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Understanding the kosher laws

Oct 24th, 2008 by yrobkin | 0

Dear Rabbi Yogi,

Some of my children recently began keeping kosher in their homes, and I must admit that I really don’t understand what the big deal is whether they eat kosher foods or lobster and cheeseburgers! I mean it’s just food!? I hope you can help me get a better grasp on my children’s new-found Jewish observance.

Shirley B.

Dear Shirley,

First of all I hope you have much nachas (Jewish pride) in your children’s commitment to their Judaism. You surely have instilled in them the seeds of their Jewish observance!

Before I answer your question let me share with you that the laws and deep meanings in the kosher laws are many and cannot all be touched upon in this one article. I do, however, recommend that you join the amazing once a year program that is starting on November 2 called Kosher Month. There you will learn about the varying kosher laws, take a Tom Thumb tour of kosher products and symbols, and learn how to make challah. The overwhelmingly positive response that we had from last year’s participants confirms the power in this annual program. Please contact me if you can make the program!

But, back to your question: The Torah does not spell out the significance of keeping kosher other than the observance of kosher dietary laws makes one holy. What does that mean? Well, as the old adage goes, “you are what you eat”. All of the food that we eat is broken down in our bodies to benefit from it’s good qualities (proteins, vitamins etc.). From these healthy parts of the food, new cells are created and muscle and fat grow. Literally, you become that steak with a side of green beans that you just polished off at the dinner table! If the steak was kosher we can truly say “holy cow!”. When we recreate our bodies with the food that has G-d’s seal of approval on it we can see how our bodies can be called “holy”!

A great rabbi in pre-war Europe went so far as to teach that if a Jew was faced with no option but to either break the laws of Shabbat or break the laws of kosher, he should violate the shabbat, because at least his body will have remained holy. Enjoy your children and there good deeds!

Rabbi Yogi
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