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JEWS & PORK: Why is the pig the spiritual enemy of the Jewish people more than any other animal

By Mendy Kaminker


There is probably no animal as disgusting to Jewish sensitivities as the pig. It’s not just because it may not be eaten: there are plenty of other animals that aren’t koshereither, but none of them arouse as much disgust as the pig. Colloquially, the pig is the ultimate symbol of loathing; when you say that someone “acted like a chazir [pig],” it suggests that he or she did something unusually abominable. Indeed, many people think of pork, ham, bacon, etc., as the most unkosher foods there are.

Let’s explore the reasons for this. We will also discover that as bad as the pig’s past is, it has a bright future ahead of it.

Why not eat pork? Because!

The Torah gives two physical signs that mark kosher land animals: they ruminate (chew their cud) and have fully split hooves. It then The pig is the ultimate symbol of loathinggoes on to list several creatures that have just one or the other of these, and are therefore unkosher. One of these is

the pig, since it has hooves which are split, but it does not chew its cud—it is therefore unclean for you.1

Many of the commentaries offer reasons for the mitzvah of keeping kosher. However the Talmud asserts that the kosher laws fall under the category ofchok, mitzvahs without any rationale, and makes the following observation regarding pork:

Our rabbis taught: . . . ‘Keep My chukim2—this refers to thosemitzvot against which the Satan and the gentile nations argue, [considering them illogical and deserving of mockery,] such as [not] eating pork . . .3

So, this mitzvah is a supra-rational one, not something that we can understand logically.

In a similar vein, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah says4 that one shouldn’t say, “I abstain from pork because I don’t like it,” but rather that we do so because ofG‑d’s commandment.

Attitudes toward the pig

It’s not the only animal on the unkosher list, but it gets the worst treatment of any of them. Some examples:

Avoiding its name: Many call the animal davar acher, “another thing,” rather than by its proper name. This practice goes back to the Talmud.5

Prohibition against raising pigs: “The


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