As we celebrate Pesach once again, I am reminded of how we became a nation, how Hashem miraculously took us out of Egyptian slavery and gave us the Torah.
The word “Torah” is from the same root as the word “hora’ah”, to demonstrate (or show) and teach us how we are to live our lives and how we are to conduct ourselves. Like all nations, we have rules and regulations – the Torah and mitzvos by which we need to abide. We must remember that it is Hashem’s Torah and Hashem’s mitzvos that we follow; it is only Hashem and our holy sages who dictate the details of the commandments that we follow.
People often call the OK and ask, “How can the OK certify a product as kosher when it’s not healthy or has some other negative quality?” Others feel that kosher should ensure the quality of life of the animals processed in kosher slaughterhouses and good working conditions. It’s true that something that is harmful and poisonous should not be eaten. But, truth be told, many people will tell you that white flour is poison, saturated fat can kill you, and sugar is the devil, yet all of these foods can definitely be 100% kosher. Kosher laws are chukim (statutes) that transcend logic. Kosher is not solely about what is healthy or nutritious (though we do have a commandment to guard our health) and the laws of kosher cannot be logically explained based on health concerns, or any other scientific explanation. We keep kosher because Hashem gave us these regulations in the Torah.
In a recent U.S. court decision that has a far-reaching impact on kosher certification and religious freedoms, the judge ruled that the protocol for kosher certification cannot be decided by the U.S. justice system; it can only be decided by religious authorities.
As we sit down to our Seder tables and relive our Exodus from Egypt let us renew our commitment to Hashem in all areas of our life and relinquish our need to understand that which cannot be understood, and let us renew our commitment to kosher, and all of Torah and mitzvos, without compromise.
Wishing you and yours a happy and kosher Pesach,
Rabbi Chaim Fogelman