Every time I walk into MacDonald's I experience a guilty uneasiness. Here I am wearing a Tzitzit and about to order a cheeseburger. Oh, Lord, have mercy on me.....
Does the Torah forbids eating meat and milk together?
לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו -" Lo tevashel gedi bechalev (not bechalav. see below) imo." (you shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk. Exodus 23:19). It is repeated two more time in exactly the same language. (Ex. 34:26 and Deut. 14:21). This verse, through the years was the subject of hundreds of Mitzvot, and rules by various Rabbis and became the Kashrut laws as we know them today. Especially the Kashrut of separating milk and meat.
What caused God to "wake up" one morning and decide that it does not suit His purpose for the "Children of Israel" to eat cheeseburgers? Just like that? Without a reason? Or maybe it was the Rabbis, throughout history who did not understand the writing of Moses?
Archaeological digs in Tel Ras Samara (north Syria), revealed instructions for an ancient pagan ritual at the time of the Canaanites, to sacrifice the offspring of the sacrificial animal (its mother) in its fat as an offering to the god-du-jour, be it Baal, Ashtoret, or Anat. It was one ritual among other known rituals in Tanach time that was practiced by the pagans who dwell in proximity to the children of Israel. Could that be the answer? You bet it is... Jump five verses forward and in Exodus 23:24 we find the reason why God commanded what he commanded in Exodus. 23:19: " You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, not do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them, and break their pillars in pieces."
It is clear from this context that the reason was not "don't eat this kind of food." but it is a command not to worship other gods. If the verse was speaking of food, wouldn't it be logical to expect it to be included with other verses where God speaks about what, and what not He allowed to consume? The verse itself does not speak of eating but of cooking.
Now to the Hebrew. Two words:
חלב-with a Kamatz under the Lamed- Chalav- milk.
חלב - with a Tzeire inder the Lamed- Chalev- animal's fat. (according to the Bible dictionary of Bar-Ilan univ. P. 301) (see also 1 Samuel 15:22).
The ancient Rabbis wrongly interpret Exodus 23:19. One of the reasons for this is, they suffered from what I call "The Elvis Syndrome." You see, Elvis Presley wore a necklace with a cross and a star of David. when asked for the reason he replied: " I Do not want NOT to reach heaven on a technicality." The Rabbis, then, and today are suffering from the same syndrome. Even some leaders in Messianic Judaism. I know of a leader of a Messianic Jewish congregation who alternates Onegs of milk and meat on Shabbat services. The reason he says is not to offend Jewish people who come to visit. You see, he actually agrees that there is no mandate to separate milk and meat in the written Torah, his reason is not to offend....
And I ask, how many Halacha keeping Orthodox Jews ever visited his congregation? Elvis syndrome is still in force....
So, dear blog readers (tip of the hat to Judah), go ahead and have your cheeseburger.