by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Although the article about the Israeli who was buying bread from the non-Kosher bakery drew a number of positive responses, there were two very negative responses.
The first negative response claimed that there is nothing wrong with Arab bread, since they do not eat pig. He wrote that I am “brain-washed” into thinking that the laws of kosher eating are important.
To answer his comment first: When the local Arabs have celebrations, they bring their large pans of meat dishes to the bakery to be baked. The pans are too large to fit into their ovens at home. Obviously, that meat is not kosher, and I doubt that any spiritually aware Jew would want to eat bread that shared an oven with nevelas (carrion).
The other response was shocking. To quote a few of his choice statements:
“I would eat an entire pig and a cheeseburger if that would foster harmony between myself and a non-Jew. Kosher be dammed... You are living life in the bubble of Judaism. This only creates walls between Jews and non-Jews... Recognize Kosher for what it is -- a symbolic tradition.”
My response: Harmony does not come from surrender. In harmony, each note maintains its integrity; when all of the notes work together, there is beautiful music. Your eating pig will not bring peace. It will bring you to complete assimilation, and intermarriage. After all, non-Jews can be very nice people.
The laws of keeping kosher are not symbolic. In fact, there are no merely symbolic laws in the Torah. Even if you cannot see the actual physical benefit, and, all the more so, the spiritual benefit, do not think that these benefits do not exist. As an example, the following is a true story that happened to a dear friend of mine. Here, we are talking about supervised milk. The rules that govern supervised milk are entirely rabbinic, so it might be very easy to minimize their importance.
The following was written by my friend who is the father of the boy in the story.
“Yisroel was born with a light in his eyes. He looked like a spiritual being the minute he came into the world. And his actions were extraordinary. He demanded success from himself even at the age of six months when he would pull himself up in his playpen by grasping the railing and forcing himself up. He spoke early and walked early and had a vocabulary of over 200 words around 18 months of age. By the time he was two years old, he was reciting verses of Tehilim baal peh (Psalms from memory).
“Then, just before his third birthday, there was a party for children held at a friend's house and they served pizza and milk and cookies. The hostess asked everyone if they were strict about chalav Yisroel (milk produced with Jewish supervision), but my wife was out of the room when the questioning came, so she was missed, and the hostess served Yisroel a glass of regular kosher but not chalav Yisroel (supervised) milk.
“The next day, Yisroel's gifts had left him. He completely lost interest in reciting Tehilim and became a normal child with no apparent spiritual gifts. He remained intelligent and self-motivated, of course, but the spiritual light had diminished. And so it remained till his bar mitzvah. He was a brilliant young student, but certainly no rebbe. Now, (15 years later) he is maturing as a creative thinker, a spiritual innovator.”
So, is it important to follow the many rules of kosher eating? After all, aren’t they mostly just “symbolic traditions”? Jewish mysticism teaches that milk that was produced without minimal Jewish supervision covers over the spiritual heart of a Jew. This, they say, makes it much more difficult for that Jew to be spiritually aware. Can we believe such things today, in this modern world? Can unsupervised cow’s milk affect your ability to attain spiritual heights?
There are no rituals in Judaism. There are no senseless acts divorced from results. Even the most unusual of laws (the chukim) bring practical benefits to the Jews who practice them, and great losses to those who do not.
To the spiritually insensitive person this seems to be nonsense. To the person who strives to find spiritual answers, these rules are lifesavers thrown into a raging sea, to save him from drowning in a seemingly entirely physical creation.
Without spiritual awareness, you and your world appear to be only physical. The spiritual seems to be superstition, sheer foolishness. You live an entirely physical life, with only physical goals. Sadly, you become just another, albeit superior, animal on the planet.