Parshas Shemini


Parshas Shemini contains most of the Torah laws concerning forbidden foods. The Gemara states concerning non-kosher foods, not to become defiled (nitmatem) one self by eating them. It then goes on to expound, “Don’t read it as nitmatem, (defiled), rather as nitamteym, (to have become stupid).” Rashi on the spot explains that his heart becomes stopped up and obstructed from having any wisdom.
The Holy Zohar states further, concerning this week’s Parsha, that one who eats forbidden non-kosher foods, causes unholy forces to cling to him and his body and soul become repulsive to the Holy One. A spirit of impurity rests on the onewho eats forbidden foods, and he demonstrates before everybody that he has no part in the Living G-d. There is no cure for his impurity, it stays with him for eternity!! Woe is he and woe to his soul, he has removed himself from amongst the living!!
Therefore, it is advisable for one to take as much care to avoid forbidden foods which are dangerous for his soul, as to avoid those which are dangerous to his body.


Once, the Chiddushei HaRim, the Rebbe of Ger, sat at a Mitzvah meal in the company of a number of his Chassidim. A bowl of steaming soup was put first in front of the Rebbe. He looked at the soup for a number of minutes and began to swish it around with his spoon, but did not taste it. When the Chassidim saw the that the Rebbe wasn’t eating, they also restrained themselves and dared not to eat before the Rebbe. Suddenly, the waiter rushed into the room in a panic. “The meat..”, he blurted out, “..the meat that the soup was made from, I just found out that it came from an unreliable source!!”
The Chassidim were amazed and horrified at the same time. They were horrified that they had come so close to eating non-kosher food, yet amazed at the ‘miracle’ of the Rebbe’s knowing. The Chiddushei HaRim explained. “There was no miracle, and nothing supernatural about what happened here. You should know, that I have a tradition from my masters. When one, before he sits down to eat, accepts on himself, with absolute uncompromising certainty, that should there be any forbidden foods put before him, that he would prefer to choke than put them into his mouth...then he can be certain that the Almighty will protect him from stumbling in the sin of eating forbidden food.

A Short Biography: The Chiddushei HaRim, (Rebbi Yitzchok Meir), (1799-1866), was one of the most important disciples of Rebbi Simcha Bunem of Pryschicha and then the fiery R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. At the insistence of the Chassidim, the RIM became leader after the death of the Kotzker. At the first Chassidic gathering over which he presided he declared, “Reb Simchah Bunem led with love, and R’ Menachem Mendel with fear. I will lead with Torah!
He led his followers for only seven years before his demise, yet succeeded in establishing a precedent of excellence in Torah study which is still a hallmark of the Gerrer Chassidim today.


Here are some links to learn more about Kashrus:

Find out From KEDEM What Makes Wine Kosher
A good Kashrus primer
The London Beis Din for Kashrus
Some Q's and A's on Kashrus

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