SH’MINI, LEVITICUS 9:1-11:47
D’VAR TORAH BY: RICHARD N. LEVY
What can God be thinking?
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses is told–of all things–what the Israelites should and should not eat. Why should the Creator of the universe care?
For many reasons. God took great pains to create a beautiful garden to grow from the earth so the First Couple would have plenty to eat. Israel was barely out of Egypt when God sent manna from heaven so the First People would have plenty to eat. In Deuteronomy 8:10, God even articulated a threefold mitzvah regarding eating: You shall eat (ie., you may not starve yourselves); you shall be satisfied (ie., with whatever you have); you shall say a blessing (ie., you shall acknowledge that your food is a gift from God).
And God had imposed such restrictions previously. In Eden we were to eat only what we could gather from the garden. But thinking that a diet of red meat might help channel the aggressiveness that led to the Flood, God permitted Noah’s children to add animal meat to their diet, specifying that we could not eat the blood that carried the animal’s life force. Then, in cognition of Jacob’s thigh wound by the angel, we were not to eat the thigh muscle (no porterhouse, sirloin, or filet mignon). And on another occasion, God asked us not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk, which is one of those mitzvot that are meant to teach us compassion.
Read more at: reformjudaism.org