Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Do You Trust?

Rabino Raymond Beyda


The laws of kosher food are presented to the Jewish people by Moshe Rabenuin his final days of leadership to highlight their importance to the holystatus of our people. Throughout the generations Jews have observed thesecomplex laws to insure that all that they ingest is in accordance with thecommandments of our Torah. Many who have no idea at all as to what theTorah demands are aware of the fact that the Jewish people observe aunique set of dietary rules.
In today’s world of mass produced packaged foodstuffs and processedproducts that require preservatives and extra ingredients to extend theirshelf life supervisory agencies have become the buzz with the kosherconsumer. The question is: with so many competing organizations with sucha wide range of standards who do you trust before partaking of the productoffered to whet your palate and satisfy your hunger? Restaurants also posethe problem as to who is reliable and who is not trustworthy. Manyplaces “look” kosher, while others claim to be and some present anassortment of customers who look observant. Who do you trust?
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was one of the giants of European Jewry 150 yearsago. He is known as the one who popularized the study of “mussar” – Jewishethics to the Torah Jew. One time he entered a shul in a town where he wasnot known. A man in the shul approached him and revealed that he washaving guests and requested that Rav Yisrael do the shehitah – the complexritual slaughtering required to make the chickens he wanted to servekosher. The Rabbi asked that the would-be host wait until the next daybefore he would respond.
The next day – before the man could ask for his decision – Rav Yisraelasked the man: “Could you lend me 50,000 rubles?”
“50,000 rubles “, the man screeched in response, “I hardly know you. Howdo I know I could trust you for such a large loan?”
“You don’t know me? You seem to know me well enough to trust my skill atslaughtering your chickens. You, therefore, certainly should trust me withyour money”, was the wise man’s quick rebuttal.
The nature of people is to accept doubt and proceed into dangerousterritory when the matter in question is in the realm of the spiritual. Onthe other hand, most people are very cautious when faced with a potentialloss of material capital. This is really the reverse of how we should be.The Kabbalah teaches that all unkosher foods that are ingested besidesbeing forbidden attach an impure spirit to the one who ingested theunkosher item. This harmful consequence takes place whether the food iseaten intentionally or in error, knowingly or not. Every person has aresponsibility to himself or herself to guard the purity of the holy soulHashem has implanted within the body. Sometimes the protection of oneselfis just a matter of “Whom do you trust?”
Shabbat Shalom