By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Avraham Osdoba, the senior member of the Crown Heights Beis Din, granted his first interview with the Kfar Chabad Magazine, published this week in the expanded issue in honor of Shavuos.
Rabbi Osdoba, a veteran halachic authority, has been with the Beis Din since it was formed in 1986 after the passing of Rabbi Zalman Shimon Dworkin, the sole rabbi of the Chassidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.
Born in New York to a Gerer family, he learned in Chabad’s Achei Tmimim school in the Bronx in his childhood. At the age of 11, with the passing of his mother, he was accepted in the dormitory of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim located then on Bedford and Dean.
As he turned 80 this week, Rabbi Osdoba not only provides direction and answers to community members but continues to teach in the same institution that welcomed him in his youth – the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch at 770 Eastern Parkway.
Indeed, learning is a central theme in his life and reflected throughout the rare interview with Kfar Chabad’s writer Rabbi Moshe Marinovsky.
“Whoever doesn’t learn by himself, Heaven forbid, won’t know when to ask a question and when to check maybe a certification from a rabbi’s supervision needs correcting…” Rabbi Osdoba stated.
“This is the simple explanation of the Rebbe‘s instruction to learn and be tested for Semicha before marriage. It is not necessarily that the person tested and ordained becomes a posek, but it does certainly make him a person who knows when and where a question should be asked.”
Rabbi Osdoba also heads the kosher supervision CHK which reportedly supervises 45 companies and employs 75 mashgichim and shochtim. As such, he recently encountered an incident highlighting the need to know halacha.
“A woman turned to the office of Badatz Crown Heights after visiting a take-out store under our supervision,” the rabbi said. “She had seen that the preparation of the dish (by mixing flour, water and spices) was done by a non-Jew who then placed it in the oven and pressed a button.
“She was worried that because of this, the dish was ‘bishul akum’ (a prohibition), and expressed her concern,” he said. “So I visited the store myself to check the issue. It turns out that the oven is lit every morning by the Jewish store owner and remains lit all day, but there is a button to increase the heat that quickens the baking.”
Rabbi Osdoba added: “In such a case, there is no halachic concern for ‘bishul akum’ and all is okay, but if that woman didn’t know that if a non-Jew turns on the oven then it would be ‘bishul akum’, she wouldn’t even know to raise the concern…”
The full interview, in which he discusses his upbringing and life-long experiences, appears in the Shavuos issue of the Kfar Chabad Magazine.