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“Kosher Kindness,” Rabbi Zecher’s Shabbat Awakenings

March 25, 2022 |  22 Adar II 5782

Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings as we make our way toward Shabbat.  You can listen to it as a podcast here.

A word about the nature of kindness through the laws of Kashrut: According to Maimonides, every non-kosher bird is cruel in nature, like the vulture. It would lead one to believe that the nasty nature of every non-kosher bird qualifies it for the non-kosher status. That is, it is not fit for consumption because of its lack of compassion. Itturei Torah, a collection of Hasidic writings lifted up one particular bird in this category: the stork. What do we know about the stork besides the legendary myths to explain where babies come from?

In Hebrew, it is called hasidah, the loving or righteous one, because of its behavior to help its fellow storks. On first glance, we might deem this behavior noble for this kind assistance. Yet, it also raises a challenge: is helping one’s own and no one else enough? Clearly not. We learn that “one needs to help all others, and a stork, and more importantly a person, who only helps one’s own cannot be considered truly righteous.” If that makes a stork not kosher, then it seems to reason it applies even more to human beings.

What we are permitted to eat and prevented from eating provides us a delicious model of behavior. We need to value the loving way we treat others beyond our immediate circle. It is a different yet crucial way to “be” kosher.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Shabbat Shalom!