More than a burgeoning business and a major health fad, kosher food is the “Jewish diet.” The Torah mandates that a Jew keep strict dietary laws which set him apart from the nations of the land and distinctly shape his lifestyle. Keeping a “kosher kitchen” and eating out in strictly kosher establishments is an extensive and highly rewarding experience.
Generally, all organic plants are kosher. Kosher animals however are defined by the two characteristics of chewing their cud and having split hooves (e.g. cow and lamb). Additionally, they must be ritually slaughtered to be kosher. Kosher fish must have fins and scales (e.g. salmon), and do not require slaughtering. A bird is kosher only if we know that it is kosher by tradition (e.g. chicken). We refrain from eating all insects.
Another major element of kosher law is the prohibition to mix meat and milk. Hence, a kosher kitchen is easily recognized by virtue of its “two sets of everything” policy – a separate set of dishes to use for preparing, and eating, meat foods and dairy foods. Often, two separate sinks, ovens, and appliances will be installed to ensure adherence to kosher law.
Blood, live limbs, as well as mixtures of food containing any non-kosher ingredients are also not allowed.
You are What You Eat
We’ve all heard that one before – it’s true. The food we eat becomes part of our system and shapes the character we have. Eating non-kosher food has a detrimental effect on the character of its consumer. For example, birds of prey are not kosher for we don’t want to accrue the predatory trait they carry.
More importantly, the food we consume affects our soul. G-d determined that certain foods are not advantageous for us and have a negative effect on our souls. By refraining from these foods, we ensure that our souls are receptive to spirituality and can properly connect to G-d and the mission He entrusted us in this world.
It’s G-d’s Idea
Ultimately, the laws of kosher are the product of Divine decree and not really within the realm of our comprehension. When G-d tells you “don’t kill,” it’s pretty easy to figure the logic; when He tells you “don’t mix meat and milk,” well, we just have to take it as is.
Don’t think that this submission to the Divine is an inferior mode of service. On the contrary, by acting in a way that’s beyond logic, you transcend the confines of human perception and connect to a higher order – G-d.