Food - Path to Glory or Road to Perdition?

A significant portion of parshat Shemini is devoted to the laws of kashrut (i.e,. Jewish dietary laws). In considerable detail, the Torah elucidates how to identify what animals, birds and fish are kosher, and which are not.

Parshat Shemini concludes its identification of kosher species with the following verse: “Because I am Hashem who brought you out of Egypt to be your G-d. Therefore, since I am holy, you must also remain holy.” (Vayikra 11:45).

What is the practical connection between observing the laws of kashrut and holiness? Is it some mystical nexus that is beyond our comprehension? Perhaps, but if one equates holiness with striving for righteous behavior, I would submit there is also a very practical link between the Torah’s emphasis on watching what we eat and developing proper middot – i.e., good character traits.

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