With the exception of shabbat, there is probably no practice that distinguishes pious Jews more than the observance of kashrut—the Jewish dietary laws. Whether at a business meeting or an everyday social gathering, Jews who keeps kosher have to set themselves apart from the crowd whenever food is involved. To keep kosher is to stand out.
And that is precisely the point.
In “Locusts, Giraffes, and the Meaning of Kashrut,” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik argues that the deepest purpose of kashrut lies in how it reinforces the distinct identity of the Jewish people and their status as a chosen nation. “By keeping kosher,” he writes, “Jews express the belief that they are chosen, separate from the nations until the end of time.”
In this podcast, Rabbi Soloveichik joins Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver to discuss his essay and his argument. They analyze the many diverse reasons that have been given for Jewish dietary laws, explore what those arguments get right and wrong, and explain how eating kosher locusts can help illuminate the true meaning of kashrut.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and "Above the Ocean" by Evan MacDonald.