Sunday, June 05, 2005

Kosher Food That Is Treif

As a new immigrant and relatively old(about 30 years old), I entered the army through "Shlav Bet." This was a program where boot camp lasts six weeks, and the participants would "graduate" at a level of "rifleman 3" (rova'i shalosh). Afterwards we were supposed to serve 2 1/2 months of active duty.

The group that I did boot camp with was almost entirely new immigrants, except for a couple of Hareidim. This was long before the "Nachal HaHareidi". I think that we had people who came from about 20 different countries. About one third of the trainees were religious, and this relatively high percentage worked to our advantage when we had to stand up for our religious rights.

Every day somebody from our group had to work in the kitchen. At first people avoided this job. Who wants to wash the dishes and clean up after hundreds of soldiers? But as boot camp progressed and became tougher, people volunteered to do kitchen duty in order to take a breather from our "sadistic" commanders and their demands.

One night the volunteer from our group was a clean shaven immigrant from Iran. Let's call him Moshe. He was busy cleaning the kitchen when the military base staff (the "Segel") decided that they wanted to party. The Segel was comprised of young soldiers (aged 18-21) who were doing their regular army duty. They had bought food from a supermarket in a nearby city. Among the things they had purchased was raw chicken liver, certified kosher by the Rabbinate. They placed the liver on the army's metal trays that are used to cook meat. Then they cooked the liver in the army oven.

Moshe was a religious Jew and he objected. He explained to the staff that chicken liver must be roasted over an open fire and that they are "treifing" up the kitchen. But the Segel members, products of the secular ghetto who think that they are experts on Judaism from what they read in Maariv, Yediot and Ha'aretz, would have nothing of Moshe's objections. "The liver is kosher and it has the certification of the Rabbinate," they answered.

After Moshe was finished cleaning he came back to the "Ma'ahal" (the group of tents where we lived) and told the other trainees what had happened. A third of the "Pluga" was now up in arms and the commanders realized they had a problem. The trainees went to the kitchen and took the tray that was "treifed up" and threw it in the garbage. The Military Rabbinate was notified.

In theory the staff members should have been put on trial in a military court for breaking army orders(Pekudat Matkal 34.0103). In practice, I don't think that anyone was punished.


Batya said...

To continue our conversation...
Yes, that's it, the more religiious and chareidi Jews in the army the more reliable the kashrut.

Dileepa said...

As a foreigner (and a non-jew) living in NZ who is curious about Jewish culture, I am surprised that it is hard to get officers to comply with Kosher regulations in Israel. The following might seem like a stupid question: Why did the soldiers think the food was Kosher? Is there disagreement over what classifies as Kosher in the modern world?

I know that maintaining such a lifestyle would be hard in New Zealand. Why did the soldiers think that the food was Kosher? And what does 'Treifing' mean?

Kantor said...

Hello Cosmic X. My responses to your disengagemet comments, in my weblog.

Anyway I will write a post on your "Hashem"-based securiry plan.

A simple question for you... what happened in the Second Temple? At that time Jews were very observant.

It looks that being observant is not enough.

Cosmic X said...


I agree, but the Hareidim have their reasons for not serving.


The chicken was slaughtered according to Jewish Law (hence the rabbinic certification) but in the case of liver this is not enough. Liver must be roasted over an open fire to remove the blood from eat which is forbidden according to Jewish law. The soldiers did not know this detail.

What I meant by "treifing" was making the kitchen not kosher. An animal that is improperly salughtered is called "treif" in Hebrew.


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Menachem said...

i could be totaly wrong, but i'm pretty sure that while roasting liver not over an open flame doesnt properly kasher it, it doesnt make the utensil not-kosher.

as far as not kosher food in the army stories go, this one is pretty mild, you have to admit. i've heard worse, but i still stand by my original position. army kashrut is on par with, if not better than, the average kosher restaurant.

Cosmic X said...


The tray absorbs the "taam" of the blood and becomes treif. I'm not sure about the status of the oven. Of course, as you mentioned, the liver itself was not kosher.

This story is a lot more serious than you might think because this was a kitchen that had a miluimnik as a mashgiach. He had thought that he had finished his day's work and left the kitchen. So even this "good" army kitchen, with it's mashgiach, had its problems. I did not even start to talk about the smaller army kitchens at motzavim and machsomim and the like.

As a mentioned earlier if this kind of thing happened at a restaurant the Rabbanut would take the hechsher away. Here, were it not for the vigilence of the trainees, nothing would have happened.

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