Is the concept of "chazekes kashrus" (presumption of being acceptable), particularly with respect to the kashrus of food, a reshus (permission) or a chiyuv (obligation)?

I.e. are we required to rely on someone with chazekes kashrus or are we allowed to?

  • Unclear intent as to practical application of either side of the query. – Yahu May 16 '10 at 5:05

Obviously the fact that the food is kosher does not mean that you have to eat it :) However, the halachah tells us how to determine whether a certain food item is kosher: if an otherwise observant Jew tells us that it is kosher, it is determined to be so.

There are two principal exceptions to chezkas kashrus:

1) If you have personal knowledge that the Jew who testified is not observant or otherwise not reliable, then you may not rely on his testimony that the food is kosher. This does not extend to believing unsubstantiated rumors about someone else, which probably run into the category of lashon hara in the first place.

2) If the person who is testifying is incapable of properly determining the veracity of his testimony. For example, if a person who has no knowledge of how to properly check vegetables for infestation tells you that he has cleaned the vegetable, there is no reason - or permission - to believe his "testimony". The same would apply to someone who follows different standards of kashrus; for example, someone who keeps yoshon might not eat food with an otherwise reliable hechsher if that hechsher does not determine whether products are yoshon.

  • It seems to me the later part of number one actually helps the question along, it seems to me, in general while we are not allowed to ACCEPT unsubstantiated rumors we may and perhaps should take precaution lest it is true? – Yirmeyahu May 18 '10 at 6:00

You obviously do not mean to ask that if faced with a situation in which someone with a hezkas Kashrus wants us to eat his food and will be insulted if we don't, we must back off of our humrah and be mahmir on V'ahavta L'rei'acha Kamocha (love your fellow Jew as yourself), and (poor us) eat the food? Or are we allowed to stand our ground even though we will make him feel bad because, after all, hezkas kashrus is just reshus (or is it rishus?)?

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    Oddly enough I don't ask questions to be mocked and be dan l'kaf chov. V'Ahavta L'rei'acha kamocha – Yirmeyahu May 14 '10 at 18:11
  • While I think that this answer should at most have been a comment on the question, I don't see its light tone as mocking you, Yirmeyahu. I think that Yahu just saw an opportunity to make a pun or two in the course of trying to flesh out what you're getting at with your question. I think that your question is an interesting point of theory at the very least and deserves serious consideration. If we can get some more community attention and analysis as a result of this exchange, so much the better. – Isaac Moses May 14 '10 at 18:44
  • Isaac, I doubt that Yahu meant to personally insult me, but its mocking a derisive. If he has sources for his points and presented them in a better way we might have a serious contender for an answer, but as it stands... – Yirmeyahu May 14 '10 at 18:51
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    And, Yirmiyahu, I am very sorry I offended you. If you can please point out exactly what you want me to change or remove, or if you want me to remove the entire answer and I will gladly do so! – Yahu May 16 '10 at 5:18
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    I'm not disagreeing with you other than your claim that I gave an answer already. ;) – Yirmeyahu May 28 '10 at 18:09

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