote, to avoid doing things out of inertia or habit, to think about one’s actions or lifestyle and to take an honest look if this road will lead him into “pushing the envelope” until he is dragged down in a quagmire that he can no longer pull himself out of. In other words, think about what you are doing: be cautious, check it out; find out the risks, the likelihood of messing up, the degree to which you need fear that something is or may go wrong. What a pity, Mesilas Yesharim says, if a person lives his or her life, and finds out that due to carelessness, he or she did not reach the goals s/he otherwise might have. “Good enough!” is their battle cry. ”What could be a problem?” “Oh, leave me alone,” are the intellectual, rational, arguments of non-zehirim.

Mesilas Yesharim gives another name for this level: yiras cheit, fear of sin.

Be aware, be cautious, be careful. Don’t live mindlessly.

Later on in the sefer (Chapter 24), Mesilas Yesharim talks about a higher level of yiras cheit. When a person is actually afraid — either of punishment (a lower level) or a fear born of awe of the Almighty — he takes care not to even possibly come in conflict with the Master of All. This “fear” leads a person to constantly be on the alert that he is not, and has not been, violating the will of Hashem.

(The above is a very cursory treatment of a topic which could and should take hours and hours upon hours of study.)

Those Who Fear My Word, says Yeshaya Hanavi. Be afraid that something is going wrong, has went wrong, might go wrong.

Really? Always? Where and how does one draw the line? After all, Rabbi Dr. Avigdor Bonchek just wrote a very fine book entitled, Religious Compulsions And Fears where he describes a neurotic fear that some frum people sometimes have of violating issurim which turns out to be nothing less than what he calls a mental illness. Is this an antiMesilas Yesharim, anti-chareidi book?

The answer to this question is, of course, dependent upon knowledge of Torah, knowledge of halachah, knowledge of Shulchan Aruch, knowledge of reality, knowledge of how things really, truly work, knowledge of the latest pesakim — an undeniably daunting task that your average person could not possibly fulfill. So what does one do, how does one know?

To sum up: Using the word chareidi the way Yeshaya Hanavi does, and studying Mesilas Yesharim, we have a concept that fear should play a role in our lives: fear of G-d, fear of sin; caution, fear, concern, suspicion. If you really care about your relationship with Hashem, you will be afraid you are not doing “good enough,” that you are messing up, that you are not living up to what you’d like to. Surely you do not want to fall prey to a flippant, nonchalant, light-hearted, who-cares attitude. In a healthy Torah way, you have fear.

But if you go over the line, you are a victim of self-imposed religious compulsion, abnormality, obsession, despair, and should probably read Rabbi Dr. Bonchek’s book for a cure. (There are other cures as well.)

And isn’t there a middle ground? Can’t a person ever decide “enough is enough!” without being a kal? Can’t a person be machmir without being branded a neurotic?

Join us next week in the final part of this series, as we examine questions such as these, as well as:

Is every mehadrin chumrah necessary?

If I use one mehadrin hechsher, can I use them all?

Is every non-mehadrin hechsher suspect?

Is every chareidi person a yerei shamayim?

Can’t a non-chareidi be a yerei cheit?

Am I chareidi but don’t realize it?

Does a “regular” hechsher violate Mesilas Yesharim’s imperative of yiras shamayim?

Is there such a thing as a mindless Chareidi?

Is there such a thing as a mindful non-chareidi?

What do I do if my cousin invites me over for a Shabbos meal and I don’t use that hechsher?

What do I do if my parents booked me in a non-mehadrin hotel for Shabbos? For Pesach?

If I moved into an apartment where a non-mehadrin person lived, do I have to kasher the counters?

How am I supposed to make intelligent choices?