Why keep kosher?

Question: Are people who observe religious dietary laws  – Kashrut – healthier? Would such diets be better for the general public?


Keeping kosher is not for the purpose of being healthy in the physical sense. It is possible to consider the most unhealthy fried, over laden with sugar, full of carbohydrates and alcohol and whatever; as kosher.
Yet there are many aspects of keeping kosher (for Jews) that makes it worthwhile to keep.  First the killing of the animal is done to be as quick and painless as possible. The whole concept of keeping kosher is for the spiritual side of a person, yet it is kept in the very physical means. (this is a Jewish concept that the emotional, physical, spiritual parts of a person are all related and have an affect on each aspect.) Judaism believes G-d is our creator and he gave us an instruction book (the Torah) which tells us how to use the life he gave us in the most optimal way.
There are many aspects of keeping kosher; as said above:
  • Killing of animals by  shechita
  • Not eating milk (or any milk products – or cross contamination) with any meat products (including fowl – but not eggs)
  • Not eating any creepy, crawling, 6 leg creatures; bugs, worms and such
  • Only birds actually described in the Torah
  • Fish that have fins and scales
  • For anything grown in Israel tithe needs to be taken
  • And animals need to chew their cud and have split hooves; making the cow, sheep, goat, deer and even the giraffe are kosher.
  • Pigs are unique in their “treifness” not being kosher.
Why don’t Jews eat pigs? Is it because they are sloppy, fat and once carried diseases? Contrary to popular opinion, the answer is no. What is in common with all those animals; they are almost all vegetarians, not killers. Even when we eat, we like to cultivate the middos (character traits) we aspire. By eating docile (though dumb) animals we are
stating we are a peaceful people.  (Notice being smart is not the first priority, not at the expense of being a mensch.)
Four animals are listed in the Torah that have only one sign: the camel, the rabbit, the hare and the pig.
(And since the Torah has been given to us, there has never been another animal found to add to this list.)
The camel, the rabbit and the hare all chew their cud but do not have split hooves.  Only the pig has split hooves and does not chew its cud.  What does this mean?
Chewing the cud is a slow (regurgitating) process that takes place internally.  It is like thinking (for some) they process, they think about it, they review and then they accept it all quietly.
The pig goes around and shows off its kosher split hooves; the external sign of kashrus, but inside he quickly devours all that is around him.  It is a pretense. There is nothing inside. The pig represents all that is not spiritual.  They look religious but they are empty.
Jews hate hypocrites; and the pig are the zenith of deception.  That is why the pig is traif.
Why don’t we eat milk with meat? In the Torah where it is commanded to keep kosher (don’t boil the kid in its mother’s milk – mentioned three times) it connects it to being a holy people.
From this we learn at least 3 things: Because it is mentioned 3 times we learn that it is coming to tell us that we can’t eat meat with milk, can’t cook meat with milk and can’t get benefit from a mixture of meat with milk (can’t sell it and ectc.)

Why no mixing meat and milk?  

An abridged answer: In the Torah where it is commanded to keep kosher (don’t boil the kid in its mother’s milk – it is mentioned three times) it is mentioned connected to being a holy people.
From this we learn at least 3 things:
I) Because it is mentioned 3 times we learn that it is coming to tell us that 1) we can’t eat meat with milk, 2) can’t cook meat with milk and 3) can’t get benefit from a mixture of meat with milk (can’t sell it and ectc.)
II). We learn that eating in the manner that G-d told us is connected with being holy. Eating has to be a spiritual experience not just a physical enjoyment.
When Adam was created he was not allowed to eat meat – man was meant to be a vegetarian.  After the flood eating meat was allowed but was given the first kashrus rule “not to eat a limb from a live animal.” (Part of the Noachide laws of which all gentiles should follow.) We are taught; compassion.  The killing of the meat must be done in the most compassionate way possible.
The Temple had karbons (sacrifices) which comes from the word Karov – meaning to bring closer. The killing of animals (and eating of them) had to bring us to a closer connection to G-d. How can killing animals bring a person closer to G-d?  Because when a person would offer an animal they were commanded to touch and look at the animal and say that this animal is in place of them. That they deserved to be killed and instead the person took his money and bought this animal and can identify himself with this animal.
When we sit at a table we say blessings to recognize where the food came from and thank G-d for his kindness for giving us food we enjoy to eat. (If you don’t enjoy it there might be a problem in saying a blessing – like on medicine).  We eat to serve G-d , not live to eat.
III) The 3rd thing we learn is compassion (or again).  We don’t boil the kid in its mother’s milk. And we are careful that it should never come close.
Why fowl fall into this category since they don’t have milk?  It actually is “d’rabbinim’ not “d’reisa”) which means it is an Rabbinical enactment not directly from the Torah – to keep us from eating meat with cheese (can you always tell a beef from turkey dish?)
The meat we are allowed are from ‘dumb’ animals – animals that are vegetarians. They don’t kill and eat other animals.  We don’t want to consume this nature in our food.  We remember that these animals are killed for us and kill them in the most compassionate way we can and we don’t even allow the thought of a calf being boiled in its mother’s milk – (in fact there is another law; can not kill a mother and a calf on the same day) to remind us again of compassion.
Eating should be healthy.  Just because something is kosher doesn’t mean we should be gluttonous or foolish. There are other laws that command us to guard our health. Eating should be mindful and conscious of our goal to be a holy people.

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