Is it improper and hypocritical to recite a blessing on non-kosher food? I'm starting to become more observant of the Torah laws, but I'm not yet at the stage of keeping 100% kosher. What do you advise?


First of all, may I commend you for your desire to keep growing in your Judaism and spirituality. Our sages tell us (Ethics of the Fathers 4:2) "A mitzvah brings another mitzvah." Doing mitzvot puts one in a "positive cycle," where one mitzvah leads to another. So, generally speaking, "all or nothing" is definitely not a Jewish mentality… and the fact that you are not yet observing one mitzvah is not a reason not to do another. And starting slowly and moving upwards steadily but sincerely in one's observance is certainly not hypocrisy! (See also I'd feel hypocritical wearing a Kippah full-time...)

But as it happens, this particular case is an exception to the abovementioned rule—allow me to explain:

What exactly is the purpose of making a blessing on food? Two basic answers are given for this mitzvah:

1. With the blessing we are acknowledging G‑d, the Creator of the food, and thank Him for providing it for us.

2. According to Kabbalah, all matter exists because it contains within it a spark of G‑dliness. When we recite a blessing over food, we activate and elevate this G‑dly spark. Thus the food nourishes us both physically and spiritually.

So, with regards to reciting a blessing on food that is not kosher:

1. It's a mockery to bless and thank G‑d for the un-kosher food that one is eating—in opposition to His will.

2. Although all of physical matter contains within it the G‑dly sparks that give it existence, in some cases the Divine energy is accessible to us, while in other cases it is inaccessible. The purpose of our existence on this world is to interact with the physical world in order to elevate the divine sparks within it. It therefore follows that when the Divine energy within something is not accessible, we have no business with it. Since the purpose of the blessing is to release the Divine energy within food, one does not recite a blessing over food whose Divine energy is so tightly imprisoned, that we cannot access it and it cannot be elevated.1

I hope this has been helpful.

Chaya Sarah Silberberg,