Kenneth Cohen

That Makes Sense

There is a large section in Parshat Shemini that deals with an explanation of the Kashrut laws. This is the source for the requirements of animals, fish, and fowel.
In the case of animals, they must chew their cud and have split hooves. Fish must have fins and scales in the water. (If they fall off, when taken from the water, they are still kosher.) Birds of prey may not be eaten.

On a recent trip to the States, my carry-on was searched by a TSA officer. When he saw my Tefillin, he asked me, “Are you a rabbi or something?” When I told him that I was, he asked me, “What’s the deal with that kosher stuff.” I told him that we are not allowed to eat animals that eat other animals. He was satisfied and said, “That makes sense.” And this whole conversation took place, while I was passing through the security line!

The Rabbis use the expression that food from a non-kosher animal, is מטמטם את הלב, confuses the heart. Our souls are affected by what we put into our bodies.
The soul is the eternal part of man’s being. It is pure and holy. The body and soul are meant to complement one another. The body can be used to do acts of kindness and other Mitzvot. For example, the Tefillin are wrapped on the body, and sanctify it. Placing food that is deemed unclean and impure into the body, causes harm to the soul.

A Jew is expected to act in a way that elevates and sanctifies. All of his actions should be thought out and planned. He must not defile himself in any way. Eating kosher food, helps achieve this goal of sanctity and purification. And as my TSA friend put it, “That makes sense!”

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