When Kosher Wars Become Culture Wars

by | Jun 17, 2013 | Israel & Jewish Roots

I was at Ikea the other day with my wife. We have a couple of the Swedish superstores here in Israel.

We were in Netanya. Before we began our search for cheap towels, or as they say at IKEA, some Fräjens, we decided to get a bite to eat. After checking the first of the two cafes, we sought to venture to the other one, only to find a massive glass barrier that basically said, “You cannot pass.” I was expecting a troll to jump out. Instead, we had to make a massive circle to get to the other café.

Why the inconvenience? Well, it wasn’t just so we would have to pass up deals on Fyrkantigs or the Riktig Ölgas. We weren’t even tempted by the Grökullas. No, this had nothing to do with weirdly named Swedish home accessories, but it had everything to do with the Jewish kitchen.

You see, Jewish law forbids the mixing of milk and meat. We will get to the why in a minute. That means we have three types of restaurants in Israel:

  1. Halevy חלבי—dairy. These restaurants serve everything but meat products. Fish is cool.
  2. Basari בשרי—meat. These restaurants serve everything but dairy products. That means powder in your coffee and no cheesecake for dessert.
  3. Non-Kosher—Anything goes! These restaurants serve anything from shrimp to bacon to puppy dog stew (not really). They are not kosher and therefore have no rules.

However, in Ikea they had No. 1 and No. 2 and went to great lengths to separate them. But they also wanted to separate me and my wife. She got some soup at the Basari restaurant, while I wanted a salad from the Halevi restaurant. So Elana brought her soup over. When the Orthodox waitress protested, I said in Hebrew, “It’s okay … it is just soup.”

In a panic, as if a lighting bolt from heaven would strike us down, she said, “BUT THE UTENSILS ARE BASARI (for meat)!”

You see, in an Orthodox Jewish home, you must have two sinks, two sets of silverware and dishware. Why? To make sure that the meat dishes and utensils never come in contact with the milk ones. (Sometimes I wonder if in the middle of the night, they sneak out of their cupboards to frolic amongst themselves like in the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.)

Anyway.

I have never hit a woman, but when she panicked over the idea that a meat utensil had made its way into the dairy area, at the same level as if an act of adultery or rape had been perpetrated, I was tempted. (OK, I wasn’t really tempted to hit her … but I wanted to write that I was.)

In the words of Glenn Beck, my head was about to explode. It just seemed so ridiculous, that in her mind and the mind of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in Israel, they confuse devotion to God with separating silverware.

I do believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10:1-2).

I try with all my heart to respect other peoples’ beliefs and traditions, but these are the same people who teach their children that I, a Messianic Jew, am part of a cult! (My head just actually exploded, but I am using duct tape to keep it together.)

One thing I have maintained for many years is that if you are able to convince me that Yeshua is not the Messiah, I would not go running to Orthodox Judaism instead. I admit, there are many beautiful traditions in Orthodox Judaism (lighting Sabbath candles, weekly reading of the Torah, blessings over the bread and wine), but there are also some real bizarre ones that, in my humble opinion, would confuse anyone seeking a reason for why they are observed.

Here is an imaginary conversation:

Hey, I am new to this Jewish stuff and really want to please God, so can you help me?

Sure. Let’s talk about food, since you eat regularly. We never mix milk and meat. And you must wait six hours after eating meat or dairy, before you can eat the other.

Uh, what?

Oh, and if you find some meat in your teeth make sure to remove it … but you don’t have to wait six more hours. Be sure though to thoroughly rinse your mouth. And then, after eating, make sure to rinse your mouth again and wash your hands aggressively. Some spend as much as an hour washing their hands.

Huh?

Even if the smallest amount of food is swallowed, you must wait the full six hours. But if you don’t swallow, you can just do a thorough rinse and you’re good to go.

Where is this in the Bible?

Oh, it is very clear. There are three passages in the Torah that forbid cooking a baby goat in its mother’s milk—Exodus 23:19, 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21.

What does cooking a kid in its mother’s milk have to do with separating utensils or waiting six hours to eat meat after eating dairy? The two are not even remotely connected!

The reason God forbade the Israelites to cook a kid in its mother’s milk had nothing to do with food but worship. There is some proof that cooking a kid in its mother’s milk was a part of Canaanite pagan worship. Just like in other portions of the Torah, where God tells the children of Israel to abstain from certain pagan practices regarding worship (because it is pagan and has nothing to do with true devotion), He does so here as well.

While the Deuteronomy passage mentions this at the end of a passage that refers to the kosher laws, both Exodus passages are connected to blood sacrifice, which was part of worship.

Either way, it is a giant leap from not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk to:

1.      Never eating dairy and meat together.

2.      Establishing a six-hour waiting period between eating the two.

3.      Having two sinks in your kitchen.

4.      Having two set of utensils.

5.      Yelling at my wife in IKEA for bringing a meat spoon into a dairy area.


Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

RECENT ARTICLES

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking...
Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why speak with tongues? There are many reasons for speaking in a spiritual language. Primarily, though, the Scriptures require it. The apostle Paul commanded us, saying, “Pray in the Spirit always” (Eph. 6:18). Jude commanded it in verse 20, saying, “Pray in the Holy...

Why God’s Rebuilding is Better Than His Restoration

Why God’s Rebuilding is Better Than His Restoration

Often, I have prayed for the Lord to restore something in my life. Whenever I have gone through a hard season or a broken relationship, my prayers automatically petition the Lord to restore my situation. Whenever there is a loss, and you are going through the grieving...

Why America Must Adopt the Battle Cry of Isaiah

Why America Must Adopt the Battle Cry of Isaiah

A battle cry is used to summon armies to war. A loud, unified shout could intimidate the strongest of enemies. Confidence in battle often tilts the scale toward victory, whereas timidity, fear and cowardliness will surely lead to defeat. In these dreadful times, don’t...

Intentionally Raising a Godly Generation

Intentionally Raising a Godly Generation

Debbie put her faith in Christ at age 11. In fact, her whole family met Jesus at just about the same time. As her parents began growing in their faith, they nurtured growth in their children as well. Family Bible reading, prayer and talking about God’s leading in...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]