An earthenware vessel in which a Chatass (sin offering) was cooked shall be broken; but if it was cooked in a copper vessel, that should be purged (kashered) and rinsed in water (to remove the taste of the sacrifice, to avoid the transgression of “Nosar”). [Vaykira 7:21]

God spoke to Moshe and Aaron, saying to them, “These are the animals that you may eat from among all the animals that are upon the earth.” [Vayikra 11:1-2]

The word “kosher” is universally used to denote that which is proper and meets accepted rules and standards. In Judaism, the term kosher applies specifically to food, Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot, and can even be applied to the acceptability of witnesses. Its most common use today, of course, is in regard to food, which is the subject of this shiur.

The shiur first offers an overview of the basic principles of kashrus including:

  • Identifying kosher mammals and birds
  • Shechitah of kosher animals and birds
  • Gid HaNasheh
  • Fats and blood
  • Not mixing meat and dairy products
  • Identifying kosher fish
  • Prohibition of insects
  • Selected rabbinic prohibitions

The class then describes reasons why Jews observe the kashrus laws including Kabbalistic insights. What are the philosophical underpinnings for observing the kosher laws? The Torah states (Shemos 22:30) that a holy people require holy food. Rashi writes (Ibid) that our holiness and closeness to God depends upon what we eat and how the food is processed. The Rekanti adds (commentary on Parshas Tazria) that observing kashrus helps one to reach one’s potential. The Seforno explains (Devarim 14:4) that the Jews elevated national status after receiving the Torah requires that we eat “elevated” food. The Kli Yakar (Ibid) comments that kashrus nourishes and ensures the well-being of the soul.

See the NLE Morasha shiur on Why Keep Kosher.

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