Friday, February 08, 2008

Why Kosher/Halal Rules?

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There is a case in Singapore about a school only allowing halal food to be brought in to the school canteen, much to the consternation of non-muslim parents who are then restricted in what they can provide their children to eat.

Link to Straits Times article: School's 'halal zone' ruling causes stir.

I've had Muslim colleagues join me at a non-halal restaurant and the only thing they were restricted in is that they just don't order pork to consume. They had no problems with us ordering bacon and ham and eating it next to them.

I went to a sandwich shop the other day and the shop had bacon and ham on the ingredients list. I asked the sandwich artist whether he had a problem with handling pork and he said no. (He appeared to be a Malay and therefore likely to be a Muslim).

I think I understand what kosher/halal rules are meant for. Perhaps in the ancient past it may have meant to protect from unhygienic and high risk food, but now they have devolved into ceremony. But they have a lesson to teach man.

It is not that pork is a dirty meat, or lobsters and prawns are bad. These meats are disallowed under Biblical dietary laws.

The meaning behind them is this, it takes effort to remain clean. We have to watch what we do in things that we take for granted, natural habits like eating.

Jesus said it isn't what goes into a man that makes him unclean, it's what comes out of him. His words, thoughts and actions.

To remain kosher (for Jews), or halal (to Muslims), it means we must inspect what we consume, in our minds, its what we think, what we say. It means a life of safeguards, and constant vigilance.

We must be vigilant in what we speak, say or do. That's the lesson of kosher rules. When we say something in wrathful anger, or do something in lust, and forgo things in laziness. Perhaps the main thing about kosher rules is that we must not be lazy.

If we could apply the same vigilance that people of other religions emphasize on their physical diets, onto our thoughts, words and actions, we would become much better persons I believe.

The hypocrisy of dietary laws is that one may follow them to a T and yet fall short because it isn't applied to the heart where hate, lust, and sin may be nurtured.

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