Parsha Mitzvot-Re’ei-Mitzvah 479-Concept 186-187-More Insects-Crawling Things
“And every flying swarming creature is unclean to you; they shall not be eaten (Deuteronomy 14:19).” Transcribed and unedited: Okay mitzvah number one eighty-six and one eighty-seven. Listen to this one. This one is incredible. This teaches us so much. It is fantastic. You are not allowed to eat fruit worms that have left the fruit in which they were born. It is very important that you get this. You are not allowed to eat fruit insects, such as worms, that have left the fruit in which they were born. If they left the fruit and returned to the fruit, you are not allowed to eat them. You are only allowed to eat them while they are in the fruit. So if you take a bite of an apple and there is a worm, and you have reason to believe that the worm was born in the apple, you should not worry about the kashrut problem. You may worry about other problems but you do not have to worry about kashrut. The USDA says that you should not worry about the other problems because they are filled with protein. Listen I say that same thing when you guys eat vegetables. So we just have eating habits.
Next one. You are not allowed to make your souls disgusting with water insects. Okay so now as long as they are in the original place of creation, the original place in which they came into existence, there is no prohibition against eating them. Okay now listen to this one. Why are you allowed to eat honey of bees? You cut open a bee and you find honey in the bee, can you eat it? But if the honey is outside of the bee, can you eat it? You see a connection here? What are we talking about in these mitzvot? Think about what you are talking about. Worms born in the fruit, as long as they do not leave the fruit, you are allowed to eat them. Once they leave, they are no longer part of the fruit you are not allowed to eat. Honey in a bee, as long as it is inside the bee, you are not allowed to eat it. Once it is outside of the bee, it is no longer considered to be part of the bee, it just happens to be something that passed through the bee.
So the environment defines the level of purity. That which is attached to it is original environment will be defined by it is original environment. Once something leaves its original environment it no longer is defined by that original environment. Right? What would that say to you? Does this have any application to our own lives? Yes very much so. Does not it? The whole idea of being an adult, hopefully, when some of us grow up, we will find out that that is true. Audience: “I sense a connection but I do not understand it.” Which part? In other words the worm that is part of the apple to which it is born is part of the apple and just as apples are Kosher, the worm is Kosher. But the minute it leaves the apple and claims an existence of its own, then we look at it as a worm independently of the apple. So to a certain point, which is defined by your environment. But the more you go out on your own, the more you are looked out as the product of your own self. Now what we learn out of here, just let me give me you some Gemarah, the Gemarah says that sins close your heart and where do they learn the fact that sins close your heart? From this mitzvah because it says do not become defiled with them, you become closed off.
In fact they tell a story in the eighteen hundreds with Rabbi Akivah Eger who was the Rabbi of Pozen. He was a young boy who had been a child protégé. And all of the sudden no matter what they taught him, he could not retain it. So they did not know what to do so they came to the Rabbi of the city. What else do you do when you trouble with your kids? You go to the Rabbi. That is your Jewish center. The rabbi said, “Did he ever eat anything that was not Kosher?” So the parents were insulted. “Are you implying that we would have anything in our house that was not Kosher? We are so careful, two separate sinks and we would never mix the pots. We even keep separate glasses.” Okay so he said, “I am telling you that if the boy all of the sudden stopped remembering what he was learning, he ate something that was not Kosher.” Maybe that is why I am losing my memory right now. But I forgot what it was that I ate. So they researched and researched and this family had very strict rules about where their children were allowed to eat. They would not allow them to eat in any one else’s house. So they found out that he had gone to a wedding and the food served was Kosher, it was chicken. However, it had happened that week that the butchers were over charging for chicken and Rabbi Akivah Eiger had decreed in Pozen that no chicken sold in Pozen this week is Kosher. But the family had no choice because they could not afford meat for the wedding so they bought chicken anyway. So the chicken had the status of not being Kosher and the boy ate it and that is why he was not remembering his learning. That is the famous story of Rabbi Akivah Eiger.
But whether the story is true, we believe that somehow when you eat things, meaning when you eat things that you are not allowed to, meaning you are insensitive about the things you are eating, you become less sensitive to the things that you learn, the mitzvoth you observe, and to other people. This is the Gemarah’s way of telling you that this level of awareness of what you are allowed to eat and not eat is really sensitivity training to yourself. Being aware of what you are putting into your body. Fish and what does fish represent. It is really a very sophisticated level of sensitivity training and that is only the first level. If you go into Kabbalah then the Kabalists are going to describe to you each part of the body and what it represents, so I have heard.
Now what is even more incredible to me is that there is a Gemarah in the fifth chapter of Bavah Matziyah, it is page 61B, the Gemarah says that G-d said to the Jewish people, “It would have been worth it for me to take you out of Egypt simply to get you to stop eating insects.” You really have to wonder about these things because when the Gemarah says something like that, is the Gemarah saying that because these guys were really disgusted by people who eat insects or do they believe that there is something so significantly wrong with eating insects that it would have been the worst thing for the Jewish people to eat insects. The reason why I ask it is because there is a book by Marsten Bates who is an anthropologist in the University of Chicago. If you ever read Louis Thomas, so he really writes in the method of Marston Bates. It is very relaxed and pleasant to read. But my favorite book of Marston Bates is called Gluttons and Libertines. And in the title chapter of Gluttons and Libertines he describes the different eating habits of different cultures. So for us to eat a dog-yuck-, but for the Chinese to eat a dog, it is a delicacy. For us to eat a cow, yum-, but for the Hindu to eat a cow, no. Then he goes and describes eating habits you would not believe. Did you see Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom, So then you realize people’s eating habits are entirely different. Monkey brains to some are a delicacy, and to us I would love to eat monkey brains just they do not have a hechshur.
You have to wonder when the Gemarah quotes G-d, so to speak, when G-d says it would have been worth it for me to take the Jews out of Egypt just so they would not eat this, is that just because they did not want to eat the stuff that others were eating around them? Or is it saying an incredible powerful statement by G-d that if there is one thing to do for the Jewish people to get them to stop eating insects, I would do that one thing.
So the easy way out would simply be to say they watched there really is something about eating insects that is disgusting. I do not know if any of you read the novel called the Roaches Have No King. It was a book written about human observation from the point of view of Roaches and their observations of human beings. Great book. Every roach is named. They are all hatched in the bindings of a book and each one is an expert in something else. They are all known by their names from the names of the books they have grown up in. You never read it? I have never been able to kill a roach since. It is an incredibly powerful book but when I finished it I realized why the Gemarah would say that they would quote G-d to say Ilmalei He’eleitei es yisrael eleh bishveel davar zeh shein metameem besheratzim dayo. That had I only accomplished, when I took the Jews out of Egypt, that they would stop eating insects, it would have been enough. So next week we will continue with the whys of it.