The aftermath of the Rubashkin affair has brought about a call for ethical considerations to be included in hekhshers given to companies for the observance of kashrut. The call is that it is not enough to sanction purchasing from a company simply based upon the observance of the narrow laws of kashrut but rather this sanction should include a declaration that this company also observes other ethical laws that define it as a exemplary corporate citizen.
There has been many responses to this call. One is that kashrut certification is, and should be, exactly that -- a certification regarding the specific laws of kashrut. Rabbi Aaron Levine, though, in article in the Jewish Press which can be found at
http://www.jewishpress.com/content.cfm?sid=13&contentid=20737 presents a fundamental problem, though, with this concept in terms of its practical applicability. Rabbi Levine's words can be applied to much of Torah in general. There are certain halachot which are defined solely in practice. Whether a piece of meat is kosher or not is clearly definable in a set manner -- albeit there may be disagreements in the yardsticks to be applied in this set manner. You can clearly state, based on the facts alone, whether a piece of meat is kosher or not pursuant to a certain halachic standard. In the case of matters of tzedek though, all you can pass on to the person is the methods of evaluation but you cannot clearly state the conclusion in practice that needs to be specifically applied. In regard to these types of halachot you can't fully legislated specific behaviour because the specific facts of the case may demand a different evaluation. If one thinks about this, this concept can explain why ritual law dominates Orthodox Jewish mindsets rather than ethical law. People like to be told specifically what to do. Ethical laws within Torah can only teach methodology -- actual practice has to be determined in a case by case manner.
This, according to Rabbi Levine, is what would make a hekhsher tzedek very unwieldy to administrate although in principle it may be a good idea. It is, in my opinion, also why people in studying and observing Torah stress the ritual over the ethical. The former can have clear dos and don'ts. The ethical demands an evaluation in every case dependent on the rules of Torah. That calls upon us to think on the moment and accept the responsibility for our decision. And that is something we often shy away from
Rabbi Ben Hecht