Tamar Levy, St. Louis, MO: Block Yeshiva High School, Grade 9

Dearest Sarah!!!

I’ve been trying to find a time where I could just sit down in a quiet area and write to you. You know it’s really hard to do that in my house, because there are so many people, and it’s always so noisy.

I’ve wanted to write to you, for a while now, explaining my thoughts about keeping kosher. I’m not going to force you to do anything, but I thought I may as well explain a little about it. You may think that it’s not worth all the trouble but… just read what I have to say, and then let me know what you think.

I have been keeping kosher my whole life. With only eating kosher foods, there are a lot of foods that you are not able to eat. You can’t just run into any shop that you see on the road and grab a packet of chips. This can definitely be to your advantage. You have restrictions on your food consumption, which prevents you eating a lot of the junk food you would normally eat.

Keeping kosher, to me, makes a lot of sense. I can understand why the Torah, the Jewish Bible, prohibits mixing meat and milk. Think about it, Sarah. When you have a burger, it’s eating meat from an animal, and then if you have milk, you could possibly be drinking the milk from the mom of the animal’s meat that you’re eating. It sounds horrible.

When you keep kosher, there are certain animals that you cannot eat. The animals have to have split hooves, and they have to chew their cud. If it’s a fish, the fish has to have fins and scales. Although the reasons for these rules are not always clear, I am sure that G-d knows what He’s doing. Take an example such as a pig. The pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud, so the pig remains non-kosher. Truthfully, Sarah, if you think about what a pig does on a regular basis, does it sound appetizing to you? You’re eating an animal that rolls in the mud everyday. It’s so dirty.

When a kosher animal is slaughtered it has to be slaughtered in a special way. It is shechted. There is a Torah law that states that man cannot cause pain to an animal. This rule is knows as Tzaar Ba’alei Chaim. One may ask, well then doesn’t slaughtering an animal cause pain to the animal? The kosher way of slaughtering an animal causes the least pain possible to the animal. Hashem would not have allowed man to eat meat if He didn’t want us to. Remember that story of Noah, and the floor? G-d destroyed the world because the world was so bad, but He saved just Noah and his family. Hashem would have told man after the floor that He did not want him eating the animals. Hashem would have let Noah know that he wants man to remain a vegetarian, like people were before the floor. G-d actually let man eat meat after the floor because there were no crops or vegetables available for man to eat. Hashem allows us to eat animals, with a few rules and regulations that we have to follow. Why not do G-d the favor? After all G-d has done for us, why not listen to the few rules He has regarding eating animals? Why not do the animal the favor giving him the least pain possible? You’re going to eat it, so why not do it in the best way?

You are probably thinking right now, that this is all easy for me to say due to the fact that I have been brought up keeping kosher all my life. Well, you’re probably correct. It is easy for me to talk and say all of this. If you are really interested in keeping kosher, then you don’t have to start doing everything all at once. First just ask you mom if it’s okay if you don’t eat out at non-kosher restaurants anymore. Then slowly ask you mom if you can buy only kosher foods, and you not eat meat and milk together. There are actually different views about how long you have to wait between eating meat and milk foods. Some say three hours but others say six hours. I wait six hours which is probably the most preferable amount of time to wait. Eventually you can make your kitchen a kosher kitchen, which is called koshering your kitchen. It involves replacing all the traife or non-kosher utensils, crockery, pots and pans, with either new or purified ones. Some utensils can be purified by dipping them in a pool of pure rain water and reciting a blessing, while others can be completely submerged in boiling hot water and a blessing recited. Meat and milk utensils should also be kept separate. As well as all these rules, there are numerous more. For example if you would like to buy lettuce, either the lettuce had to have been checked by a reliable source with a reliable hecsher (a marking that say it is kosher), or you can check it by yourself. You have to make sure that there are no bugs on the lettuce. Buts are not kosher and so you must be very careful in your checking. If you do decide to keep kosher I can get you in contact with a Rabbi that will be able to help you with all these types of decisions.

Although keeping kosher may be harder and more expensive, in the long run it’s better. You become a healthier individual, and receive a greater reward in the The World To Come.

Well, Sarah, I hope you understand all that I just wrote. If you have any questions whatsoever, please write to me, call me, or email me. It’s up to you. I hope this helped you, and I hope that soon I will be able to come to your kosher home. Write back as soon as you can!! Thanks!!

Yours Truly,
Your friend forever,
Tamar Levy