“‘And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.’” — Leviticus 11:7
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shemini, which means “eighth,” from Leviticus 9:1–11:47.
When my husband and I first moved to Israel, there was plenty of culture shock. The standard of living was different, grocery products weren’t the same, and even mealtimes were structured differently. Now, when we go back to America for visits, we experience a different kind of culture shock.
We find ourselves missing the things that we have come to enjoy living in God’s Holy Land, like store hours that revolve around Shabbat, and especially the abundance of kosher food and restaurants. It’s easier to keep the directives of the Torah when living in a country where most people abide by them.
However, while Jews maintain that the laws of kosher food only apply to Jewish people, there are life lessons in God’s laws that apply to everyone.
Kosher Inside and Out
In this week’s Torah portion, we learn that there are two signs that determine whether an animal is kosher or not. The first sign that an animal is considered kosher is that the animal has split hooves. The second is that the animal chews its cud. One sign is discernible from the outside, the other is only apparent on the inside. For an animal to be kosher, it must exhibit both signs. An animal must be true on the inside and out.
Most animals either have both signs, or none at all. However, there are a few exceptions, and the pig is one of them. Pigs have split hooves, but do not chew their cud. On the outside, the pig appears kosher, but on the inside, it certainly is not.
The characteristics of the pig teach us an important lesson about righteousness. Some people appear righteous on the outside, but on the inside, they just aren’t the same. These people are hypocritical, showing one face to the outside world, but leading a totally different life in private, away from public view. This kind of “righteousness” has no place in God’s Kingdom.
However, the person who is good, kind, and moral even when no one is looking, is truly holy. And those who are true to God on the inside and out have a place with God for eternity.
This week, take some time to reflect upon our own character. Remember that God is always with us. He sees everything and knows everything — including the most hidden feelings of our hearts.