Rabbi Jonathan Benzaquen graduated from the University of Washington in 1993 with a pre-med degree, which included a year of study in Israel and a year at Yeshiva University. He continued his Judaic studies in New York at Yeshiva Bnei Torah. He then moved to Israel to study for 5 years to receive rabbinical ordination from HaRav Yaakov Peretz of Midrash Sepaharadi in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, with approbation on his Semicha from Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former Chief Sepahrdic Rabbi of Israel. He also received Semicha as a certified Mohel from Rav Yehudah Giat.
Rabbi Jonathan Benzaquen additionally received his Semicha in Niqur from Yeshivat Midrash Sefaradi, in Jerusalem Israel from HaRav Yonatan Gabbai of Hebron, Israel, who was certified by Rav Yehudah Giat, the personal shochet of the former Chief Rabbi of Israel Harav Mordechai Eliyahu z'tl. (Rav Eliyahu only ate meat from Rav Yehudah Giat.)
Questions about Rabbi Benzaquen can be referred to Midrash Sepharadi 972.2.627.3231 - Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Kassin or to Rabbi Yonatan Gabbai 972.52.867.9125
Bakar Meats are certified Kosher by Kosher LA.
Are hindquarters meats also permissible for Ashkenazim ?
Below is a Teshuva ( Responsa/Ruling of Jewish Law) of Rav Moshe Feinstein 1895-1986 z"tl allowing the modern day practice of eating from the kosher hindquarters."...I do not see any reason to prohibit the process of Niqur when done by someone who is properly certified and qualified. The reason that Niqur is not generally performed nowadays is not for any prohibited reason, but only because modern day butchers (slaughterhouses) did not want to deal with the expense or time consumption of doing Niqur, as well as the convenience of just selling the hindquarters to the non-Jewish slaughterhouse. If someone who is certified and qualified in doing Niqur, one should not prevent them from doing so... If something is already prohibited by Jewish law, we don’t create a Minhag (custom) to “make a fence” to add to the prohibition."
Click here to read the entire Teshuva
Ashkenazim and Niqur - Is There an Actual Custom?
by Rabbi Yossi Azose
Is there an actual Minhag (custom) for Ashkenazim to outlaw the practice of “Niqur” (Traboring, porging) and not eat hindquarter meats?
It is true that removing the Gid Hanashe (sciatic nerves and its tributaries), as well as Chelev (forbidden fats located in the peritoneal area, abdomen, etc.) require specific expertise and knowledge in the laws of kashrut. However, this specific area of knowledge requires, even more so, a heavy practical understanding passed on from teacher to student.
Book savvy does not suffice, but rather necessitates a visual and practical experience.
(I am asking this question specifically with regard to Ashkenazim because until this day, Sepharadim continue to practice the art and Halachot (laws) of Niqur. They have never lost the tradition handed down from generation to generation. In many of these Oriental communities, rabbis, butchers and grandparents in the kitchen, would perform these time honored rituals to permit the eating of hindquarter meat.)
In the United States, we no longer see a wide-spread practice of Niqur, making these meats commonly unavailable. Some claim that it is due to a Minhag (custom) for and by Ashkenazim, in the mindset of “one can never be too careful”.
The Ashkenaz communities in the United States had their origins from many parts of Europe.
We find that many of those communities did indeed have the tradition to do “Niqur” and eat hindquarter meats.
Rabbi Yechezkel ben Yehuda Landau (Poland 1713-1793), author of Noda Biyhudah, writes that it was the custom to do Niqur in Prague. Rabbi Jacob Meshullam Ornstein (Lemberg -1839), author of Yeshu'ot Ya'akob, writes that it was the custom to do Niqur in the major cities of Europe such as, L’vov and Krakow. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (Lithuania, 1829-1908), author of Aruch Ha-Shulchan wrote that in the city of Navahrudak they would do Niqur under the auspices of the local kosher rabbinic overseers.
Rabbi Yosef Yafe ben Rav Eliezer Lipman (Vilna, 1866) author of Seder HaNiqur was the head Menaqer of Vilna and so he performed Niqur.
Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Austrian Empire, 1762-1839) author of Chatam Sofer, wrote that in the City of Lisa there were Menaqrim (except for the city of Pressburg).
So we see that the Ashkenazim were indeed permitting hindquarter meat from city to city.
Post World War II United States
Not only did the Ashkenazim of pre-war have the custom to eat and do Niqur on the hindquarters, but also post World War II in the United States.
Rabbi Shalom Schick, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who emigrated to New York, (1955) who authored the Mishnah Echad (with approbations from Rabbi Koloman Kellner, Passaic NJ & Rabbi S. Friedman, Brooklyn, NY). He wrote the following:
“Since my arrival here, some organizations of Rabbis, as well as individual religious leaders, some of which issue permits to slaughter houses and butchers, have asked me to supplement their knowledge of removing veins and fat, by committing to writing my extensive practical experience in the important and responsible vocation of porging. I, therefore, decided to arrange for publication all the laws and by-laws pertaining to it. And, inasmuch as my intentions were to render this book accessible to everybody and especially to those who are engaged in
porging professionally and don't understand Hebrew,— I deemed it necessary and practical to translate the work into Yiddish and English.”
We therefore see that the Ashkenazim had the custom to eat from the hindquarters from early Europe until at least the 1960’s in the United States.
There was no such Minhag to prohibit eating hindquarter meat.
Kosher Certifying Organizations and Rav Moshe
There were some Kashrut standards disputes among Kashrut organizations in the United States during their inception. One famous discussion is the verification of whether cow milk actually comes from cows. Does milk in the United States need to be rabbinically supervised ie. “Chalav Yisrael” or are government regulations such as the USDA with its checks and balances, proof enough that the source is indeed a kosher one? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Russia 1895- NY 1986) famously ruled that one can rely on the strict US government body. Most, if not all, modern day kashrut organizations uphold his standards to this day and abide by his Teshuvot (responsa).
Rabbi Moshe was also asked whether Ashkenazim, who don’t practice Niqur themselves, can eat hindquarter meats.
He answers in his responsa Igrot Moshe: "I don't see any reason to prohibit the process of Niqur when done by someone who is properly certified and qualified. The reason that Niqur is not generally performed nowadays is not for any prohibited reason, but only because modern day butchers (slaughterhouses) did not want to deal with the expense or time consumption of doing Niqur, as well as the convenience of just selling the hindquarters to the non-Jewish slaughterhouse. If someone who is certified and qualified in doing Niqur, one should not prevent them from doing so... If something is already prohibited by Jewish law, we don’t create a Minhag (custom) to “make a fence” to add to the prohibition."
So why did they stop providing kosher hindquarter meats to the Jewish public in the United States?
Industrialized Kosher Meat Production
As Rabbi Moshe Feinstein mentioned: “modern day butchers (slaughterhouses) did not want to deal with the expense or time consumption of doing Niqur, as well as the convenience of just selling the hindquarters to the non-Jewish slaughterhouse.”
Every Jewish slaughterhouse operates in conjunction with a non-Jewish slaughterhouse. What happens if one of the animals is found to be Terefa (not Kosher), either slaughtered incorrectly or the lungs are checked and the animal is invalid?
That animal is sold to the non-Jewish slaughterhouse and processed as non-Kosher. Simple Convenient Economics.
The USDA mandates cutting the cattle in half after slaughter which conveniently separates the forequarters form the hindquarters. In this industrial conveyor-belt-world we live in nowadays, it just made economic sense, as the meat zips down the line, to also sell the hindquarter meats instead of the complexities of pulling each piece off the line and working on them doing Niqur.
This became the custom.
People also weren't interested in an expensive cut of filet mignon like they are nowadays.
The cheaper cuts of forequarter chuck meat, which are easier and quicker to process, if they will end up in a pot overnight anyways, was an easier sell. Why bother with the “Halachic complexities” of time consuming hindquarter meat when there is plenty of forequarter meant to go around?
Seeing Is “Not” Believing
Some are of the opinion that since hindquarter meat is not commonly offered to the public in the US, that itself is proof enough of an existence of a Minhag for Ashkenazim.
However, the Talmud already negates such proofs with the legal clause of “Lo Ra’inu - Eno Re’aya” (Statements by people, that they did not witness a particular act, is no proof that it did not occur).
Rabbi Shelomo Yaakov (Poland 1938) Av Beth Din of Vladmirtz, author of Mekore HaNiqur wrote:
“The places where they have the custom to not offer hindquarter meats, one should not be concerned, because the reason that they are doing so is for their own abstinence since these matters are completely permissible and we can invoke “Lo Ra’inu - Eno Re’aya”... especially since we see many established communities who have the Minhag to do Niqur. Those places who customarily don’t do Niqur is because either they don’t need it, and if the need were to arise, they wouldn’t be able to do Niqur anyways because they won’t find professional Menaqrim. And where something does not exist, there can’t be a Minhag.
...If you want to posit that there exists a Minhag, one would have to say that there were places who actually did Niqur and then decided not to do it for whatever protective reason, but the reality is is that we have never heard of such a scenario where a place would permit hindquarter meat and then abstained.”
Aren’t liver and ox tail and the original “kishkas” all from the Hindquarter?
But not all cuts were “cut out” of the equation. To this day one can buy liver, ox tail and until recently, sausage casing from the intestine.
Doesn’t liver require “Niqur” to remove the forbidden fats?
Isn’t ox tail located on the hindquarters of the animal? Does it not also require “Niqur”?
The answer to these questions is a resounding YES.
Well, who could really do away with the public need for chopped liver!
So Niqur, for and by Ashkenazim, is performed on certain favorable cuts and they are readily available in today’s market. Which means that there is no such Ashkenazic Minhag to outright not eat from Hindquarter cuts.
Many established Ashkenazic communities in Europe practiced Niqur and ate hindquarter cuts of meat. Once the process became industrialized in the United States and, in addition to an abundance of cattle, economic and practical opportunities presented themselves to allow the kosher market place to focus solely on providing forequarter cuts of meat. these forquarter cuts were less expensive, quicker to produce and less complex in the realm of Halacha.
The exception, due to their popularity, was liver, Kishkas (intestines for sausage casings), ox tail etc. all of which were still available nowadays to the public in the USA and elsewhere.
Without an abundant practice of performing Niqur and Halachic familiarity this led to the decline of hindquarter cuts in the US.
Overtime, all this was translated as something forbidden, as if it were a Minhag, when it was actually never the case to to prohibit hindquarter meats.
An Insightful Article from Jewish Action Magazine in Support of Niqur for AshkenazimThere's a very insightful article on the subject of Niqur by Rabbi Dr. Avi Zivotovsky, which was published in the Fall 5767/2006 issue of Jewish Action Magazine, and posted on the website of the OU (Orthodox Union). The article is called: Tzarich Iyun: Nikkur Achoraim
The article addresses the misconception that eating of the kosher hindquarters is only a permissible Sephardic practice and is banned by Ashkenazim.
As we also mentioned above, the author states that “There is no such ban, and nikkur was practiced in many Ashkenazic communities into the twentieth century.”
Zivotovsky makes an astute observation for the case of keeping the tradition of Niqur alive because by forgetting such laws, it “would also make it impossible to reinstitute the korban Pesach, which cannot be properly prepared without knowing how to remove the chailev and the gid hanasheh.”
There’s also a fascinating footnote “28. Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler reports (telephone conversation with the author, 26 July 2005) that Rav Moshe would often comment when eating meat at the Tendler household on yom tov that it just wasn’t the same as the tasty hindquarter meat they had in the old country.”
We highly recommend that you read the article. It is eye opening and refreshing.
Click here for the full article.