Orthodox Judaism/LAWS OF KASHRUT
Dear Mr. Frank,
From my understanding of the laws of kashrut, the main commandments involve not boiling a kid in its mother's milk (separate milk and meat); do not rip the limb off a living animal; do not eat shellfish or pork or any animal without a certain type of hoof; etc. Further, if a person captures baby animals, one must "send the mother away" before actually gathering the animals. The method of slaughter is also carefully regulated.
I understand that obviously we cannot know the core reasoning within G-d's mind in coming up with these rules. But my impression is that they seem to be based on two fundamental principles:
1. Health issues (shellfish, pork...)
2. Issues of cruelty (ripping off a limb, proper slaughter...)
What is the orthodox perspective on the "reasons" behind the kosher laws (besides the obvious fact that we cannot know G-d's true intentions)? Are the laws primarily to prevent cruelty or for health reasons? By the way, may I then ask a follow-up question?
Thanks very much.
Hi Bruce and thank you for your question.
From an Orthodox perspective, the preclusion of non kosher food in our diet is not so much for its physical benefits but more for the metaphysical benefit.
The Torah is enumerating food items whose consumption adversely affects our spiritual wellbeing.
Eating these foodstuffs causes a spiritual "blockage", dulling our spiritual sensors.
It wreaks spiritual havoc on our souls.
Therefore, G-d, by presenting the roadmap to spirituality via the Torah, included the kosher dietary laws as an important part of the spiritual blueprint of reality.
There have been several commentators who supplied some level of reasoning to various laws.
For example the milk and meat laws are explained that in essence all milk is actually mother's milk. And cooking meat in mother's milk can be construed, on some level, as cruel. So to preclude a dulling of our compassionate sensitivities, the Torah prohibited the cooking of milk and meat.
This may be a part of the reason as to why its consumption adversely affects our souls.
But regardless whether we understand the particular component in spirituality that it damages, we believe that all non kosher food on some level damages us and therefore a kosher diet keeps us spiritually fit and enables us to more readily cleave to Him.
I hope this answers your question!