Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Parsha Insights
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemini

Sheep, Pigs and Camels
By Rabbi Yisroel Ciner

This week’s parsha, Shmini, teaches the dietary laws of which animals can and can't be eaten. “These are the animals that can be eaten from amongst all of the animals of the land. All those that have split-hooves and chew their cud . . . [11:2-3]”

These kashrus laws apply and affect us on both a physical and spiritual level. Whenever someone takes issue, claiming there’s no evidence that these foods cause any physical harm, I invariably counter that I am, in fact, much older than I look. I was actually born B.C.­ before cholesterol . . . In those years, people had never heard of cholesterol. It wasn't found on a single supermarket label. It wasn't recognized as the number one cause of heart attacks. So much for what science knows as of today. We all know that twenty-five years from now we'll be looking back on the antiquated ideas, understandings and methods of the year 2003.

The same way that the physical composition of the food affects us in a physical sense, the spiritual make-up of the food affects us in a spiritual sense. Though we have some knowledge of the physical, how different things would impact upon us spiritually is clearly out of our league. Our only hope is to follow the directives of the Master Healer outlined in His Torah.

An interesting comparison is drawn between different nations and the animals that represent them. Yisroel is compared to a sheep, Esav {the modern western world} is compared to a pig and Yishmael {the Middle Eastern world} is compared to a camel.

(An interesting side point is that these animals are the staple foods of their respective nations. The Jews eat lamb but not pig or camel. The western world eats pig as one of its staples. The Moslem, Arab world doesn't eat pig but eat camel.)

Sheep have both of the necessary attributes in order to be kosher­they chew their cud and have split-hooves. Pigs have split-hooves but don't chew their cud, while camels chew their cud but don't have split-hooves.

The hooves have to do with travel. That idea of always moving forward is exemplified by the western world. A father is termed “the old man.” Technology renders yesterday’s wonders obsolete. With the theory of evolution, there’s not much of a basis to respect the earlier generations who are simply a few steps closer to having been apes. The movement is forward, forward, forward with hardly a look behind. Having split-hooves but not chewing the cud.

Chewing the cud is a regurgitation of the past. The Middle Eastern world looks back on the success and glory of their history. Developments in mathematics and science are no longer their domain. Even their present is backward, a regurgitation of the past, indicating a fairly bleak future. Chewing the cud but not having split-hooves.

The sheep and other kosher animals both chew their cud and have split-hooves. Yisroel is manifested by a deep respect and reverence for the past­those that are generations closer to Adam HaRishon {the first man} and to those that stood at Sinai­and a confident faith and hope in the future and glory that it holds.

“Do not become defiled with these because I am Hashem, your G-d, sanctify yourselves because I am holy. . . [11:43-44]”

It is this commitment to the laws of kashrus that will help bring about that glorious future.

Good Shabbos,

Yisroel Ciner

Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner and Project Genesis, Inc.



View Complete List

Growing Through the Holidays: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

The Heavenly Truth and the Earthly Truth
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Company Manners
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767


Strong Belief
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Bullish Outlook
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

What are We, Dirt?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

> Be Creative!
Shlomo Katz - 5757

The Eternal Embrace
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

The Children of Parents
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Count Your Blessings
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Time Capsules
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

To Rule Is Divine
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Choas of Creation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

A Glimpse of the World to Come
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Stories that Teach
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

Challal: On Many Levels
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information