Are We Kosher Enough?
Nisan 24 5780
In Parashat Shemini, the 8th day, the Creator was preparing the Cohanim, Aaron and his sons to do things the right way so that the people could FOCUS upon Him. It is not easy to change our way of thinking since our pride often holds us back. In Gematria, numbers have a message. Seven represents completion, and eight – a new beginning. The Shabbat ends and we start a new week on the eighth day. The inauguration of the Mishkan took place on the 8th day with the sin of golden calf long behind them. The people were excited about this new beginning but then Aaron’s two eldest sons, Nadav and Abihu decided to step outside the Creator’s protocol and they suffered the consequences. No one knows exactly why they were killed but let us look at the principle here. We think that we can do whatever we want, whenever and however we want it, without consequence but we need to understand that we are not the center of the universe, the Creator is. Our society runs because we all have different roles even though we have the same value in His sight. The greatest thing is to find our purpose in this life and to know that we are important in this world. Israel was being made special, holy, separated or set apart for a purpose. Holiness is not about being better than others.
Israel was a young nation in the process of learning how to follow the Creator and to let go of the brainwashing they had received during their hundreds of years in Egypt. We have also been brainwashed by our environment. The Creator is like a merciful father who takes us step by step into self-awareness, setting us on the right path. He gives us instructions most of which we need to understand, obey and do. Abram left Haran and followed the Creator by faith alone (Emunah) but here we were being formed into a people who would need to act upon that faith and turn it into trust (Bitachon). The exit from Egypt would never be recreated; He would lead us by fire at night and cloud by day. We were to focus upon the present, leave the past behind and head toward the future.
Leviticus 11 describes all the animals and fish that were unfit for the people of Israel to eat. Do you know that the word “kosher” does not appear anywhere in the Torah? It is found only once in Esther 8:5 where it means “right, fit or permissible”. In the last 3 verses of this chapter, God said, “Be holy as I am holy” meaning “Be set apart as I am set apart” – and Moshe speaks about בֵּין הַטָּמֵא וּבֵין הַטָּהֹר between tamei and tahor, (unclean and clean, improper or proper, not presentable or presentable). These elements are emphasized in religious life in which people are made to feel better than others because they are holy or clean, better than others! This attitude of pride is opposite to the humility that the Creator wants from us. We just finished Pesach a festival in which we are to eliminate the yeast (pride) in our hearts, yet we remain religious and inflated because we look down upon others who are certainly not as good as we are. The Creator wanted Israel to be different, to bring something special to this world. Some think that eating only foods that are “kosher” makes them holier and healthier, therefore better than everyone else. There is no truth to this. Would the Creator choose Israel alone to eat healthily while the rest of His creation would die from unhealthy food? The Creator gave these food requirements at that time simply to set the Israelites apart (to make Israel ‘Holy’) for a purpose.
Today the Creator wants to set us apart from the world, to show them that there is a better way. Religions depend upon our fears, taboos, and ignorance to hold us captive. Fear of not being able to be buried in their cemetery or of being expelled from the community. Today separation is completely different than at the time of forming the Hebrew nation. Today we are separated not by how we dress or eat but by our moral behavior. The Creator does not want us to judge each other because we have only one Judge. Today we are to bring the principle of the Torah to others. Nadav and Abihu tried to make their own Torah knowing that the Creator said not to add or take away from His instructions.
Each of us has a role to play in society and we are distinguished by one thing alone, by our morality. It is easy to be a bleeding heart who loves everyone but that is the greatest lie. We need to be an example to others by how we live. Our “yes needs to be yes and our no to be no”, as our teacher Yeshua told us. That means if you say you will do something, then you are obligated to do it. The Ten Commandments contain everything we need to do or not do. “Talk is cheap”. Israel is a people who give more to others than other nations. We are made to give more than to receive. When we do something wrong, we have to make it right. After Nadab and Abihu died, in Lev: 10:3, “Then Moses said to Aaron: ‘This is what the LORD has said: Among those who are near to Me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace.” Moses and Aaron understood that the more that is given to us, the more is required from us. If we are a follower of the Creator, we learn that we cannot play a “holier than thou game” because He knows exactly who we are. Let us do more and talk less. Today’s moral values have been turned upside down, but we need to speak out knowing that the majority is not always right. Today Israel wants to be like other nations, but we must no longer be like the rest of the world; we need to be genuine and stand up for what is true even when it is not popular.
It is a unique calling to be part of the people of God. It is not easy. We won’t be hugged and kissed or accepted especially when we speak the Truth. Do we prefer to be like Nadav and Abihu and make up our own rules or follow the principles of the Creator?