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1/2 April: Parshat Shemini

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 7.19pm: goes out 8.23pm    

Parshat Shemini (in chapter 11) outlines a system of dietary laws that specify what we may and may not eat as food.  The Torah states “as for the swine, although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew its cud; it is impure for you.”

Rabbi Nachum Ansel, in his book  The Jewish Encyclopaedia of Moral and Ethical Issues, offers a symbolic interpretation of the prohibition against eating swine: “Only the pig (of all the animals on earth) has split hooves but does not chew its cud.  It has been suggested that this symbol of the pig is the only animal in the world that has the outward symbol of kosher and not the inward symbol.  Thus, the pig symbolizes the animal (and the person) that is kosher on the outside but not on the inside.”

We keep the mitzvoth because we believe we are commanded to do so — AND because we expect that it makes us better people.  Yet there is no growth or improvement unless we learn lessons from keeping the mitzvoth.  What lessons can we learn from keeping kosher?  It reminds us that not everything on earth is ours to be consumed.  We are supposed to be restricted in our actions and mindful of what we put into our bodies.   And, as Rabbi Ansel teaches — outward appearances are not always what they seem.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman


March 28, 2016