God has a diet that is good for us physically and spiritually. That diet is found in the Bible. Non-Jews can also gain many benefits from following most or all of this diet. Like all diets, a Kosher Biblical Diet must be followed daily, to be effective. Nevertheless, like all diets, and all forms of exercise, the more frequently you fail to keep your Kosher Biblical Diet, the less you will benefit from it. By the way, the word KOSHER means proper!
Food is the most important single element of animal life. But unlike all other animals humans do not live by bread alone. The act of eating is invested with psychological and spiritual meanings. Bible asserts we should “EAT! BECOME SATIATED/SATISFIED! AND BLESS THE LORD!” (Deut. 8:10)
But some people reject the enjoyment of eating and add extra days of fasting to their diet. Other people carry vegetarianism to far and stop eating all egg and milk products. The Bible commands a moderate path between on one hand simply killing and eating any thing you want, and excessive fasting and/or rejecting broad categorizes of food such as vegetarians and vegans do.
BECOME SATIATED/SATISFIED! If we only eat foods that we enjoy, we end up with a physically unhealthy diet. Obesity accounted for almost 26,000 deaths in the year 2,000 and it gets worse each year. Our natural tastes do not lead us to good health. Maximizing enjoyment in the short run leads to disaster in the long run.
Self-discipline leads to longer life. Religious self-discipline leads to a higher spiritual life. If you eat your fill you will become satiated. If you eat according to God’s decrees you will become satisfied.
BLESS: The Sages rule that we should say a blessing even if we eat only a small piece of bread the size of an olive. If that is all you have, be grateful you have that. One person can be satiated and not be satisfied, while another can be satisfied yet not satiated. “Who is wealthy? Those who are satisfied with what they have.” (Avot)
THE LORD: We should also thank the cook, the baker, the miller, the farmer and everyone else involved in producing our food. But the four fundamental elements for producing food are sun, rain, earth and seed-none of which we create. Usually we are so caught up in using the end products that we forget our dependence on the fundamentals. That is why we so blithely harm our environment. The prayer helps us remember what life is really based on, and why we should be both grateful and reverent to God. Those who live by all these commandments are regarded as if they dine with the Lord as it says, “This is the table, which is before God.” (Ezekiel 41:22)
The Torah also tells us,“DO NOT COOK A KID (A YOUNG GOAT) IN IT’S MOTHERS MILK” (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21) Orthodox Rabbis ask why this verse is repeated three times in the Torah? The Sages of the Talmud say: Once to teach us that we should not cook meat and milk together. A second time to teach us that we should not eat meat and milk products together. A third time to teach us we should not derive any benefit from this mixture even if it was done inadvertently.
We mustn’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk because that is cruel and insensitive. We could universalize this sensitivity by cooking all mammals, which must be killed, separately from all milk products, which give life to their young. We could go even further and not eat the products of slaughter and the products of nurture at the same meal.
We might even go further yet and use different plates, and eating utensils and dishwashers. This would be extreme. The prohibition against mixing meat and milk products together has expanded further and is applied in a stricter way than any other dietary law in the Bible.
The Bible provides a lengthy list of kosher and non-kosher animals. Animals with cloven hooves that chew their cud are kosher. Fish with fins and scales are kosher. Birds which eat grain and vegetables, and which can fly, are kosher. Insects, shellfish and reptiles are not.
Since the earliest stages of our history, Jews have understood the patterns of ‘kashrut’ to be a center of our heritage. From biblical days to the rabbinical period, new guidelines and restrictions developed resulting from the yearning of Jews to be even more kosher yet the core of ‘kashrut’ has remained unchanged over the millennia. Some of our most stirring stories of Jewish martyrdom center on the laws of ‘kashrut.’
Yet, the Bible gives no explanation for ‘kashrut.’ Consequently, Jews throughout history have struggled to understand the reasons underlying kosher eating. One explanation, popularized by the Rambam (12th Century Spain and Egypt), is that God is a cosmic doctor, providing a prescription to ensure the health of the Jewish People. Another view of ‘kashrut,’ advanced by persons interested in abandoning the dietary laws, is that ‘kashrut’ was an early compensation for unsanitary conditions. Now, with modern technology, we don’t need these outmoded precautions. Such a viewpoint has no basis in science since it requires advanced medical knowledge unavailable 3,000 years ago.
Why, then, is ‘kashrut’ significant? What is the goal of the biblical dietary laws?
The answer is found in the Torah itself. “You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I [the Lord] am holy.” (Leviticus 19) ‘kashrut’ is a way of welcoming the holiness of God’s will into our daily lives.
At each meal, we discipline our natural desire for self-gratification and rededicate ourselves to the high standards of Jewish living and behavior. The network of Jewish values — loving our neighbor, caring for the widow and orphan, affirming a connection to the Jewish people, and embodying God’s rule on earth — gain strength and depth through the regular practice of ‘kashrut.’
Every form of effective pedagogy involves regular repetition and frequent exposure. Since we eat three times each day (at least!), ‘Kashrut’ (Biblical Diet) is a daily school recalling and reinforcing a sense of living in ‘brit’ (covenant) with God, making the values of God’s will visible through deeds.
Even if you do not do them all, doing many of them will make you a more spiritual person, and if done with the intention of fulfilling your part of Israel’s covenant with God, a better creature.