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    Difference & distinctiveness – Sh’mini

    Several times the sidra commands us to make a distinction between the permitted and the forbidden.

    One understands how this applies to food; some food is kosher and some is t’refah, and the essence of kashrut is to know the difference.

    The same distinction ought to apply in the moral sphere too.

    The greatest compliment one can pay a person in Jewish terms is to say someone is “a kosher mensch”.

    This does not just mean the food they eat. It denotes their character. If all their deeds and dealings are kosher, they are indeed admirable. On the other hand, all the kosher food in the world cannot whitewash a person whose business and general morality are murky.

    Psalm 15 defines a good person as one who “swears to his own hurt and changes not” – even if the result is that he suffers, he lives by the truth and does not change his tack to accord with the way the wind of personal advantage may be blowing.

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