Sunday, 29 June 2008

Are You Really Kosher?

This article is dedicated to the speedy recovery of Tinuk ben Rinasi Tova Chanah Trina

From the time I was a small child, I used to enjoy helping my grandmother in the kitchen. There were a few things my grandmother was very strict about, one of them being the cleaning of fruits and vegetables prior to cooking or eating. Some felt this was an extra stringency on the part of my grandmother who loved to be neat, clean and organized and whose home was an epitome of this. It was only years later when I started to learn about the laws of kashrut that I realised the importance of what my grandmother taught us.

In Parshat Kedoshim in the book of Leviticus, G-d tells Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher) to speak to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and say to them:

“You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d”. Later when giving us the laws of keeping kosher, once again G-d tells us that He is holy and the nation of Israel shall be holy. So it is that the very food we eat has an effect on our spiritual make up.

Most of us when beginning to learn about keeping Kosher, learn of the importance to eat milk and meal separately. Most of us know of not eating pig. Some of us know that there are other animals also forbidden for Jews to eat. Did you know though that we are forbidden to eat insects? In fact the prohibition of eating pig is only mentioned once in the Torah, whereas if one eats an insect, one transgresses at least 5 prohibitions!

So important is this mitzvah that our sages teach that refraining from eating insects would have been enough for G-d to redeem us from Egypt.

Many don’t realise exactly how important this mitzvah is and how easy it is to transgress and to eat insects. For this reason, there are certain methods for checking ones fruit, vegetables and grain for insects and worms. How often do you stop before eating a luscious juicy piece of fruit to cut it open and have a look at what might be inside?

How often do you open a piece of dried fruit to see if there is anything forbidden hidden within it?

It is not just an old fashioned trend that our grandmothers kept and tried to teach us.

Just the other day, I opened up a dried apricot and this was the result:

Checking for bugs and cleaning our fruits and vegetables is an important part of being Jewish. It helps us physically and it also has a spiritual effect. It helps us to live up to the teaching from G-d through Moses that: “You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G-d”

Rav Moshe Vaye in his work on bug checking discovered that the fruits and vegetables in the USA are just as infested as they are in Israel. Wherever you are, if you wish to keep a good, kosher, Torah home, it is worthwhile to learn the techniques of how to wash and check your fruits, vegetables and grains for bugs, insects and worms.

For any further information:

Rav Moshe Vaye is the author of "Bedikas Hamozon Kehalochoh." This is in Hebrew and contains comprehensive diagrams showing the types of insects that are found in fruits, vegetables and grains.

There is a small booklet on Cleaning Foods from Insect Infestation also by Rav Moshe Vaye.

If anyone is outside of Israel or unable to obtain any of these books and wishes to, or any other books on keeping a kosher home, we would be happy to ship it to you.

If you would like other information you can either do a google search or sign up for a series of practical shiurim, learning these very techniques.

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