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Food-Related Mitzvos

14: Eating Kosher

You shall slaughter your cattle and sheep...as I have commanded you. (Devarim 12:21)

We are commanded to eat only kosher food, which includes the following:

• Chicken and meat must be prepared in a special way.

• Only animals that chew their cud and have split hooves may be eaten.

• Only fish that have both fins and scales may be eaten.

The Shelah HaKadosh teaches that the word maachol (food) can be rearranged to read eim kol (the mother of all) because food is the fuel that energizes the body. It can fill us with positive, holy energy or tumah, negative energy.

Of the two signs of a kosher animal, chewing their cud and having split hooves, one is internal and the other is external, to teach that a kosher Jew has to develop himself both internally and externally. The Gra teaches that an animal that chews its cud reminds us of the great principle to rejoice with our portion, which is the secret to true happiness (Avos 4:1).

The Ramban (on Vayikra 11:13) explains that we don’t eat animals and birds which have cruel tendencies because a person acquires the traits of the animals he eats. The many halachos of kosher food provide us with boundaries and separations from the outside world, which help us focus on our spiritual lives and develop in positive ways.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger and Torah.org.


 

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