Oh Freedom

Shana Tovah
I came home from Rosh Hashanah services and felt inspired to play. I feel blessed that I belong to a Jewish community that is willing to work through the difficult conversations of race and at the same I’m very frustrated because I often feel like it’s lip service and wonder when will things change.

Racism is ugly and nasty and does not look like it did during the time of slavery, it does not look like it did when my grandparents or when my parents were growing up. Racism is a different animal today but just as ugly and nasty.

I opened up the book to Rise Up Singing and O Freedom jump out at me. I started thinking about the birthday of the world and the violence this past year and the more things change the more they stay the same, all of that swirling around my brain make this the perfect song for me at this moment.

My Kaddish for Black Lives and All Victims of Gun violence

I was really touched and humbled by the attention that my prayer has gotten that I decided to re-record it in my recording studio AKA my dining room and with an iPad. In the previous version of this Kaddish it was dark and I used my travel guitar. This time it’s daylight and I’m using a full size guitar.

I wrote this version of Mourners Kaddish for all who have been killed by gun violence, for all unarmed people who have lost their lives at the hands of police and for people who have no one to say kaddish for them and please remember Black Lives Matter.


Yitgadal v’yit-kadash sh’mei rabba
B’allma dee v’ra chir’utei

Dear God lift me up in my time of need
Please show me how to live and love in peace
I want to live in a world full of hope
But it’s hard when there is so pain

v’yamlich malchutei,
B’chayeichon, uv’yomeichon,
uv’chayei d’chol beit yisrael,
Ba’agala u’vizman kariv, v’imru, Amen

Adonai, Adonai I praise your holy name
Turn my sorrow turn my pain and show me the way
Adonai, Adonai we bless your name
So that One day may there be peace for us all

Oseh shalom bim’ro’mav,
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu,
v’al kol yisrael v’imru, Amen

Misheberach/HaKadosh Baruchu

My summer of music continues. I’ve been expressing myself more with music these days and finding inspiration in Jewish prayers and text to express my frustration with all of the violence in the world. I find myself in a unique position of learning to be a rabbi, learning what it means to be a leader in the Jewish community, and feeling like an outsider in the Jewish community, because no matter what I do, I am often not seen as Jewish or somehow seen as less than Jewish. And many of the Jews closest to me whom I love dearly will never understand what it is like to be a black women/person in America and turn on the television, Twitter, Facebook, etc and see people that look like me being killed. I feel broken and often feel hopeless, so what do I do…I pick up a guitar which seems to help.

MIsheberach Avoteinu
Misheberach I’moteinu
Please bless those in need of healing
HaKadosh Baruchu

May the one who Blessed our Mothers
who Blessed our Fathers
We need you to hear our cry
HaKadosh Baruchu

The God of Wholeness
The God of Wonder
Please teach me and give me strength
HaKadosh Baruchu

El Shaddai Adonai
I need you to heal the world
And make it right

I want to live in a world full of song and hope
Where my children can play and not have to cope
Please bless us and give us healing
HaKadosh, HaKadosh, HaKadosh
HaKadosh Baruchu

Kaddish

I wrote this version of Mourners Kaddish for all who have been killed by gun violence, for all unarmed people who have lost their lives at the hands of police and for people who have no one to say kaddish for them and please remember Black Lives Matter.

 

 

Yitgadal v’yit-kadash sh’mei rabba
B’allma dee v’ra chir’utei

Dear God lift me up in my time of need
Please show me how to live and love in peace
I want to live in a world full of hope
But it’s hard when there is so pain

v’yamlich malchutei,
B’chayeichon, uv’yomeichon,
uv’chayei d’chol beit yisrael,
Ba’agala u’vizman kariv, v’imru, Amen

Adonai, Adonai I praise your holy name
Turn my sorrow turn my pain and show me the way
Adonai, Adonai we bless your name
So that One day may there be peace for us all

Oseh shalom bim’ro’mav,
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu,
v’al kol yisrael v’imru, Amen

The Badges We Wear

On my way to my second full day of Chaplain Pastoral Education (CPE), I realized I needed to get some gas. While pumping gas I was wearing my chaplain intern badge and my kippah, which made me think about the badges I wear and have worn in my life. It made me smile and think about how sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same.

As a chaplain I will wear a badge, and a beeper and a kippah. At times I will be on call, and will have to stay overnight at the hospital. I flashed back to another time in my life where I was required to wear and to do most of the same things listed above. In my twenties I was a military police investigator, I had a badge, and a beeper. At times I was required to be on call, I spent several nights sleeping at the police station but this time around I won’t have to carry a weapon; I think my kippah is a good replacement for a gun.

When I finished pumping I went into the Shell Gas Station. Inside the station there was Indian music playing in the background and the cashier was of Indian descent with a very thick Indian accent

She said to me, pointing at the top of her head “How do you keep that on your head.” I smiled, it was refreshing to hear that type of question, instead of the others I usually here. I told her I had clips which helped to keep in place. She said again pointing to her head “What if you have no hair. How does it stay in place. The men come in here all the time, they have no hair and I wonder, how does it stay on their head?” I told her I didn’t know and that it just stays on. As we parted she again pointed to her head and told me that she liked mine, referring to my favorite watermelon Kippah.

As I start this journey of my rabbinic formation it’s fitting that this week’s Torah portion contains the priestly blessing. A blessing for well being, sustenance and peace

May God bless you and keep you. May God smile upon you and be gracious with you. May God look with favor upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26)

My Prayer for Ferguson

Kim Weimer/Staff Photographer Bucks County Courier Times

Kim Weimer/Staff Photographer Bucks County Courier Times

Help us to lie down, Dear Lord our God, in peace, and let us rise again, to life…

This summer, I heard that a young black man had been killed by a police officer. The sad thing is that I tuned the story out. I was too caught up in whatever I was doing to notice that another unarmed black man had been killed by a police officer. I kept seeing the name Ferguson flash across my Twitter feed and my Facebook page, and I assumed that the name of the individual who was killed was Ferguson. Then I noticed that the individual’s name was Michael Brown and the shooting happened in a place that I know too well. It happened in Ferguson, Missouri.

Spread over us the shelter of Your peace…

From the ages of five through twelve I lived on the border of Berkeley and Ferguson. I spent a lot of time in Ferguson hanging with my friends Jill and Stacey. I remember swimming in January-Wabash park, bike riding adventures where the plan was to get lost and struggle to find our way home,  and spending my allowance on arcade games. I moved away when I was twelve and I was devastated–I loved my life and I loved my friends.  At the age of seventeen I moved back to the area and reconnected with my friends but it wasn’t the same.

and inspire us with Your good counsel…

Sadly, until recently I hadn’t given much thought to that part of my life. When I learned what happened to Michael Brown and where the shooting took place all of those memories of my childhood came flooding back. I immediately started reading as much information as I could find on what happened. A frightening feeling came over me and I realized that Michael Brown could easily have been the son of someone I went to school with. I reached out to friends and I talked with my parents.

and save us for the sake of Your name…

The recent events in Ferguson have brought a lot of attention to the issues of race in our society. Every single person of color in my life, including me, has had a moment of either being followed around in a store because of the perception that we might shoplift, or a moment of someone being afraid of us on the street or in an elevator. Once, when I walked into a sauna, and a white woman with a terrified look on her face yelled for me to get out because she assumed I was a black man. We live in a culture where we are bombarded by images that depict black men as threats. We live in a society that has become more segregated, not necessarily because of laws, but because of class and choices.  It’s an indescribable feeling to see a place I loved as a child, and hated to leave, on the national news with scenes that invoke in me images of Bull Connor’s attempt to control massive amounts of young black protesters with attack dogs and fire hoses. But today, instead of dogs, it’s tear gas and weapons used for war.

and shield us in the wings of Your protection,  

I live in two worlds. I am Jewish and I am black, and I am calling out to the Jewish community to please take notice of these past events, not just the events in Ferguson but the number of black men and people of color in our society who are stopped by police, arrested by police and even killed by police. Many in the Jewish community believe that these issues do not concern us, but they do. American Jews are now more racially diverse than ever. Every Shabbat many of us sit next to a Jews of color in our synagogues. Many of us have children of color, many of us have people of color in our families and many of us are black. We as a Jewish community can no longer say these issues do not concern us.

Guard our going out and our coming in, for life and peace, now and forever

As American Jews we know the history of injustice. We cannot sit by and let injustice happen because we know that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We are commanded to not harden our hearts or shut our hand against our brothers or sisters who are in need.  These men who have died are part of us; they are our brothers. The people protesting in the streets of Ferguson are our brothers and sisters. They are part of us and part of our community. We must speak out to stop racial profiling and we must rid ourselves of the myth that what happens in Ferguson or on the streets of our own cities, doesn’t affect us.

Blessed are You Compassionate One, who spreads your canopy of peace over all Your people Israel, over Jerusalem and over the entire world.

Thank you T’ruah for letting me use my voice. Also, T’ruah responds to the Michael Brown grand jury verdict

Thank you Bucks County Courier Times for the Photo

My Father was a wandering Amramean

I gave this Dvar on September 13, 2014

In Parshat Ki Tavo we envision a time when the Israelites are living in the Promised Land and are experiencing the blessings of prosperity that they could only dream of during 40 years of wandering in the desert. Moses instructs them how to appreciate and celebrate their bountiful harvest. He tells them to be thankful. He tells them to take some of every first fruit from the soil, put them in a basket and take it to the priest in charge at the time, and the priest will take the basket, and the Israelite is then to tell the priest “My father was a wandering Amramean, he went to Egypt with meager numbers and lived there, they were few in number and became a great nation” What a strange thing to say.

The point of this is that God knew that when we are prosperous and successful every force around us is going to want us to think that it is all about us and we are going to forget just how bad it was back then. And God does not want us to forget.

God is basically telling the Israelites, “Years from now things are going to go really well for you and you will forget about God because things are fine but this Torah Portion is a reminder to never foget and to be thankful for our first fruits and set them aside and share our blessings first with the priest and then with the stranger, because we were strangers once and God rescued us and delievered us out of Egypt.

There Shall Be No Needy

This is a dvar I gave for Parsha Re’eh on August 16 2014

In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we read in Deuteronomy 15: “There shall be no needy among you…then in a few verses later it reads– If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kingsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy brother. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. ….For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: You shall surely open your hand to your brother, to the poor and the needy in your land.”

These statements contradict each other—how can the Torah say There shall be no needy among you and then say there will never cease to be needy ones in your land.

Even more importantly, we have God’s instructions on how we should relate to the needy and the poor in our society and what our obligations towards them are. We need to be reminded that it is only if we embrace our responsibility to keep the commandment to support the poor that there will cease to be needy people amongst us –And God will not take care of it for us.

One of my teachers Rabbi Jill Jacobs suggests that the overarching Jewish attitude toward the poor is best summoned up by a single word of the biblical text: אחיך “your brother.” With this word, the Torah insists on the dignity of the poor, and it commands us to resist any temptation to view the poor as somehow different from ourselves.

By telling us that the poor person is our sibling, our brother, the Torah reminds us that, like us, a poor person is made in the image of God and should be treated as such. It also prevents us from separating ourselves from him or her, from seeing ourselves as somehow inherently different from the poor.

This Parsha reminds us of our duty towards the poor. The Poor are our siblings for whom we must care. We have an infinite responsibility for the Other.

Each of us alone might not be able to eradicate poverty but by embracing our responsibility as individuals, as part of a community, of society, we can bring our world closer to the vision of there shall be no needy. This parsha teaches us that together we will make a difference in this world if we take care of each other or take care of our brothers and sisters because this is God’s will —

Amen

Man, Sin and Redemption

Sin

This presentation, God, People, Sin, and Redemption focuses on the Rabbis of the Rabbinic Era, and their conceptions of human beings, sin, repentance and redemption. I made this presentation for my Rabbinic Core class and my intent of this presentation is to show in a very simple and visually appealing way how the Rabbis of the Rabbinic era viewed the relationship between humans and God regarding sin, repentance and redemption. The information contained in the presentation is based off the information in an article entitled Man, Sin and Redemption in Rabbinic Judaism by Steven T. Katz.

Redemption

What Does the Bible Say about Food?

Vegan, for me, is about  more than what I do or do not eat. Veganisms is not so much about dietary abstinence as it is about spiritual sustenance; for me, it is a prayer, a petition asking why animals and people suffer greatly.  This question has led me to a lifestyle that is focused primarily on abstaining from the consumption of animals. Veganism is a the universal principle of compassionate, nonviolent living, and is central to my Jewish identity.

When I was younger I, like a lot of people believed that the dietary laws in the bible were there for some kind of health or sanitation reason and people living during biblical times believed the prohibited foods that were seen as unclean meant that they were unhealthy, unsanitary, dirty or somehow bad for us. As I got older I came to believe there are some laws in the bible that have no reasons and they are there because God told us to either not do something or to do something. I came to believe that the laws around food were one of those types of laws. We as Jews are not to eat certain foods because God told us to. That reason was good enough for me until I became a vegan and started to make food decisions that were based on my understanding of the Bible.  And now I have the opportunity for a better understanding of the dietary laws in the Bible. One of the areas that I intend to focus on in rabbinical school is our food choices and the laws around kashrut. I saw this paper as the perfect opportunity to begin that journey.

This paper focuses on the restrictions that the biblical writers placed on eating, why these restrictions arose, and the implications for today and our eating practices. To follow my train of thought read the relevant text from Genesis 1:28-30, Genesis 9:1-4, Leviticus 11:1-20 and Leviticus 17:11-15

What are the Restriction Placed on Eating?

Although there are many laws regarding the consumption of animals, one thing that remains clear, is from the point of view of the Bible all fruits and vegetables are permitted. This is the point of view from the first directive in the Bible,

“God said, behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be food,” (Genesis 1:29).

This text in Genesis is the first text in the Bible that discusses food and upon reading it and Genesis 1:30,  it would seem that humans and animals were not meant to eat animals, both were meant to be vegans.  There is a difference in the vegetarian food for animals and the vegetarian food for humans. In his commentary on the book of Genesis Claus Westermann states that humans are assigned fruit and grain to eat, animals are assigned green plants. I would change that just a little to say that humans are assigned fruit and humans were meant to be frugivores living off the seeds of plants. There is a commonly held theory within anthropology and sociology that humans evolved from a plant based diet. This theory is found in almost any introductory textbook on sociology. It relates that humans began living first in hunter and gatherer societies subsisting on foraging for food and later after the invention of earlier agricultural equipment such as the plow, humans started to domesticate crops and animals. Perhaps the priestly authors of this text were looking back to an ideal time where they believed that people did not eat animals. Not sure, but it is clear from this text that the writers of the text wanted the early beings, both animals and humans to be vegetarian.

The next mention of food occurs in Genesis 9, the end of the flood narrative where human beings have been wiped off the planet by a massive flood. In Genesis 9 humans are given permission to kill animals for food. There is no evidence in Genesis 1 that humans have permission to kill animals and or to eat them for food.

Genesis 9:1-4 is also a priestly text and the language is similar to Genesis 1:28-30.  In fact Genesis 9:1 is essentially a retelling of the instructions given to humans in Genesis 1:28, but here, given to Noah, as the world is reborn after the devastation of the massive flood.  In Genesis 1:26 & 28 humans and animals are put in relationship to each other and humans are to have dominion over the animals and take care of them. In Genesis 9:2, the animals have “fear and terror” of the humans

“Fear of you and terror of you will be on all animals of the earth and on every bird of the sky, on all that creeps on the ground and on all fish of the sea in your hand they are given,”

the dominion of humans over the animals found in Genesis 1:26 & 28 is repeated in 9:2, but with one difference: now the relationship between humans and the animals has changed, so that animals are afraid of humans.  Lastly, in 9:3, God’s provision of food found in 1:29 is repeated, and here Noah is told what he can and cannot eat, but with the addition of“every moving thing that lives shall be food for you to eat” that is, animals, birds and fish.

The instructions given to Noah on the eating of animals is not without restriction. He is told to not eat animals that still contain life, and blood is seen as life, basically, do not eat the blood from living beings.  The permission to kill animals for food is a concession since people were craving meat,  and reflects the reality of the world as experienced by the biblical writers. Jacob Milgrom adds “The human beings’ craving for meat is to be indulged, but they are to abstain from consuming blood.  Nahum Sarna adds even though permission has been granted “This concession to human weakness is not a license for savagery.”

There is, also, a practical consideration here too: Whether the writers believed there was a massive natural disaster that wiped out everything, I do not know, but this would mean vegetation would be in short supply and under these conditions with not enough plant food to sustain both human and animal populations, it is likely that humans would need to eat meat to survive.

In Leviticus 11, The Jewish Study Bible points out that the priestly source believes that the food restrictions up to this point have been known by the Israelites and now Moses receives additional restrictions to pass down to the Israelites. The new restrictions extend to all kinds of animals; land animals, creatures that live in the water, birds in the air, insects and small creatures of the land. This next session will focus on the land animals, fish, and birds.

Land Animals

Leviticus 11:2-3 are specifically addressing land animals that the Israelites may eat. “Any animal that has divided hoof and a split cleft hoof and chews the cud” the Israelites may eat. It can be assumed from the text that these are domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats.  In verses 4-7 we learn the animals that are off limits because they do not posses both of the traits of chewing their cud or having a divided hoof. The camel, the hyrax and the hare are off limits for food because they do not posses a divided hoof but do chew their cud.  The swine or pig is off limits because it does not chew its cud but does have a divided hoof.

It’s interesting to point out that the priestly writers only mentioned the animals that are forbidden and do not mention the animals that are permitted.  Milgrom relates that the writers took the sacrificial animals, the cattle, sheep and goats for granted and only list the wild animals.  In verse 7 the pig is the only animal named that has a divided hoof but does not chew its cud. Milgrom points out that the law of an animal chewing its cud was created to specifically exclude the pig, otherwise it would have just read “divided hoof.” The writers added the stipulation of chewing its cud for the sole purpose to eliminate the pig. Why was the pig excluded? Milgrom relates that the the pig was seen as sacred among the Hittites and the Greeks and offered to underworld deities. During the Iron Age when Israel entered the scene, pigs became rare.  Pigs were popular in Philistine sites but almost completely absent in Israelite sites. This leads Milgrom to believe that there are two possible reasons for the pig to be off limits “the dietary habits and the cultic practices of the hated Philistines.”

From my perspective I would also add that of the domestic animals (cattle, goat and sheep) the pig is the only animal that would serve no other purpose other than to be eaten. Pigs do not provide milk or wool, and cannot be used for plowing like cattle. They would cost to feed with no return for profit or trading.  Israelites could easily trade wool or milk for money, or goods and feed and clothe their families.

Creatures that live in the Water

Verses 9-12 discusses beings that live in the water. The Israelites can eat only creatures in the water that have fins and scales. The word שֶׁ֣רֶץ meaning swarming things, are off limits; all animals in the water that do not swim by means of fins, but instead crawl, swarm or creep are off limits.  Milgrom, citing Mary Douglas also points out that this could have something to do with locomotion. “Animals are permitted that move in a way that is natural to their environment: land animals walk, water animals swim (not crawl) and air animals fly.”  The criteria of fish having scales and fins drastically reduces the amount of edible fish to a few. Douglas writes “the underlying principle of cleanness in animals is that they shall conform fully to their class. Those species are unclean which are imperfect members of their class.”  Such as shellfish that live in the water, they do not swim, they crawl and therefore are seen as unclean.

Birds in the Air

In verses 13-19, the birds that are off limits are only listed. There is no description and no way to determine clean birds from unclean birds. The entire list of prohibited birds are all birds of prey.  One could draw the conclusion from all of these text, that since the Israelites are not allowed to eat blood, this also includes animals that eat blood by preying on other animals. Also all of the previously mentioned animals are all herbivorous animals.

So…Why do we have these restrictions?

Maybe the better question is, why did the priestly writers command us to eat with these restrictions? The answer I believe can be found in the relationship between blood and life as it relates to the prohibition against eating meat with the blood in it.

Douglas argues that the list of forbidden animals in Leviticus 11 comes right after the recount of the death of Aaron’s sons in chapter 10, who died after offering a strange fire at the altar (Leviticus 10:1-3). “Moses has just told Aaron that it is the duty of the priest to teach the people of Israel the difference between the clean and unclean.”  Chapter 11 goes straight into animals that are clean and unclean and is the “first lesson in the difference between clean and unclean animals. Douglas goes on to explain that the list of clean and unclean animals is in the same order of creation.

“In Genesis 1, the first two days of creation set up the four cardinal points and the next four days are spent putting living denizens into the earth, sky and water and putting the lights of the stars and planets into the sky. Compare Leviticus’ list of prohibited animal foods with that of Genesis 1 on the earth (Lev. 11.2-8), in the waters (Lev.11.9-12) in the air (Lev.11.13-25).” Mary Douglas

Land animals are listed first, followed by creatures in the water, and then finally creatures in the air.  The dietary laws are listed in order of creation, I would guess to remind us of the created order, and of the order as created and the sacredness of separation. The dietary laws of Leviticus 11 reflects and achieves the separation of the people around the rule of separation, to celebrate through obedience the sacredness and separateness of the source of separation itself. In this way separating of food is made sacred, in the same way that the seventh day of the week is made sacred. We separate shabbat from the rest of the week and it is made sacred or holy. The same could be true for our food.

Going back to Genesis 1:29-30, the original intent of the humans, as written by the priestly writers, is that humans and animals were meant to survive on green plants, seeds and fruit, they were to be vegans. In the Noah story after the flood the rules are changed to allow humans to eat meat. Humans are given permission to eat meat but never blood.

“But flesh with its life blood you shall not eat” (Genesis 9:4) and it is reiterated in Leviticus 17:14, “for life of all flesh, its blood is in its life, and I said to the people of Israel, you shall not eat the blood of any flesh, because life of all flesh is its blood;  All who eat it will be cut off.”

This rule also applies to eating carnivorous animals and means that we cannot consume animals for food that eat the blood of other animals.  The animals mentioned in Leviticus 11 that are seen as clean are all herbivorous animals and we can assume that the animals that chew their cud and have a divided hoof also do not prey on other animals, and do not eat blood and can be eaten by the Israelites after the blood has been removed.  Lastly, Douglas adds that “holiness is incompatible with predatory behavior. The command to be holy is fulfilled by respecting blood…the forbidden animals keep the rule of avoiding blood.”

Milgrom sees the dietary laws as an “ethical system and since humans will eat meat and kill for it. The Bible has worked out a system of restrictions whereby humans may satiate their lust for animal flesh and yet not be dehumanized in the process” To prove this he makes two points that are relevant to this paper.  1) the choice of animals for food is very limited, considering the number of animals that exist on the planet. All are domesticated plant eating animals.  2) Blood must be drained before a permitted animal is fit to eat. “Humans have a right to nourishment, but not to the life of others.” Milgrom sees this as “the Bible’s method of taming the killer instinct in humans, is none other than it’s system of dietary laws.” Milgrom dismisses all other reasons such as health and hygienic reasons and says that health and hygiene cannot explain the few choices of animals for consumption. He states that “one theory explains the reasons for the the dietary laws and that is that the laws serve as an ethical guide – a system whereby people will not be brutalized by killing animals for their flesh.”

Implications for Today and Our Eating Practice

The conclusion of Leviticus 11 explains the purpose of the food restrictions, “to be holy.” By restricting consumption of meat to clean animals the Israelites sanctify themselves and become holy. Even though the Bible permitted the eating of meat, humans were still to have a deep respect for life. This is the reason for the command to,“pour out its blood and cover it with earth,” (Leviticus 17:13) and the prohibition against eating it. “Pouring out the blood is a “symbolic way of returning the life of the animal, its blood to God. But the explicit reason for the draining and covering is to prevent its being eaten”

Many Jews today do not choose to obey the dietary laws of Leviticus and see them as archaic. Following the dietary rules today could have better implications for the Jewish community:

  1. Respecting creation.  Following the dietary rules laid out in the bible and having a distinction between clean and unclean animals is respecting creation as described in the bible. There are connections between creation and the dietary laws in Leviticus. The parallelism between creation and the dietary laws in Leviticus demonstrates a literary design and rationale by the writers behind these laws that appreciates the order of creation.

  2. Holiness. A dominant theme in the book of Leviticus. “To be holy” we cannot be holy beings if we eat blood, or if we eat animals that prey on other animals. The dietary laws were a compromise, since the Israelites wanted to eat meat, these laws allowed them to eat meat in an ethical way. By following the laws in this light and by limiting our animal consumption, we are holy. What does it mean to be holy, today? I believe that to be holy means living ethically, with justice, compassion and mercy for all living things.

  3. Health. Even though none of the scholars listed in this paper advocates the dietary laws as laws related to health, there is value in an argument for health. Regardless of what the biblical writers knew, we know today that a diet that contains too many animals is not good for us and is linked to a ton of health problems. By following the dietary laws in the Bible we would be eating less meat. Today with kosher slaughterhouses, which are part of big agribusiness and factory farming, we have moved away from the intention of the biblical writers, which I believe was for us to limit our consumption of animal flesh. Today factory farming makes it very easy to eat meat whenever we want, it’s cheap and easily accessible. If we followed these laws we would eat less meat, be healthier and holy.