THE JEWISH DIETARY LAWS AND THEIR FOUNDATION

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THE JEWISH DIETARY LAWS AND THEIR FOUNDATION

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Title: THE JEWISH DIETARY LAWS AND THEIR FOUNDATION
Author: Silber, Daniel S.
Citation: THE JEWISH DIETARY LAWS AND THEIR FOUNDATION (1994 Third Year Paper)
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Abstract: While food and drug law has made its greatest contributions to the health and welfare of society over the past two centuries, it is indisputable that the history of this body of law is much older than two hundred years.1 Soon after man realized he needed to eat, he recognized a need to establish rules and regulations governing the sale, preparation and handling of food. Perhaps the oldest documented set of food laws are the Jewish dietary laws, also known by the Hebrew term, kashrut, from which the word "kosher" is derived.<br> Unlike most laws related to food, which are enacted by society through government or other rule-making bodies, Jewish dietary laws are believed to be conceptualizations of divine will that were expressed to Moses at Mount Sinai and transcribed in the Old Testament.2 Intellectual curiosity and an interest in the evolution of food and drug law compel both Jews and Gentiles to study the Jewish dietary laws. For observant Jews, however, Jewish dietary laws possess unique significance. Kashrut is one of the pillars of Jewish religious life and virtually every aspect of eating and preparing food implicates some Jewish dietary law. While the First Amendment prevents any governmental enforcement of religious law, for those who are strict practitioners of the Jewish religion, the observance of Jewish dietary laws is every bit as important and compelling as is the observance of secular law. Despite the important role Jewish dietary laws play in the lives of many, few give much thought to the foundations of and rationales for kashruz.<br> After describing the Jewish dietary laws and their origin, this paper will present and analyze some Judaic and secular scholarly attempts at explaining the underpinnings of these laws. The Pentateuch does not explicitly explain the reasons for the laws, which has made this issue a popular topic for debate among Biblical scholars. While the arguments these scholars make for their positions are logical and often convincing, it is important to remember that an accepted principle of jurisprudence and legal philosophy is that "unless a code of law itself states the underlying idea of a law, any theory about that idea remains conjecture.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8889478

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