Your Kosher Diet:  Direct Channel

Each year brings its entree of new kosher cookbooks designed to bring excitement to our kosher diet: elegant cookbooks of Shabbos recipes and Jewish holiday inspiration or quick and easy weeknight planners.

Cookbooks for kids and cookbooks from noble organizations--dairy ones, diet ones, and dessert ones. We reinvent trendy recipes to meet the laws of kashrus and are thrilled to discover famous or fancy grocery items sporting newly acquired reliable hechsherim , kosher symbols.

Kosher: the diet with nothing to lose

With so much written about-- and effort extended-- to ensure our adherence to our dietary laws, how often do we really think about the deeper meaning for this enormous mitzvah we are entrusted to safeguard? Exactly what does keeping kosher mean?

The kosher laws are a chok , a category for which the Torah gives no rational explanation. We keep a kosher diet knowing only that our King, who designed our bodies and has an intimate knowledge of our inner workings, planned the perfect menu to please both our physical and spiritual palates.

Our sages say that being careful to eat a kosher diet only is of great spiritual benefit to us—and they go even further; saying that by not observing these laws we cause ourselves immense damage. The damage is not physical.

The Heart and Soul Connection

Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzato, the Ramchal, in The Path of the Just, says that because food enters our body and becomes a part of us, eating forbidden foods is the worst of all sins, as it deprives us of our spiritual potential.

Non-kosher foods block our heart from connecting with our soul, and the ability to bring kedusha , holiness into our daily lives diminishes as we eventually forget what it is to be a holy people. Worst of all, says Ramchal, we do not even realize the loss.

The laws that define what is kosher food and what is forbidden comprise the second half of parsha Shemini. In the first half of the same parsha, the dedication of the Mishkan , the Tabernacle in the desert, is described. By placing these seemingly unrelated subjects-food and the precursor to the Holy Temple together, the Torah challenges us to discover and address their connection.

The Direct Channel

God commanded us to build the Mishkan after the Sin of the Golden Calf. Before this, we were constantly aware of Hashem's involvement in our daily lives, however, with this sin we regressed.

Hashem saw that in order to regain our spiritual potential we needed a physical structure to house His Presence. He told us how to build the Mishkan and later, the Beis HaMikdash , the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Hashem then dwelled among us via these direct channels.

Two thousand years ago the was destroyed and until today we mourn its loss. The real loss is in our inability to comprehend the level of intimate closeness to the King of the Universe the Temple afforded us.

But, Hashem has not -and will never abandon us. We still have direct, open channel to the King in the kosher diet He gave us. Now we see can the connections in our Parsha. The Mishkan was the channel that brought Hashem into our daily lives. Ramchal says by observing the laws of kashrus , we keep this channel clear and open.

Keeping kosher remains a chok that we cannot understand. However, we do understand that The King and Creator of the world designed us with a tailor made body and soul, assets and attributes, and a mission to bring holiness into the world through our actions.

So that we may accomplish that mission in our daily lives, He designed us to benefit most from eating a kosher diet , the direct channel that connects every mitzvah and our every activity to our essential Source.

Our own personal journey of interconnected episodes which, when properly navigated, enable us to reach our potential in the spiritual realm. The proper guidebook is of course, the Torah. And the proper pathway, kosher food.

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