Dear Reader,
We are now well into the shmitta year and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the spiritual side of shmitta, a time when we take a break from the daily grind and chaos and strengthen our emunah and bitachon in Hashem.

High kosher standards and the Yom Tov of Pesach seem to go hand in hand. Kosher agencies are busy certifying as many products as possible (for year-round and for Pesach); after all, there is a perception that the greater the number of products an agency certifies the greater the agency.

The truth is, the strength of a certifying agency goes much deeper. For example: Is the company set up in the most mehudar way? Or, do they rely on leniencies just to ensure that they close another account? How do they handle the inevitable issues that come up? Are they swept under the rug, or are they completely transparent? Is their allegiance to their manufacturers or to the kosher consumer?

These are the just some of the challenges and responsibilities of maintaining a high-level kashrus organization.

At the OK, we strive for kosher without compromise, and our primary allegiance is to Halacha and the kosher consumer. After all is said and done, in the World to Come our merits will not be based on how many companies we certified. What will count to our credit are the companies we turned down because they could not commit to our required kosher standards.

I once heard that the Maggid of Mezeritch advised some of his students to go observe the way a certain “simple” Jew performed his Seder on Pesach night. The students traveled to a distant, small town in Russia and spent the Seder with this simple Jew. When he came to the words, “Tam ma hu omer…” he began to cry profusely. The surprised students asked the simple Jew why he was crying. He answered: “Tam [which in Russian means ‘there’]. Tam in the World to Come, in heaven, ma hu omer what is He [Hashem] saying about me?”

At the OK, we are constantly asking ourselves a similar question. “What is Hashem saying (in the Heavens) about the decisions we are making here down below?”

Wishing you and your family a chag kosher v’sameach.

Rabbi Chaim Fogelman
Editor in Chief, OK Executive Kashrus Vaad