Dear Reader – Tishrei 5771

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Dear Reader,

We stand now in the month of Elul and are busy with preparations for Rosh Hashana. Our Sages tell us in Kabbalah, and it is explained in Chassidus, that in the month of Elul, Hashem’s thirteen attributes of kindness are shining upon us in full glory. One of the thirteen attributes is emes – truth. As a child, someone once asked me, “Why is truth an attribute of kindness? Doesn’t truth represent ‘absolute justice,’ getting exactly what you deserve, an eye for an eye…?”

But, then again, “absolute justice” is something that belongs only to Hashem, because only Hashem knows and appreciates one’s true intentions. When we look back at this passing year and see the gross abuse of power in the “name of justice” and the horrific 27-year sentence of a good and decent man, a life sentence for him, his wife and his children, one starts to appreciate emes – absolute justice.

Make no mistake — the attacks on the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the U.S. and the way the government and judge handled this case — reeks with unfairness and abuse of power. Not one single accusation of labor violations, which was the basis of the Agri raid was substantiated; all the accusations were either dropped or lacked sufficient evidence, resulting in NOT guilty verdicts. This was and is an attack on the world of shechita and kashrus…all starting with a so-called organization that is more concerned about animal rights and the treatment of cows and chickens than people’s rights and the treatment of a husband and father. Let’s not forget the hundreds of hard working people who lost their jobs, all in the name of “justice”.

Despite the tragic verdict issued by the court, we must hold our heads high because it is not over yet. Hashem is the Judge of all judges, the Power of all powers. Our history shows that we are a people who rise when we fall. The extraordinary show of achdus brought about by this tragedy is something that hasn’t happened on such a big scale in ages. Surely the Executor of real, true, absolute justice will hear our cry and help us rise again to be bigger and better than before.

America is a country of kindness and fairness. Visiting any supermarket today bears witness to its love for all people with all the different types of food, from ethnic to organic. The amount of kosher products available today is astonishing. For a regular civilian or a soldier in the U.S. Army, kosher food is now readily available. Read about kosher food in the U.S. Army in our new feature “Keeping Kosher In…the U.S. Army”.

Now is the time for our government officials to reexamine the past and to exercise fairness and true justice.

Wishing you a year of revealed goodness and kindness. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life, and may there be freedom to all those who deserve it.

K’siva V’chasima Tova,
Rabbi Chaim Fogelman

Rabbi Chaim Fogelman is a member of the OK Kosher Vaad HaKashrus.