Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

When we hear about Judaism and Jews, among many associations, the rejection of pork certainly pops up in our memory. This is not surprising, because this feature is part of the self-identity that the Jews carried through the millennia. But why pork, and not beef and not fish?

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

There are several versions about why Jews avoid pigs and their meat. The main one has always been that this product was forbidden to use the Jews by the Almighty himself. Everything that is indicated in the Torah is not subject to appeal, and the commandments marked "hawk" are not intended for interpretation from the point of view of science, and even more so are not subject to doubt. If God did not tell you to touch pork, then so be it.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

Some researchers of Judaism believe that the ban on pork is due to the fact that the historical homeland of the Jews is located in places that are not too suitable for keeping these animals. But, as the excavations have shown, the climate does not play any role here. Archaeologists have found a lot of pig bones left by other peoples who lived in Palestine and nearby regions.

The sanitary-epidemiological version, which also has supporters, is hardly relevant. It says that the ban is associated with trichinosis, which is transmitted to humans mainly from pigs. But this disease was discovered only in 1859 and in ancient times people could hardly diagnose it and, moreover, determine the cause of infection.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

A more plausible option is the need for self-identification. The Jews lived for many centuries next to the Greeks and Romans, who greatly respected pork. There is also information that the ancient Semites prayed to the boar and he remained an untouchable animal for them even after the change of religion.

In Judaism, there is even a holiday associated with the ban on this type of meat — Hanukkah. It is based on the story of the seven Maccabean martyrs who refused to violate the laws of their faith. The Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes imprisoned seven brothers and their mother and tried to force them to eat pork. When they refused to do this, the ruler ordered them to be killed one by one.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

An engraving by an unknown author, created in the XV century

The refusal of Jews from pork gave rise to many jokes in Europe. One of the most common and offensive is the medieval image of Jews feeding on pig's milk. This image, called "Judenzau", was especially popular in the design of Christian churches. In addition, it was displayed on secular engravings, sculptures and bas-reliefs. Of course, such creativity was offensive in nature.

In the Middle Ages, especially in the era of the Inquisition, the practice of "converting" Jews to Christianity was widespread, by forcing them to eat pork meat. It is difficult to imagine how many representatives of God's people died, refusing to change their principles. Sometimes it was necessary to pretend humility and rejection of the way of life bequeathed by the Torah in order to preserve life.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

Decoration of one of the German cathedrals

In Portugal, in this regard, a special dish appeared — the alera sausage, which imitated pork with high accuracy, but did not contain a hint of the meat of this animal. The composition of the alera included several varieties of meat that had undergone special processing. The skill of Portuguese sausage makers reached such heights that the sausage acquired not only the taste,but also the texture of pork.

The religious prohibition is also reflected in the legislation of the State of Israel. In 1962, the breeding of pigs was prohibited by law, however, exceptions were made. Christian Arabs and scientists who used animals in their experiments did not fall under the ban.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

Such selectivity of the law led to many abuses. Some not particularly religious Jews bought pork for the table from Christians, and in some kibbutzim there were "scientific laboratories" with their subsidiary pig farms. This led to the fact that the country's authorities even had to create a special police department in 1970, which monitors the turnover of pork in the country.

But this principle suffered a particularly hard blow after the disappearance of the"Iron Curtain". A huge number of Jews, their family members and just people who managed to prove their Jewish roots by hook or by crook, rushed to the Promised Land, taking with them their way of life and culinary preferences.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

Butcher shop in Tel Aviv

Israel was filled with pork lovers and the authorities had to reluctantly lift the ban on this type of meat. Many butcher shops and shops offering a once-banned food product immediately opened in the country. Is it worth saying that in most of these stores it was the Russian speech that was heard.

In the Jewish communities of the United States, things are even more difficult. For example, we can take the restaurant "Traif" in Williamsburg, one of the most progressive areas of New York, where hipsters and creative youth like to hang out. This institution serves pork in all its possible forms, as well as many other, absolutely non-kosher food.

The irony is that the owners of the restaurant are Jews, and the very word "traif" among Jews means forbidden food. In addition, the absurdity of the situation is added by the fact that the restaurant is located near the border of the largest Hasidic community in New York.

Why don't Jews eat pork? The history of complex relationships

The sign of the restaurant "Traif" speaks for itself

One could assume that the owners of "Traif" are not doing well, but this is not so-there are more than enough people who want to taste pork there. Moreover, this place was chosen for their gatherings by former Orthodox Jews who took the path of reformism. These people want to create a new Jewish identity, in which there will be no ban on pork meat.

Keywords: Ban | Israel | Judaism | Shop | Meat | Pork | Hasidim | Emigrants

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