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astro
03-30-2004, 12:30 AM
Re the Jewish injunction against eating pork. Is it considered a mortal sin to eat pork, or is it just very bad manners? Can you come back from being a pork eater to being a good Jew again, or at some point of consumption are you considered irredeemably spiritually polluted in some fashion?

SSgtBaloo
03-30-2004, 12:47 AM
IANAR (nor am I Jewish), but I asked a Jewish friend of mine the same question (more or less) a while back. He is a Conservative Jew, and answers may vary between Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism. If an actual Jew answers this question I will, of course, defer to his more expert knowledge.

Firstly, I don't know if Judaism makes much distinction between "mortal" and "venal" sin. You are either obeying G-d or you aren't, and why you do something counts less than what you do. Having said that, if you fool someone who keeps kosher a ham sandwich cleverly disguised as a pastrami-on-rye and he eats it in good faith, he has done nothing wrong, but YOU have. If he knew the meat was suspect but he was starving, he is also blameless, since it is permissible to violate one law if in doing so you are upholding a greater law -- it's better to eat pig than die (Rabbinic teachings may vary on this -- Any Rabbi lurkers, here's your opening ;)).

That's about as much as I know, but I'm not clear on how one becomes "clean" (ritually, that is) after having a ham sandwich, nor if just touching one is considered not good.

I think I'll subscribe to this thread. I find the topic interesting, to say the least.

--SSgtBaloo

DrDeth
03-30-2004, 12:47 AM
There are three main groups of Judaism. Orthodox (Observant), Conservative, and Reform. (Note- IANAJ ) ;j

The answer depends on which you are- to an Orthodox man it is very important- to a Reform, it is "just" a tradition.

But there are several Orthodox posters here- one of them will be along to give you the exact answer as to their Sect/Faith.

zev_steinhardt
03-30-2004, 08:15 AM
Speaking as an Orthodox Jew...

The prohibition against eating non-kosher food (and other non-kosher foods) is actually the matter of a commandment and not simply "good manners." As such, eating non-kosher food is forbidden (except, of course, in cases where one's life is in danger).

There is a concept in Judaism called teshuva (repentence). One can atone for any sin with sincere repentence. It does not make a difference how long you have been sinning. Sincere repentence has the following components:

(1) Regret for having done the sin
(2) Verbal confession of the sin (to God)
(3) Resolving not to commit that sin again
(4) (Assuming the sin was against a fellow man) Making restitution and/or asking forgivness.

#4 doesn't apply in this case. However, you would still need #1 - 3.

Zev Steinhardt

smithsb
03-30-2004, 04:14 PM
This could fire things up a bit. The prohibition against pigs also had a lot to do with general health. The elders (witchdoctors, shamen, rabbis, imans, and the like) also had a medical function to the tribe, city, region. Eating pork and similar in an uncooked or partially cooked state would sicken or kill you then as now. The elders may not have known the specific reason but did notice the cause and effect relationship. Many religions placed prohibitions against certain acts detrimental to health into the teachings and writings. Whole stories, myths, happenings were created to justify the action. It was a way to influence/coerce the masses into doing the right thimg.

Religious tomes are compilations of writings done by man (men in particular you may have noticed). If you are extremely devout - these are the word of "God" passed directly to an earthly being for disemination. A skeptic would say there was significant influence in what book, passage, songs were included/excluded depending on the point being made. A good talk with an objective theologian in your religion can be educational.

Back to the point. If you cooked it well and were not sickened, go forth and praise God and treat others fairly. Had the elders had microscopes there would have been prohibitions agains eating bacteria or parasites instead of the whole animal.

Padmaraga
03-30-2004, 05:14 PM
Well, smithsb, I don't dispute the fact that there were indeed good medical benefits to be had from keeping kosher, but I am of the opinion that your post misses the real point behind the kosher laws.

The kosher laws are meant to set the Jews apart from others, as a holy people to G-d. If the only reason for them was to avoid bacteria/disease, then why the prohibition against wearing a garment of mixed linen and wool?

Your post has an interesting point of view, but (with all due respect) should not be used as advice to an observant Jew, nor as information for anyone trying to understand a tenet of Judaism, which I think was what the OP was after.

I defer to the excellent answer given by Zev_Steinhardt.

zev_steinhardt
03-30-2004, 05:16 PM
Welcome to the boards smithsb.

The OP asked (presumably) about Jews today. Orthodox Jews who keep kosher today do not do so out of fears of disease. They do so because they believe that God told them to do so. Other Jews may do so for cultural reasons. But no one today does it primarily because of disease prevention.

Zev Steinhardt

Lemur866
03-30-2004, 05:46 PM
A related question. My understanding is that observant Jews won't eat in most restaurants, because the kitchens are not kept kosher. But would they eat in a vegetarian restaurant? Or is there too much potential for mistakes, and they would stick to only certified kosher restaurants?

sturmhauke
03-30-2004, 05:46 PM
My wife is a Reform Jew, and not a very observant one at that. We had a pork loin at our wedding, but we do try to keep things (mostly) kosher at Passover dinner. Also, there are more to the kosher food laws than just "no pork". There's also "no chicken alfredo or pepperoni pizza" (milk with meat), "no clam chowder or lobster bisque" (shellfish), "no Louisiana alligator sausage" (reptile), and various other things. We observe the major Jewish holidays and the stricter Passover food restrictions, but that's about it. Here's some more information on kosher laws. (http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Judaism/kashrut.html)

DocCathode
03-30-2004, 06:01 PM
illnesses from eating undercooked meat from cows, sheep, and goats. One of the plagues was a disease that affected the Egyptians cattle. Second, the kashrut aslo requires that all slaughtered animals be inspected for disease. The stricter glatt kosher classification came from a disagreement over whether certain things in the lungs of the animal rendered it unclean. Why ban a species due to disease, when the allowed species must be thoroughly examined before they can be eaten? Finally the prohibition bans all pork, not just undercooked pork. If undercooked pork was the problem, the commandment would be to cook it thoroughly.

Back To The OP

SSgtBaloo As a Jew, my knowledge of what constitutes a mortal or venal sin comes largely from films on Catholic schools. I'd like to remind everybody that the SS in his name is due to his being either a Staff Sergeant or Senior Sergeant.

If I remember correctly Judaism recognizes three types of sin: sins against G-d, sins against others, and sins against oneself.

EvilHamsterOnCrack
03-30-2004, 06:21 PM
If I remember correctly Judaism recognizes three types of sin: sins against G-d, sins against others, and sins against oneself.
Never heard of against oneself, but the ones I know are:
Me'Ish La'Makom - From man to the place (god)
Me'Ish Le'Chavero- From man to his friend

DocCathode
03-30-2004, 06:26 PM
Hmm, the beginning of my previous post was eaten.

smithsb I've heard that explanation many times. It doesn't hold up. First, There are plenty of diseases humans can get through eating the meat of cows, sheep, or goats.

Re Restaurants

It varies from Jew to Jew even among the Orthodox. It doesn't help that different people use vegetarian to mean different things. Even if the restaraunt were strictly vegan, there are still concerns. According to some Jews, a used oven must be cleansed before it can be considered kosher. This requires a special ceremony and the use of a small acetylene torch (seriously). Unless the restaurant bought new sinks, counter tops, ranges, ovens, etc some Jews will consider all food made in that kitchen treife.

MLS
03-30-2004, 07:59 PM
[QUOTE=smithsb] The prohibition against pigs also had a lot to do with general health. The elders (witchdoctors, shamen, rabbis, imans, and the like) also had a medical function to the tribe, city, region. Eating pork and similar in an uncooked or partially cooked state would sicken or kill you then as now. [QUOTE]

I'm not a believer in any particular religion, but as a college professor of mine once said in response to this exact point, "What have you proven except that God knows what's good for you?"

DrDeth
03-31-2004, 09:52 PM
Speaking as an Orthodox Jew...

There is a concept in Judaism called teshuva (repentence). One can atone for any sin with sincere repentence. It does not make a difference how long you have been sinning. Sincere repentence has the following components:

(1) Regret for having done the sin
(2) Verbal confession of the sin (to God)
(3) Resolving not to commit that sin again
(Zev Steinhardt

I thought there were some sins that needed some ritual cleansing? Something to do with having sex during your wife's period? And, do not the dishes need to be purified? I remember that some dishwasher used very hot water and this was enough tio render the dishes "pure" again, or am i crazy? ;j

Moirai
04-01-2004, 04:25 PM
A non-kosher restaurant kitchen must be thoroughly cleansed and all utensils either purified (if they can stand it) or replaced.

I heard last year about some big hotels attempting to tap into the previously-goy-only "Easter brunch" money-spending phenomenon by setting aside one kitchen to be designated kosher during certain Jewish holy days. Then they cleanse it with a rabbi present, etc. This way, people who might ordinarily stay home for a kosher meal will come out and overspend for one! Yea!

It would be very difficult, time-consuming and expensive for a person to move between kosher and non-kosher in their own kitchen.

C K Dexter Haven
04-01-2004, 04:57 PM
On the so-called "rationales" for the laws of kosher, you might try this Staff Report. (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mjewishislamdiet.html) Granted, it's got a lot more in it, like a summary of the laws, but the brilliant SDSAB also comments that various people over the centuries have tried various rationales. None of them are anything more than speculative, and usually designed to support some hidden agenda (like, ""the dietary rules were based on health and so are no longer necessary in the modern world.")

In Judaism, a sin is a violation of a commandment or rule. As others have said, it's not just a matter of good manners -- it was the law of the land, in ancient times. Yes, there were some sins that were punishable by death and others that were punished by fines. Most of the laws with specific punishments were related to the system of jurisprudence (such as it was) -- i.e., offenses (we'd say, "crimes" or "misdemeanors") against other persons. Sins against God alone (like eating the wrong foods), it was mostly left up to the individual to seek forgiveness, and it was up to God to handle punishment or mercy.

alice_in_wonderland
04-01-2004, 05:46 PM
So...

a Jew is off the hook if they unknowingly eat non-kosher (as it is with muslims that eat non-halal) assuming they've taken steps to be kosher and through malice or hapenstance happen to get some pork or shellfish, or whatever (ala Sienfeld).

What about the person who provided the non-kosher food - I'm guessing no one is going to be happy with them, but from a traditional point of view what sort of punishment would one receive for purposefully decieving a Jew in this way?

zev_steinhardt
04-02-2004, 08:07 AM
I thought there were some sins that needed some ritual cleansing? Something to do with having sex during your wife's period?


No. Having sex with one's wife during her menstruation is a sin. However, the method of repentence for this sin is the same as for any other. Simply follow the steps I outlined above.


And, do not the dishes need to be purified? I remember that some dishwasher used very hot water and this was enough tio render the dishes "pure" again, or am i crazy? ;j

I'm afraid you're confusing two issues here.

There is a concept in halacha that utensils (including dishes) absorb the flavors of hot foods placed therein. Likewise, they also release some of those "flavors" when they are heated again (usually by means of placing other hot foods on them). Therefore, one cannot use dishes that were used for ham, for example, because then the ham flavor would be imparted into the kosher food you were eating, rendering it non-kosher. That's why Jews keep two sets of dishes, one for dairy and one for meat, since mixing the two is forbidden.

Some utensils (based on the material that they are made out of) can be kashered if they have become non-kosher. The method of kashering depends on the material. In some cases, one can use hot water to kasher utensils and surfaces, in other cases not.

This, however, is not a ritual to "cleanse" oneself of the sin. One can do a complete repentence and simply decide to dispose of the dishes. Or, conversely, one may have to kasher his dishes even if there was no sin involed (i.e. you were forced to use the dishes for non-kosher food; one recovered stolen pots that were used for non-kosher cooking, etc). In short, the kashering of dishes has nothing to do with forgiveness for a sin. It's purely a technical matter.

Zev Steinhardt

zev_steinhardt
04-02-2004, 08:15 AM
So...

a Jew is off the hook if they unknowingly eat non-kosher (as it is with muslims that eat non-halal) assuming they've taken steps to be kosher and through malice or hapenstance happen to get some pork or shellfish, or whatever (ala Sienfeld).


Yes and no. It depends.

In halachic literature, there are three degrees of severity for sins. They are:

mayzid - willful action
shogeg - negligence
ones - "forced" (i.e. blameless)

The first case would be someone who wilfully picks up a ham sandwich and chows down. For this act, the person is 100% responsible.

The second case would be someone who could have done more to prevent the situation from occuring. For example - someone who travels out to a remote place and now finds that he has no kosher food available. This could have been prevented by either packing kosher food beforehand or, if that's not possible, not going on the trip in the first place. IOW, the situation was preventable. In such a case, the person has a degree of responsibility and requires repentence, but not to the degree that a willful act does.

The last case is where one is forced to eat non-kosher food because of events beyond his control (famine, shipwrecked, threatened, etc.). In such cases, one, in fact, *must* eat non-kosher food to survive and starving oneself would be a sin.


What about the person who provided the non-kosher food - I'm guessing no one is going to be happy with them, but from a traditional point of view what sort of punishment would one receive for purposefully decieving a Jew in this way?

Someone who knowingly causes one to sin is in violation of Leviticus 19:14 (placing a stumbling block in front of the blind).

Zev Steinhardt

Noone Special
04-02-2004, 08:40 AM
Re the Jewish injunction against eating pork. Is it considered a mortal sin to eat pork, or is it just very bad manners? Can you come back from being a pork eater to being a good Jew again, or at some point of consumption are you considered irredeemably spiritually polluted in some fashion?
I'll defer to the excellent discussion of kashrut by Zev and others, and only raise a different point that is important to me:

Judaism is not only a religion. It is also certainly a culture, and more debatably an ethnicity as well.

As an atheist Jew, I find the whole matter of Kashrut irrelevant to my daily life. I don't think it makes me less of a Jew, nor a worse one.

So my (very personal) answer to the OP is "not at all".

Dani

35340
04-02-2004, 08:45 AM
Sincere repentence has the following components:

(1) Regret for having done the sin
(2) Verbal confession of the sin (to God)
(3) Resolving not to commit that sin again
(4) (Assuming the sin was against a fellow man) Making restitution and/or asking forgivness.

#4 doesn't apply in this case. However, you would still need #1 - 3.



unless it was Long Pork ...

I always figured the restriction against eating pork was to cut out cannibalisim.

gonzoron
04-02-2004, 10:43 AM
No. Having sex with one's wife during her menstruation is a sin. However, the method of repentence for this sin is the same as for any other. Simply follow the steps I outlined above.



I think he may DrDeth may be thinking of the imersion in a mikvah following her period.

zev_steinhardt
04-02-2004, 11:03 AM
I think he may DrDeth may be thinking of the imersion in a mikvah following her period.

I don't think so for two reasons:

(1) The concept that a woman having her period is sinful is ludicrous.
(2) She goes to the mikvah afterwards whether or not she's had relations during that time period.

Zev Steinhardt

DrDeth
04-02-2004, 01:36 PM
Iwas thinking of some sort of "bath"? which needs to be rainwater? and has to do with a womans period. Not that having a period is sinful, I knew that, but I knew it was a sin to have sex then.

So- this "mikva" "purifies' the woman after her period- so then sex is OK?

And the "kashering" the dishes so that eating off them isn't a sin? :confused: ;j

zev_steinhardt
04-02-2004, 01:54 PM
Iwas thinking of some sort of "bath"? which needs to be rainwater? and has to do with a womans period. Not that having a period is sinful, I knew that, but I knew it was a sin to have sex then.

So- this "mikva" "purifies' the woman after her period- so then sex is OK?


"Purifies" is really a bad word to use in this instance, but since I don't have a better one, I suppose it will have to do.

In short, under Jewish law, from the onset of a woman's period until seven days afterwards, one may not have intimate relations with one's wife. After seven clean (non-bleeding) days, the woman immerses in the mikva whereupon relations are permitted again until the onset of the next period.


And the "kashering" the dishes so that eating off them isn't a sin? :confused: ;j

As I stated above, using non-kosher dishes may result in traces of non-kosher food being imparted to the kosher food on the plate, rendering it non-kosher. Kashering dishes removes the trace non-kosher food from them.

Zev Steinhardt

gonzoron
04-02-2004, 03:39 PM
I don't think so for two reasons:

(1) The concept that a woman having her period is sinful is ludicrous.
(2) She goes to the mikvah afterwards whether or not she's had relations during that time period.


Understood, but I thought, apparently correctly, that he was confusing two different issues. As you said, a woman's monthly mikvah visit isn't about removing sin, but hearing about a "ritual cleansing" apparently caused DrDeth's confusion.