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Please explain the significance of split hooves and cud-chewing

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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Rabbi Marcus: Eating in general is probably our primary interaction with the physical world. The purpose of this interaction is to elevate and enlist these physical objects. When you eat a slice of pizza and then do a good deed with the strength you derive from that meal, you have elevated the pizza. The signs of the Kosher animal are pointers on how to go about this interaction with and elevation of the physical world.

I’ll start with the cud-chewing, since that’s easier to explain. Cud-chewing is a good thing to emulate in our interaction with the physical. Before you do or say something, it’s good to “chew it over” and think about its effect. Will this be an elevating experience or will it bring me and the object I will use down? The reason you’ve got to think about it more than once is in order to overcome our nature, which instinctively thinks of what is more immediately comfortable or attractive for us rather than what is ultimately good for us and the world.

Before you do or say something, it’s good to “chew it over” and think about its effect...In the spiritual sense we have to have a barrier—hooves—between us and earthliness...We’re supposed to interact with the physical while keeping our distance...
Now to the split hooves. Hooves separate the animal from the ground. In the spiritual sense we have to have a barrier—hooves—between us and earthliness, we can’t get swallowed up by materialism. On the other hand, we’re not supposed to become hermits. We’re supposed to interact with the physical while keeping our distance.

This balance is represented by the split hooves. The hooves, the separation is there, but there is also a split in the hooves—a window through which we can shine spirituality that will imbue the physical world. To quote of the title of Tzvi Freeman’s latest book: "Be Within, Stay Above."



Source: Likutei Sichot 1:222


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Kosher
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.