Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Parsha Insights
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemini

Sheep, Pigs and Camels
By Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

This week’s parsha, Shmini, teaches the dietary laws of which animals can and can't be eaten. “These are the animals that can be eaten from amongst all of the animals of the land. All those that have split-hooves and chew their cud . . . [11:2-3]”

These kashrus laws apply and affect us on both a physical and spiritual level. Whenever someone takes issue, claiming there’s no evidence that these foods cause any physical harm, I invariably counter that I am, in fact, much older than I look. I was actually born B.C.­ before cholesterol . . . In those years, people had never heard of cholesterol. It wasn't found on a single supermarket label. It wasn't recognized as the number one cause of heart attacks. So much for what science knows as of today. We all know that twenty-five years from now we'll be looking back on the antiquated ideas, understandings and methods of the year 2003.

The same way that the physical composition of the food affects us in a physical sense, the spiritual make-up of the food affects us in a spiritual sense. Though we have some knowledge of the physical, how different things would impact upon us spiritually is clearly out of our league. Our only hope is to follow the directives of the Master Healer outlined in His Torah.

An interesting comparison is drawn between different nations and the animals that represent them. Yisroel is compared to a sheep, Esav {the modern western world} is compared to a pig and Yishmael {the Middle Eastern world} is compared to a camel.

(An interesting side point is that these animals are the staple foods of their respective nations. The Jews eat lamb but not pig or camel. The western world eats pig as one of its staples. The Moslem, Arab world doesn't eat pig but eat camel.)

Sheep have both of the necessary attributes in order to be kosher­they chew their cud and have split-hooves. Pigs have split-hooves but don't chew their cud, while camels chew their cud but don't have split-hooves.

The hooves have to do with travel. That idea of always moving forward is exemplified by the western world. A father is termed “the old man.” Technology renders yesterday’s wonders obsolete. With the theory of evolution, there’s not much of a basis to respect the earlier generations who are simply a few steps closer to having been apes. The movement is forward, forward, forward with hardly a look behind. Having split-hooves but not chewing the cud.

Chewing the cud is a regurgitation of the past. The Middle Eastern world looks back on the success and glory of their history. Developments in mathematics and science are no longer their domain. Even their present is backward, a regurgitation of the past, indicating a fairly bleak future. Chewing the cud but not having split-hooves.

The sheep and other kosher animals both chew their cud and have split-hooves. Yisroel is manifested by a deep respect and reverence for the past­those that are generations closer to Adam HaRishon {the first man} and to those that stood at Sinai­and a confident faith and hope in the future and glory that it holds.

“Do not become defiled with these because I am Hashem, your G-d, sanctify yourselves because I am holy. . . [11:43-44]”

It is this commitment to the laws of kashrus that will help bring about that glorious future.

Good Shabbos,

Yisroel Ciner


Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner and Project Genesis, Inc.


 

ARTICLES ON EMOR AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Who is a Kohen?
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5768

From Emor to Omer
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Just Follow the Leader
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

ArtScroll

Have No Regrets
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

The Poor Takes Only What Belongs To Him Already
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Deciphering The Medrash's Linkage of Omer, Milah, and Sotah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

With All Due Respect
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Kohanim and the Concept of Death
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775

Kiddush Hashem
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Consequences of Anger
Shlomo Katz - 5759

High Potential vs. High Risk
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Son of a Gaon
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

> The Double Edged Sword of Mistaken Impressions
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

On Death and Dying
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Why Shabbat?
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Sefiras HaOmer and Rabbi Akiva
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information