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    What you eat & what you are – Re’eh

    Kosher signA major section of the weekly portion deals with food.

    There is a German saying, Der Mensch ist was er isst – “Man is what he eats”. In one sense that means that you learn what kind of human being a person is by looking at his culinary culture, what and how he eats.

    In another sense it means that food affects and moulds your health; if you don’t eat well you probably won’t feel well either.

    Judaism understands both these arguments but it adds another by giving the subject an ethical dimension. It lays down a complex system of kashrut laws, and your domestic dietary regime is a large part of how you show your Jewishness.

    Because the reasons for the kashrut laws are not explained in detail in the texts, we can each choose where to place our emphasis.

    One of the leading writers on the dietary laws, Dayan Dr Isidor Grunfeld, points out that you show your character and mettle by being able to say “Yes” or “No” when you choose your food.

    The gift of self-control, the mastery of your passions. makes you a responsible person, and if you control your “Yes” and “No” you show (to yourself as well as the outside world) what sort of human being you are.

    Dayan Grunfeld says, “Self-control and self-conquest must start with the most primitive and most powerful of human instincts – the craving for food” (The Jewish Dietary Laws, 1972).

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