Materials for Activity
- Handout 3, Laws of Kashrut
Preparation for Activity
- Copy Handout 3 for all participants.
Description of Activity
Distribute Handout 3 and say, in your own words:
- Most people have heard the word "kosher." Colloquially, it can mean "okay" or "appropriate," as in, "No worries; your comment was kosher." However, its original meaning in Judaism is much more specific. The adjective "kosher" means "fit," and applies only to food.
- Of the 613 commandments in the Torah, 33 relate to food and are called the laws of kashrut. These laws describe things to do and not do in preparing and eating food. For example: "Check that an animal is healthy and whole before killing it for food;" "Don't eat meat and milk together."
- Scholars believe in a variety of reasons the laws of kashrut appear in the Torah. Some of the most common are:
- to make the food supply safer
- to set the Jewish people apart
- to demonstrate the Jewish people's obedience to God.
- Rabbinical sources agree on certain points, however:
- According to the scriptures, God intended for humans to be vegetarian, but they ate animals anyway. Kashrut law recognizes that eating meat is a moral compromise. The laws provide a framework for doing so ethically by raising people's consciousness and seeking to spare animals unnecessary pain.
- Kashrut supports spiritual growth by encouraging awareness, thankfulness, and reverence for life.
Remind participants that food is part of our everyday life and is necessary for our survival. Use these questions to prompt discussion about spiritual practice related to food:
- What other religions have dietary laws?
- How could awareness of what you are eating be an expression of your Unitarian Universalist faith?
- If you were to create a kashrut-a body of laws of fitness-in keeping with your highest values, what rules would you follow for preparing and eating your food?
- The laws of kashrut were written before the advent of processed foods. Consequently, the laws do not address ingredients like preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and other manufactured additives. In creating your own laws, what action might your faith lead you to take, in regard to these substances?
- If you choose to eat meat, what action might your faith suggest in regard to factory farms, where chickens, cows, and other food animals are raised inhumanely, and with extraordinary use of resources such as fresh water, for industrial food production?
- What is the value of reflecting on and being thankful for the foods that sustain us? How might increased mindfulness of what we eat change our connection to food?