Last week’s Parasha was Shemini where we also learn about Kashrut (kosher laws). In order for an animal to be kosher, it has to have double (separate) hooves and it must chewing it’s cud. Non – kosher animals with split hooves but without chewing the cud or chewing the cud but without separate hooves are not suitable for consumption.
Ancient people regarded horses, dogs or foxes as clean animals. The Torah, however, does not accept this point of view.
Shechitah / Jewish ritual slaughtering causes an animal an almost instant death. Examining the animal’s lungs prevents illnesses. During the Middle Ages, Jews were almost immune to the Black Death due to the dietary laws. In addition to that, Jews wash their hands before they start eating. It was then, when Christians started accusing Jews of well poisoning.
Ancient people also believed that unclean animals were enemies and had to be hunted down. According to Bava Metziah 32b, hunting for reasons of sport is cruel and forbidden to Jews. Ancient people regarded horses, dogs or foxes as clean animals. The Torah, however, does not accept this point of view. Rabbi Me’ir of Rothenburgh once stated: “He who hunts game with dogs will not enjoy life in Olam Ha’Bah (the World to Come)”.
Keeping kosher teaches a Jew self – control. Before we put anything into out mouth, we should think whether this is allowed or good for us. Acting out of desire can be detrimental to our soul. Kashrut elevates the act of eating from a basic bodily requirement into a holy act. In other words, we shouldn’t behave like animals and only follow our desires. 🙂