“These are the creatures that you may eat… everything among the animals that has a split hoof… and that brings up its cud” Leviticus 11:2-3
These verses teach the fundamentals of kashrut, explaining the signs for a kosher animal as one which has split hooves and chews the cud. If an animal possesses only one of these two signs, it is not kosher. What are the significance of these signs and what lessons can we learn?
Perhaps the hooves represent travel and moving forward. Western culture and society is obsessed with moving forward and leaving the past in the past. Our technology moves at such a frightening pace that yesterday’s wonders are almost instantly rendered obsolete. The movement is forward, forward, with hardly a look behind. This is represented by split hooves but not chewing the cud.
Chewing the cud, on the other hand, is a regurgitation of the past. Some nations are only able to look back on their past — the success and glory of their history. They have no promise of a future so all they can do is to regurgitate the past. This is represented by chewing the cud but not having split-hooves.
However, a kosher animal both chews the cud and has split hooves. This is because Judaism is built on strong foundations of the past, but at the same time takes it place in the modern world.
We are a religion manifested by a deep respect and reverence for our strong heritage and history — for our forebears and the generations closer to those who witnessed the revelation at Mount Sinai. And at the same time we move forward with a confident faith and hope in the future and glory that it holds.