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Old 07-02-2013, 04:07 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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First of all, I should say that I was raised a secular Jew and this observance stuff is very new to me. I WANT to be observant because I believe that G-d has made Torah for our benefit and as Jews we are obligated to keep it. A little while back someone on here stated that they just didn't understand how some people can pick and choose, only following certain commandments. I have been thinking about that a lot, because I would surely be one of "those people" to most of you on this message board. I think I understand why I do that and I think I have valid reasons.

Last year, I started going to the local Chabad and had a conversation with the Rebbetzin about their kashrut observance. The discussion started because I have food allergies and am very difficult to cook for. Somehow it came out that they don't drink animal milk unless it is certified kosher. When I inquired why not she told me that it had become tradition because ages ago some people were selling pig milk so the regulation was created for protection.

At the time of the conversation, I was buying raw milk from a local friend who milked her own cow. Definitely not kosher certified. I have in the past lived on a farm and milked my own cow and goats, but none of this was kosher certified. But I knew where it came from which is exactly why I prefer to buy local. From a personal standpoint, I believe that food should be bought and produced locally and eaten in as natural a state as possible. All the excessive shipping across the continent causes air pollution and all kinds of associated diseases, lung cancer, etc. Besides the fact that there is no one in the US selling pig milk in this era. So why would we follow a law that seems to me to be unnecessary in our current circumstances, but has real, tangible negative effects from doing so?

These kinds of outdated regulations that contradict my personal values (and I believe all of our health) are what keeps me on the fence. Am I the only one?
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Old 07-02-2013, 05:55 AM
 
Location: Long Island
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First, keep in mind that just because something isn't "certified kosher" doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't kosher. Having it manufactured under rabbinical supervision removes doubt and allows us to buy products without having to investigate the process ourselves. Fresh cow's or goat's milk, provided the equipment used is kosher and it isn't mixed with milk from a forbidden animal, is kosher. If you know the person who is harvesting it and can verify the conditions, then you're fine. My wife and I keep chickens, and I don't need a hekhsher to tell me that the eggs are kosher.

But that's not to say the certifications are useless. They are quite useful, particularly today when so much of what we eat is manufactured and shipped across the globe and is filled with preservatives and byproducts. Having rabbinical supervision let's us shop for food with the confidence that it follows our requirements.

Now, for your main topic.

I think that for a lot of us, particularly those of us not raised in observant homes, observance is a gradual process. We start at the beginning, and as we grow we progress. And, given today's society, it's only natural that there is going to be friction between our secular and religious lives.

For me, one of the major hang ups is the orthodox stance on the role of women in the synagogue. It goes directly against my drive for equality in all things, and it's something I struggle with internally very often. But the only synagogue in my area is Conservative (leaning towards Reform), and it isn't a practical concern at this point.

But I also think that is one of the reasons education is so important. If we strive to learn about Jewish law, ritual, and customs, we can trade how they develop through the ages. And, while we may never fully agree with them, we can find some common ground in understanding how and why they developed. If nothing else, we can learn how to tell what is law from what is opinion.
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:32 AM
 
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Quote:
I have in the past lived on a farm and milked my own cow and goats, but none of this was kosher certified.
That's enough, as far as milk is concerned. Who do you think certifies as Kosher the food I cook in my home?

Quote:
These kinds of outdated regulations that contradict my personal values (and I believe all of our health) are what keeps me on the fence. Am I the only one?
You are not the only one. However, to understand Judaism and why we do the things we do, one must begin to think like a Jew. This applies to folks raised in different religions or in different cultures, in your case Western Culture where things are proven/disproven scientifically and cultural norms react to the latest studies.

In a nutshell, following the Torah was never in vogue. Jews were always different and keeping weird rules that didn't seem to make sense, which begs the question: why?

The answer is that we, as a nation, stood at Sinai and heard the rules G-d gave us. And because we know that G-d is the Creator of the world, the inventor, so to speak, he knows all there is to know about what is good for us and what makes our machinery chug along without a hitch. If G-d who created all animals and plants, in His infinite wisdom, forbade us from eating certain foods, then no matter what health experts say, it is bad for us.

To have personal values that are more compassionate than the Torah's (such as elevating animals to the level of man) is insinuating that G-d does not understand the nature of animals which is doubting that G-d even created them--a belief that is one of the 13 pillars of the Jewish faith.

As an aside, I don't see how Kosher food is a health issue. You can eat Kosher wholesome food or Kosher junk food.

Quote:
Besides the fact that there is no one in the US selling pig milk in this era. So why would we follow a law that seems to me to be unnecessary in our current circumstances, but has real, tangible negative effects from doing so?
Some will or will not follow the stringency of Cholov Yisroel for this reason. I do, but many don't and they're still considered keeping Kosher. Stringencies are fences around the law to keep us from violating the law itself, even by mistake.

Last edited by iwishiwerethin; 07-02-2013 at 09:51 AM..
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:06 AM
 
3,968 posts, read 3,352,470 times
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This is all good advice above, Pegotty.

Bottom line, is that Torah observance is a journey, not a destination. If an established Jewish observance disagrees with a personal belief of yours, you're simply not ready to incorporate that belief yet. But as Iwish says above, that does not mean the Torah is wrong and your belief is superior.

When I was first becoming observant, I once asked my Rav "when is the right time to officially take on an observance?" I'll never forget his response: "not until you have come to the point that you cannot live with yourself if you don't."

So kashrus, for example. Until the day arrives that you find it more difficult to eat the treif food than avoid it, you should probably keep eating the treif. As long as you recognize that the proper derech (way) is to avoid treif, and admit that you simply are not on a madrega (spiritual level) where you can accept that observance, then you are on the right path. It's when you begin making heterim (leniencies) for yourself saying that the Torah is wrong on kashrus and I know better, that you have strayed from normative Jewish belief.

Quote:
For me, one of the major hang ups is the orthodox stance on the role of women in the synagogue. It goes directly against my drive for equality in all things, and it's something I struggle with internally very often.
JB, I think this is a common difficulty for Jews on the path to Observance. Western culture has taught us that equality and egalitarianism is superior, and therefore we often lose our view on what Hashem wishes of us. No matter how many times the Orthodox Jews remind you that men and women are not equal (women are superior in far many ways to men), davening in a men's section and exempting women from time bound mitzvos is very hard to swallow until you've been a part of Torah-dominated Jewish belief. But clearly these millions of exceptional Orthodox Jewish women sitting behind a mechitza (barrier separating women from men in a synagogue) are not fools and being subjegated by their male counterparts. These Orthodox women are sitting exactly where they want to be sitting. Truthfully, these women are thrilled to be exempt from time bound mitzvos (like davening in shul 3 times a day, 7 days a week), and thank G-d He gave them superior spiritual compasses so that they can derive the same or better spiritual fulfillment without having to trudge to shul 3 times a day. If G-d were to lower women by making them equal to men, they'd be stuck with the same daily requirements we men require, and it would be a waste for these women, as their needs are different and their abilities are different than men. To say we are all equal is lower the woman.

One more thought. If we were to make men and women equal in their observance, would the proper way to do it be to bind these women to time bound mitzvos, or to exempt the men from them? And should men also begin dipping in the mikva after the shiva nekia is complete, or should women become exempt from doing this at all?
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
2,538 posts, read 4,700,865 times
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Originally Posted by theflipflop View Post
This is all good advice above, Pegotty.

Bottom line, is that Torah observance is a journey, not a destination. If an established Jewish observance disagrees with a personal belief of yours, you're simply not ready to incorporate that belief yet. But as Iwish says above, that does not mean the Torah is wrong and your belief is superior.

When I was first becoming observant, I once asked my Rav "when is the right time to officially take on an observance?" I'll never forget his response: "not until you have come to the point that you cannot live with yourself if you don't."

So kashrus, for example. Until the day arrives that you find it more difficult to eat the treif food than avoid it, you should probably keep eating the treif. As long as you recognize that the proper derech (way) is to avoid treif, and admit that you simply are not on a madrega (spiritual level) where you can accept that observance, then you are on the right path. It's when you begin making heterim (leniencies) for yourself saying that the Torah is wrong on kashrus and I know better, that you have strayed from normative Jewish belief.



JB, I think this is a common difficulty for Jews on the path to Observance. Western culture has taught us that equality and egalitarianism is superior, and therefore we often lose our view on what Hashem wishes of us. No matter how many times the Orthodox Jews remind you that men and women are not equal (women are superior in far many ways to men), davening in a men's section and exempting women from time bound mitzvos is very hard to swallow until you've been a part of Torah-dominated Jewish belief. But clearly these millions of exceptional Orthodox Jewish women sitting behind a mechitza (barrier separating women from men in a synagogue) are not fools and being subjegated by their male counterparts. These Orthodox women are sitting exactly where they want to be sitting. Truthfully, these women are thrilled to be exempt from time bound mitzvos (like davening in shul 3 times a day, 7 days a week), and thank G-d He gave them superior spiritual compasses so that they can derive the same or better spiritual fulfillment without having to trudge to shul 3 times a day. If G-d were to lower women by making them equal to men, they'd be stuck with the same daily requirements we men require, and it would be a waste for these women, as their needs are different and their abilities are different than men. To say we are all equal is lower the woman.

One more thought. If we were to make men and women equal in their observance, would the proper way to do it be to bind these women to time bound mitzvos, or to exempt the men from them? And should men also begin dipping in the mikva after the shiva nekia is complete, or should women become exempt from doing this at all?

1- First I want to say that I am in no way saying my way is better than Torah. I am specifically addressing the "stringencies" as iwish put it, that seem to be no longer applicable in our current lives/locations. Flipflop, it sounds like you are saying that in my example, milk from my cow or my friends cow is considered treif...?

2- Another question I have is what about chicken/dairy. I know where the commandment comes from (don't cook a [goat] kid...) but how can this be applied to poultry? They don't make milk. I think I read once that it was a similar situation to the pigs milk/cows milk. The meat source was questionable (not sure how that could be if it was kosher meat) and so to make sure one wasn't cooking milk with a mammal, poultry was prohibited, too. Is this right?

Another question is about how all these things relate to conversion. My husband has said for years that he would like to convert, but I have always felt like my difficulties with kashrut would prevent him from doing the conversion. is this true?

3- I can't imagine going to shul 3x/day and trying to run a household. I constantly have something on the stove or in the oven, laundry going, etc. etc. And my youngest child is 5 now, but if I had babies between nursing, napping, diapers...there's hardly time to go to the bathroom never mind go to shul! (I hope that's not inappropriate to say here.) How would you just drop all of that 3x a day? It would be impossible. So, JB from the perspective of a woman who is probably pretty worldly by standards here, I am not remotely bothered by the separation. Does that also mean that male children sit with Dad? If so, at what age does that start?
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:53 AM
 
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1. All milk from Kosher animals are Kosher. The stringency is to have a Jew stand by while the animal is milked to make sure the milk is indeed from a Kosher animal. This is called Cholov Yisroel. If you milk your own cows, you're good to go. If your friend is an observant Jew and milks his cow, you're good to go with that, too. Otherwise, it's cholov akim, which not everybody will drink.

2. The poultry is a rabbinical ordinance (stringency) mentioned in the Talmud, which carries great weight--ALMOST as great as the Torah itself.

Quote:
Another question is about how all these things relate to conversion. My husband has said for years that he would like to convert, but I have always felt like my difficulties with kashrut would prevent him from doing the conversion. is this true?
3. Male children sit with dad. On Shabbos, my son began going to shul when they could daven (pray). Until then, he was a nuisance. During the week, he'd pray at school or at home because he didn't need to daven with minyan.

Your local Chabad Rabbi should be able to help you with Kashrus and conversion. One step at a time is good advice.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Long Island
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Originally Posted by pegotty View Post
So, JB from the perspective of a woman who is probably pretty worldly by standards here, I am not remotely bothered by the separation.
Actually, when I wrote that I was thinking more along the lines of discouraging women from wearing tallitot and tefillin, and the ordination of women.

I understand the reason for exempting women from time-based mitzvot, and typically agree with it.

Like I said, it's one of those things that it have internal struggles with quite often.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pegotty View Post

3- I can't imagine going to shul 3x/day and trying to run a household. I constantly have something on the stove or in the oven, laundry going, etc. etc. And my youngest child is 5 now, but if I had babies between nursing, napping, diapers...there's hardly time to go to the bathroom never mind go to shul! (I hope that's not inappropriate to say here.) How would you just drop all of that 3x a day? It would be impossible. So, JB from the perspective of a woman who is probably pretty worldly by standards here, I am not remotely bothered by the separation. Does that also mean that male children sit with Dad? If so, at what age does that start?
Bingo! And that's the brilliance of Chazal (our Jewish sages), who exempted women from time bound miztvos. You can't have it both ways. Either women want equality and are obligated to time bound mitzvos, or women recognize Chazal knew what they were doing, and those who came to "reform" Judaism in the 1800s were incorrect.

I suspect that those in today's times who follow the advice of the reformers instead of our treasured Jewish sages, but do so out of a lack of knowledge, will get the benefit of the doubt from Hashem (there's obviously no way for me to know, I'm just guessing here). But for those who davka ignore the advice of our sages in favor of these reformers... again I suspect there will be a reckoning from your earthy behavior before you'll be granted a seat in Olam Haba.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Originally Posted by iwishiwerethin View Post
1. All milk from Kosher animals are Kosher. The stringency is to have a Jew stand by while the animal is milked to make sure the milk is indeed from a Kosher animal. This is called Cholov Yisroel. If you milk your own cows, you're good to go. If your friend is an observant Jew and milks his cow, you're good to go with that, too. Otherwise, it's cholov akim, which not everybody will drink.

2. The poultry is a rabbinical ordinance (stringency) mentioned in the Talmud, which carries great weight--ALMOST as great as the Torah itself.



3. Male children sit with dad. On Shabbos, my son began going to shul when they could daven (pray). Until then, he was a nuisance. During the week, he'd pray at school or at home because he didn't need to daven with minyan.

Your local Chabad Rabbi should be able to help you with Kashrus and conversion. One step at a time is good advice.
I know that it is taken very seriously, but I'd like to know/understand if ordinances that were created for situations that don't exist anymore are ever removed from common practice. The reason this is important to me is because I have a lot of difficulty with cooking as it is adding to it timing of meat and dairy products would make me lose me mind! In our family we have wheat allergy, corn allergy, dairy allergy, bean allergy, hypoglycemia and a feeding disorder (all in different people). The one with the feeding disorder has an extremely limited diet so I definitely don't want to impose restrictions that would limit his diet even more (he's never been offered any kind of unclean meats) and because of the hypoglycemia I have to be careful to provide meat at a certain interval before any sweet foods or the blood sugar spikes and then drops. It just seems too much for me to even wrap my brain around.

I'm not really ready to start talking with a Rabbi, although I have talked with the one at Chabad here and I really like him. But there are other things I'm working through that I haven't mentioned...I need to wrap my brain around them first. Maybe that's Western of me, but I have a strong need to understand what I'm dealing with.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:43 PM
 
Location: The Mid South
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If you haven't already, check out, liberal Judaism and how a group in Germany have liberated several observances.
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