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The Chumash Leviticus 11

Leviticus 11: The laws of kashrus

In vs 43-45 the Torah stresses the reason for kashrus in very clear and powerful terms: by observing these laws the Jew can pull himself up the ladder of holiness; by ignoring them, he not only contaminates himself, he gradually builds a barrier that blocks out his comprehension of holiness.

Just as someone who is constantly exposed to loud music and harsh noise, slowly and imperceptibly, but surely, suffers a loss of his ability to hear find sounds and detect subtle modulations, so too, the Torah informs us a Jew’s consumption of non-kosher food deadens his spiritual capacities and denies him the full opportunity to become holy. And worst of all, it renders him incapable of even perceiving his loss.

For this reason, even small children should be prevented from eating forbidden foods, lest their spiritual potential be harmed.

page 597

My notes: In retrospect, I know how I became fatter and fatter and got diabetes. I also understand how I have spine problem. In this summer my 15 year old daughter felt stiffness in her fingers. The acupuncturist told us that she’s also developed spine problem. It is surprising that a young child had an old people’s illness. But it is not surprising at all if we remember her postures when she used her phone and when she sits, stands, and walks. Small habits can have substantial effects on our lives. Self-control is number one lesson each person should learn and each parent should teach their children.

In the parable of R’ Tanchuma, a doctor came to visit two patients. To one of them he said, “You may eat whatever you like.” To the other he gave a precise and restrictive diet. Soon, the first patient died and the second recovered. The doctor explained that there was no hope for the first patient, so there was no reason to deny him what he loved to eat, but the second patient was basically healthy, so it was important to give him a diet that would return him to his full health.

So it was the Israel. Because the Jewish people have the capacity for spiritual life, God “prescribed” foods that would be conducive to their spiritual growth.

page 597

4. But this is what you shall not eat from among those that bring up their cud or that have split hooves: the camel, for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split — it is unclean to you;

The presence of one sign symbolizes hypocritical people who always try to publicize their occasional good deeds or virtuous traits, instead of concentrating on eliminating their shortcomings. It is such dishonesty that stamps them as “non-kosher.”

The Yiddish idiom: “pig’s foot”: because a pig tends to lie on the ground with its feet forward, displaying its cloven hooves, as if to mislead onlookers into thinking it is kosher.

page 598

43. Do not make your souls abominable by means of any teeming thing; do not contaminate yourselves through them lest you become contaminated through them.

44. For I am HASHEM your God – you shall sanctify yourselves and you will be holy, fo rI am holy; and you shall not contaminate your souls through any teeming thing that creeps on the earth. 45. For I am HASHEM Who elevates you from the land of Egypt to be a God unto you; you shall be holy, for I am holy.

46. This is the law of the animal, the bird, every living creature that swarms in the water, and for every creature that teems on the ground; 47. to distinguish between the contaminated and the pure, and between the creature that may be eaten and the creature that may not be eaten.

page 607

Small wonder that those who consume forbidden foods cannot see the logic of these prohibitions, just as one who lives on analgesics finds it strange that other people cry out in pain at stimuli that he does not feel.

Painkillers dull the nerves and forbidden foods dull the spiritual antennae.

To become holy, a person must sanctify himself “down below,” meaning that the road to holiness does not begin with sublime thoughts or the study of lofty ideas.

First a person must sanctify himself in the “lowly” things, such as his personal behavior, morality, and appetite. Once someone has turned himself into a decent, moral person, he can aspire to assistance from above.

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