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To be Kosher?


Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 4, 5774
Hi, Is it wrong that I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be kosher? Thanks, Andrea
Shalom Andrea, Firstly, let me send you blessings for the New Year. May you be blessed with a year of growth and all that is good. As to your question – is it wrong not to feel guilt? Do I perhaps detect some guilt here for your lack of guilty feeling?!... In general the Jewish soul, which is pure and G-dly, strives for all that is good and holy all the time. This movement of the soul has many ways of making itself felt, in the hope that our entire self will join in the holy task of growing towards full self-fulfillment. One of these ways is what we label as "guilt", or remorse. Rav Kook writes in the first chapter of his classic "Orot HaTshuvah" (Lights of Repentance) that one of the things that pushes us to return to the G-dly is this natural remorse that a person feels after doing wrong. (I can strongly recommend this book, which can be found in English also, as a wonderful insight into the whole physiological and metaphysical process of repentance.) However there may be several reasons you feel no guilt. One may be a dangerous blockage of the inner holiness of the soul. It may be so covered in sin, and so far removed from one's daily awareness, that it is too week to even send messages of remorse. But, if you sent this question in, I doubt that that is the case. Much more likely is that you suffer from a different problem altogether. Sometimes the soul in its drive to cleave to absolute perfection and idealism, can belittle the seemingly "technical" laws of the Torah. "How can kashrut really be of any importance", one tells oneself, "when I need to work on saving the suffering peoples of the world" ("build a just society", "save the environment", or "reach an inner level of transcendental holiness" etc). In such a case the lack of guilt comes about not because one is below the level of the Torah, but, just the opposite. Because the soul has flown up to a height that views all the wealth of Judaism as to small for it. In such a case the answer lies in understanding the true depths and greatness of every detail of the Torah. Instead of, heaven forbid, rejecting the souls inner loftiness, one needs to learn a Torah that is enlightened with the same loftiness. To learn of the true holiness and perfection that exists in every detail of the Law. Though this is a long and sometimes hard process, in the end it will bring you to a place where you will find true fulfillment – not only a lofty idealistic soul, but a real-world expression of those ideals in a constant reality of mitzvoth. May you be blessed with all that is good – D. Sperling.
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