Kenneth Cohen


The end of the section in the Torah, regarding kosher animals, explains a basic principle of Judaism. The principle is known as “Havdalah.”

We are certainly familiar with “Havdalah,” as that is the name for the ceremony when Shabbat ends, when we use a candle, spices, and Kiddush cup.

We are acknowledging in this ceremony, how Hashem separates, (translation of Havdalah) between the holy and the profane, and Israel among the nations.

Everything in the universe has its role and special purpose. In the animal kingdom, some are deemed worthy of consumption by the Jew, and some can even be offered as sacrifices.

Animals of prey are not as holy as these animals, because they kill.

The Jewish people are separated from the nations, because they have the greatest potential to achieve holiness. The observance of the Mitzvot of the Torah, is the vehicle towards achieving this holiness.

Because the Gentiles have only the seven Noachide laws to observe, they can achieve righteousnesss, but not holiness. This is where the term, “righteous Gentile,” originated.

Because the Jewish people were designated to become, “A nation of Priests, and a holy nation,” they needed to take greater care not to defile themselves. They had to be careful not to eat impure foods and not to place themselves in settings, where their special role could be compromised.

This is what “Havdalah” means. Everything and everyone needs to be able to fulfill their special purpose in the world. This can only be achieved when one separates himself from the obstacles preventing him from reaching his full potential.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at