(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 21:06:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel < email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Kashrut
David Diamond and Laurie Metzer in Torah Forum Volume 4 Number 74 raise the
age old question of WHY Kashruth. In addition to the answers already stated
I would like to add some thoughts from the great Maimonideean work--The 8
Chapters--the famous introduction by Maimonidees to the tractate of Avoth,
where he enunciates basic principles of Jewish psychology.
The Rambam laid down the thesis that A FUNDAENTAL GOAL of the law is to
achieve an EQUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPACITY TO PERFORM ACTS THAT MANIFEST
DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE PERSONALITY TRAITS. The Torah achieves this by
exposing us to laws which demand opposite personality traits.
Thus we WORK 6 days vs RESTING on Shabbath. We are obligated to MARITAL
VISITATION and also obligated to the strict abstentions of FAMILY PURITY.
We are commanded to eat PLEASURABLY on Holidays and Shabbath and also
obligated to abstain from eating prohibited foods. We must be honest in
business and earn money for our family and children but we must also be
charitable and support other families.
The list goes on. Kashruth is one small aspect of this--Kashruth enables
me to ABSTAIN from a "good cut of ham" while by contrast on Shabbath and
Yom Tov I am obligated to have a "good cut of meat" and enjoy myself. The
result of these mitzvoth is I have psychological freedom in the
Finally let me conclude with something I heard from the Rav, Rabbi
< The ultimate reason for all commandments is because God is King. The
Sefer Hachinuch when discussing REASONS for the commandments always uses
the phrase MISHARSHAY HAMITZVAH...AMONG THE EFFECTS OF THE OBSERVANCE OF
THIS COMMANDMENT. In other words, we are not giving the whole reason for
the commandment but rather we are giving AN OBSERVED EFFECT OF TORAH
Thus in this case, we observe that people who observe Kashruth and Shabbath
have greater psychological flexibility.
I hope this brief introduction clarifies these important commandments.
Russell J Hendel; Dept Math & Comp Science, Drexel Univ