Kosher Cuisine a Spiritual Biblical Tradition

  • Health is not the only reason for following Kosher Laws
  • The Bible has in it deep spiritual meanings and unities
  • Meat is connected to the religion of self - sacrifice; milk to universal faith freedom, divine joy

Jewish people have a tradition going back to Biblical times to separate meat and milk in their kitchens. In Kosher restaurants it may be possible to order a Pita with Shwarma, or a Pita with a Burger but not a cheese burger. McDonalds will offer a cheese burger with onions and vegetables which may be a delight for humanity but for Orthodox and traditional Jews a temptation which they refrain from enjoying. Some pizza shops may offer salami on a pizza pie; but in a kosher pizza store only vegetables, onions, mushrooms and olives.

The gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the city of Uman in the Ukraine.

Scientists do not see any health dangers about eating a cheeseburger or mixing meat and milk. According to Jewish law it is forbidden to eat milk and meat products together. If you eat a steak, it is necessary to wait six hours before eating a milk meal. If you eat macaroni and cheese, according to Jewish law it is permitted to eat after a short time a meat meal or chicken soup. Scientists consider these customs weird; without any basis in health benefits.

Jews received their religious tradition from the Laws of Moses written in the Torah the Old Testament. When they were given these customs they agreed to do them even if they did not understand their inner meanings whether they be for health or for other reasons. Many of the laws of Kosher have been proved to be healthy advice like not to eat shell fish, to salt meat to remove red blood, to check vegetables for bugs before eating them, forbidden birds include bats The Hazards of Eating Bats • Damn Interesting which may have been the cause of Corona virus. However no reason has been found for separating meat and milk.

The Torah was given by God to Moses. In the Torah is the secret of the name of God. The purpose of creation according to the Bible is to reveal the name of God on earth. The Torah wisdom has become shared also by other peoples of the world primarily Christians and Moslems. Christians have no problem with eating a cheeseburger. Muslims like Jews do not eat pig. Christians have almost no restrictions on their diet only that it should be healthy.  Jews and Muslims are also concerned about health according to a prohibition of the Bible and Koran to watch over health. Laws in the Torah may not have simple reasons but reveal deep spiritual concepts within them.

Judaism has rituals like Sabbath, Holidays, Tefillin, circumcism which have in them deep esoteric meanings besides being enjoyed in Jewish family life. Separation of milk and meat is one of the customs with a deep spiritual meaning. Keeping these commandments brings to Jews a blessing which may not only be for health. In an esoteric writing of Rabbi Nathan of Breslov Chassidism, he writes about the deep meaning of separation of milk and meat products.

He writes meat is connected to the service of God from earth to heaven. Milk is connected to the service of God from heaven to earth. These are two directions of spirituality. Meat is produced through ritual slaughter which comes through pain and suffering for the kosher animal which is slaughtered. It then has to be carefully examined to determine that the animal was healthy. Afterwards the meat filled with blood is salted to remove the blood. It is forbidden to eat blood of the animal. The separation of milk and meat is for an esoteric reason.

The Torah prohibits eating many birds including bats.

Milk is produced from the animal without any pain. Meat is produced through slaughter which is pain for the animal. Rabbi Nathan of Breslov reveals that meat eating is related to spirituality which requires self-sacrifice. Just like in the times of the temple it was required to bring sacrifices of calf’s, and sheep which were slaughtered in the temple and ritually prepared to be eaten by the priests; eating meat is part of spirituality which requires self-sacrifice of Jews.

The religion and spirituality of self-sacrifice is primary to Judaism. The spiritual leaders of Judaism work day and night to learn the Torah rejecting pleasures of life, bread and water, measures of drinking water, and limiting sleep. In Judaism, happiness enjoying pleasures of life even spiritual pleasure is suppressed. Meat eating comes through sacrifice in the temple including ritual slaughter. Judaism is more related to the spirituality symbolized by meat which is national religion than to milk. Milk is the other side of spirituality which emphasizes spiritual pleasure, universal faith. In eastern mysticism, is emphasized spiritual pleasure called Nirvani as an achievement; not in Judaism. When a cow is milked, the cow receives pleasure.

In Judaism today there are these two approaches to religion. The fundamentalists reject the importance of enjoyment of spiritual pleasures and esoteric teachings called the Kabballa. Fundamentally in Judaism there is no freedom except in the learning of the Torah and observing the laws. In Chassidism there is the influence of teachings in the Zohar the book of splendor, which teaches that there is also an achievement of spiritual freedom, unity of God on earth, true happiness and peace. Spiritual freedom is sometimes called faith in contrast with religion which teaches more obligation.

The spirituality of milk is kept separate from the spirituality of meat. Jews have two sets of dishes milk and meat in their kitchens. The spirituality of meat is more like religion. The spirituality of milk is more connected to Universal faith World Unity and Peace and Progressive Jewish spirituality. Progressive spirituality may also be in Christianity and Islam. Baha”i faith became the progressive way for Islam. Protestant Christian faith became more progressive than Catholic Orthodox.

Pope Francis has broadened the Catholic Orthodox faith to be part of Universal faith; not only Orthodox religion. Ultra- Orthodox practice rejects change and separates religion from Universal faith like after eating meat it is forbidden to eat milk. Progressive spirituality retains its connection to Orthodox but without accepting genocide which may be included in these Holy Scriptures. From progressive the entrance into Orthodox is not prohibited while from Ultra-Orthodox it may be forbidden to enter progressive philosophies and universal faith.

In Kosher observance to go from meat to eating milk is required to wait a greater separation than to go from eating milk products and after eating meat which is not required to wait. Ultra-Orthodox religion is more rigid than progressive spirituality, closed to the outside world. This is the way God created the world. Jews have sacrificed the pleasure of eating a cheeseburger for a higher purpose.

David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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