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Shame for the scorned swine



A rabbi was walking down the road and couldn’t help noticing how one of his prominent congregants entered a non-kosher restaurant. He couldn’t believe it! So, he peeked inside to see if he was really sitting down to eat. He waited patiently outside. After a while, a waiter came to his table with a big roasting pan and unveiled the “real thing!” A roast pig in full regalia down to the traditional apple stuffed into its mouth. The rabbi was incensed. He rushed inside and accosted his congregant. “You? How could you?!”

“Rabbi,” said the man calmly. “This is such a fancy restaurant. All I ordered was a simple apple, and they made such a fuss!”

If there’s any one food that gets Jewish blood boiling it’s the proverbial pig. Did you know that there are even laws against Jews raising pigs! Jews the world over, even if they may be less than strictly religious, still refrain from eating bacon or pork chops. Pig is repulsive to millions of Jews, including many who aren’t that kosher.

But why single out the poor pig? Halachically, a cheeseburger is worse. Though we may benefit financially from swine, we may not do so from cooked meat-and-milk mixtures.

So why is our poor pig so despised and despicable?

Well, we know that to be kosher, an animal must have split hooves and chew its cud. The swine is the only animal that has split hooves but doesn’t chew its cud. The sages saw it as a model of dishonesty and hypocrisy. The pig wallows in its pen lying on its back and appears to be showing off its feet that have the kosher sign of split hooves. So, it makes itself out to be kosher even though it’s chazir treif! The pig is thus compared to Esau who would regularly ask his father, Isaac, halachic questions which made him out to be a scholar and a devout Jew, when in fact he was a murderer.

In other words, it’s not just that the pig is unkosher, but rather that he makes a point of giving the impression that he is kosher!

It’s the deceit and duplicity that make him so reviled, repulsive, and repugnant. In Hebrew, we would call him a tzovua (one who paints himself to look pious when inside he is a scoundrel). Just like Esau.

The Torah wants us to be frum. But it also expects us to be honest and not make false impressions.

So, more than simply being unkosher, it’s the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the swine that make him so abominable. He oozes this holy impression when he is as profane as they come.

I suppose it’s like they say, “Better an enemy you know is your enemy than an enemy who disguises himself as a friend.” There are terrorists in camouflage and there are far more dangerous terrorists who wear pinstriped suits.

Please G-d, we will all be kosher Jews, not only in our kitchens, but in the way we lead our lives.

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