Tag Archives: Kosher

More Temple Laws and Kashrut (N#141-193)

Read the full text here.

Summary: The list of negative (“don’t do”) mitzvot continue with various prohibitions regarding consuming sacrificial offerings and tithes. These could not be consumed outside of Jerusalem, God’s designated holy city. Mitzvah #146 is not to consume the meat of the olah offering at all. This offering was brought to atone for the greatest of sins, and had to be completely burned. Mitzvah #153 is not to eat tevel, produce that has not yet been tithed. Mitzvah #157 is not to break one’s vows. The next three are for a kohen not to marry a zonah, chalalah, or a divorced woman, all three being women that have previously had relations with another man who is likely still alive. There is an additional mitzvah for a kohen gadol not to marry a widow. There are mitzvot for a kohen not to enter the Temple with unkempt hair (#163) or with torn clothing (#164), as well as for a kohen not to go AWOL and leave in the middle of services (#165). The next three mitzvot all deal with prohibitions for kohanim to become impure by proximity to a corpse. This is followed by two mitzvot for any members of the Tribe of Levi not to take possession of any portion of the Holy Land, or any spoils of war. Mitzvah #171 is not to tear out one’s hair in grief when mourning for the dead. The next 22 mitzvot all deal with kosher food, among them to not eat unkosher animals, fish, birds, insects, creeping things and worms, carrion, blood, a certain type of fat called chelev, the sciatic nerve (gid hanashe), meat and dairy mixed together, the fruit of a tree in its first three years (orlah), or hybrid species (kilayim) produced in Israel.

‘Pilgrimage to the Second Jerusalem Temple’ by Alex Levin

Insight: Why is Jerusalem so special? Why was it forbidden to build sacrificial altars anywhere outside Jerusalem, or to consume offerings elsewhere? The reason is that Jerusalem is the centre of the universe, the exact point of the Even HaShetiya, the “Foundation Stone” from which all of Creation began. It is a portal to the spiritual realms, and the place where Heaven and Earth meet. It is the place where Abraham brought Isaac during the Akedah, where Jacob saw the vision of the Heavenly Ladder, and where David established his eternal royal dynasty. Long before this, the city was founded by Shem, the son of Noah, following the Great Flood. Shem later went by the name Melchizedek, described in the Torah as God’s first priest (see Genesis 14). He named the city Shalem, a place of “wholeness” and “peace”, while Abraham later named it Yireh, where God can be seen. So as not to disrespect either tzadik, it was decided in the Heavens to combine these name and call the city Yerushalayim, “Jerusalem”. (For more on this, see ‘The Origins of Jerusalem and the Priesthood’ in Garments of Light, Volume One.)

Mitzvot of Holidays and Kosher Food (P#134-170)

Read the full text here.

Summary: The 134th and 135th positive mitzvot are to observe Shemitah, and let the land lie fallow every seventh year. The next six are similarly to observe the Yovel, the 50th “Jubilee” year; to rest, blow the shofar, and return ancestral lands, as well as to count the years, and cancel debts. While a Jew is obligated to cancel debts owed to him by another Jew, he is not obligated to cancel debts of a gentile, which is command #142. The next three mitzvot deal with gifts given to the kohanim. The kohanim were dependent on these gifts, since they did not own land in Israel and were busy with Temple services. Mitzvah #146 and 147 is to properly shecht animals before eating them, and to cover their drained blood with earth. Next is shiluach haken, “sending away the mother bird” (read more about this perplexing mitzvah here). Mitzvot #149 to 152 are to check animals for kosher signs to make sure they are permitted for consumption (land mammals, birds, insects, and fish – in that order). Mitzvah #153 is to calculate the months and years in devising the Jewish calendar, and the following two are to rest and commemorate Shabbat. The next five are related to Pesach: destroying chametz, relating the Haggadah, eating matzah, and resting on the first and seventh days of the festival. Mitzvah #161 and 162 is to count Sefirat HaOmer, and then rest on Shavuot. We conclude the holiday list with resting on Rosh Hashanah (163), fasting on Yom Kippur (164), resting on Yom Kippur (165), resting on the first and last days of Sukkot (166-167), dwelling in the sukkah (168), netilat lulav (169), and hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah (170).

Insight: In ancient times, the holidays of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot were the three regalim, “pilgrimage festivals”. This is when Jews journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate together in the holy city. Regalim literally means “legs”. As stated previously, each of the mitzvot corresponds to a particular body part. There are 248 positive mitzvot and 248 major evarim, bones and organs. The 365 negative mitzvot correspond to the body’s 365 gidim, major nerves and sinews. As such, all the mitzvot dealing with the three festivals, or “legs”, correspond to various parts of the legs in human anatomy. In a famous story, a group of nurses once came to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and complained of severe leg pain from overwork. He instructed them to avoid working on the regalim, and their leg pains would go away. This is precisely what happened!