Put Your Soul
Where Your Stomach Is
Food for the
"If you are
what you eat and you don't know what you're
eating, do you know who you are?" (-Claude
Fischler, 2004, French sociologist and
Research Director of the National Center for
Scientific Research, whose field is Humans
You have probably heard the expression, "you
are what you eat." Why is that expression so
well-known? Because how and what we eat
greatly reflects on who we are as human
beings. What we ingest can reflect and
affect our values, our behavior and our
attitude on life. Think about it: Who
teaches us what to do? How do we know Right
from Wrong? How do we know how to live? How
do we know how to conduct ourselves in an
ever-more-complicated society? Well, we as
Jews, are blessed with having been given a
"Blueprint for Life."
We believe that we were created in the
spiritual image of G-d, who gave us a book
Torah --that is our 'Blueprint for
Life!" It is chock-full of values which
teach us how to conduct ourselves, right
down to our daily lives; it shows us how to
elevate ourselves to reach that Godly image in which we were created.
Included in these
Torah values are the laws
of 'Kashrut,' or 'keeping kosher.' The
prescribes for us which foods are good for
us and which are harmful. It tells us also
how to prepare some of those foods for
consumption, even before they are put in our
pot and on our stove!" We say a bracha, or
blessing, over the food that we eat, before
and after we eat it, thanking G-d for
providing for us and sustaining us through
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned against G-d
by eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of
Eden, and Adam was subsequently sentenced to
toil in hard labor for his food, and
immortality was taken from human beings, all
of Creation has been filled with a mixture
of good and evil, purity and
impurity--including the food that we eat.
This is why the
Torah proscribes for us
(does not permit) certain animals for food,
such as insects and crawling things,
scavengers and bottom-feeders, mammals that
do not have a cloven foot nor chew their
cud, nor bird of prey.
also given dominion over the animal kingdom.
But we must not abuse this power granted to
us by G-d; therefore, we are also enjoined
Torah to treat animals humanely, by
not being cruel to animals and slaughtering
them quickly and cleanly, according to
kosher slaughtering laws, where the animals
is killed instantly and feels no pain.
the food that we eat serves not only to
nourish our bodies, but with spiritual
sparks of holiness, also nourish our souls.
above, just as there are foods that are good
for the body and foods that are harmful, so
too, there are foods that nourish the inner
person -- the soul -- and foods that harm
To recap, the Kosher
Torah's guides to those foods that
affect the Jewish soul positively and adversely.
In summation, all
meat or fowl that is eaten must be
slaughtered in the prescribed, humane
fashion. Meat and milk must
never mix. Scavengers, predatory beats
and fish, shellfish and certain other animal
are forbidden. Any processed foods
must be produced under strict supervision.
Meat is Healthy Meat
used to thinking of Kosher as an antiquated
health prescription, think again:
Processed foods must be produced under
strict supervision, ensuring better
cleanliness and less contamination by
extraneous substances. As mentioned, meat and fowl must
be slaughtered in a humane fashion, which
means that since the
animal feels no shock and little pain, far
fewer toxins are released into the blood.
maven Dr. Myles Bader writes, "If you want
healthy, clean tasting chicken, buy kosher."
Non-kosher chicken are soaked in warm water
to help remove feathers. Kosher
chickens, however, are submerged in cold water for
thirty minutes, salted to remove the blood and
rinsed three separate times to remove all
the salt. Since 48% of food poison is
cause by contaminated chickens, the
could literally be a life saver.
As far as
large animals such as cows, steers, buffalo
and the like, a large percentage of those
animals slaughtered for kosher
consumption--are rejected. According to the
stringent Kosher guidelines, they are not
considered fit for human consumption.
However, almost all of them are then sold on
the common non-kosher meat market!
Never Been Easier to Keep Kosher
difficult to keep kosher? Those who don't
keep kosher think it is, but the only reason
it seems difficult, is because the rest of
the world does not keep kosher! In
reality, has never been easier to keep
kosher than it is today!
Seventy percent of the packaged foods in
your pantry or cupboard are probably kosher
already. Kosher foods are the fastest
growing segment of the food industry. Going
"the distance" to keeping completely kosher
can be a smooth, step-by-step process--each
step a "mitzvah" (Divine Commandment
or Good Deed) all on its own:
Here are the basic guidelines*:
Although the details of kashrut are
extensive, the laws all derive from a few
fairly simple, straightforward rules:
1. "Treif" or non-kosher animals: Certain
animals may not be eaten at all, including
pig products (port, ham, bacon, etc.),
shellfish and other non-kosher fish.
This restriction includes the flesh, organs,
eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
reptiles, amphibians and insects (Lev.
11:29-30, 42-43) are forbidden.
animals: Of the animals which may be eaten
(Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6)--only those mammals
with a split hoof and which chew their
cud--the birds and mammals must be killed in
accordance with Jewish law.
blood must be drained from the meat or
broiled out of it before it is eaten (Lev.
7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14).
parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
and vegetables are permitted, but must be
inspected for bugs (see #2 above).
7. Meat and
dairy need to be separated and not come in
contact with each other. Meat (the flesh of
birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with
dairy together at the same meal, nor can
dairy be eaten right after a meat meal.
concept of "Pareve," or neither meat nor
dairy: fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and
grains are neither meat nor dairy, and
therefore can be eaten with either meat or
that have come into contact with meat may
not be used with dairy, and vice versa.
Utensils that have come into contact with
non-kosher food may not be used with kosher
food. This applies only where the contact
occurred while the food was hot.
10. Grape products, such as wine or grape
juice, need kosher certification from a
reliable kosher certification organization
in order to be considered "kosher."
11. 'Kasher' your kitchen, i.e., make it
kosher; if it was not kosher before, you
need to convert it (through a Rabbi's or
koshering agency's supervision) to be a
Observant Jews who keep strictly kosher may
have had to 'kasher' their kitchens,
meaning converting it from a formerly
non-kosher kitchen to a kosher one (consult
a reliable Rabbi for more information on how
to do this). In three separate places, the
Torah tells us not to "boil a kid in its
mother's milk." (Ex. 23:19; Ex.
34:26; Deut. 14:21). The Oral Torah
explains that this passage prohibits eating
meat and dairy together, so once their
kitchen has been 'kashered,' those who keep
kosher have separate kitchen accoutrements
at least for meat and dairy, and sometimes
an extra set for 'pareve,' or neutral foods
(see #6 & 8 above), that is, separate pots
and pans, dishes, cutlery, utensils and
accessories, stored in separate cabinets.
People who keep kosher also only buy
processed foods which have kosher
certification, usually indicated by a
copyrighted symbol on the packaging, which
means that a kosher supervising agency has
sent kashrut experts to inspect the plants,
equipment, machinery and product ingredients
to ensure that the product was prepared
according to kosher laws.
Remember, these are only basic guidelines;
before undertaking converting to kosher,
you must consult with a reliable Rabbi.
talk about spirituality, they generally
think of mediation, prayer and maybe music.
Few imagine eating as a spiritual activity.
But as we see here, according to the
everything a person does is another way to
infuse the world with spiritual meaning,
especially eating. When a person eats food
with the proper mindfulness, and uses the
energy of that food for good things, the
food becomes elevated through his eating.
The real reason, then, that we observe the
laws of kashrut are, plain and
simple--because the Torah tells us to.
These laws are a reminder that we need
self-control in our lives; that we need to
distinguish between right and wrong, good
and evil, purity and impurity, the sacred
and the profane. By keeping kosher, the
basic act of eating becomes elevated into a
religious ritual: the kosher dinner table is
then analogous to a "Mizbe'ach le'Hashem,"
a Temple Alter to G-d.
Kosher foods are those that a Jewish soul is
able to elevate. Non-kosher foods are those
that will only drag the soul down. When
enough people are busy elevating the world
rather than being dragged down by it, the
world will be able to reach it's
fulfillment: that is the future time
described by the prophets as the Era of
Moshiach (the Age of the Messiah).