By: Michelle Behar (11th Grade)
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Shmini, Hashem informs the Jewish people of how they can recognize whether or not an animal is kosher. If an animal has split hooves and chews its own cud, it’s kosher. However, if an animal doesn’t have either of these signs, the animal is not kosher. Hashem also tells the Jewish people of the pig, an animal with split hooves but one that does not chew its own cud and is therefore considered non-kosher.
When an animal has split hooves, it appears from the outside that it’s kosher. Only by knowing what’s going on inside, however, can we know for certain if an animal is kosher or not. The pig appears to everyone that it is, in fact, a kosher animal, but only by knowing what’s happening on the inside do we realize that the pig is not kosher.
This teaches us a very valuable lesson about people. An individual could show all of the external signs and traits of being a certain type of person, but inside, like the pig, they are actually someone completely different. Just as an animal must have the proper signs both inside and out to be considered kosher, we must strive to do the same.
The lesson that Hashem is teaching us is that it’s who the person is on the inside, when he or she is not in public view, that determines the real “you.” When you define the character of that person, then you’ll never live a life of deception. As the inside “you” begins to transform into the outside “you,” you’ll feel much happier because you won’t be living of life of deception but rather one of honesty, growth, and truth.