Keeping Kosher & What It Means to Be a Yahudi/te
Parsha Tzav & Shemini (Wayyiqra/Leviticus 6:8 - 11:47)
“So, what do you call yourselves?”
If this is your first time visiting this site, then you might be wondering the same thing. We’re not Christians, we’re not Jews, and we don’t exactly fit the profile of other followers of YAH either.
So, who in the world are we?
In short, we’re Yahudim. It’s essentially the same word Jews use who identify as Yehudim. However, since we believe in calling the Father’s Name, we say Yahudim.
Why do we use this name if we’re not Jewish? Two reasons. First, it shows unity with our Jewish brothers. YAH desires all of His people to be one.
Secondly, the definition of Yahudim makes perfect sense to who we are and how we believe. Put simply, Yahudim means “worshipers of YAH.”
A more complete definition of Yahudim is:
“A people who acknowledge the Sovereignty of YAHUAH and humbly submit to His Authority.”
This is who we are. Parshas Tzav and Shemini provide a perfect background to further explain who YAH’s people really are.
When Yisrael completed the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the priests were initiated into service with a seven-day ceremony. On the eighth day, the Presence of YAHUAH returned to dwell among His people (Wayy. 8 & 9).
This was YAH’s intent at the very beginning of Creation - to dwell with the people whom He created. However, at this point, it wasn’t exactly the same. Man had sinned. The relationship between man and his Elohim had been broken and needed repair.
Hence, the commandments.
Parsha Tzav begins, "And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Command Aharon and his sons, ..."" (Wayy/Lev 6:8-9) Then, it goes into the Laws (Torot) of all the offerings.
The Hebrew word for "command" is tzav. Tzav also means “to connect.” Mitzvot (commandments) comes from the word, tzav.
The mitzvot are the means by which we connect with YAHUAH. When we obey them, we develop our relationship with YAHUAH our Elohim.
Throughout the whole process of building the Mishkan, erecting it, and initiating the priests, one phrase appears over and over: “as commanded” (Shem/Ex. 39 & 40; Wayy/Lev. 8 & 9).
In order to build a Dwelling Place for YAHUAH, Yisrael had to do everything as YAH commanded. When completed exactly as commanded, then the Presence of YAH returned.
However, right after His Presence returned, Nadab and Abihu did as NOT commanded, and they died (Wayy/Lev. 10:1-3). Yisrael saw the difference between doing as YAH commanded (His Presence) and not doing as commanded (death).
YAHUAH then begins a series of commandments that, if followed, would allow Yisrael to draw near and develop a relationship with Him. These laws begin with kashrut, the dietary laws.
The laws of kashrut fall into the category of chukim. Chukim are laws that are beyond the rationale of man. Mankind would never have developed these laws on its own.
Other laws, like the prohibition of theft and murder, are completely rational and likely would have been developed by mankind in time (as many societies who don’t follow Torah have done).
Chukim are only understood in the “mind” of Elohim. We can speculate and try to come up with rational reasons behind these laws, but we will never truly know or understand the fullness behind them.
Such it is with kashrut.
(Also, with the red heifer of Bem/Num. 19 sometimes read along with Parsha Shemini.)
We can come up with many reasons as to why we think we shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish or any of the other forbidden foods. For example, we can say that YAH told us not to eat them because they're bad for our health.
Yet, we know many people who eat pork or catfish and are as healthy as a horse. We also know people who keep strictly kosher and yet develop health problems. So, that can’t really be the reason.
There is absolutely no logical rhyme or reason to the laws of kashrut. When you think about it ... why chewing the cud and split hooves? Why not tails and pointed ears? Or fur and spots? Toes and teeth? Why both fins and scales? Why not just scales? Or just fins?
What’s the rationale for these rules? If there is none (that we know of), then why follow them?
The only thing we can say is that YAHUAH says so. YAH said certain foods are clean, and certain foods are unclean. We don’t eat the unclean foods simply because YAHUAH said not to. There really is no other reason. Therefore,
the only person who would follow the laws of kashrut is someone who acknowledges that YAHUAH is Sovereign and that we must submit to His Authority.
Anyone who has trouble with either of these two statements - that YAHUAH is Sovereign or that we must submit to Him - would never keep the laws of kashrut.
Keeping kosher is an expression of our relationship with YAH. When we refuse to eat pork because YAHUAH said not to (not because it’s unhealthy or any other reason), then we are acknowledging that YAHUAH is our Sovereign, and we are humbly submitting to Him.
That is a Yahudi/te.
A True Yahudi/te
This is why the laws of kashrut appear here in Torah. YAH’s Presence has returned, and in order for the people to draw close and have a relationship with Him (connect), they must keep the mitzvot.
The only way they will keep the mitzvot is if they acknowledge YAHUAH as Sovereign and submit to Him. This is the foundation of true obedience, and it is also at the root of kashrut.
If Yisrael could keep kosher - which requires acknowledging YAH’s Sovereignty and submitting to Him - then, they would be able to keep all the mitzvot to follow.
To be a true Yahudi/te, we have to obey because YAHUAH commanded. If we obey only because it makes sense to us, then we’re not following YAH, we’re following our own intellect. We’re putting our self in the place of sovereign and becoming our own idol.
But if we obey because YAHUAH said so - even when it makes absolutely no sense to us - then we’re making YAHUAH Sovereign. We’re acknowledging His Absolute Authority, and we’re humbly submitting to Him.
A Yahudi/te indeed.