WORD MO­NOP­OLY

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - LETTERS -

With Purim hav­ing been cel­e­brated this week, I won­der how many of your read­ers no­ticed that the He­brew word for “kosher” can be found in the Book of Es­ther.

The ex­act sen­tence can be found in chap­ter 8, verse 5: “If it pleases the king, and I have won his fa­vor, and the pro­posal seems right be­fore the king .... ” The word “vechasher” (kosher) – mean­ing, “seems right” or “seems proper” – is the only time the word “kosher” ap­pears in the Bible!

Queen Es­ther was plead­ing and serv­ing on be­half of all the Jewish peo­ple. She never re­quired a per­mit or needed to seek ap­proval from the lo­cal rab­binate at that time, for use of the word “kosher.” I have been given to un­der­stand that it is il­le­gal to block all other peo­ple from any use of any one word. Such an at­tempt to copy­right the word failed many years ago in the US.

We un­der­stand that the rab­binate is re­fer­ring ex­clu­sively to the word “kosher” as be­ing used to des­ig­nate a food be­ing per­mit­ted to be con­sumed as sanc­tioned un­der the Halacha. It may, how­ever, be pos­si­ble to use a syn­onym such as “law­ful,” or, bet­ter still, a cer­tifi­cate that states, “The food served on these premises has been au­then­ti­cated as be­ing proper and right (the word ‘kosher’ of Queen Es­ther’s plea) by our re­li­gious su­per­vi­sor.”

That it is now pos­si­ble for the rab­binate to in­dict restau­ra­teurs and cater­ers who claim to serve kosher food with­out the rab­binate’s ap­proval is not so much be­cause of the Is­raeli restau­ra­teurs and cater­ers per­son­ally, but be­cause, as has been quoted in the press, of a sys­tem that is claimed to be “rid­dled with cor­rup­tion.” The ques­tion re­mains, will re­li­gious op­pres­sion cure the Ko­ran­ab­binat­e­virus? Queen Es­ther suc­ceeded in what is to­day Tehran, with­out shack­les!

LEONARD E. BOOK Ashkelon

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