Another Friday and another great question to get us ready for Shabbat. Remember, if you have a question about something Jewish, or about something you read in this week’s answer, click here to ask a question.
This week the question comes from Nathan and he asks “Why can’t religious Jewish people eat pork and shellfish?”
Great question Nathan! The short answer is because God said so in the Torah. Read on for the longer answer.
In the Torah there are a lot of laws that God gave to the Jewish people. Some laws are about how we act towards one another, some laws are about how we celebrate certain holidays, and some laws are about what foods we can or cannot eat; those are the laws of keeping kosher. Those laws say that Jewish should only eat meat from certain animals, specifically those that have split hooves and chew their cud. Pigs do not fit into that category so that is why some Jews do not eat pork. When it comes to fish, only fish that have fins and scales are permissible and shellfish don’t fit into that category, so that is why some Jews do not eat shellfish. There is one more law that says you cannot mix milk and meat, which means some Jews won’t eat cheeseburgers because they have meat and milk in them.
Some people today have different versions of keeping kosher: they might follow the laws exactly, they might follow a portion of the laws, like just not eating pork, or not eat shellfish. Others follow what is called “ethical kosher.” That means that they don’t just care about what type of animal it is, but they also care about how the animal lived. People who keep ethical kosher usually only eat animals that are free range and organic, because that means the animal is treated ethically while it is alive.
Shabbat Shalom everyone. See you at camp!
RDC Jewish Programmer