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Jewish Recipes --> Judaism --> Food for the Soul -- > Put your soul where you Stomach is..

Put Your Soul Where Your Stomach Is

Food for the Soul

"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 and Food.)"

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 called the 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 Torah 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 His creations.

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.

Man was 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 in the 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.

In short, the food that we eat serves not only to nourish our bodies, but with spiritual sparks of holiness, also nourish our souls.

As stated 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 it.

To recap, the Kosher Laws are 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.

Kosher Meat is Healthy Meat

If you're 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. 

Gourmet 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 koshering process 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!

It Has Never Been Easier to Keep Kosher

Is it 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.

2. Rodents, reptiles, amphibians and insects (Lev. 11:29-30, 42-43) are forbidden.

3. Kosher 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.

4. All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten (Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14).

5. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.

6. Fruits 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.

8. The 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 dairy.

9. Utensils 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 kosher kitchen.

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.

Eating is Sacred

When people 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 Torah, 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).

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Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods