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Why keep kosher?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


Library » Mitzvot » Kosher » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Eating (and drinking) is a basic human survival requirement, next to air and shelter. If you were to add up all the time that you spent eating in one week, you would wind up with at least eight hours. That’s a lot of time—wouldn’t you agree? Yet we eat throughout the day, every day, without even thinking about it (unless we’re on a diet!).

Shouldn’t eating be done with intelligence?

Enter Kosher.

Contrary to public misconception, keeping kosher has nothing to with nutrition or hygiene, though many kosher products are more nutritious and/or hygienic than their non-kosher equivalents—keeping kosher is the means of finding G-d in your food.

With Shabbat, we can spiritualize time. With the shul, we can spiritualize place... with kosher, we can spiritualize food...
With Shabbat, we can spiritualize time.

With the Shul, we can spiritualize place.

With Tefillin, we can spiritualize leather.

And with kosher, we can spiritualize breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks.

In his classic book Think Jewish, Rabbi Zalman Posner eloquently elaborates the above point: most secular, Westernized Jews think in secular, Westernized terms. This results in the notion that spirituality is restricted to certain times, or certain places, or certain rituals, and that “real life” exists separately, outside spirituality.

But according to Judaism, spirituality is all times, and all places. Even when you eat.

Here’s a quote from another question answered on AskMoses: “...Judaism is not a religion—it’s a way of life. There is no fact of life that Judaism does not have an opinion on. Because eating is a fact of life, Judaism says, “Oh, you’re hungry? Well, here’s how to relate to G-d through the part of you that gets hungry—eat kosher.”

And so, keeping kosher is sophisticated, not slavish. By keeping kosher, we let G-d into that most basic necessity of life, bringing spiritual awareness into ordinary routine.

Now, that’s eating with your brain.


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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
(Yiddish) Synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.