Saturday, January 19, 2013

Loshon Hara and how rumours start and people get hurt

I have been doing a bit of reading on the laws of Loshon Hara. I have read a little over the years, but lately have found cause to study them even more intensively. I was shocked to read on a Facebook page that some kosher cafes in Melbourne were supposed to be run by people who were not shomer Shabbat or Mitzvot when I know personally for a fact, that they are definitely so.
Amalaya's was mentioned. What was even more shocking was that the person who put this rubbish on the Facebook page had not an inkling of what they were talking about. The original owners of Amalya's Cafe were an Israeli couple who are most definitely frum and 100 % kosher in their kashrut and also in their hashgofa or approach to Jewish life. They have since returned to Israel with their children after taking a lot of care that their cafe would continue with the healthy lifestyle approach and of course, 100 % kosher. They used only Halav Israel products which means that the vast majority of the community can eat there. All milk is kosher, we are not going to get into an argument over that point, but some of us do take extra precautions and do drink only Halav Israel milk. The wife of the couple had done a course in Chinese medicine and was a practitioner as well as well as being versed in different food mixtures and types of food that were ultimately 'medicine for the body and not just nourishment.' They both believed that good food nourishes the neshama (soul) as well as the body.
They sold the business to a couple from a well known Melbourne Chassidishe family who are also observant and shomer shabbes. I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of the statements made about this cafe as well as others in the Melbourne area. Of course, you can have non Jewish workers and non Jewish managers working in a kosher establishment and there often are. These people are usually very well trained about the proceedures and the kashrut supervisor does make frequent unanounced calls to the establishments that he or she supervises.  Often these non Jewish staff can be far more cautious about kashrut matters than say a Jewish person who is not shomer kashrut. All the establishments mentioned in this post were closed and are closed on Shabbat and Yom Tovim. So, it was indeed a weird and defamatory statement to make. I will not add further fuel to the fire by saying exactly what establishments were mentioned or who said what.
We need to check facts before we publish anything and also to check whether it is really necessary to publish something that is verified. What is our agenda in other words and what impact will it have on those it is about and those reading it?
I will give you an example of nasty loshon hara. I was rung the other day and told a person I have had something to do with was a thief. 'Why are you telling me this?' I asked the informer.
  'I just want you to be careful and protect yourself.' said my caller. I got the feeling that was not the main reason. So I asked this person, 'Do you know this for definite or is it just hearsay?' 
  'No no,' she said to me and mentioned the name of a person that the subject of this conversation had recently fallen out with. 'She said she was definite that she had stolen stuff.'  I was beginning to get quite angry. I felt more and more that there was something behind this. I did not believe that this person was a thief and I did not want to listen to any more. So after a bit tartly telling the person telling me this gossip, which I was beginning to get the feeling was a bit malicious and I was feeling that the person ringing me was being used by another to discredit or spread loshon hara about another,  to check and suggest to the person making the accusations that they should talk with the alleged thief and check really whether something had been taken and not just lost in the mess of their place, I resolved that I would not listen to that sort of talk from anyone. I believe that if you think something of someone, it is best to talk to the person direct and not go around spreading tales and creating a false image of this person in the minds of others. What happens if the articles you think are stolen are found after you have told all these people rubbish about a person and then they have carried it further. How do you take all that nonsense back? How do you salvage the reputation of a person you have ruined in the eyes of a community?
Better not to say it in the first place.
I do want to say that I had a great meal at Amalya's recently. It is 100% kosher and under KA which is Rabbi Modechai Gutnick. He is the Dayan of the Melbourne Beth Din and furthermore is the Rav of several friends of mine.  I do not know whether I could say I trust him with my life, but definitely with my kashrus and that is on very good authority. 
I have had Mexican Eggs at Amalya's and they are great. A spicy dish that is very reasonably priced. Just recently when I had a lunch with friends I also had the Enchilada. That was a tasty and filling meal at $14. One of my friends (non Jewish) was very impressed with the Avocada and Pomegranate Ensenada which she said was both delicious and a good sized portion with interesting combinations of fruit and vegetables.  The other friend, not as adventurous as we were, stuck with the Lentil soup which is a great staple at Amalya's and something that I love to eat when I can afford in winter.
I have also began to frequent Milk and Honey which is just a block away on the corner of Hawthorn and Glenhuntley Roads.  They are open quite early in the morning and closed on Shabbat and Yom Tovim. I have not been able to afford much eating out of late, but they do have a special of eggs and a coffee for $9. They tell you that you can choose how you have your eggs. It is an all day special and they also have a good selection of cakes to go with coffee and other meal delights are on the menu.
I will, I guess get a chance to try them once I get work and get paid for writing or teaching or both.

The one suggestion that I want to give Milk and Honey is to put a sprig of parsley or 1/2  teaspoon of chopped parsley with the eggs. Doesn't cost much but it adds colour and taste to the eggs. It is the art of the thing. The eggs were great tasting without it, but just for my discerning eye for flair, it is touches like this that make customers remember you. They should not have trouble though with that as they are always almost full and the atmosphere is lively and I am sure it will remain so.

There are now plenty of coffee shops that are 100 % Kosher to service the Jewish community as well as the non Jewish clientele who like something different. In Glenhuntley Road, we do have Savion up at the corner of Beavis and Glenhuntley Road near Orrong Road and we also have Amalya's and Milk and Honey as well as two other cafes Nogga's in Carlisle Street and Sweet Crumble in Glenferrie Road.
Why are these coffee shops or cafes succeeding so well? They do offer something individual and different. To find out why and their individual styles and menus, you will have to visit them.
Here are some of the websites.

Milk & Honey
Their Facebook page as I keep getting an ad for web design everytime I try to access their website. It could be me.

Sweet Crumble


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