|Thou shalt not.
||[Apr. 19th, 2011|09:08 am]
I feel like all I do is complain about religion and the weather on here. So why break a streak, I guess?
I've been thinking about kosher rules, because of Passover coming up (and I read food blogs, and they talk about this kind of thing). I get why dietary restriction rules related to religion came into being - on a basic level, it was dangerous to eat some stuff, and religious leaders took the opportunity to step in and prevent illness. That's especially obvious with pork and shellfish. That said, there are the social reasons, too - alcohol, for example, is a pretty obvious cause of some serious social ills, so it's kind of a no-brainer if you'd like people to stop having pre-marital sex and getting into fights. Then there are the morality-based rules, like vegetarianism, which I can also understand if you're working from the premise that killing animals is wrong. (The no milk and meat thing is a variation on this, of course, and it's kind of a stretch, but I'll go with it for the purposes of discussion.)
I fail to understand how keeping kosher, or halal, or whatever you'd like to label it, is important at all once the reasons for the dietary restriction have become outdated. Clearly, the social and moral restrictions still make sense, if you want to follow the tenets of the religion and its holy books. But not eating pork or shellfish because once upon a time it used to make people sick has always seemed kind of ridiculous to me. That said, it's something that I don't have a hugely difficult time accepting, because it doesn't seem like an incredible burden, or unnecessarily absurd, just illogical. You can make an argument that it's a matter of teaching discipline and self-control, as well, which I sort of buy. (Though it also smacks of indoctrination.)
But, after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal about rabbis certifying kitchens for Passover, I'm astounded at the lengths to which people are willing to go to follow kosher laws. Passover gets some leeway from me for the restrictions it places because it's supposed to be a reminder of the privation experienced by one's ancestors, and that actually seems kind of cool to me. But to clean the inside of an oven with a blowtorch to make sure there aren't any particles of leavening that might still be hanging around? So that the restaurant that owns the oven can make sure they're catering a Passover feast properly? Right. Privation of one's ancestors has just got so much to do with that.
Also, there's a discussion later in the article of a company that certifies pet food kosher for Passover. Apparently there are people who inflict dietary restrictions on their pets for holy days. And I quote, "[The interviewee's] two cats, Ashley and Coco, don't like Passover because of the limited diet...'Passover is such a hard holiday for them.'" Maybe that's because they're cats, and they have no idea what a holiday is, so they just want the food that you always give them. I mean, seriously? Come on. I just don't understand this kind of thinking. What, God is going to be angry with you because you fed your cats treif on Passover? Or because you left a crumb of bread in your oven and it shared the air with something else that you cooked? How could that possibly matter less? The whole point of the holiday is to think about the difficulties faced by the Jews before they were freed by Moses and then to appreciate the freedom that one has been granted now. I see how not eating bread contributes to an understanding of the history of a religion and its people; I fail to see how obsessively cleaning one's kitchen helps to achieve contemplation of the same.
This is why I don't understand religion. It becomes dogmatic so quickly, and people lose all perspective.
Also, it's supposed to snow tonight. Whine whine whine. (Just keeping my end up.)