Who Do You Trust?
By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
The laws of kosher food are presented to the Jewish people by Moshe Rabenu
in his final days of leadership to highlight their importance to the holy
status of our people. Throughout the generations Jews have observed these
complex laws to insure that all that they ingest is in accordance with the
commandments of our Torah. Many who have no idea at all as to what the
Torah demands are aware of the fact that the Jewish people observe a
unique set of dietary rules.
In today’s world of mass produced packaged foodstuffs and processed
products that require preservatives and extra ingredients to extend their
shelf life supervisory agencies have become the buzz with the kosher
consumer. The question is: with so many competing organizations with such
a wide range of standards who do you trust before partaking of the product
offered to whet your palate and satisfy your hunger? Restaurants also pose
the problem as to who is reliable and who is not trustworthy. Many
places “look” kosher, while others claim to be and some present an
assortment of customers who look observant. Who do you trust?
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was one of the giants of European Jewry 150 years
ago. He is known as the one who popularized the study of “mussar” – Jewish
ethics to the Torah Jew. One time he entered a shul in a town where he was
not known. A man in the shul approached him and revealed that he was
having guests and requested that Rav Yisrael do the shehitah – the complex
ritual slaughtering required to make the chickens he wanted to serve
kosher. The Rabbi asked that the would-be host wait until the next day
before he would respond.
The next day – before the man could ask for his decision – Rav Yisrael
asked the man: “Could you lend me 50,000 rubles?”
“50,000 rubles “, the man screeched in response, “I hardly know you. How
do I know I could trust you for such a large loan?”
“You don’t know me? You seem to know me well enough to trust my skill at
slaughtering your chickens. You, therefore, certainly should trust me with
your money”, was the wise man’s quick rebuttal.
The nature of people is to accept doubt and proceed into dangerous
territory when the matter in question is in the realm of the spiritual. On
the other hand, most people are very cautious when faced with a potential
loss of material capital. This is really the reverse of how we should be.
The Kabbalah teaches that all unkosher foods that are ingested besides
being forbidden attach an impure spirit to the one who ingested the
unkosher item. This harmful consequence takes place whether the food is
eaten intentionally or in error, knowingly or not. Every person has a
responsibility to himself or herself to guard the purity of the holy soul
Hashem has implanted within the body. Sometimes the protection of oneself
is just a matter of “Whom do you trust?”
Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.