Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

The Holy Fraud (Shemini)

"Pig in Tux" (AI image by author)
"Pig in Tux" (AI image by author)

The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that. — Pearl Bailey

“Pig in Tux” (AI image by author)

There is a creature that walks amongst us, sometimes it is us, who wear the garments of a saint. That creature dresses in the latest holy fashion. He wears the right garb and makes the right noises. He hangs out in holy enclaves and demonstrates great devotion. He shows the world how holy he is and makes sure his signs of holiness are visible for all to see. The Torah has a name for such a creature. The Torah names him a pig.

Yes. For some reason, the innocent, intelligent and highly sociable hog is considered traditionally to be the vilest of creatures. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Prague, the Kli Yakar (1550-1619) on Leviticus 11:4, suggests why. As is widely known, pigs are not kosher animals – if anything, they are the antithesis and symbolic of the most non-kosher food one can consume. What is curious about the pig is that he actually does possess one of the two kosher mammalian traits and the most visible one at that: split hooves.

The pig has another interesting trait. It apparently sleeps with its hooves stretched out, as if to say: “Look at me! I have split hooves. I am kosher!” The Kli Yakar states:

“This teaches that all whose insides are not like their outside, as the fraudsters who present themselves as righteous; they are without doubt worse than the purely bad, whose insides and outsides are the same.”

May we beware of the fraud within ourselves and others.

Shabbat Shalom,



 On the marriage of Hadassah Pieprz and Sason Sofer. Mazal Tov!

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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