Shemini: the Mystery of Food

Kashrut or the Mystery of Food

Explaining Kosher to a twelve year old, a ten year old, and an eight year old
Or: Why Stuff Is Never Enough

This is the meat, this is the milk side.

Why?

We don’t eat the milk with the meat.

Why?

We don’t mix them, not on the counter, not in our tummies.

Why?

‘Cuz God said . . . (Thinking Rambam).

You put them off with a bent reed, but what will you tell us? (twelve years old)

That doesn’t work for me (ten years old).

Are Spaghetti-O’s kosher? (eight years old)

Look, I don’t know why. It’s the mystery of food.

The mystery of food?

Listen carefully. There is an emptiness into which we eat, it mirrors the world. A space inside. Sometimes we stuff that space with food, with drugs, with sex, with success, with money, but it’s a spiritual space. It can’t be filled with substances, no kind of food, since manna, can fill that emptiness. Manna was kind of a clue, it was food but it was spiritual food, so the regular stuff — love even, success, the gold, the cars — stuff is never enough.

Stuff is never enough?

Stuff is never enough. Only God can fill that emptiness, only spiritual things, love if it’s holy love, work if it’s holy work, only holiness. The space is reserved for holiness. Food is the hardest example, ‘cuz you got to go to the trough three times a day and to make that holy is to help all the other things in life become holy.

It’s a “chok,” a mystery place that registers only holy. Stuff is never enough. The mistake a lot of us make: into that space we stuff substances, we eat into the space, we drink we drug we sex we love we buy we live into that space, but it has nothing to do with stuff. It’s the search for meaning or substance, not food, not drink, not drugs, but God, spirit, the holiness of this and the beauty of that. It’s food, but food for the soul. It’s a hint that all things have a spiritual, non-physical base. All that sustains is unseen. And that’s what kosher is, the mystery training discipline for all holiness in life. It’s called a “chok,” the mystery training. Who gets it?

(Twelve years old): I get it.
(Ten years old): Yeah, I get it.
(Eight years old): I get it, but are Spaghetti-Os kosher?

It’s an imperfect world honey.