I'm always amazed by the ongoing crusade by some in the Torah observant community to assur any healthy foods that normally don't require any supervision. When it comes to fruits and vegetables which don't seem to be a money maker for kashrut organizations, it seems the problems multiply like insects.
The recent example of this has been a supposed epidemic of bugs in strawberries around the world. According to the people who detected them, these buys are nearly microscopy and the exact same colour as the strawberry. In other words, you can't seem them but they're there. As a result, according to some authorities, all strawberries are now trief. (Rubashkin's meats, however, are still fine).
Recently, however, what I thought was a voice of sanity, poked through the clouds of confusion when Rav Shlomo Amar, chief Sephardi rabbi of Israel, noted the obvious: the halachah forbids that which the eye can see under normal lighting conditions. Ultra-powerful or special lights, jeweller's glasses and microscopes are not necessary. Otherwise all food, which is covered in non-kosher bacteria, would be forbidden.
Unfortunately, Rav Amar has already been forced into a clarification:
Just a few weeks before, many chareidi rabbonim forbad eating strawberries because they are heavily infested with tiny insects which are impossible to completely remove. The announcement removed the popular delicacy from the table of many frum homes.
Then the sensational news was published throughout Israel: Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced in a shiur that one may eat strawberries after rinsing them in water and removing their leafy tops! The news appeared in Israel's leading newspaper and even in the chareidi world's leading VosIzNeias web blog.
Many reported relief upon hearing the lenient psak. Others sideswiped at the poskim who always seem to find a new prohibition to saddle the public with.
But now the Shas party organ reports that Rav Amar's psak was quoted incorrectly. They asked Rabbi Shlomo Amar for his clarification, and he explained that his shiur had been about worms which are not visible to the eye and had nothing to do with strawberries.
"It never occurred to me, chalila, to dispute the prohibition against eating visible worms!" he says firmly. "To say otherwise is misleading."
Rav Amar explained, "I was speaking about a recent tshuva I had just written which dealt with worms that are not visible to the eye. I wrote that according to many great poskim of our generation, led by Rav Ovadya Yosef (SHU"T Yecheve Daas 6:47), they are not forbidden. I further was mechadesh that they are not even considered 'worms' according to halacha."
Rav Amar said in the shiur that if, for example, strawberries had such invisible 'worms' on them, the strawberries would not be prohibited to eat. Obviously, the strawberries were only mentioned by way of illustration and not as the basis for a chiddush or a psak.
The Chief Rabbi reiterates that as experts have shown, strawberries are infested with worms which are visible to the eye and can be seen without the help of a device. These worms must be avoided, and if it is not possible to clean strawberries of them, then strawberries may not be eaten.
So which is it, then? Is it enough to look at the strawberry carefully after washing it thoroughly?: It should be and people should know this when confronted with those who would change the rules and retroactively accuse 3500 years of Jews who age vegetables not checked by microscopy of eating bugs.