By: Rabbi Mendy Wolf
Have you ever wondered: What is kosher?
That might sound like an easy question, but from what I’ve found, people are rather confused about kosher. Answers to the above question range from “food blessed by a rabbi” to “food grown in Israel” to “Jewish-style cuisine”.
Apparently, these misconceptions form the basis for such phenomena as kosher-style deli’s and kosher dill pickles, which can turn out to be non-kosher after all.
So what is kosher?
Quite simply, kosher is a diet. It is a strict discipline defining permissible species of animals and the way they are to be prepared.
As with any other diet around, some foods are never allowed, while others should not be eaten together. As with most diets, the many details may seem overwhelming, but with time, the diet becomes a way of life. And, although the kosher diet is based on the Torah, and thus essentially remains beyond our comprehension, it, like any other food regimen, has a rational explanation that we can appreciate.
So why kosher?
Well, first of all, why eat? Cravings and boredom aside, we consume food for energy. Everything that we ingest becomes part of our life-giving blood, enabling us to function.
Thus, explains the Ramban, a famous commentator, kosher is a diet that ensures one receives only positive energy. Have you ever wondered why a tiger and a lion are non-kosher animals? Why eagles are not permitted? It’s because, as predators, the energy they transmit is unrefined.
Kosher foods are those that infuse us with kosher energy – refinement, love, and sensitivity. The kosher diet aims to create better people. As they say, you are what you eat.
So hey, it is in to go vegetarian, seafood, or no-carb… why don’t you try the kosher diet? Try it out for six months and see how you feel. You may just end up asking, “How kosher?”
Rabbi Mendy Wolf is the educational director for the Institute of American & Talmudic Law, and the director for Project Life, an organization which promotes Jewish values throughout the business community in NYC. R’ Mendy is a sought after teacher and lecturer and resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and family. Contact Rabbi Mendy to book him to speak or with feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.