- Question: [Tuesday, 29th Sivan, 5781]
I am generally careful to eat only Lubavitch Shechita. I would like to know what I’m to do when I eat at people’s homes as a guest who may not be careful in eating only meat and poultry of Lubavitch Shechita. I used to ask the host as to the Hashgacha of the meat but when I noticed some of them starting to get offended by my question, I simply started to avoid eating meat and chicken by other people’s homes being that I’m unsure if it is Lubavitch Shechita, but this too does not always pass without offending the host. What is the correct approach for me to do? Should I compromise on my values or should I continue to avoid eating foods that are not according to my level of Kashrus?
It is incorrect both according to Halacha, Chabad custom, and the general demands of Derech Eretz and Ahavas Yisrael, to avoid eating meat and chicken that is served in the home of your host simply because it is not a Lubavitch Hashgacha. So long as they are serving a reliable and reputable Hashgacha for meat and poultry that does not contain any worry of prohibition involved, then if you have chosen to be a guest at their meal [which of course you are not obligated to choose and may choose to eat alone at home], then you should partake in the meat course, and not be stringent in matters that are not required according to Halacha, on the expense of the feelings of your host. Being Machmir in the feelings of others is also a “Chumra”, and overrides the Chumra of Lubavitch Shechita. The same would apply when attending a wedding, that one should not avoid partaking in the meal and eating the meat if it is under a reliable Hashgacha, just because it is not Lubavitch Hashgacha. There is no need for Hataras Nedarim to be performed in such a case, even if this stringency has the status of a Neder.
Explanation: The above question touches upon a general wide misconception that people have, that they think that all degrees of one’s personal standards of religious observance are to be observed even in the expense of causing hurt feelings in others. Ahavas Yisrael, and not offending another Jew, are biblically mandated mitzvah’s which certainly override personal stringencies. Halacha teaches us the exact cases in which one is actually obligated to give up personal stringencies in face of the possibility of causing Machlokes, or offending another. The Halachic rule is as follows: Whenever one is in a Shul or community that is lenient on a certain matter that is not required from the letter of the law neither biblically or rabbinically, and does not touch upon a worry of transgressing anything either biblical or rabbinical, and is simply a mere Hiddur and Chumra, then it is actually forbidden for him to be stringent in that Shul or community due to the possibility of it causing a dispute, unless he can be inconspicuous about it. Halacha extends the same standards to a guest eating in someone’s home, that he is not allowed to be stringent in avoiding eating a certain food that is served due to a personal Chumra, as doing so may be offensive to the host, unless one can do so inconspicuously without the host noticing. Now, regarding Lubavitch Shechita, even with regards to the original Lubavitch-Chassidishe Shechita in the times of the Alter Rebbe in which there was an actual difference between the form of knives used for Shechita that was done between them and others [i.e. regarding the Sakinim Melutashin, iron hewed knives], the Alter Rebbe explicitly ruled in a responsa to the Chassidim [in response to the question asked by the Misnagdeshe Rav of Vilna] that while there is basis to be stringent to eat Lubavitch Shechita, they should not be stringent to avoid participating in the weddings of those who don’t. Now, if this applied back then when there was a real concept of Lubavitch Shechita, then certainly today when there is no difference at all regarding the knives of Lubavitch Shechita and other Shechita’s, and in fact there is no policy difference at all between Lubavitch Shechita and other Shechita’s [and on the contrary, there exist non-Lubavitch Shechita Hashgacha’s that are more particular and Machmir in their standards and policies than the various available Lubavitch Shechita companies that are on the market], and the only difference is that it happens to be slaughtered by someone who is affiliated with Lubavitch as a sect, then certainly one cannot choose to upkeep his personal standard in face of possibly offending his host. While it is beyond the scope of this article to give a full treatise on the subject of Lubavitch Shechita today and if in truth such a stringency today is even authentic, let us suffice with stating that in the previous generation of Chassidim, the concept as it is understood today, was unheard of, and Chassidim and Rabbanim from all over were not particular in this matter and the main thing was to make sure that the slaughterer was God fearing. Rav Yaakov Landau z”l, who was known for his extreme scrupulousness in Kashrus, ate meat and poultry that was slaughtered by non-Chabad Chassidim, so long as they were verified to be experts and God fearing. Likewise, the Rebbe Rayatz himself when he was in Moscow chose to eat from the Shechita of Reb Nasan Balivor, who was a student of Navardik, even though he had meat available that was slaughtered by the Chabad Shochet of Moscow. The main thing is the expertise and level of fear of God of the Shochet, and not the sect that he affiliates with.
Sources: See Admur 468:14; Michaber 170:5; Rama Y.D. 112:15; 119:7; Shach Y.D. 112:26 and 119:20; Shaareiy Teshuvah 170:6; M”B 170:16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 170:8; See Igros Kodesh 14:391 regarding Nussach of Davening; 5:91; 16:12 and 99; 19:249 regarding wearing a Tallis as Chazan; See regarding being lenient even if one stringency has the status of a Neder: Rama 568:2; 581:2 [regarding a Bris during Bahab or Aseres Yimei Teshuvah]; Shach Y.D. 214:2 that one may eat by a Seudas Mitzvah even though it breaks his Chumra which became accepted as a Neder; M”A 581:12; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Degul Merivava ibid and Yoreh Deah 214:1 and Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 214:1 that a temporary lifting of a Chumra that becomes a Neder is allowed in a case of need; Piskeiy Teshuvos 170:8; See Hearos Ubiurim Ohalei Torah 627 in which based on all above, his questions are answered, as there is no Issur of breaking a Neder in such a case. See regarding Lubavitch Shechita of back then: Shut Admur 7; Igros Kodesh Admur Hazakein p. 143; Letter of Admur, printed in Beis Rebbe