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My opinion of the Kosher Survey (revised)

I am of the opinion that if the local Kosher establishments are aware of what the public thinks of the quality of services they offer, they will maintain or increase their quality of service, as the case may be. It is clearly l’toeles. If the principle of “Chas Al Mamonam Shel Yisroel” applies to business owners, it applies to consumers as well.

I don’t think that any establishment is afraid of the “Loshon Horo” that would result, i.e. is afraid that people would talk to one another about the experiences they have had in stores and restaurants. All restaurant and store owners are aware that this is already occurring when Jews talk to one another. If anything, it seems to me that there is more toeles in this public survey manner than when it is just done by one person kvetching to another. I am sure they would wish to upgrade their services in order to increase business. I don’t think anyone would mind.

Well intentioned people inadvertently misinterpret Hilchos Loshon Horo by minimizing the important caveat of “l’toeles” that is always applicable. And the Chofetz Chaim’s warnings that even “L’toeles” has to be Lishma certainly apply here. I have no bone to pick with any store. Neither do the makers of the survey. They are just interested in improving the quality of kosher service in our community.

We in kosher community all over America are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to our kosher establishments. The laws of supply and demand favor the establishments, at least as long as they stay open. In the treif world, if you don’t like one restaurant, there are a few hundred others to choose from within a ten-minute drive. Quality of service increases accordingly when managers know their potential customers’ numerous options. We do not have those options. There is nobody to blame for this. It is the unseen hand that guides an economy. But any advantage we consumers can create for ourselves within the derech of halacha should be taken. And when all is said and done, the establishments that want to increase their business will be grateful too.

I don’t know if I’m jumping into a hornet’s nest here. But I did this not for my honor and not for the honor of my father’s house, but in order to improve the lot of Acheinu Beis Yisroel in Cleveland, a community I would like to see maintained at the highest standards possible. I have no problems admitting the error of my ways if they are pointed out to me. But I do not think I was wrong in requesting the survey.

UPDATE: Some people are not clear about what the survey entails. Completed surveys of other major Kosher Communities in the USA, the rabbis of whom raised no public protests, are available here. As anyone can see, it is not a loshon horo free-for-all that some might fear.

Rabbi Raphael Davidovich
Heights Jewish Center Synagogue

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