Mashgiachs – ritual supervisors – are an integral component of the team of religious professionals at the Prague Rabbinate. The character of their task or their calling (see below) requires that they are God-fearing people of irreproachable character, strong will and sharp and concentrated mind seeking knowledge and striving to recognize Divine will. For his performance, a mashgiach is responsible directly to the Rabbi: he is the Rabbi’s sensor, delivering precise and undistorted information which the Rabbi assesses and on the basis of which he then decides.
The main task of a mashgiach is ritual supervision of production, processing and serving kosher food according to the Jewish Law, whose regulations a mashgiach constantly learns and consults with rabbinic authorities.
As a religious professional, a mashgiach takes part in communal prayers and various events of the religious life of the Community. On this spiritual bind with other Jews, a necessary precondition of his work is founded: trust in his person, in his decisions, in his word.
The work of a mashgiach, including constant study, comprises several areas of expertise. The first domain includes developing and providing kosher food according to ritual precepts. A mashgiach seeks out suitable producers, negotiates suitable production technologies, checks and authorizes particular components of the products. He supervises production batches to be marked specifically with a numbered symbol of the Prague Rabbinate. A wide scale of foodstuffs whose production requires special precautions - including baked goods, milk products, meat production, wine, sweets, medicines etc. - is produced in this way
Ritual slaughter has a special place within this domain of a mashgiach’s work. The extreme sensitivity of the deed – depriving G-d’s creations of life - makes the expertise and aptitude of the mashgiach indispensable. The mashgiach assists the shochet during the slaughter, inspects and controls the meat before and during koshering, taking fastidious care that washing and salting of the meat - according to the precepts of the Jewish faith, meat must be rid of all blood before consumption – was done properly.
Currently many producers of kosher food, seeking Jewish customers, turn to the Rabbinate and request kosher certification of their products. The Rabbi sends mashgiachs to inspect the production facilities and to examine the composition of the product and on the basis of their precise information and documentation can decide to grant a kosher certification in the form of a legally valid contract. The Rabbinate certifies either the production as a whole, or particular batches made in the presence of a mashgiach.
Supervision of processing and serving kosher food constitutes another domain of work of a mashgiach. For observant Jews, it is absolutely essential that a mashgiach be present during food preparation. He guarantees that the food was prepared according to all the ritual precepts. The Jewish Community of Prague ensures constant service of its mashgiachs at each of its several facilities where food is served. Besides the facilities that serve members of our Community and our guests, we are obligated to assist Jews coming from abroad and provide mashgiachs for commercial kosher restaurants as well. To prevent even a semblance of doubt about the independence and honesty of its employees, the Rabbinate does not allow restaurant owners to employ and to pay them.
The work of a mashgiach is extremely demanding and particular. Its spiritual dimension makes it incomparable with other common professions.