Year of the Earth Pig

Today marks the beginning of the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. In the continuous sexagenary cycle of sixty years, this is the start of the year of the Earth Pig. In the Chinese Mythology these 12 animals correspond to the 12 animals that won the Great Race. See this video:

The pig came in dead last due to its sloth. It seems that pigs get a bad rap from many cultures.

In Judaism the pig is the symbol of hypocrisy. As the midrash goes, the pig pretends to be a kosher animal. The pig sticks out its split hooves when it is resting, as if to advertise its being kosher, while internally it does not chew its cud (Bereishit Rabbah 65:1).

In a Jewish context it is also interesting to reflect that the pig is the end of the Chinese Zodiac cycle. In Hassidut we learn, “Why is the pig called [in Hebrew] chazir? Because in the future, God will return [le-hachazir] it to Israel” ( Likkutei Sichot 29:128). In the end in the messianic era the internal physiology of the pig will change so that indeed it chews its cud. ( Ohr ha-Chaim on Leviticus 11:7)  In so doing the pig will have the have both kosher signs.

To me it makes sense to take a pause on today the Chinese New Years to think about how each of us might work on being less hypocritical in our lives. What can each of us do to ensure that our insides match our outsides? In so doing I have no doubt that we will be starting a new beginning and hastening the messianic era. Happy New Year.

Bonus Question: If Jews flock to Chinese restaurants on the Gregorian New Year, do Americans head to Jewish delicatessens on the Chinese New Year?

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