Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler Revisits the Question of Kosher Veal

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Baltimore, MD  – April 23, 2015 – It is well known that when the Posek Hador, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zatza”l, wrote his famous Teshuva inIgros Moshe Even HaEzer IV 92, in 1982, which placed severe restrictions on the production and purchase of Kosher white veal to the point that those who followed his Psak stopped eating Veal, his son-in-law,  Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler, Shlit”a, a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchonon, Rov in Monsey and biology professor at Yeshiva University, was Rav Moshe’s “right hand” in this psak. Rabbi Dr. Tendler in addition to his vast knowledge of Halacha and Science, had significant practical experience in Shechita including having headed the Shechita department of the Orthodox Union for a time.

Since then, Rav Tendler, Shlit”a, and many of his and Rav Moshe’s Talmidim, have abstained from eating veal due to his shver’s psak which was largely based on his research.

In the ensuing 30+ years through social activism and legislation the veal industry has dramatically changed the way it raises calves. Today, in many cases calves are nursed by their mother after birth (which also addresses the issue of Nisgadel al yedei Issurei Hana’ah), live in clean, group housing, often are fed grain when they get old enough, in addition to formula, and in general are much healthier the in the past. These changes are not yet universal but by 2017 the American Veal Association has committed that they will be an industry standard across the board.

Rabbi Dr. Tendler has been considering for a while whether the issues raised in the 80’s were still relevant, and wanted to see this with his own eyes . This Chol Hamoed Pesach, Rabbi Dr. Tendler visited STAR-K certified Bierig Brothers Shechita in Vineland, NJ to see for himself.

Aong with his grandson, Rabbi Sholom C. Tendler, a STAR-K  Kashrus Administrator, he was shown around by Rabbi Zvi Holland and Rabbi Tzvi Shaul Goldberg, both STAR-K Kashrus administratorsinvolved with Shechita working under the direction of Harav Moshe Heinemann, Shlit”a, the Rav Hamachshir of STAR-K. (STAR-K currently certifies 10 slaughterhouses including Bierig which require full-time STAR-K staff, and under the direction of Rav Heinemann, Shlit”a, STAR-K Shechita Staff members personally visit another 30 or so for approval to be used in STAR-K facilities.)

Rabbi Dr. Tendler was impressed with the health of the animals and the STAR-K Kashrus requirements. The fact that the calves nurse from their mothers after birth, are group housed instead of caged and in many cases eat grain as they get older, are very different than the veal of the past, he explained.  He said that if these changes could be confirmed industry-wide the issues that drove Rav Moshe’s Psak may possibly be alleviated.

When he discussed the STAR-K kashrus standards in the plant with  the owners David, Michael, Danny and Alan Bierig he said that in his opinion they exceeded all of his Kashrus expectations.

Bierig Brothers is owned by the Bierig family, a German Jewish, Orthodox family with roots in the Vineland area since the early 20th century. It has been in operation since 1955 and is one of the premier veal packing houses in the United States. Currently operated by cousins, David, Danny, Michael and Alan Bierig whose fathers founded the factory, it is a very unique institution. The daily minyan of the once storied Vineland community is housed in the plant complete with a Bima, Aron Kodesh and Sefer Torah dedicated by the Bierig’s.

Kashrus is in the blood of the Bierig’s who are not only experts in kosher slaughter and processing, but, are also well versed in the laws of Nikkur and Kashering going back to the days when they operated a Kosher butcher shop for the community in Vineland.