Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar says that eating "bug-free" leafy vegetables poses a health risk due to the increased use of pesticides.
Amar issued a halachic ruling following lab tests conducted on such crops, in which he recommends that the public purchase regular leafy vegetables and clean them "in the old-fashioned way."
The chief rabbi's ruling may have dramatic consequences, as it could prove to be disastrous for one of the current generation's most significant developments in the field of kashrut.
The halachic-agricultural innovation, generated in the Gush Katif greenhouses, has created a real change in the kosher kitchen, making it almost unnecessary to check leafy vegetables for bugs – a task considered particularly difficult and frustrating.
The rabbi's ruling, which took several months to write and stretches over dozens of pages, is aimed at refuting the claim that leafy vegetables cannot be completely cleared of bugs, and that since the special growth method was invented – there is a halachic obligation to stick to it.
According to Amar, insects can be removed even after the vegetables are grown, as Jews have done throughout the generations.
The rabbi, who presents scientific findings to back his ruling, says that many farmers use prohibited pesticides, or spray a much higher dosage than recommended, in a way that put the public's health at risk.
Amar adds that there is no reason why consumers buying "bug-free" produce should waste their money for such little benefit at the expense of other basic food products.