Friday, October 20, 2006

The Making of an Urban Legend re: the Shevach meat scandal

It has come to my attention that in the new Baltimore Jewish Times the following appears (no link at the moment):

Just prior to World War II in Switzerland, a law was passed that required Jews to stun chickens via electric shock before shechting them. It became questionable if, when the current was put through the chicken to make it unconcious, the chicken could possibly be dead from the shock prior to the shechting, and this led to the question of whether a Jew should be concerned about this procedure.

The question was brought to the rabbis of the city, and the gedolim ruled that Jews could not use this method of electric shock, and therefore kosher chicken had to be imported from another source, France.

In the heat of the war, since Jews could not import meat, they had none.

There was one shochet, however, who relied on a das yachid that allowed him to shecht the chickens. But when he did, the rav the city came out against his doing so, and he said he would not be surprised if a grandchild of this man would be caught selling treife meat.

This shochet was the grandfather of Moshe Finkel, former owner of Monsey's Shevach Meats!

The above story is recorded in the sefer of responsa Chavatzeles HaSharon and was relayed to the Baltimore Jewish News by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann.

Now, putting aside that shechita was banned completely in Switzerland in 1897, the story doesn't ring true for other reasons. For one thing, in the version I had heard a few weeks ago (yes, this has been circulating for weeks) it was R. Chaim Oyzer Grodzenski who said the prophecy. I suppose the more responsible version is this one, which doesn't tie a name to the prophecy. For another, although it certainly is possible that some version of something resembling the above incident is in "the sefer of responsa Chavatzeles HaSharon," would it really name the butcher? If not, how is it known to connect an unnamed man in an unnamed incident (since this could not have happened in Switzerland around WWII) with the Butcher of Monsey's grandfather? It also seems unlikely that someone would have said he "would not be surprised if a grandchild of this man would be caught selling treife meat."

At the very least all these unlikelys require investigation and confirmation or debunking rather than unison nodding at the awe-inspiring story.

נראה לי, it seems to me, that there is some desire to root this scandal in an unseeable world of רוחניות, where a cough in a spiritual matter in 1940 mystically becomes a tidal wave in a spiritual matter in 2006.

Of course, maybe I'm wrong and this is what happened.

1 comment:

  1. Moshe Finkels Uncle is Rabbi Gavriel Finkel Who lives in Lakewood, N.J. Gavriel Finkel works for the ou and Runs The kcl Kashrus Orginization in Lakewood, N.J.



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