Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mehadrin Matzot

Are matzot still considered mehadrin if they are stolen? Or more specifically, are matzot considered mehadrin (or even kosher) if the tax man is cheated out of his 16% VAT (Sales Tax for Americans)?

I ordered some matzot this year from a different place than usual (for various reasons). I was told that I could pay through my bank. Then after they were delivered I was told that I had to pay cash because the factory would not bill the institution for the matzot without adding 16% VAT on to the price. The institution avoided the increased price by paying cash, and cheating the tax man.

Two further points:

1. Why does the government charge VAT on matza? In Britain there are certain basic foods that are exempt from VAT. Why doesn't the government have a similar system here, where the basic foods (including matza for Pesach) are exempt?

2. After all the boycots of the summer about the price of cottage cheese (which has now returned to the price it was before the boycot) why do we not protest the price of mehadrin/chabura matza? Surely the production costs can't be nearly as high as the retail price! Why don't we stand up (or sit down) and refuse to buy mehadrin matzot until the prices come back to something approaching normal?

Bli Neder next year I'll go to my local supermarket and buy the regular mehadrin matzot from there. I will save several hundred shekel, and even though they may not be as kosher in terms of chametz (though I'm not sure there is any real halachic difference between the cheap and the expensive ones), but they will be more kosher in terms of avoiding theft from the government.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I ask the same question every sukkos. One time, someone quoted me the following:

    R YB Solovetichik questioned whether one even fulfilled one's obligation with an esrog where the seller would only take cash or a check made out to cash. His case was sales and income taxes, not VAT. But the reasoning would hold: Enabling someone's evasion of tax law is theft by one party, or at least violating "the law of the land is law", violating the prohibition of enabling or aiding a sin (lifnei iveir or mesayeiah lidvar aveirah) by the other. In any case, the sin would render it a mitzvah habaah ba'aveirah (a mitzvah performed with an object obtained through sin) and invalid.

    Mind you, he didn't phrase this as an established real law. But it does give a reason to ask not only whether the matzah is mehadrin, but whether it is altogether usable!