This week we read Parashat Shemini, found in the Book of Leviticus. Our health certainly guides what we put in our mouths. For some, eating is just a need…they’re hungry, so they eat. This week’s Parashat teaches us what we should eat and what we shouldn’t, and that how we feed ourselves is sacred and relevant to our identity and our community. Kashrut gives us an opportunity to eat with holiness, and to transform ourselves. It tells us to pay attention to ourselves physically and spiritually. It reminds us who we are to God, and among the Jewish people. The Torah provides a long list of which foods are acceptable and which are not: We learn that we can eat animals with cloven hooves, animals which chew their cuds, fish with fins and fish with scales, and birds that eat grain and fly…you can go dizzy. But do we really know why? Was it all about keeping clean? And what about the dreaded pig? “And the swine—although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud, it is unclean.” (Lev.11:7) During the persecutions of Antiochus, the Jews actually accepted martyrdom rather than eating pork. It was that important to them.
The laws of Kashrut help us understand that what we put into our bodies matter. When it comes down to it, it’s all about keeping up our ‘spiritual potential’. It clogs our Spiritual Arteries and heightens our Spiritual Awareness