May 2, 2010
Our rabbi and “teacher” ascended the pulpit to give his sermon last Shabbat. “Sermon”, in the singular, is the significant word here. It’s the same sermon week after week the message of which is “You don’t keep a kosher enough home”. As a teacher he’s certainly teaching us about kosher homes, that’s for sure.
I know he’s looking at me when he’s talking. I’m aware that stabbing a meaty knife five times into a plant pot does not necessarily render it clean after accidentally using it to spread butter, but at least I own separate sets of cutlery.
As the rabbi embarked on his admonishment I began to consider the levels of kashrut people keep and came up with a useful five-point scale. I’m hoping it will save embarrassment concerning dinner invitations because rather than there being any doubts as to whether the host stabs the knife only five rather than the acceptable six times, by simply stating their level the invitee will be able to wriggle out, thus:
“Would you like to come back to ours, we’re having chicken schnitzels? We’re level three.”
“That’s a lovely invitation but we’re already going somewhere else. Come to us next week. We’re level four”.
“Message received loud and clear.”
So here’s the scale.
Level 1. You buy a box of matzah at Pesach. Other than that kashrut laws apply to wandering tribes in hot countries who cannot keep food fresh. You’re looking forward to the day when you see rock badger on a menu.
Level 2. You eat shellfish and bacon but not roast pork (because it’s just too goyishe). At your son’s Barmitzvah you provided “kosher-style” food.
Level 3. You keep a vaguely kosher home but you enjoy Indian and Chinese takeaways as long as they are eaten from the carton and with disposable cutlery. Foreign countries do not have kosher laws as far as you are aware so anything goes when on holiday. You think that Halal means “almost kosher”.
Level 4. You separate milk and meat but never look at a clock between consuming them instead relying on your rather inaccurate sense of how long three hours takes to pass. You go to Eilat because you can’t be bothered to clean the house for Pesach. When shopping you read the list of ingredients on a package and if you don’t see certain obvious words it’s probably OK.
Level 5. Visitors are perplexed to find four separate kitchens in your house: one milky, one meaty, and two more for Pesach. Your many children wonder whether going vegetarian might not be a bad idea if it frees up some space for beds. You feel uneasy buying glatt just in case it’s not glatt enough. You wait six days after eating meat before consuming dairy.
Yesterday my wife coyly admitted that she had invited the rabbi for lunch. I think I’ll show him the scale and proudly explain how we’re working towards level 2. That should put him off.