Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pedich and Malgorzata Pakier
Purity, Charity, Community: The Power of Kashrutin an Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood. Jody Myers
Purity, Charity, Community: The Power of Kashrut in an Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood Jody Myers Within the framework of Orthodox Judaism, meal time is an occasion for demonstrating one’s devotion to God. Food choices, preparation, and eating are an important element of religious behavior and belief. Food is never merely fuel for the body or the source of enjoyment; even a small morsel or drink necessi- tates a blessing of praise to God. Kashrut is the Hebrew term for the intricate system of laws and restrictions that render food ritually pure and fit for con- sumption. Kashrut is based in the Torah, the term for God’s revelation in the Pentateuch and in the oral traditions mediated by rabbis and recorded by them in the post-biblical era Talmud and religious law codes. Following the laws of kashrut (“keeping kosher”) means, first and foremost, that one’s food choices are significantly narrowed, relative to the rest of humanity. Ideally, the religious Jew accepts the food restrictions as a show of love for God. Honoring the rules of kashrut has been described in religious literature most often, however, as an act of obedience. The Torah does not explain in rational terms why certain foods and mixtures are forbidden; indeed, the prohibitions sound arbitrary and may appear trivial and even ridiculous, and they are presented as decrees with no ev- ident rationale. Despite these restrictions, the Torah encourages Jews to seek satisfaction and to express love and happiness in eating and feeding others. The many food-centered...
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