Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I was too tired last night to get into the discussion as much as usual, but there were some interesting topics last night. We began to discuss the laws of kashruth, particularly the pork taboo. The commentaries all agreed that pig meat is the most delicious meat of those forbidden. After all, I have no desire to eat an owl, one of the forbidden meats, or even a snake (though I have indeed eaten french fried rattler and alligator--two forbidden foods-- actually), but I and most other Jews tempted by a BLT have wondered what's with pigs anyhow that they should be so tremendously taboo that one is not even supposed to touch their skin. The commentaries suggest that pork was a central feature of the festivals in other nearby cultures. It was a matter of distinguishing ourselves from those others. Making distinctions--between holy and secular, night and day, etc., is a great part of the laws in this religion. The dangers of not making such distinctions are made clear by the story we discussed last night, where the new high priests, sons of Aaron, got carried away and offered a little spontaneous ceremony not planned beforehand, and were instantly zapped for it. Their dead bodies were contaminating the sanctuary, and had to be dragged out for the grand opening of the temple to go forward. God then proclaims that priests should beware of hitting the bottle, so commentators speculate that this is why the two new priests went off the rails.