Kosher Indicators

By Binyomin Adilman

"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, 'When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male….'" (Lev. 12:2)

Rabbi Simlai pointed out that in the creation of the world, Man was formed last, coming after the birds, insects, fish and animals. When it comes to the laws of purity and impurity, the laws which apply to humans (i.e. the leper and his purification process) also are found in the Torah after those of the birds, insects, fish and animals (the laws of kashrut), as per the verses: "This is the law of the animals and the birds, of all living creatures that swarm in the seas and that crawl on the ground. In order to differentiate between the impure and the pure and between the creature that may be eaten and the one which shall not be eaten." (Lev. 11:46-47, Vayikra Rabba 14:1-end of section)

The Tiferet Tzion comments on this Midrash, saying that laws pertaining to the purity and impurity of man come after that of the animal in order to teach us that we must include all the qualities that they possess. The indicators of purity (kashrut) for animals are external; the cloven hoof and chewing of the cud. For fish as well, the signs are external: scales and fins. The kashrut indicators for birds are both internal and external; the extra toe on the outside and the peel-able crop or stomach on the inside.

Therefore we are to learn that we must have "kashrut indicators" on the inside and on the outside as well. On the inside, we require a faithful and contrite heart, open to the path of G-d. On the outside, we need to look Jewish, just as our ancestors merited to leave Egypt since they preserved their Jewish clothes, language, and names. Man is mentioned after the fish, animals and birds to remind us that a Jew must preserve both indicators of his "kashrut". One must be Jewish inside as well as out. And the alliance of the two is the key to climbing the ladder of divine service, which is firmly rooted in the earth and reaches upwards endlessly to the heavens.


[Based on Tiferet Tzion; first published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Vayikra 5760]

Rabbi Binyomin Adilman is the former head of the Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Back issues of his weekly parsha sheet, B'ohelei Tzadikim, from which this article was taken, may be found on www.nishmas.org.

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