Torah Study Notes 4-2-16

Page 712

The laws of Kashrut. See:  These are first things children learn at Yeshiva – where there is an emphasis on the rules. The question is presented as to how to evaluate new foods that are introduced into our diet. Rabbis are ruling on these issues to this day. To some extent these rules are designed to make the people self identify as separate from the surrounding peoples. Today everyone adapts the rules to their own lifestyles. There is a family and tradition element, health and safety, as well as spiritual and discipline elements. It is a form of spiritual training to be ethical and moral.

11:1 These are the creatures that you may eat from all of the land animals…  Split hoof and chews the cud – which indicates the animal is vegetarian. Generally prohibited are animals that eat other animals.

11:9 Animals that live in water. Things that have fins and scales are OK. Abomination here does not mean taboo – it is more “disgusting.”. Here the word is “sheka” which means not allowed.(And is also the root for “shiksa.”  Abomination in the English is a very strong word. A basic of Reform Judaism was rejection of the dietary rules. They wanted to live and socialize with their neighbors. So the kipa and beards were also set aside. The first ordination party at Hebrew Union College was known as the “tref” banquet.  It was an effort to create an American Judaism. We follow social trends = today everyone has their own dietary rules. Today we adopt kashrut as a way of ethical eating.

11:13 The birds that are edible. No winged swarming things. Again no carnivores. These rules were not made by marine biologists or other experts that we have today. Note that life comes first in most situations where it is at issue. If you are starving in the desert you can eat anything you can find.

11:24 What you touch can make you impure. Generally, touching a dead animal or even things you should not be eating. Swarming creatures cannot be touched. If you do you are impure until evening. Some would suggest that in the evening you are washing up and that therefore makes you pure again.

11:39 Anyone who to touches a carcass becomes impure until they wash. See Essay on page 718. Kashrut has an ethical quality in terms of being “upright.” The thing that makes us human. AF – as a Jew by choice I feel I have to make an effort to be that way by learning Hebrew and keeping kosher. M– I feel the same way even being born Jewish.  Rabbi – I feel ambivalent about community Seders because that is something that strictly speaking should be done in the home. It has been outsourced.  We have to be sensitive to and accommodate the traditions of others. LL: To often strict adherence to these rules of Kashrut are a way to be superior – a better Jew –  “holier than thou…” and is annoying.

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