Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The "reason" for keeping kosher

One thing that has always troubled me about the torah is that Jews are expected to keep slews of commandments that have no clear reason. Yes, I know that the OJ view is that God doesn't need to give me a reason. Since He knows best, I should just take it at face value and do as I am told. However, i think even the most fundamentalist OJ would agree that it would be easier to follow the torah if we had reasons for the commandments.

A few weeks back, I was on a business trip in European city where there where next to no Jews. Subsequently, there was no kosher restaurant or take-out available. So I went ahead and ate with my co-workers in whatever places they ate for lunch/dinner. While I don't really care about keeping kosher, if I am in a place where it is readily available I will usually go for it. I think this comes back to my general fear of being found out that I am not really religious. So I would rather just place it safe even if it isn't the most convenient thing to do.

After being in this city for about a week & a half and eating with my co-workers, I have to admit I loved every minute of it. For once, I actually felt like one of the guys and not this pariah that always has to separate himself at meal time.

And that is when it dawned on me. This is probably why Judaism has the laws of kosher. What better way to make sure you don't hang out with non-Jews than to take away the opportunity for meals and parties with them? It makes a lot more sense than the tired reasoning that kosher is healthier or that non-kosher animals are somehow dirtier than kosher ones (let's be honest cows aren't the cleanest animals either).

Even skeptics and non-believers like me have to admit that this is an ingenious way to keep your own culture going and to keep your followers away from people with opposing views.