Have you eaten a mouse lately? How about a pelican? A gecko? A chameleon? A raven? A stork? How about some shrimp salad? Or a bowl of clam chowder? Or a bacon sandwich?
All of these foods have one thing in common: They are tamei. Unclean. Impure. Tref. Today we would call them non-kosher.
In the time of Leviticus, if you touched any of those animals after they were dead (and a whole lot more that are listed in this week’s parsha), you had to scrub your clothing and stay away from everybody till the end of the day. If a pot or vase made of baked clay (an “earthen vessel”) came into contact with something tamei, you had to break it.
Even a kosher animal, if it died of natural causes, was tamei.
Why these laws about keeping kosher? Because, as God says, “You are to be holy for I am holy.”
Food for Thought
Shrimp and bacon are both very tasty. Why do you think God prohibited us from eating them? Why can’t we eat camels? Or eagles?