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  • Family and Society
  • Ways of Redemption

vegetarian

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Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 4, 5782
Question
1. will Hashem judge vegetarians more mercifully than, lets say, someone who is exactly the same as said person but the only difference is the second person eats meat- since they arent causing as much suffering to animals? Like will that one lifestyle choice in and of itself cause Hashem to treat them more mercifully? 2. how does being a vegetarian affect the kosher status of a kitchen/what would they need to do?
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your questions. 1. The question of vegetarianism is addressed by Rav Kook zt”l in his work “Chazon HaSimchonut”. While he feels it is a messianic ideal, he raises serious doubts about whether it is appropriate for mankind at this stage of human development. This would also be applicable to an individual’s personal development. That is, while being a vegetarian may be a good thing for one person, at a certain stage of their development (such as Rav Kook’s student, Rav David HaCohen – The Nazir), it may be inappropriate for a different person. So, in answer to your question – it depends. 2. Theoretically a totally vegetarian kitchen would have many less issues with the laws of kashrut. However, just because a kitchen is vegetarian doesn’t make it kosher (but they are certainly moving the right direction). Here is a list of issues that still need to be addressed. a. Were the utensils ever used (even in the distant past) for non kosher foods? Is so they need “koshering”. b. There are certain vegetarian products that are not kosher – non-certified wine, wine vinegar, cheeses to name a few. These cannot be used (and if they were used, the vessels may need koshering). (Also, certain products you might assume to be vegetarian might contain non-kosher products in them… who would believe it, but some of those “additives” are animal products! Or the foods were cooked together with non-kosher foods). c. “Tovelling” (immersing in a mikvah) of vessels. d. “Jewish cooking” – certain foods may not be cooked by a non-Jew (unless a Jew takes part in the cooking by, for example, lighting the stove). e. Checking foods for small insects that kosher laws forbid. If the question relates to your own kitchen, then we’d be more than happy to answer any other practical questions you have about koshering your kitchen. In the mean-time, you should take some comfort in the knowledge that a vegetarian is certainly eating much more kosher food that a non-kosher meat-eater. May you merit to continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvot. Blessings.
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