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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish’

You know what I love about ancient history?  It was all one big blood bath!  Take Haman for example.  What you have never heard of Haman?  Let me enlighten you.  Haman, otherwise known as the Evil Haman was a descendant of Agag, funny name, but you deal with what life gives you. Agag was the King of Amalekites, (see despite his unfortunate name he became a king).  The Amalekites were the descendants of the Almalek and if you want to know who that is, look it up yourself because I’m getting lost in all the links I have to go through to tell this story.  However I wouldn’t waste your time looking that up because the Amalekites, (spoiler alert) were wiped out by King Saul and David as directed by God.  Back in 15BC when all this was taking place when God said jump well you had just better jump mister.  Obviously they were not all killed because we still had the problem of the Evil one who now served Artaxerxes II the King of Persia.  Looking at Artaxesrxes name I can only assume it was his grandfather who you can blame for the creation of taxes.  But that is just a hunch.

Pay attention because now we are back on track and getting back to the point of all this.  Sometimes I have to feel bad for you readers because at this point in the tale you have no idea what this post is really about.  Have a little faith and keep reading, it will all become clear.

Haman didn’t like the Jews, probably because Dave and Saul killed off most of his ancestors. I’m willing to bet that Haman didn’t take into account that his ancestors probably tried to kill off the Jews, again an assumption.  I’m not clicking on yet another link to unwind the entire tale.  So Haman plotted to kill all the Jews in Persia.  He tried to convince the King of Persia, (Artaxes) to start off by killing Mordecai.  Haman decided on Mordecai for two reasons, first he drew ‘lots’ and the name he pulled was Mordecai. Mordecai refused to postulate himself before the King making him a seemingly easier target to convince the King to have Mordecai killed.  But as we soon learn, Haman the Evil had yet another little known title which is ‘Haman the Stupid’

Earlier, Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate King Artaxes and because of Mordecai’s vigilance the plot was foiled and Mordecai’s service to the king was noted in the King’s royal ledger.

Is anyone out there still reading?  I hope so it is about to get interesting. Mordecai was a super nice guy.  He was so nice that when his cousin Esther became an orphan Mordecai adopted her and raised her as his own daughter.  Years later Artaxes had one of his wives exiled and took another.  This new wife was Esther!  Yes a Jew, yes the same Jew that Mordecai raised as his own daughter.

Mordy learned of the plot to assassinate the Jews of Persia and talked to Queen Esther.  Queen Esther armed the Jews of Persian cities to fight against Haman’s armies and the Jews, as usual were winning the battle. At this point King Artaxes rescinded the order to kill the Jews of the empire. Mordecai quickly became respected member of the court and Haman ended up being executed in the gallows that were built for the execution of Mordecai. 

In memory the Jews celebrate the narrow escape and celebrate the feast of ‘Lots’ because of the Lots that Haman drew when deciding which of the Elder Jews of the empire to assassinate first. 

The Hebrew word for ‘lots’ is Purim and March 7th was Purim so a late happy Purim to you all.

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We wandered the dessert for forty years!  We literally, with whips to our backs built the Pyramids.  We sacrificed our lives on Masada rather than being forced to live under a system that went against our covenant with God.  We cannot eat bacon.  Our homeland is surrounded by people who would just as soon drive us into the sea rather than acknowledge our right to exist.  Our male children are circumcised…Whaa, back the truck up!  We cannot eat bacon?  Why? Why can’t we eat bacon?

I’ll tell you why, because we are Jewish, because we follow kashrut the Jewish law that deals with what we can and cannot eat.  Kashrut comes from Kaf-Shin-Reish meaning fit, proper or correct.  Food that meets the criteria is considered Kosher.  Bacon my friends, is not kosher!

So what exactly is Kosher?  According to the Torah (first five books of the bible which in a broad sense covers the entire body of Jewish teachings) land animals that have cloven hooves and chew their cud may be eaten. If the animal does not have these two qualities it is forbidden.  Pigs, badgers, monkeys, camels, rats and rabbits are out.  Cows, deer, goats, bison are in.

If they live in the sea you can eat it if it has fins and scales. Fish and mermaids are in. Catfish and shellfish are out.  Do you know what catfish and shellfish eat?  They eat the kosher fish’s poop!  So you tell me, which would you rather?

If they are birds:  Birds of prey and scavengers are out. Chickens, ducks and Turkey are in.  However some Jews tend to avoid turkey because,( and I don’t understand this at all but) at the time of the giving of the Torah we didn’t know about turkeys.  I would have thought God would have had all this figured out.

Of the winged swarming things (winged insects) there are a few that are allowed, however the Sages are not sure which ones they are so just to be safe we’ve outlawed them all, thank God.  However there was that time on my bicycle…

Rodents, reptiles, amphibians and insects? We don’t eat them.

Just because the animal is part of the ‘in’ crowd does not automatically make it kosher.  That would be far too easy.  The food in question cannot have died of natural causes, or killed by another animal. which means we must murder the animal.  Further, the animal must be free of disease or flaws in the organs at the time of slaughter. I know this may surprise you, but it doesn’t end there either.

The slaughter must be done according to a Jewish ritual of shechitah and the one who performs the ritual is the schochet.  This is not be confused with a schlemiel and a schamozzel  (a schlemiel is the guy who spills the soup, the schamozzel is the guy who the soup is spilled on). According to the Torah the soul lies in the blood.  Therefore all the blood must be drained from the animal at the time of slaughter.

Just because an animal meets all the above criteria does not mean all of the animal is kosher, for example we do not eat the back end of animals, which means I don’t have ever worry about eating a cows ass.  Think about it.  Nor do we mix meat and dairy products.  Heck we don’t even mix the dishes, meat gets one set, dairy gets the other. I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up. Not only that, Really good Jews have seperate dishwashers!

The above is by no means a comprehensive lesson in the laws of Kashrut. If you are truly interested you can always ask Google

The question, when starting this post was why do we keep kosher?  There are many theories, but when push comes to shove there is only one reason why we keep kosher.  The most common theory is health.  There are health benefits, the fact that the animal must be clean and healthy at the time of slaughter or how about the idea that scientists are finding that eating meat and dairy together often interferes with digestion. But health is not the reason.  

There are economic and environmental theories, for example the amount of food a pig consumes is disproportional to its value as a food source.  The camel is/was much more useful as a beast of burden, (it can carry a lot of stuff) than it was as a food source.   Good reasons, but not the reason.

The reason is much simpler.  Jews keep kosher is because the Torah tells us too.  Except for the draining of the blood the reasons of Kashrut are not explained.  We keep kosher because that is our covenant with God and we don’t question God.

I am not a very religious person.  I can’t even tell you I believe in God. But I am Jewish and proud of being Jewish and I am trying to understand my heritage/history because I believe it to be important.  For me the number one reason to keep kosher, or at least to understand kosher is simple because a Jew who observes (or at least understands and recognizes) the laws of kashrut cannot eat a meal without being reminded of the fact that he or she is a Jew.

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