The Jewish dietary laws, named the ‘Laws of Kashroot’ in the Old Testament (Kosher Laws), are extremely detailed and cover a wide range of edibles. The hard task of eating ‘kosher’ confronts many people that otherwise claim that they see the power of God in the Bible and believe every word written by Him. Through all the do-and-don’t-do rules of the kosher laws, the pig has established itself as the most prominent prohibited food.
Despite mounting writings of sages, scholars and scientists throughout the ages, nobody knows why the pig received such a high status on the prohibited food list in Judaism. It is true that it was prohibited among other ancient nations, and it is forbidden for Muslims, but this seems to be affected by the Jewish Kosher laws rather than any other reasoning.
Nowadays, we require ‘scientific’ reasoning for everything by using ‘science’ as a proof for correctness of beliefs, either from theological or ethical aspects. Many of us, viewing ourselves as enlightened, demand empirical proof for everything as a pre-condition to believing in it and, more importantly, following it.
Here is something that may sound to you, ‘the enlightened minded,’ as a rule taken straight from the Dark Ages code of conduct − when it comes to God’s word, one needs first to follow then to hear the details. This is exactly the core principle of the Jewish faith! It is called ‘na•a•se ve•nish•ma,’ which means: ‘we shall obey and we shall hear.’ ‘Hear’ may also be translated as ‘obey.’ This phrase may sound like the worst contract possible. This is what the Israelites said to Moses before he read to them the Torah laws given to him by God. These laws were characterized as a contract between the people of Israel and God.
It would have been more reasonable if the Israelites had reversed the order of the words and had said: ‘nish•ma ve•na•ase:’ ‘we will hear and we shall follow.’ Saying: ‘na•a•se ve•nish•ma’ is a commitment to follow the contract before learning its details. This phrase was rightfully described as the ultimate statement of faith and trust in God.
“And he took the Book of the Covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the Lord has said will we do, and obey’”
It is true that the verb ‘she•ma’ (the same root word of ‘nish•ma’) may mean both ‘hear’ and ‘obey.’ Yet, the famous phrase (and prayer) the ‘She•ma,’ has always been translated as ‘Hear Oh Israel’ and not as ‘Obey O Israel.’ You can find it four times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament with the same exact translation:
“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”
As to the ‘chazir,’ pig, Jews may never know the ‘why’ behind the prohibition. Perhaps it is because this animal is so unclean. Perhaps it is because it is so close to the human body (heart valve replacements, etc.) Perhaps something else that we… simply don’t understand…