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Wednesday
Mar272019

Kosher Pork

By Rabbi Nissim Lagziel

A Joke to Begin with…

A rabbi was walking down the street when he saw a member of his congregation going into a treif restaurant and sitting down to eat. The rabbi was shell-shocked but wouldn’t dare go inside. However, when the first opportunity presented itself, he went over to this Jew and bombarded him: “What were you doing inside that non-kosher eatery?”

“Did you see me go in?” he asked.

“Yes, absolutely” the rabbi responded.

“Did you see me order the food?”

“Yes.”

“Did you see me eat?”

“Yes.”

“If so,” the Jew said cunningly, “then everything was done under strict rabbinical supervision…”

***

This week, we read Parshas Shmini, which (as its name applies) deals with the events of the eighth day of investiture – Rosh Chodesh Nissan. The Torah portion tells us about the special korbanos that were brought on that day and the resulting descent of the Shechina upon the Mishkan. In addition, we read about the untimely passing of Aharon HaKohen’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, after they offered a “foreign fire” before G-d. As the parsha continues, there is a discussion of the subject of Kashrus. The Chumash teaches us about the birds, wild and domestic animals, and even grasshoppers that are permissible to eat, and about the signs necessary for us to confirm their Kosher status. Finally, at the end of the parsha, we learn about matters of ritual purity and impurity.

Many Jews, including those who currently don’t observe Torah and mitzvos, shudder with horror at the very thought of eating pig flesh. Many of us won’t even mention the animal by its common name, instead calling it “davar acher.” Those with a sense of Jewish awareness consider this animal to be something dirty, detestable, and contaminated, far more than any other impure creature listed in the Torah. However, what has this animal done to us? Why is it any different from a bat or an elephant?

Perhaps the Jewish revulsion to this animal has its source in the Midrash explaining that the four unclean animals mentioned in Torah (hyrax, hare, camel, and pig) allude to the four exiles the Jewish People have endured: the exiles of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and finally Edom, which continues to this day. The possible comparison between a pig and the kingdom of Edom, which “destroyed our House, burned our Temple, and exiled us from our Land,” has caused us to despise this creature!

The hatred for unclean animals is based on the hatred for the galus and the inner desire of every Jew for the Geulah. And interestingly so, in the time of the Redemption, the way in which Jews relate to this impure animal will change drastically. In his Torah commentary, Rabbeinu Bachya brings an interesting Midrash on this subject, stating that “in the future, the pig will be made pure” and “Why is it called ‘chazir’? Because in the future, G-d will return it (l’hachziro) to Israel”!

Yet, this begs the question: How can we alter explicit mitzvos in the Torah? There are the well-known statements from the Rambam that “this Torah will not be replaced,” and “it has no change, no lessening, and no increase.” In Parshas Shmini, the Torah rules categorically and unequivocally that a pig is forbidden to eat – so how is it possible that things will change in the future? 

In light of this question, there are those who reason that the Midrash is merely an allegory. For example, the Radbaz comments in his halachic responsa that the interpretation of the Midrash is that “the Jewish People will eat fat foods as if the flesh of pig had been permitted to them.” According to another interpretation as brought in mystical teachings, “there is a Divine angel named Chazirel, who is the spiritual prosecutor of Israel, and in the future, G-d will return him to Israel to be their advocate,” but not (G-d forbid) that pig meat will be permitted to eat.  

In contrast, there are many Torah authorities who have explained this Midrash according to its simple interpretation, i.e., in the future to come, the pig will become “Glatt Kosher”!

How can this be?

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that Torah forbids the eating of pig because it does not chew its cud. However, in the future, G-d will change the pig’s anatomical structure, and… it will chew its cud! The Torah never forbade eating a pig with this characteristic sign.

Thus, we find that the Torah indeed will never change. What does need to change is the reality – us!

This innovative explanation of the Midrash teaches us a fascinating lesson on the correct and proper way to look at numerous subjects in the Torah, primarily those connected with the Geulah. Sometimes, we have a difficult time digesting a certain principle. We often encounter a mode of conduct that deeply troubles us, and we reject it with a wave of the hand, saying, “This is against the Torah!”, “A chillul Hashem”, or any number of declarations of this type…

It’s possible sometimes that we may be making the mistake. Let’s not jump to conclusions before exercising some deep contemplation and inner restraint. We can clarify, explain, and even establish a connection between some of the strangest and most bizarre situations …such as Kosher pork!

And what happens with the other treif animals? Will we, in the future, be able to drink camel’s milk, which reportedly possesses some special therapeutic qualities (or so they say…)?

The Rebbe notes in one of his letters that the aforementioned Midrash teaches us that the hyrax, hare, and camel (as all other unclean animals) will remain in their prohibited state and only the chazir will be permitted. However, this will only be in the initial stage of the days of Moshiach, a period when the existence of evil and impurity will continue in the world, along with those impure creatures deriving their vitality from it. In contrast, during the second period in the days of Moshiach, when the prophecy of “And I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth” will be fulfilled, all impurity will be nullified.

And then…

There will be one of two scenarios:

1) G-d will make all wild and domestic animals, creeping insects, and shellfish permissible as they were at the beginning of Creation (for Noachides) and they will receive their vitality from the spiritual worlds and chambers of holiness.

2) The removal of the spirit of impurity will automatically nullify and terminate the existence of all unclean animals.

To wrap up with a Story:

The Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, is known for his boundless Ahavas Yisroel, and we can see an example of this in the following conduct:

In the haftarah for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh, it is written, “Those who eat the flesh of the swine and the detestable thing and the rodent shall perish together, says Hashem.” On almost every occasion when the Rebbe reads this pasuk, he makes a brief pause after the words “Those who eat the flesh of,” and only then does he continue, “the swine and the detestable thing and the rodent shall perish together, says Hashem.” This is in order to avoid mentioning regarding any Jew that he (G-d forbid) “eat[s] the flesh…of the swine”!

A Take-a-way:

Let’s learn from the Rebbe, and instead of browbeating a Jew over his conduct and his opinions, thereby “justifying the unjustifiable” behavior of creating divisiveness among the Jewish People, let’s start loving and bringing our fellow Jews closer with moderation, patience, and with all our heart!

Good Shabbos!

Based on the Rebbe’s footnotes on Tanya (Chapter 50), Likkutei Sichos (Vol. 29, pg. 128), and Igros Kodesh (Vol. 3, pg. 153).

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