כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה הַמַּעֲלֶה אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לִהְיּת לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים וִהְיִיתֶם קְדוֹש אָניִ
For I Adonai am the One who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God: you shall be holy, for I am holy.
In this weekʼs Parsha Shemini, we are given the rules of Kashrut. What is a clean animal (tahor) and an unclean animal (tamei).
Why? Whatʼs the purpose of keeping kosher?
Some of our sages tell us that kashrut is to teach us self control. Some teach that kashrut is for health reasons.
I believe that kashrut is to differentiate us from the gentile world. To make us more holy.
We make things holy (kadosh) by setting them apart. The Jewish people are constantly striving to make ourselves more holy. We believe in Tikkun Olam (repair of the world), we celebrate Shabbat every week and we end Shabbat with Havdalah to begin the new week.
God tells Aaron that the work of the priests was lehavdil (to know the difference) between clean and unclean things. The same word, lehavdil is used when the rules of kashrut are given.
Now, the root of lehavdil is the same as havdalah. So, when we say the Havdalah blessings we celebrate differences. The difference between Shabbat and the six days of creation, between light and darkness, between Israel and the other nations and between that which is holy and that which is unholy.
In order to become more holy we first must know the difference. Then through our behavior and actions we can act in a more holy manner.