With the introduction of reforms to the kosher supervision industry, promoted by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, the Tzohar organization is promoting a new “Code of Ethics for Supervisors.”
Rabbis affiliated with Tzohar, along with the director of its kosher supervision program, Yehuda Zeiderman, and Rabbi Dr. Oren Duvdevani, who heads the supervision branch, have requested that supervisors be taught about the “ethical expectations” of the job even before they learn the practical side of the work.
Explaining why they view this as so crucial, they write, “In order to increase the observance of kashrut and to ensure that as many people as possible eat according to Jewish law, we will conduct ourselves in a fair, honest, and decent manner. This will encourage cooperation and lead to more establishments seeking to comply with the kosher laws.”
Tzohar’s ethical code stipulates, among other things, that, “The issue of most primary importance that a supervisor must keep at the forefront of his mind is his absolute obligation to Torah and Jewish law. A supervisor must remember that the public is literally eating ‘from his hand’ and that he is engaged in a sacred task. Fear of G-d and absolute adherence to the requirements of Jewish law are the basis for reliable and stringent kosher supervision. Derech eretz kadmah leTorah [correct behavior is the prerequisite for Torah observance].”
The Code also notes that, “One must always speak with respect and sensitivity for everyone – the business owner, the staff, and the dish washers, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, male or female. Supervisors must speak politely, pleasantly, and with sensitivity, and always endeavor to bring Torah into esteem.”
In addition, the Code stresses that, “It is absolutely prohibited for a supervisor to receive any benefit of any form from businesses [that he supervises]. This includes meals that are not paid for as well as food items. Supervisors must pay for everything they eat and drink in order to forestall any impression of theft or bringing the Torah into disrepute.”
The Code further states that, “[Supervisors must] act with modesty; care should be taken with regard to proximity between men and women and lighthearted exchanges.” This is especially relevant for Tzohar as, unlike the Rabbinate, Tzohar employs both men and women as kosher supervisors.
Another example taken from Tzohar’s Code of Ethics stresses that, “After completing kashrut-related tasks (such as washing vegetables, checking grains and pulses for insect infestation, koshering liver, sifting flour etc.) the supervisor must clean up after himself and leave the place clean and tidy.”
In conclusion, the Code notes that, “We are all human, and anyone can make mistakes. In the event that a kashrut failing is detected, the supervisor must alert the owner of the establishment, taking care to do so with sensitivity, and then take immediate steps to resolve the problem and then report it to his superior.”