Like it says in the sidebar, this is not a “how to” guide – as in “how to keep kosher”, or “how to kasher your home” or even “how to move as a family from a non-kosher to a kosher lifestyle”.
While you might find tips and ideas you can take with you (I certainly HOPE you might!), the truth as I see it is that everyone’s dance with God’s commandments is a personal one. Trying to fit your two-step to match our bunny-hop is just never going to work.
“GOD’S commandments?”, I imagine hearing you ask.
Yeah, I use the G-word pretty freely around here. I hope it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. I just want to put it out there up front:
I. Believe. In. God.
I’m not saying you have to – either to be a good person or even just read and maybe even enjoy this blog – but I do, and I figure it’s best to just lay all my cards out on the table.
I believe that God gave the mitzvot, which means “commandments”, not “good deeds to make you feel warm and fuzzy”. I adhere to them, for reasons too detailed to get into just now, as part of my contract with God. I believe that some mitzvot are pretty common sense instructions, while others are completely incomprehensible. If there is meaning behind them, it’s up to me to find it as I do it, not to sit with my arms folded and wait for a good answer before I give it a shot.
I don’t believe for a second that I will be able to observe all the mitzvot, or that I will be able to execute the ones I can observe perfectly or even consistently. One of my favorite quotes puts it like this:
I try to walk the road of Judaism. Embedded in that road there are many jewels. One is marked ‘Sabbath’, and one ‘civil rights’, one ‘keeping kosher’ and one ‘honor your parents,’ one ‘study of Torah’ and one ‘you shall be holy.’
There are at least 613 of them and they have different shapes and sizes and weights. Some are light and easy for me to pick up, and I pick them up. Some are too deeply embedded for me, so far at least, though I get a little stronger by trying to extricate the jewels as I walk the street. Some, perhaps, I will never be able to pick up.
I believe that God expects me to keep on walking Judaism Street and to carry away whatever I can of its commandments. I do not believe that God expects me to lift what I cannot, nor may I condemn my fellow Jew who may not be able to pick up even as much as I can.
Arnold Jacob Wolf, from “The Book of Words” by Lawrence Kushner
My family and I have been prying jewels loose and stuffing them in our pockets for several years now. I am amazed at how heavy the smallest gems feel in my hand, and how my children can effortlessly pick up what appear to be boulders.
But now, for this period of our life, we are working as a team to lift up – to elevate and make holy – the commandment of kashrut.