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Parshat Re'eh

Dear STOCS Friend:

A question posed to me numerous times: does God really care what we put into our mouths? Why should it make a difference to God if it is pork or Kosher beef? My answer: it does make a difference to Hashem. However, eating kosher has a far greater benefit for the Jew.

The old adage you are what you eat makes great sense in the physical realm. For this reason, the same would be true in the spiritual realm. In Parshat Re’ey, right before a review of the Kashrut laws, the Torah states:

דברים י"ד:ב'

כִּ֣י עַ֤ם קָדוֹשׁ֙ אַתָּ֔ה לַיהֹוָ֖-ה אֱלֹ-הֶ֑יךָ

For you are a holy people to Hashem your God

Rabbi Dovid Zvi Hoffman explains:

כלומר, עליך הוטל התפקיד הנעלה להיות קדוש, מפני שה' אלהיך הוא קדוש.

As if to say, you have been designated with the lofty role of being holy, because the Lord your God is holy.

In other words, the role of the Jew in life is to achieve a level of kedusha--holiness that reflects his or her attachment to the Divine. This is realized when the Jew feeds his/her body with “kosher fuel”. Even if many mitzvot are observed but Kashrut is ignored, the Jew would find him\herself lacking.

Rabbi Yehonasan Geffen writes: “When a person eats non-Kosher food he does not only transgress the Torah but he brings into himself the spiritual impurity that is contained in that food. This forbidden food causes what is described as 'timtum halev' which is literally translated as a 'blocking of the heart' On a practical level this means that a person's spiritual sensitivities are dulled by the consumption of non-kosher food.”

With this Parsha let us double our efforts in maintaining a Kosher diet. As we approach the days of Elul and Tishrei, the consumption of kosher food will open our hearts to follow the course mentioned in this week’s parsha:

דברים י"ד:ב'

וּבְךָ֞ בָּחַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֗ה לִֽהְי֥וֹת לוֹ֙ לְעַ֣ם סְגֻלָּ֔ה מִכֹּל֙ הָֽעַמִּ֔ים

He has chosen you to be a treasured people, above all people.

Let us act and eat accordingly. Before placing the next morsel of food into your mouth, is it physical nourishment or will it be spiritual as well? Do not lose out on the “Kosher advantage” given to us by Hashem.

To all a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Evan Shore


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