Recently my family learned a life hack for eating biblically clean. If you’re serious about keeping dietary laws, you may have already figured out that, with all the additives derived from biblically unclean sources, eating clean can be burdensome. This became particularly evident to me when during a conversation between me and my best friend, I learned that despite reading labels and avoiding foods that contain unclean products such as pork and shrimp much of what I had in my kitchen) could potentially contain byproducts, contaminants, or additives made from biblically unclean foods. Something I hadn’t given any thought.
Abrahamic Religions Made It Easier
So, while googling to find these predominately pork-containing additives, I found that religious Jews and Muslims certify some foods as appropriate for consumption in accordance with their respective religious texts (the Talmud, Hebrew Bible, and Koran) which are very similar in this respect. Producers then mark certified products with the certifying agency’s symbol. We can use these and similar symbols to purchase foods that do not contain unclean products.
What is Kosher? (Hebraically)
But then I wondered what the word kosher actually meant in a Hebraic context. It’s not the word used in scripture to refer to food that is good for human consumption. In fact, the word is only used once throughout the entire Hebrew Bible.
Kosher what modern Jewish people call religiously acceptable foods. Kosher is from the ancient Hebrew root word, כשר, meaning successful. Specifically, this root refers to the physical “straightness” or appropriateness of something. This modern use of the word is prominent in Talmudic law, rather than ancient biblical Hebraic law and culture.
Similar to the Jewish “kosher”, Muslims call their foods that adhere to the dietary laws of the Koran, halal, an Arabic word meaning permissible.
With both these, the name chosen to describe foods appropriate for human consumption suggests that the purpose of dietary “laws” is superficial. It wrongly characterizes the ancient equivalent of today’s FDA recommendations or healthy choice guidelines as strictly religious in nature. As if created by God for the sole purpose of having humans follow it or be condemned by it.
Kosher implies that avoiding certain foods is a mark of success on members of the faith and proof of that faith. Halal implies that eating only certain foods is a matter of compliance, obedience, and submission and are requirements of the faith.
Interestingly, halal in ancient Hebrew means to accentuate or prioritize as in halal-u-yah, “prioritize him, Yah”. In a sense, this word would mean prioritized food or food that is most preferable to eat. That is if there is any relationship between it and the Arabic word of the same pronunciation.
Clean or Unclean?
Surprisingly, these are moot points to the follower of Ancient Hebrew scripture, since the Hebrew Bible uses neither word to describe foods fit for human consumption. Instead, it simply refers to foods meant for us to eat as clean, טהר, and those not meant for human consumption as unclean, טמא.
What is clean?
Specifically, to be clean is to support the manifestation of the mind/human (ט-ה-ר), also known as conception. That is, clean foods support mental and reproductive development not only in the sense of procreation but also in mental creativity and cognition. These are the manifestations of the mind, also called conception. Additionally, tehar, טהר, is the word used to refer to substances that are healthy to consume rather by mouth or for other uses. It also refers to behaviors required for good health, such as hygiene practices like washing, bathing, cleaning, and staying clear of potentially ‘unclean’ things like corpses, diseased people or animals, and things that cause mold or mildew and may spread infection, like blood and semen.
What is unclean?
Contrarily, to be unclean is to support infinite energy (ט-מ-א), food that is not of sustenance. This, infinite energy could be thought of in many ways. For example, it could be food that supports gluttony (high energy consumption) either because it isn’t filling or is addictive. It could also be said that these foods cause unhealthy weight gain or infinitely increase/accumulation of energy or ineffective use of energy. Alternatively, this infinite energy could refer to substances that breed bacteria, fungus or contagions uncontrollably, i. e. infinite energy. The idea is that excessive growths are unhealthy rather it be fat cells or bacterial or diseased cells.
The Bottom Line
Kosher and halal labeling makes it so much easier to identify foods that do not contain primary non-consumables because of the ancient Hebrews, Muslims, and Jewish share extremely similar dietary restrictions. Still, the ideology behind kosher and halal practices are not historically sound or the terms used to describe them are misnomers and why the restrictions exist and are important isn’t evident in the terminology used to refer to consumables. The exception is ancient Hebrew references to the Hebrew health code which many think of as religious traditions, rituals, or laws. In these references, foods are either good for healthy cell, human, and cognitive production (clean) or it is not (unclean).