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"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

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
    –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.