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“Do not contaminate yourselves through them lest you become contaminated through them.” (11:43)

The Mesilas Yeshorim explains that one who is lenient regarding kashrus laws in those areas where Chazal have indicated stringency is destroying his soul. The Sifra comments on the above quoted posuk, “If you will contaminate yourselves through eating them, you will ultimately become spiritually defiled through them.” This means that consumption of forbidden food brings impurity and dullness into the heart of a person to the extent that the Shechina distances itself from him. It may be suggested that the concept of “forbiden food” may take various forms. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos states: “If three have eaten at…

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“And the chasidah (stork) (11:19)

The Talmud explains that the chasidah was given this name due to its natural instinct of doing chesed (kindness) with other members of its species (Chulin 63a). The Rambam in the Morhe Nevuchim and the Ramban in his commentary on this parsha explain that the characteristics of the food that one eats will ultimately be absorbed into the nature of the person who eats them. The prohibition of eating the chasidah is therefore puzzling, since this bird performs acts of kindness. It would seem that partaking of it should be encouraged. The initial response is that the chasidah performs its…

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“But this is what you may not eat from among those that chew their cud or that have split hoofs.” (11:4)

The Torah enjoins us not to eat those animals which, though they possess one of the required characteristics of purity, lack the second. The Torah enumerates four such animals, namely the camel, rabbit, hare, and the pig. It is noteworthy that when the Torah mentions these non-kosher animals, it chooses to mention the animal’s kosher characteristic prior to stating its non-kosher characteristic. There is an important lesson to be derived from this. When a non-kosher animal maintains a kosher characteristic, this is to be considered a sign of uncleanliness and contamination. In order to explain this statement, let us reflect…

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“And Moshe said to Aharon this is that which Hashem spoke saying “Through them who are close to Me I will become sanctified.” (10:3)

Rashi explains: Moshe said to Aharon – my brother, I have known that the House would be sanctified by those beloved by Hashem and I thought it would either be by myself or you – now I see that they are greater than you or I. Moshe’s statement regarding Hashem’s choice for sanctifying His Name does not seem consistent with the characterization of Moshe as “and the man Moshe was very meek above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” (Bamidbar 12:3) How could one who has mastered his personality to the extent that he serves…

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