Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Sivan 5761 - June 20, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shearis Yisroel Representatives Visit Haifa's Shemen Factory
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The Shearis Yisroel Beis Din and their kashrus supervisors made several visits last week to the Shemen Industries factory in Haifa. The 58 year-old Shemen Industries Ltd. is one of Israel's leading producers of vegetable oils and dish- washing soaps.

Several months ago, the Shemen factory, decided to drop its longstanding rabbinic certification from the Badatz Eida Chareidis, and requested kashrus certification from Shearis Yisroel. Shearis Yisroel's kashrus team and Beis Din were able to gather firsthand kashrus information on all aspects of manufacturing, from delivery of raw goods, production, bottling, to details of the actual machines, in order to ensure adequate kashrus standards.

Additionally, the Shearis Yisroel thoroughly examined allegations that the factory had been operating on the Sabbath. Shearis Yisroel found that the plant had never operated on Shabbos and Yom Tov, even using automatic equipment.

Shemen's management had once asked halachic authorities about the possibility of using automatic equipment on Shabbos. However, their request was denied. Shemen's owners accepted the halachic ruling not to open or operate on Shabbos and yom tov. Nor were there any plans for the plant to operate on Shabbos, contrary to what was written by anonymous sources on street signs plastered in religious neighborhoods throughout Israel.

The Shemen factory is owned by chareidi Jews. Several months ago, the factory owners began to implement kashrus improvements in their products. Most noteworthy was the separation of terumos and ma'asros from Shemen's soy oil. Although the soy beans used are imported from outside Eretz Yisroel and thus are themselves exempt from the taking of terumah and ma'aser, since the final processing into soy oil is done in Eretz Yisroel, there are various opinions about whether the finished product must be tithed. The Eida Chareidis maintains that the finished product is still exempt from tithing. However, the Chazon Ish zt"l ruled that produce that was refined (gemar melochoh) in Eretz Yisroel must be tithed.

In Adar of this year, Shemen Industries announced that after conferring with contemporary halachic authorities, they decided to follow the Chazon Ish's ruling that oils refined in Eretz Yisroel be tithed. Shemen's advertisement further emphasized that the observance of this stringency is unique to their company and that the factory's kashrus will also be supervised by the Center for Agriculture in Accordance with the Torah, headed by HaRav Yosef Efrati.

The Shearis kashrus team scrupulously examined different aspects of Shemen's oil manufacturing, including production from Israeli-grown raw ingredients, production from imported raw ingredients and manufacturing partially refined oil products. The main issue under discussion by the Shearis crew was the tithing of terumah and ma'aser from all refined oils, which is obligatory in order to receive the coveted Shearis hechsher. From its inception Shearis has followed the strict ruling of the Chazon Ish regarding tithing oil refined in Eretz Yisroel.

Shemen Industries remains completely closed on Shabbos and Jewish holidays. In addition, the owners maintain various plants around the globe which are all also closed on Shabbos, yom tov, and even the second day of yom tov, and even though the employees are gentile.

Shemen's owners, Boaz Tsafrir, CEO, and Chaim Fink, Chairman, in a written affidavit signed before the Shearis Yisroel Beis Din dated the 22nd of Sivan (June 13), testify that the "factory was always completely shut down on Shabbos and Jewish holidays throughout its existence and there was never any production, refinement, or operation of machinery, even automatically. We guarantee not to make any change in this situation."

Tsafrir and Fink also obligate themselves that all the plant's operational guidelines will be in accordance with Shearis Yisroel's instructions. In addition, Fink has written to HaRav Efrati, reiterating that his company never transgressed Shabbos in the past, nor does it intend to make automatic runs on Shabbos in the future.

As a result of its recent inspections, Shearis Yisroel decided to grant kashrus certification to Shemen's products. Our reporter notes that all the inspections and clarifications were coordinated with Gedolei Yisroel, shlita.


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