Monday, July 26, 2010

Thoughts on Torah and Food

Do you know when God gave Israel the Torah (often translated "law" but better understood Hebraically as "instructions" "the way to live" and "the mark to aim at"). Did He give it to them when they were still in Egypt and say, "Here, follows these rules and I'll think about saving you if you do a good enough job of keeping them?"


God rescued them FIRST.

Only after he saved them, a people who could not possibly have saved themselves, did He teach a freed people how to live out their freedom.

Therefore, God's word, law, instructions and commandments are not opposed to Grace as I thought in times past, but they are in fact PART of His grace!

Having been raised as a Lutheran where Law and Grace are often considered polar opposites, this thought represents part of the massive paradigm shift that's been happening for me lately.

No, the Torah and it's instructions are not ways to earn God's favor or salvation or rescue.
Yes, they are there to teach me how to live a free life.

So what instructions are there that could be relevant to me? I'm not a Levitical priest. I don't have a tabernacle or temple. I'm not a farmer or a shepherd.

But I do eat. And God's word does have a few things to say about that.

What is Food?
What does God say should be Food for us? What is best for us to eat, and what is not best?

Clean and unclean animals are first mentioned in Genesis 7:2-4. It isn't specified in this passage what constitues a clean animal (Food) and unclean animal (Not Food) are. Later in the Bible, there are two lists, one in Leviticus 11 and one in Deuteronomy 14. I've summarized the two lists below:

  • On land, animals with cloven feet that chew cud are Food. Specifically mentioned as Food are the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. Specifically mentioned as Not Food are camels, rabbits, and pigs. Also Not Food are weasels, mice, tortoises, chameleons, lizards, snails, and moles -- so I gather as a category that rodents, reptiles and crustaceans are Not Food.
  • From the water, only fish with scales and fins are Food.
  • Of things that fly, specifically mentioned as Not Food are eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey, ravens, swans, pelicans, storks, herons and bats. Specifically mentioned as Food are locusts, katydids, crickets and grasshoppers.
So, it turns out that there are lots of Foods and Not Foods on this list that I've never even tried. Seafood is generally too expensive for our unemployed budget, so although I've tried it in the past, I haven't had any lately.

The only Not Food that is really an issue for me is pork. Up until recently, pork chops, ham, sausage and bacon formed a regular part of my diet.

Since God designed my body, I trust that he knows what represents Food for me, and that things that are Not Food are not the best choice.

So, I've been eating much less pork. I'm not making a hard and fast rule ... I had baked beans with bacon at our church potluck yesterday ... but I'm not seeking out pork products, and for the most part, I'm making other choices.

One w, the only problem I'm having now is that DH isn't quite on the same page with me. We both do grocery shopping, and he has continued to buy sausage and ham and is feeding it to our daughter. I'm a bit stumped as to the best course of action. Do I let it go, do I ask him to stop buying it, or do I ask that if he wants to buy it that he refrain from offering it to Pookaloo? Something I'm still praying and pondering on.


  1. Dearest Pearl,

    As you consider the no foods, be sure you know the new testament book of Galations as well. I hope this helps with your decision.

    Accepted in the Beloved by grace,

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I am not pursuing this out of a feeling of obligation at all, but simply out of love for God and belief that His Word is good, useful and relevant. The following two links articulate some of those thoughts better than I can.


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