Parshas Shmini; Kashrus - Environmentally Friendly Fuel

This week’s parasha is made up of three main parts. Firstly, the end of the inauguration of the mishkan (with the death of two of Aharon's sons), second comes laws of Tumah, impurity, and third is the subject of kashrus of both animals and insect things. Let’s talk a bit about the latter two. The topics of Tumah and Kashrus are not unrelated; the psukim intertwine them regarding tumah resulting from the incorrect sh’chita of kosher and non-kosher animals (11;24-33), and the psukim do not call non-Kosher animals 'not kosher' but rather 'tamei' (11;4). Perhaps the beginnings of an explanation for this interconnection is as follows; eating non-Kosher food carries with it something called 'timtum halev' I.e. there is a certain spiritual blockage of the connection between us and HaShem, rather like tumah seems to do; with the more severe forms of tumah resulting in temporary exclusion from the community and exile out of the three camps of the Jews in the desert; when real spiritual attainment is found in the communal as opposed to the individual. And thus Kohannim, the holiest and most set-aside of the Jews, have special prohibitions against impurity to retain this sanctity and kedusha. (of course Teshuva can re-open the canals between us and HaShem) This is reflected in an extraordinary answer of Rav Moshe Feinstein. A relatively less-observant married Jew went to his Rabbi and told him that he was willing to take on something religiously; but only one thing. He gave the Rabbi the choice of either keeping Shabbes, observing kashrus, or keeping the laws of taharas hamishpacha. The Rabbi forwarded this question on to Rav Moshe for an answer. Rav Moshe told the Rabbi that the man should take on to observe kashrus because this way the connection between him and HaShem will not be blocked and the man will be more likely to take on other things too.

There is seemingly another level to kashrus though. Why is it that only Jews must eat Kosher food; if it is 'G-Ds's specially designated food' why do the non-Jews not need to keep to it too? The answer lies in the pasuk (11;45) in which HaShem tells us that the reason we cannot eat certain non-Kosher bugs is because 'I am HaShem who lifts you out of Egypt.' Why is the word 'lift up' used as opposed to ‘bring out,’ and why is it in the present tense and not the past tense? The word mitzrayim (Egypt) can also be read with different vowels to become 'metzarim,' meaning borders. The problem of Egypt was that everything was in fixed borders; from the social framework to people's potential - one could only go so far and that was it. And spirituality was like that too; there was no room for one supernatural G-D who Controlled everything. Thus, Bnei Yisrael's first mitzvah was Kiddush Hachodesh, to sanctify the new month (Shemos 12) - 'chodesh' is from the word 'chidush' (something new); Bnei Yisrael were given the power of 'innovation' / newnwess / creation to break out of borders. Now, imagine one is trapped in by borders on all four sides; the only way to escape is up - to fly up and over the borders and get out. This is what occurred in Yetzias Mitzrayim; we were taken out 'on eagle's wings' and were metaphorically ‘lifted up’ to get out of Mitzrayim, for that was the only way to break out of the life full of borders and limits. And the present tense is used because the Jews being limitless (as promised to Avraham) is a continuous kindness done to us by HaShem - not a historical one-off. Our borderless supernatural nature enables us to carry out our responsibility to the world of spreading HaShem's Message via setting an example. Historically, so many nations have conquered us and have easily outnumbered us, but they then took on our monotheism (albeit in a doctored form). Thus, just as a special environmentally friendly car requires special fuel, so does an environmentally friendly nation require special Kosher fuel. Hence the end of that pasuk (11;45) 'and you shall be holy because I am holy' - if our motivation is to truly and genuinely reflect HaShem and His Message then this limitless nature of Bnei Yisrael will be evident.

Have a great Shabbes,

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