Kashrut and Jewish Identity: Are Jewish Dietary Laws Meant to Keep Jews Apart?
1 א

Jewish and Goyish, Lenny Bruce

Dig: …Kool-Aid is goyish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if the Jews invented it. Chocolate is Jewish and fudge is goyish. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime Jello is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.

All Drake's Cakes are goyish. Pumpernickel is Jewish and, as you know, white bread is very goyish. Instant potatoes, goyish. Black cherry soda's very Jewish, macaroons are very Jewish.

2 ב
(ה) וַיְמַן֩ לָהֶ֨ם הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ דְּבַר־י֣וֹם בְּיוֹמ֗וֹ מִפַּת־בַּ֤ג הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ וּמִיֵּ֣ין מִשְׁתָּ֔יו וּֽלְגַדְּלָ֖ם שָׁנִ֣ים שָׁל֑וֹשׁ וּמִ֨קְצָתָ֔ם יַֽעַמְד֖וּ לִפְנֵ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ (ו) וַיְהִ֥י בָהֶ֖ם מִבְּנֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֑ה דָּנִיֵּ֣אל חֲנַנְיָ֔ה מִֽישָׁאֵ֖ל וַעֲזַרְיָֽה׃ (ז) וַיָּ֧שֶׂם לָהֶ֛ם שַׂ֥ר הַסָּרִיסִ֖ים שֵׁמ֑וֹת וַיָּ֨שֶׂם לְדָֽנִיֵּ֜אל בֵּ֣לְטְשַׁאצַּ֗ר וְלַֽחֲנַנְיָה֙ שַׁדְרַ֔ךְ וּלְמִֽישָׁאֵ֣ל מֵישַׁ֔ךְ וְלַעֲזַרְיָ֖ה עֲבֵ֥ד נְגֽוֹ׃ (ח) וַיָּ֤שֶׂם דָּנִיֵּאל֙ עַל־לִבּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יִתְגָּאַ֛ל בְּפַתְבַּ֥ג הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ וּבְיֵ֣ין מִשְׁתָּ֑יו וַיְבַקֵּשׁ֙ מִשַּׂ֣ר הַסָּרִיסִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר לֹ֥א יִתְגָּאָֽל׃

(5) The king allotted daily rations to them from the king’s food and from the wine he drank. They were to be educated for three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s service. (6) Among them were the Judahites Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. (7) The chief officer gave them new names; he named Daniel Belteshazzar, Hananiah Shadrach, Mishael Meshach, and Azariah Abed-nego. (8) Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or the wine he drank, so he sought permission of the chief officer not to defile himself,

3 ג

III Macc 3:4-7

4 But because they worshiped God and conducted themselves by his law, they kept their separateness with respect to foods. For this reason they appeared hateful to some; 5 but since they adorned their style of life with the good deeds of upright people, they were established in good repute with everyone. 6 Nevertheless those of other races paid no heed to their good service to their nation, which was common talk among all; 7 instead they gossiped about the differences in worship and foods, alleging that these people were loyal neither to the king nor to his authorities, but were hostile and greatly opposed to his government.

4 ד

Tacitus, Histories and Annals, Book V (d. 117 C.E.)

5 1 Whatever their origin, these rites are maintained by their antiquity: the other customs of the Jews are base and abominable, and owe their persistence to their depravity. For the worst rascals among other peoples,15 renouncing their ancestral religions, always kept sending tribute and contributions to Jerusalem, thereby increasing the wealth of the Jews; again, the Jews are extremely loyal toward one another, and always ready to show compassion, but toward every other people they feel only hate and enmity. They sit apart at meals, and they sleep apart, and although as a race, they are prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women; yet among themselves nothing is unlawful. They adopted circumcision to distinguish themselves from other peoples by this difference. Those who are converted to their ways follow the same practice, and the earliest lesson they receive is to despise the gods, to disown their country, and to regard their parents, children, and brothers as of little account. However, they take thought to increase their numbers; for they regard it as a crime to kill any late-born child,

5 ה

(ו) אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁל גּוֹיִם אֲסוּרִין וְאֵין אִסּוּרָן אִסּוּר הֲנָאָה. חָלָב שֶׁחֲלָבוֹ גוֹי וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל רוֹאֵהוּ, וְהַפַּת, וְהַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁלָּהֶן. רַבִּי וּבֵית דִּינוֹ הִתִּירוּ בַשֶּׁמֶן. וּשְׁלָקוֹת, וּכְבָשִׁין שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לָתֵת לְתוֹכָן יַיִן וָחֹמֶץ,

(6) These are the items of non-Jews that are prohibited, yet their prohibition is not against deriving benefit from them... and [their] bread, and their oil [although] Rabbi and his court permitted [their] oil, and stewed vegetables, and pickled vegetables to which it is their custom to add wine and vinegar....

6 ו
אלא על פיתן ושמנן משום יינן ועל יינן משום בנותיהן ועל בנותיהן משום דבר אחר ועל דבר אחר משום ד"א

The Gemara offers a different interpretation: Rather, they issued a decree prohibiting their bread and their oil due to their wine. And they issued the decree prohibiting their wine due to the fact that this leads to familiarity, and Jews will come to marry their daughters. And they issued a decree prohibiting their daughters due to something else, idolatry. And they further issued a decree on something else due to something else, which will be explained by the Gemara.

7 ז

אתמר מפני מה אסרו שכר של עובדי כוכבים

רמי בר חמא אמר רבי יצחק משום חתנות...

רב פפא מפיקין ליה לאבבא דחנותא ושתי

רב אחאי מייתו ליה לביתיה ושתי

ותרוייהו משום חתנות רב אחאי עביד הרחקה יתירתא

רב שמואל בר ביסנא איקלע למרגואן אייתו ליה חמרא ולא אשתי אייתו ליה שיכרא ולא אשתי

בשלמא חמרא משום שימצא שיכרא משום מאי משום שימצא דשימצא

It was stated: For what reason did the Sages prohibit the beer of gentiles? Rami bar Ḥama says that Rabbi Yitzḥak says: It is due to the concern that it would lead to marriage with gentiles.

Rav Pappa had them bring out the beer belonging to gentiles from the store to the entrance of the store, and he would drink it outside the store.

Rav Aḥai had them bring the beer to his house, and he would drink it there.

And both of them drank the beer away from the presence of gentiles due to concern about marriage with gentiles.

8 ח

I Corinthians 5:9-11

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons—

10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one.

9 ט

Galatians 3

28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

10 י

Mordecai Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization

In the next stage of the Jewish civilization, the [laws of kashrut] will not be observed as dietary “laws” commanded by God, or as mystic symbols of what man must do to qualify himself to enter into communion with God. But these distinctions should be maintained as traditional folkways which add a specifically Jewish atmosphere to the home. Such observances should not be regarded as intended to help one earn salvation in the here or in the hereafter, nor to produce a marked effect upon one’s character. ... But if Jews are not to exaggerate the importance of the dietary practices, neither should they underestimate the effect those practices can have in making a home Jewish...

Once these practices lose their character as laws and become folkways, Jews will be able to exercise better judgment as to the manner of their observance....Moreover, since the main purpose of these practices is to add Jewish atmosphere to the home, there is no reason for suffering the inconvenience and self-deprivation which result from a rigid adherence outside the home. From the standpoint urged here it would not be amiss for a Jew to eat freely in the house of a Gentile, and to refrain from eating trefa in the house of a fellow-Jew. By this means, dietary practices would no longer foster the aloofness of the Jew, which, however justified in the past, is totally unwarranted in our day. As for the fear that social intercourse between Jews and Gentiles may lead to the disintegration of Judaism, the reply is obvious: if Judaism is inherently so weak that it requires the artificial barriers of social aloofness fostered by dietary laws for its maintenance, the very need for maintaining it is gone. It is true that increased social contact with the Gentiles will prove a challenge to Judaism’s inherent strength, but that challenge cannot be met by a defensive retreat.