Posted on | January 29, 2006 | By Daniel Rosenthal | 6 Comments
Mmm.., milkshakes, cheeseburgers..ham sandwiches…BLTs.. Cigarettes. Remember those days? Remember when smoking was cool and everybody- I mean everybody did it? Then suddenly the news broke that it caused cancer, lung disease and you tried to stop but just couldn’t? Doctors told you that you would die if you didn’t stop smoking, but in the back of your mind, all you could think was that George Burns was still alive.. Remember the cold sweats, the weight gain, and the frayed nerves of that month last year when you tried to stop smoking? Remember that silly patch that you put on your arm? Nothing worked. Finally, one day you snapped. Another close friend or relative died. Finally, you quit. Now, you can run that extra mile, colds come less frequently, you did not get fat. You were still cool. Best of all the whole country supports your quitting.
Imagine if the entire country supported eating kosher. What if there were a kosher place to eat every two and a half miles? What if every time you turned on your television there were commercials for kosher fast food instead of McDonalds? Man, you’d really want to eat it then wouldn’t you? It would be so easy. My bet would be that it still would be very tempting to eat at McDonald’s as opposed to my fictional kosher fast food place. Why? Because eating kosher isn’t about your physical health. It’s about your soul – man. The soul is this wonderfully non-scientific phenomenon that is popular to talk about these days. The New Age movement has made religion okay to talk about and not the conversation killer it used to be. Face it-it’s hip to be spiritual. But it is never hip to believe that one food over another helps one become more spiritual.
But the only reason to keep kosher is that it is food for the soul. It is not healthier, it is not easier and it is definitely not convenient outside of Israel and certain areas of the northeast. To make matters worse my fictional kosher fast food restaurant does not exist. There are no kosher fast food restaurants every two and half miles. There are never any commercials selling kosher food. It is not hip to tell your friends that you can’t eat at their homes. As a matter of fact it can downright ruin your life. Okay, it can’t really ruin your life. It just seems as if it should-I mean those cheeseburgers with that strawberry shake with large fries…
…. and Cigarettes? What is the connection to cigarettes? To me it’s obvious. The evidence clearly weighs in favor of giving up smoking but it is so darn difficult! Life-you know, but can’t explain is so much better without them, but one puff can’t hurt? I think giving up non-kosher food is like giving up cigarettes. Some people will never be convinced that they should even think about it. Others will struggle their entire lives with it. Still some will give it up cold turkey and stick with it. Me? I preferred to go in tiny minute steps. Day by day I gradually gave up non-kosher foods. Now, after several years of struggling, I am fully committed to eating only kosher foods.
As for cigarettes I really count my blessings that I never started the habit. But for those out there, including myself it was nice to know that one can take it as slow or fast as they wanted. In the end, we that made it to keeping kosher didn’t switch to kosher because it was easier or convenient, but because our soul was hungry.