Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dietary Laws

This week’s parsha gives an outline of all the kosher animals that are acceptable to eat. Abarbanel, a famous commentator, stresses that we are not restricted to certain foods because they are detrimental to our health, the Torah is not a nutritious and health book, non-Jews who eat non kosher foods are still healthy and strong, so what is the sense of all these strange restrictions?
 Rather than promoting physical health, the Torah laws are designed to ensure spiritual health of the soul. Foods that are deemed non kosher are dangerous to the to the purity of the soul. Although many commentators throughout history have found positive health correlations from abstaining from certain foods that is not what Hashem had in mind when He created the laws of keeping kosher. Jewish people have different souls, therefore, food deemed non kosher for the Jews have spiritual ramifications we cannot physically see; however, Hashem created non-Jewish souls differently, and their souls are not affected by the foods in the same way. It is strange to see  how the Creator of the world gives each group different strengths and weaknesses; however Jew and non-Jew alike, it is imperative to note that every religion, culture, etc., has their own strengths and weaknesses to keep track of.

Why did Hashem create non-kosher animals if we cannot eat them?
One understanding is that Hashem created these animals in order to test us. Do we have the power to rise above our lower desires and control what we eat?

Animals we are allowed to eat: there are 10 kosher animals that are considered kosher. Being kosher consists of having a complete split hoof and the animal chews it’s cud (after chewing and swallowing its food, it regurgitates it).

1.  The ox
2.  The sheep
3. The goat
4. The gazelle
5. The deer
6. Yachmur (no English translation)
7. The wild goat
8. Dishon (no English translation)
9. The wild ox
10. Zemer  (no English translation)

(The 3 animals that have no English translation, they are unknown to us today. Their identities are disputed over with the commentators.)

Moreover, the Torah warns us not to eat certain animals that have just one characteristic of being kosher:
1.     The sh’sua- animal that possesses two backs and two spines, chews it cud, but does not have split hoofs
2.     The camel- it spits its cud, but doesn’t have split hoofs.
3.     The rabbit- chews its cud, but doesn’t have split hoofs.
4.     The hare-chews it’s cud, but doesn’t have split hoofs.
5.     The pig- its foreleg has a split hoof, but it doesn’t chew it’s cud.

Amazingly, at such a primitive time in society, Moshe Rabbaninu did not know the zoology of all the creatures in the world at the time, so how would he claim that these ten animals were the only ten animals that have split hoofs and chew their cud, while the other five that seem as if they are kosher, are in fact not? From this we can see a proof that the Torah in fact is Divine and was created by a Divine force, not written by Moshe or a man himself. No man could make such accusations about the zoology of animals during the time period the Torah was recieved. No one other than Hashem could have created such an exact and pristine Torah.

The Torah goes on and describes which fish are kosher- for a fish to qualify as kosher, it must have fins and scales. Any fish that has just scales WILL have fins. Again, another proof that the Torah cannot be man made, what man would make such allegations, the ocean is so vast and how could a man 2500 years ago make that accusation?

The Torah describes a list of 21 non-kosher birds, because there are fewer non kosher than kosher birds, and the Torah likes to be as concise as possible.

The Torah forbids eating worms or insects; therefore, any foods that may contain an insect or worm must be checked thoroughly. Also, the Torah prohibits eating certain types of locusts.  However, certain Yemenite communities eat them.

Creeping Animals:
Hashem forbade Jews to eat any animals that creep on dry land or water. All creeping animals are considered as abomination because of the snake, which belongs to the creeping animals category. By abstaining from creeping animals, we will forever be reminded of the how the snake enticed Adam and Chava to sin, essentially inflicting morality onto mankind.

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