March 17, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYIQRA. Maqam RAST.

Shabbat Shemini

Dietary Guidelines

אל תשקצו את נפשתיכם - What we choose to eat is a reflection of who we are and the values we espouse. In the beginning, God wanted humans to practice a vegetarian diet of only fruits and vegetables (Genesis 1:29). This type of diet, in the words of Rabbi Moshe Shamah, "reflects a deep reverence for all forms of life" (Recalling the Covenant, page 564). Realizing that we were falling short of this ideal, God, in Genesis 9:3, permits the eating of meat (with the exception of the blood). To further differentiate and sanctify the people of Israel from the rest of the world and to help achieve a higher level of holiness and cleanliness, Leviticus 11 comes to limit Israel to a few select animals; namely "pure" herbivores that possess specific signs and characteristics. Despite this concession, God awaits for the day when "the wolf lives with the lamb" (Isaiah 11:6), and when all living things exist together in peace (Beth Torah Bulletin, April 22, 2017).