Michael Boyden

Eating Pork Makes You Stupid

I never fail to be amazed by the pearls of wisdom that emanate from the mouth of Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Josef.

Last Shabbat he told his followers that not eating kosher food affects a person’s brain and makes one stupid.

He also informed them that the antagonism that some feel towards the charedim has its roots in the fact that they are envious of them. ”Envy,” he remarked, “turns into hatred.”

If secular Israelis are indeed envious of the charedim, one might well wonder why they aren’t flocking to Mea She’arim and Bnei Brak in droves?

Maybe their antagonism is grounded in a resentment of the fact that they feel they are being taken for a ride by a segment of society, where many do not work and very few undertake military service.

However, let us look at the beneficial effects of eating kosher food. (As an aside, I would point out that I keep kosher, but refrain from eating meat, because it is treif irrespective of the number of hechsher labels it bears. How could meat possibly be kosher when we all know the pain and suffering inflicted upon animals in the process of rearing them, transporting them and preparing them for slaughter?)

But let’s return to the detrimental effects of not eating kosher. While Maimonides does argue that refraining from eating pork is in the interests of hygiene and the welfare of the body, I am not aware of him having stated that eating treif actually affects one’s brain and makes one stupid.

If Rabbi Josef really believes that, then I would suggest that he check out whether the pilots keep kosher before he flies on El Al next time, so as to ensure that they don’t fly their plane into a mountain or inadvertently land in the sea.

Should he unfortunately have to go into hospital, he might also like to check out the dietary habits of the doctors and other medical staff, so as to ensure that he is not being treated by people who are essentially stupid!

Clearly, what he said was nonsense. No wonder that there are many who would question whether Israel really needs chief rabbis, and whether their salaries should be paid for out of the public purse.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.