Q. Kevod Horav. Many Frum people have a tendency to be machmir on issues that are in fact permitted in Halacha, especially on kashrus shailos. They argue that once any question was raised you have to dispose of the food, and it is not “glat” or “mehadrin” anymore, even when it is obvious that it is permitted. Why isn’t being stringent prohibited since it involves the prohibition of b’al tashchis? Moreover, doesn’t the Pischei Teshuva say that if you are machmir on something permitted you can be guilty of apikorsus?
What is Horav Miller’s position on this?
A. Dovev Meishorim (2: 16) maintains that whenever there is a doubt if a mitzva, even a Rabbinical one was complied with and the mitzva is repeated, there is no b’al tashchis prohibition involved since there is a use to that destruction. He therefore explains that when an avel is in doubt whether he should rent his clothing or not, he should do the keriah, even when it involves the destruction of good clothing. Although, the mitzva of keria is only Rabbinical and the prohibition of b’al tashchis is Biblical, it does not apply when there is a reason to destroy.
However, Maharal Tzinz (5) rules that if there is a doubt on the reality of the mitzva or prohibition involved, one is obliged to spend time and effort to check out properly the truth and not discard the items or food involved, out of a desire to expedite and hasten results, save time. or avoid work and exertion. All due to the prohibition of b’al tashchis.
He thus explains that when possible one waits on doubtful chometz found during Pesach and covers it with a vessel, until the status is confirmed and proceeds to destroy it.
Indeed, Pischei Teshuva (Y.D. 116: 10) quotes Soiles L’mincha and Toras Haoshom that one who is stringent on something that is clearly permitted such as bitul beshishim, or the annulment of prohibited items, may be indulging in heresy and apikorsus.
See question 49 in regards to separating challah, where we wrote: Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit”a advises to place a small piece of dough (more or less the size of today’s olive — more than that could create a problem of baal-tashchis, or unnecessary destruction of food), into the oven.
See also question 2033 in regards to the prohibition of consuming wine or drinks left uncovered, where we wrote: “In sefer Shaarei Torath Habais p. 313, after mentioning that the Gaon of Vilna and the Chazon Ish were stringent, and it is indeed a quality of “Chasidus” to do so, however it is not for everyone, and if someone is unaware of the details of this Halacha, he should not be stringent and discard good usable food or drink, because of the inherent prohibition of “b’al Tashchis” which is more severe.”
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that you seldom have well defined, black and white situations and other facts and doubts may also have to be accounted for, so there may be place and reason for being machmir.
Horav Aaron Miller Shlit’a added that following the correct, but lenient letter of the law, may cause a person, or those following him to assume that it always applies, and that may turn out to be incorrect. Therefore, it may be wise to be preventive and stringent.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a