Mar 312015

This week we received an inquiry from a customer thinking of buying a set of handspun tzitzit strings, but first he wanted to know the difference between the two types of rabbinical supervision. Was one more stringent than the other?

Hi Ben,
I was wondering about the hashgachot on your tzitziot. In particular, I was wondering what the actual difference between getting them certified by R’ Ovadia זצ”ל or R’ Wosner שליט”א actually amounted to. Are there different standards for the petilim in each community, or is it just arbitrary? Thanks, Noah

Usually I provide very succint replies, but this question hit a tender spot, and I couldn’t keep from editorializing a bit.

It’s very arbitrary, I explained to Noah. I was told by two seasoned Mishkan Hatchelet workers that both are made on the same production line, with the same workers and even the same mashgiach! So what’s the difference? The rav who is signed on the hechsher.

I also know from experience that if you try to explain that to prospective customers, some of them will still have a strong preference for one over the other. Sad, but true. And that’s why the company markets the same tzitzit under two different hechshers.

I also know of a tzitzit strings company that used to make their tzitzit strings under a good hechsher, but eventually realized they were losing a segment of the market that wanted the Eda Charedis of Jerusalem hechsher, so they come out with a different brand. Same tzitzit, only the hechsher, label and brand name were different. Both were sold side-by-side in some stores, with a 2- or 3-shekel price differential.

You often see similar thinking and behavior patterns with food hechshers and political parties in Israel.

When the geula comes, I’m sure Klal Yisrael will get beyond this type of thing. Chazal instituted certain halachas to distance Jews from gentiles, not Jews from Jews.