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What’s Kosher About a Pig?

What’s Kosher About a Pig?

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Dear Readers,

Who isn’t turned off by a hypocrite? Most of us try to keep away from people who act outwardly righteous, yet are immoral on the inside. Judaism admires the quality of being “of one mouth and one heart,” someone who feels as they act.

But that doesn’t mean you should always act or say how you feel!

Sure, we appreciate honesty, but don’t be ruthlessly insulting just because you’re in a lousy mood. Clearly, there are times when our insides are better left inside. Everyone around us doesn’t need to suffer from our grouchy temperament.

We learn this concept in this week’s parshah from the pig. Kosher land animals must chew their cuds and have split hoofs. The Torah lists four animals that have only one kosher symbol and are therefore not kosher. The camel, hyrax and hare chew their cud but don’t have split hoofs, whereas only the pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud.

And the swine, though it divides the hoof and is cloven-footed, yet it does not chew the cud; it is unclean to you. (Lev. 11:7)

The Midrash compares the swine to an individual who acts more “kosher” or righteous than he really is. “The swine, when reclining, puts forth its hooves, as if to say: ‘See, I am kosher!’”

Such hypocritical, deceitful behavior is reprehensible to us. Perhaps that’s why the pig has become the archetype of non-kosher animals.

Yet the Hebrew name for a pig is chazir, which literally means “to return.” “Why is its name called chazir? Because in the future, G‑d will return it to Israel.” (Ritv”a, Kidushin 49b)

The pig’s Hebrew name hints that it is unkosher for as long as it only has split hoofs. In the era of Moshiach, however, when its nature will be altered and it will chew its cud, it will become kosher (Ohr Chaim).

The animal’s physical symbols represent spiritual characteristics. Regurgitating its cud reflects the quality where one’s inner character is refined and introspective. Split hooves—the animal’s limb of activity—reflect outward, practical good deeds. The pig has split hooves, its good deeds are many; however, its innards are not yet refined.

From all the non-kosher animals, the pig is unique in its “return” to kosher status in the time of Moshiach when the world will be cleansed of negativity. And thus, the pig has an important message for us.

While we strive to be “kosher” in both our inner character and our outward deeds, no one is perfect. Just because your insides aren’t yet perfectly refined doesn’t mean that your deeds should be equally imperfect. So if you’re angry, refrain from lashing out. If you’re feeling stingy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open your purse.

In fact, try the opposite. Focus on doing good deeds and acting outwardly kindly. Eventually, your insides will follow.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW


Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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