Minute Mitzvah: You Are How You Eat

2009.06.30
By

TUESDAY’S NOT TOO LATE FOR a Monday Mitzvah, unless you’d rather read something else.

Today: Don’t eat what’s not kosher (literally, “proper, fit”).

Let’s correct two misconceptions:

1. Kosher is hygenic.
2. Kosher is rational.

The basic rules from Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are to eat nothing from the sea without fins and scales, nothing from the land that’s not a split-hoofed ruminant, and no avian predators or bats. From a particular perspective, they are both arbitrary and culturally specific as Western mores against dog or (mostly) horse. The only real reason for a Jew to “do” it, simply and honestly, is that it’s a Jewish thing to do — either as a mandate from God or cultural co-creation. Most Jews I know keep kosher to some degree (some through active opposition), and one consequence of its intentional practice is to reveal the tangible connection between you, the food, the people who grew it, the way it came to you and the world of which we’re all a part. And that’s not arbitrary at all.

Exercise: Look at what you eat today, and why.

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