The Torah speaks this week about dietary laws;those animals that are regarded as clean and acceptable for eating, and those that are regarded as unclean.
Yes, much has been written about these laws and their purpose. Some who maintain that there is a hygienic basis for the laws. Others who maintain that they reflect the notion “that you are what you eat,” and that animals are classified as clean or unclean based upon how they conduct themselves in the animal world. But most would agree that the real basis for the dietary laws lay in the quest for self-discipline; the idea that something so basic as eating might take on an aura of conscience and holiness.
The Torah states: “You shall distinguish between that which is clean and pure, and which is impure and profane.” For me, conveyed in this passage is the notion that every aspect of our lives involves making choices as to how we conduct ourselves and the choices that we make regarding values that are dearest to us.
Yes, Kosher refers to the foods that we eat. But it refers to much more. It refers to living in the way of righteousness and integrity. To be Kosher in our relationships with other people. To be Kosher in our business dealings. To be Kosher in our outreach to the hungry and the needy. To be Kosher in the sense that our moral actions are consistent with our words. All of this is the cleanliness and the purity that the Torah seeks to impart to us. That we ever “distinguish between the pure and the profane,” and live accordingly.
May our lives be “Kosher” in the broadest sense, that there might be true holiness in our intentions and in our deeds.
Shabbat Shalom to you and the ones you love.
Rabbi David Greenberg