LostMessiah Youtube features a very interesting video about mezuzah scrolls sold by Chabad rabbis that are not kosher or are barely kosher. The investigation focuses on mezuzah scrolls sold by stores in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters is located. These stores supply the scrolls to Chabad shluchim (emissaries, rabbis, missionaries) who sell them to outreach targets who are too ignorant to know better. I’d like to point out here that I personally believe most Chabad rabbis would not knowingly distribute non-kosher mezuzahs. I believe most Chabad rabbis are also too ignorant to tell a kosher scroll from a non-kosher one. So, buyer beware. If you’re very concerned about mezuzah kashrut perfection, then you should make the extra effort to buy from a reputable sofer (scribe) who can be trusted 100% of the time. This applies to tefillin too. Though I’m not religious anymore, I used to take the kashrut of these objects very seriously. So I understand the trust one has to have in the skill and integrity of a sofer.
The story within the story found in the video is that:
“there is a segment in the kosher mezuzah market that are selling poorly written scrolls that are simply not kosher. People buy them out of ignorance because they don’t know better.”
“The Rebbe’s emissaries, shluchim, around the world are working to accomplish this mission [the Rebbe’s mezuzah campaign – Ed.]. They often buy their mezuzahs from these retailers in Crown Heights. They buy inexpensive mezuzahs, sometimes known as mivtzoim mezuzahs, outreach mezuzahs, and are expecting they are 100% kosher.”
Really, there are a couple here. First, as I pointed out earlier, your Chabad rabbi may be too ignorant to spot even obvious errors in a mezuzah scroll which render it halachically non-kosher. Having once personally asked a Chabad rabbi to translate words from the Shemah found on a mezuzah scroll, I was surprised that he was unable to do it without referencing a translation of the text (I really didn’t need a rabbi for that).
But more importantly is the briefly mentioned fact that there is a cheaper, lower quality, lower halachic standard mezuzah that is manufactured with the ignorant outreach market in mind. They even have a name commonly used among Chabad rabbis for these cheaper mezuzah scrolls: Mivtzoim mezuzahs – Outreach Mezuzahs.
Some Chabad rabbis may not be aware of the high percentage of these scrolls with a non-kosher status. Many may know of the generally lower quality and not care to verify. Chabad rabbis often make only a small profit on each scroll, so they may be even less motivated to cause themselves more expenses. Enthusiastic baalei tshuvah (religious returnees, or new cult members) may want, as in my case, up to thirteen or fifteen of them. The unsuspecting and ignorant buyer will, according to these odds, likely make blessings on one or more non-kosher Chabad mezuzahs.
They are either kosher or they are not. There is no ‘kosher enough for a baal teshuvah’ or ‘kosher enough for the less observant’ standard when it comes to halachically kosher mezuzahs. Yet these mezuzahs appear to be manufactured as ‘lower quality’ “Mivtzoim Mezuzahs” for the ignorant outreach masses often viewed by frum-from-birth elitists as ‘lower quality’ Jews. The very definition of kiruv/outreach implies this, and unfortunately this attitude is prevalent among Chabad rabbis, as well as among Haredim in general.
I thank Yisroel Dovid Wolf for his courage to expose this generally concerning issue of non-kosher mezuzahs (consumer fraud) within the Chabad mezuzah market. And also for the additional insights he offers about the lower standards of Judaism that Chabad rabbis may offer their outreach targets and new recruits. In this case, cheap, sub-standard, halachically NON-kosher mezuzahs.
Besides, why pay the Chabad rabbi $50.00 for a non-kosher mezuzah when you can get them at Etsy for $6.50 from someone honest and informed enough to tell you it’s not kosher right upfront?
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