Disgust for Hypocrisy

At the start of the Torah portion Behar, Rashi asks the oft quoted question, ” What is the issue of Shmitah doing juxtaposed Har Sinai?” Or as we say now, what does that got to do with the price of tea in China? Similarly in  Re’eh, this week’s Torah portion we see an interesting juxtaposition. We read that a false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols, should be put to death. It seems logical to go from that topic to an adjacent discussions of how an idolatrous city must be destroyed and the idolatrous practice of tattooing. Then we take a big jump to identifying signs for kosher animals and fish, and the list of non-kosher birds ( which was already discussed in  Leviticus 11). There we read:

You are the children of the Lord your God: you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord had chosen you to be God’s own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. You shall not eat any abominable thing. ( Deuteronomy 14:1-3)

While the laws of staying away from idolatry and keeping kosher have nothing to do with each other by keeping them we are keeping a holiness code. On a simple level they are both ways we have to live as a chosen people.

Another approach would be to claim that they are some how the same. It is surely possible that eating other forbidden animals had been part of ancient idolatrous practices. In this reading these laws of Kashrut are just a continuation of this holiness code instructing to not do idolatrous practices.

Today I would like to explore yet a third approach. Is it possible that while these law are completely separate, but their juxtaposition is there to teach us something else? To do this I want to start off with the case of the false prophet. While it seems bad to entices others to worship idols, it does seem barbaric to kill them for it. The person simply arrives on the scene with all of his/her signs and wonders. We need to remove them from the community with “extreme prejudice“.

Now I want to jump to the end, what does it mean to eat something? In the context of the holiness code there is a sense that we are integrating the kosher animal into our bodies. We are rejecting the non-kosher animals from our bodies. The worst of the case are animals that similar to the false prophet which arrive on the scene with all of their signs. The Midrash draws a comparison between the Roman empire and the pig:

Just as the pig sticks out its hooves when it is resting, as if to say “I am kosher,” so did the Romans put on a show of justice to mask their avarice and corruption. ( Bereishit Rabbah 65:1)

The juxtaposition of these two areas of law surface an addition lesson as for our disgust for hypocrisy.

 

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