Divrei Torah

PARSHAS R'EI 5776

In this week’s Parsha we read about the laws of kosher and non-kosher animals, fish and birds. To be kosher, an animal must have split hooves and chew its cud. If an animal is missing either one of these two signs, the animal is not kosher. The Torah gives us four examples of animals that have only one of the two kosher signs: the camel, rabbit and rock badger (at least as we translate the names in Chumash), although they chew their cud, are not kosher because they do not have completely split hooves. The pig is not kosher because it does not chew its cud, even though it has split hooves. 

If we analyze these four animals, we see that the three animals are kosher on the inside, however, they do not have a kosher appearance. On the other hand, the pig has the appearance of a kosher animal but, internally, it is not kosher. 

There is an important lesson here. In order to be acceptable, kashrus has to be both internal and external. People can say that they are very good people . . .  they give a lot of tzedaka . . . they treat people properly . . . they don’t cheat others . . . while at the same time they also eat non-kosher food, publicly and spitefully violate the Shabbos and look down on religious Jews. That is an example of somebody who is kosher on the inside, but not kosher on the outside. 

On the other hand, there are people who act very religiously . . . some dress very religiously. But, their personal appearance does not match their outer appearance. Their personal behavior is lacking . . . they are not honest . . . they are just not nice or respectful towards others. They might dress tzniusly – modestly, but are not tzanua – modest. Well, that is also not kosher. In fact, it is the behavior of a pig . . . an appearance of kosher but not really kosher. 

If you were baking a cake and you used only half of the ingredients, the cake would not taste the way you would like it. If you used only half of the recipe, you would not end up with much of a cake.

We say “Ki Lekach – A good buy I have given you, my Torah, don’t leave it.” Lekach in Yiddish can also be cake. If you want to bake a good cake – create a complete Jew – you have to use all of the ingredients in the Torah.

The Torah is composed of two ingredients – mitzvos between man and G-d; Mitzvos between man and man. We need both ingredients in our cake. We have to behave properly towards G-d and we have to behave properly towards each other. The definition of kashrus isn’t only what goes into one’s mouth. The definition of kashrus is also what goes into and out from one’s soul.