We recently had a wonderful conversation with a rabbi who is a member of the vaad in his town. He is an honest man, a careful halachist, and, most important of all, he is a mentsch.
He took us to task (gently, though) for the harsh words we have directed at some of the Vaadot out there. We are big enough to admit that there was much to what he said.
He also posed a question that we have pondered for the last five days and have not managed to answer.
Here is the scenario he gave us: a local business is in debt to the local vaad for thousands of dollars. Every time the Vaad and the business man make an agreement for him to pay up, he abrogates the agreement. Finally the Vaad asked the man to pay $100 per month for hashgacha. He is way behind on that, too.
Even we had to admit that one hundred dollars per month is not a lot of money. Of course, when you are broke, even five dollars could be impossible.
So what to do? Should the Vaad yank their certification? Should they suffer in silence? If they yank the man’s hashgacha, will the publicity against the Vaad be terribly negative with people saying the Vaad is only interested in money? If the Vaad pubically states that the business man is a deadbeat (our term, not theirs) is that Lashon Harah?
As we said above, we have not yet given our friend an answer. Our gut tells us that the Vaad should set an absolute deadline for payment. If the deadline passes, the Vaad should yank their hashgacha. BUT, it should be totally transparent. The Vaad should publish a statement explaing the whole sorry episode and why they are acting. They should also make it clear that it was not a kashruth violation.
Will the Vaad take a hit? Probably. But it seems to us, that short of carrying the business forever at no cost, they have no other choice.
We truly wish them luck in whatever they decide. Oh, and we hope they keep us posted!