I’m a vegetarian. Hilchot kashrut utterly mystifies me. They say that spiciness transfers food-essence (milkiness or meatiness) more than regular cold things–okay, fine, but then they define a beet as a spicy thing. Excuse me? A beet? And sometimes it’s OK to cut off the part of the food that touched treyf and sometimes the whole thing is forbidden, and the bones of a non-kosher animal can sometimes be permitted in the count of kosher food but its marrow is considered treyf, and sometimes steam is considered a contaminating force and sometimes it’s not….

Okay, there’s an inner logic to most of it that I (mostly) get. Even when it mystifies me–some of this halakha is like hanging out with a kid and trying to understand their crazy imaginary world. (“Okay, Billy, so beets are spicy now? And pickling a food is considered just like cooking it?”)

I’m grateful that my study partner eats meat, so he can explain to me exactly what the heck. Even when I get it intellectually, I remain grateful that, at least for the moment, I have a milk-only kitchen. Though probably if I had a real kosher kitchen (that is, meat plates and the like) the whole thing would seem a lot less like sci fi. Or maybe not.

In Halakha haMaaseh class today we also talked about rennet and cheese and gelatin and citric acid, for pete’s sake. And becoming a vegan looks more and more tempting. There’s only so much I want to know about how they get enzymes from a cow’s stomach or–you know, gelatin. Yuck.

This is all either a very strong argument for only eating food which has ingredients with which one is familiar and can pronounce, or fighting the good fight for ignorance, closing one’s eyes and just not reading the dang label at all.

I really really hope I don’t wind up feeling grossed out by even regular kosher (animal rennet) cheese. That would just stink. We’ll see, now, won’t we?

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