Food as defined by the Google web is: “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth”. I feel the key word in the definition is “nutritious “. What one person may feel is nutritious, to another may not be. It probably would require an agreeable standard accepted by everybody. For me, not everything I consume is “nutritious “, that is – according to most “Health Food” market places.
Using this definition, not everything we consume is food. This would apply to both liquid and solid consumption. The question comes to my mind is, how does this have any relevance to the Torah?
Looking at the Torah beginning with Genesis, Hashem told Adam that he could eat from any tree in the garden with some exception, the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil”, Gen 2: 9,16,17. When Noah was gathering the animals for the ark he was to gather 2 of the unclean and 7 of the clean, Gen 7:2, prior to the flood. When we come to Leviticus, Hashem gives us a description of what is fit for consumption and what isn’t, and the translators use the words “clean” and “unclean”. I find it interesting that the commandment describing the difference is found several generations, after Noah. Also Hashem does not give us a reason for following these “dietary” commandments. In the Torah there are certain commandments that we are to just accept without explanation. The “dietary commandments” are of this nature. I have read several articles and books where people have referred to these commandments expressing there explanations on why we are to eat or not eat the referenced animals, the fact is that Hashem doesn’t tell us. Perhaps Hashem desires our obedience, sometimes without explanation.
A word used to describe what is OK to eat is “kosher”. Food with a kosher label on it tells us that the contents meet the dietary requirements, and has been inspected by a Rabbi (Mashgiach). But what if the animal meets all the requirements, but your not sure how it was killed. If the animal suffered in any way during the death process, it is deemed “not kosher”. This may be a little confusing because the commandments lay out what is required for an animal to be classified as fit for consumption “clean”, by Hashem, and now were saying, “but not always”. Gen 1:26 teaches us that we have dominion over animals, but in what way do we have this dominion? The Scripture goes on and explains:
Ex 20:10 – Tells us that Shabbot is also for our animals .
Deu 25:4 – Instructs us not to muzzle an Ox while working in the field. Why? Because it is torturous for an animal to see all this food around him and not be able to eat.
Ex 23:11 – We learn that during the Sabbatical years, animals can eat freely from the land.
Deu 22:10 – When two animals are plowing together they need to be the same. This way the burden is equal between the two animals, as opposed to one animal being huge, and the other small.
Ex 23:5 , Deu 22:4 – We are to relieve an animal of its burden even if you don’t like its owner.
Lev 22:8 – Teaches us that it is cruel to kill an animal on same day as its young.
Deu 22:6-7 – We are to send away the mother bird when taking her eggs.
Dey 11:15 – We are instructed to feed your animals first before you eat. This is because an animal watching us eat in front of him cannot reason that when we finish we will feed him. All they understand is that we are eating food and they can’t have it. Its cruel to the animal.
I believe Scripture is clear that our dominion over animals is centered around caring for them. The same is true in taking the life of an animal for the purpose of food. The utmost care is to be taken, so the animal feels no pain. If it is killed in such a way that pain is inflicted then we have not fulfilled the above commands. Hunting does not satisfy this, however it is permitted if needed to survive, but the utmost care must be given to prevent pain in killing the animal.
An animal may fulfill the “dietary requirements”, as listed in the Torah but if it is not slaughtered properly then it does not meet the Kosher requirements. So the next time while visiting the meat section of the local grocery store, and you are trying to decide between two packages of meat, take a look at the labels. Be sure to look for the “Kosher” symbol. The package of meat with that symbol tells you that the contents not only meets the “dietary requirements” but also meets the requirements for slaughter.
The Christian view on this is totally different. Because of three verses from the Christian Bible that are interpreted as discontinuing these commandment, they do not feel it necessary to follow them. In Matthew when Jesus makes the statement that it isn’t what goes into a persons mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his mouth defiles him. I don’t think Jesus was talking about “food”, but rather about our speech. In another passage he especially makes it clear that he has no intention to alter the Torah. So why would he then turn around and teach something contrary. The other reference is in Acts pertaining to Peters dream with the “unclean” animals on the sheet. The dream is centered around him going to a group of “g-d fearers” to give instruction. Nowhere in the context of these verses is there any reference to changing or altering the Torah. If Hashem had decided to amend His Torah to now excluded certain commandments I think He would make it very clear to the entire Jewish community. The third reference is in Romans, when Paul is discussing that we accomplish nothing by offending others with what we eat. Paul is expressing his opinion about how he feels it is important to accept food that is offered to you, but it is his opinion, not an Oracle from G-d. The Torah states very clearly that it is not to be changed, and beware to anyone who attempts to change it.
by, Jim Behnke