Friday, December 21, 2007

Sigh. Another one lets me down.

I don't mean to complain. Especially not about people. I'm not the kind of person who usually gripes about people, but man alive, did I meet someone who just rubbed me the wrong way.

And it started over an incredibly brief argument about why shellfish aren't kosher.

"It's really a historical reason," he said.

No. It isn't, I said. It's more biblical than historical.

"No," he said, "It's because they didn't know how to prepare them that they're not kosher."

Of course, I knew this was wrong. This is one of those ages-old excuses that people come up with about why pork and shellfish weren't kosher.

So I said, that's not why they aren't kosher. It's biblical law from Torah. That excuse is used for everything that is not truly the reason.

"Well, that's what my rabbi told me. And he has to be right."

I left it there. I didn't want to carry on such an asinine argument with someone who obviously didn't really *get* what kashrut was. So as he dug into his sausage and meat lasagna slathered in mozzarella and Parmesan, I let it go. He ended the evening talking about how he can't wait to get Christmas presents and how great it was to have Catholic relatives who would give him Christmas gifts.

It's quite obvious. The Torah makes distinctions between kosher and non-kosher fish, and "the commentary on the Torah explains that the scales and fins can be compared to crowns atop the fish, attesting to the kosher fish's higher spiritual status. Furthermore, such fish tend to swim in the upper expanses of the ocean where the water is more pure." (Taken from

Now, there was plenty more about this guy that bugged me (among them the fact that he insisted that he pay less because he drank less than everyone else, despite that everyone -- regardless of how much they ate or drank -- was paying the same, flat 40 bucks or so). But his attempt to expound his knowledge just irritated the heck out of me. It reminded me of the situation of Jewry and of the simple lack of understanding about the simplest, most basic traditions and rituals.

And it frustrated me.