“I go to a religious synagogue” (are there any others?)… “I don’t go synagogue but I keep the Ten Commandments” (if only!)… “I’m not so religious – I don’t keep a kosher home”…
This Shabbat, when the dietary laws figure in the Torah reading, let’s focus on the third category: “I’m not so religious – I don’t keep a kosher home!”
Observing kashrut actually is in many ways a test of religiosity. What it says is, “I bring religious principle into the most everyday moments of my life”.
It was a great Christian cleric who said, “God is interested in a lot of other things apart from religion”. What he meant was probably that God’s concern is not limited to religious days and religious places.
Judaism knew this from its inception, when it said, “In all your ways, know Him” – b’chol d’rachecha da’ehu (Prov. 3:6). Not only in the synagogue, not only through the prayer book, but wherever you are and whatever you do – all is part of religion.
Kashrut is religious in another sense too. When you control what you eat and how you eat, you are showing self-discipline – also a mark of religiosity.
When you choose to be kosher and the meat you consume has been made available by shechitah, that’s kindness to animals – another indication of religion. When you have a kosher home and show consideration for your fellow Jew who is particular about kashrut, that’s “Love your neighbour as yourself” – once again religion.
Keeping kosher is certainly a religious practice, but even the supposed non-religious are not debarred from having kosher homes… The sidra says, “You are a people hallowed to the Lord your God” (Deut. 14:22). Even the non-religious are allowed to be hallowed.