Posts tagged " kosher "

Can pork ever be kosher?

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Jews can’t eat pig because it’s a scavenger and eats the dead therefore unclean. If the pig is farm raised it doesn’t eat the dead so would it be clean to eat?

Miguel

Dear Miguel,

We are choosing to answer your question because you are in not alone in your misconception about kosher food. The mistake you make is quite common, but it is based on a completely incorrect basic premise.

Not eating pig has nothing to do with it being a scavenger. The prohibition is based on Leviticus 11:7 where God specifically forbids it with no reason given. That animal is singled out and mentioned by name because it has one of the two signs that mark an animal as kosher.  Pigs have split hooves but do not chew the cud.

This prohibition is, for example, different from the injunction not to harvest the produce of the land of Israel during the Shmittah cycle every seven years (Exodus 23:11). In that case, Israel has developed a healthy industry in hydroponics growing crops in glass houses and in large trays of water. Carrots, as one example, aren’t the problem; the problem is only carrots grown in the earth during that special seventh year. Not so with the pig —regardless of how it is raised, the animal is forbidden, end of discussion.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the difference between God’s laws that a rational society might eventually understand on its own and those laws that human beings would never intuit. Laws against stealing or murder seem to make sense to us, while committees could meet for years and not come up with not mixing wool and flax (Leviticus 19:19). The important thing to understand is that, whether or not we understand or can think of benefits of these laws, we follow them because they are God’s laws.

We find it interesting that today there is even controversy over those laws that civilized people once upon a time accepted.  As our society moves further from the Biblical vision we find much discord about abortion, euthanasia,  capital punishment and increasingly vocally about redistributing property.  We don’t all intuitively know and agree on the correct paths.

The bottom line is that we try, to the best of our abilities and to the extent that we can control our weaknesses, to follow God’s word. Part of that word tells us that no matter how healthy, clean, tasty or economical pork is, it is not going to be part of our diet.

Hoping that, like us, you get to enjoy all the wonderful and tasty food permitted,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Reach for the Stars – Stay Grounded

November 26th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 9 comments

When I was seven, my parents signed me up for swimming lessons. For the first three days, the teacher discussed buoyancy, backstroke, and breathing.  We dunked our heads into basins of water and blew bubbles. We never even got our feet wet. 

The next weekend my parents took us to a pool.  My father, eager to see what I had learned, asked me to demonstrate.  I explained that I would need a blackboard.   This did not impress my father.  He walked me to the deep end of the pool deck, picked me up and promptly threw me into the water. After a moment of shock, I began swimming.

This method of instruction, let alone fathering, may not be in favor today.  Personally, I remember feeling rather proud of how quickly I learned to swim.  But whatever you think of the methodology, there is a lesson to be learned. The best way to own new information is to apply it. Few of us would want to be operated on by a surgeon who aced his written exams but never wielded a scalpel. There is a reason that driver education courses take place in the car as well as the classroom.

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Is a Vegetarian Diet Kosher?

November 3rd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 20 comments

Question:

Are vegetarian/vegan diets considered kosher? Do many Jews follow vegetarian diets? Thanks in advance!

Brian

Answer: 

Dear Brian,

There is both a practical and philosophical answer to your question. Many of the laws of keeping kosher relate to the source of the food as well as the separation between meat and milk products. All fruits and vegetables are kosher, while beef, fish and poultry have many limitations. Dairy products, too, are not universally kosher.

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